The custom of appropriate and harmonious treatment of home decorating, interior decorations and suitable furniture, seems to have been in a great measure abandoned during the present century, owing perhaps to the indifference of architects of the time to this subsidiary but necessary portion of their work, or perhaps to a desire for economy, which preferred the cheapness of painted and artificially grained pine-wood, with decorative effects produced by wall papers, to the more solid but expensive though less showy wood-panelling, architectural mouldings, well-made panelled doors and chimney pieces, which one finds, down to quite the end of the last century, even in houses of moderate rentals. Furniture therefore became independent and “beginning to account herself an Art, transgressed her limits”… and “grew to the conceit that it could stand by itself, and, as well as its betters, went a way of its own.”
Interior Conservatory Finishing
The interiors, handed over from the builder, as it were, in blank, are filled up from the upholsterer’s store, the curiosity shop, and the auction room, while a large contribution from the conservatory or the nearest florist gives the finishing touch to a mixture, which characterizes the present taste for furnishing a boudoir or a drawing room.
There is, of course, in very many cases an individuality gained by the “omnium gatherum” of such a mode of furnishing. The cabinet which reminds its owner of a tour in Italy, the quaint stool from Tangier, and the embroidered piano cover from Spain, are to those who travel, pleasant souvenirs; as are also the presents from friends (when they have taste and judgment), the screens and flower-stands, and the photographs, which are reminiscences of the forms and faces separated from us by distance or death. The test of the whole question of such an arrangement of furniture in our living rooms, is the amount of judgment and discretion displayed. Two favorable examples of the present fashion, representing the interior of the Saloon and Drawing Room at Sandringham House, are here reproduced.
There is at the present time an ambition on the part of many well-to-do persons to imitate the effect produced in houses of old families where, for generations, valuable and memorable articles of decorative furniture have been accumulated, just as pictures, plate and china have been preserved; and failing the inheritance of such household gods, it is the practice to acquire, or as the modern term goes, “to collect,” old furniture of different styles and periods, until the room becomes incongruous and overcrowded, an evidence of the wealth, rather than of the taste, of the owner. As it frequently happens that such collections are made very hastily, and in the brief intervals of a busy commercial or political life, the selections are not the best or most suitable; and where so much is required in a short space of time, it becomes impossible to devote a sufficient sum of money to procure a really valuable specimen of the kind desired; in its place an effective and low priced reproduction of an old pattern (with all the faults inseparable from such conditions) is added to the conglomeration of articles requiring attention, and taking up space.
The limited accommodation of houses built on ground which is too valuable to allow spacious halls and large apartments, makes this want of discretion and judgment the more objectionable. There can be no doubt that want of care and restraint in the selection of furniture, by the purchasing public, affects its character, both as to design and workmanship.