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ON the correctness of the taste displayed in furnishing a house, or only a
few rooms, depends altogether the air of comfort which either will wear, and a
corresponding degree of pleasure or discomfort to those who live in them. Often
on entering a strange room one feds a sense of indescribable irritability,
arising either from the incongruity of the furniture as regards size, style, and
general ornamentation, or from the inharmonious colouring of the draperies, the
confusion of pattern on the carpet, or the dazzling design of the wall-paper,
not dazzling from its brilliancy, but from the regular and close recurrence of
stripes, circles, and other geometrical forms, which bewilder the sight as if
the pattern were in motion. The proper furnishing of a house is as much a fine
art as painting, and if the rules do not come by an intuitive faculty they may
be acquired. The glaring defects in modem house-furnishing are, first,
incongruity of form and size of furniture with the surroundings and means of the
possessor, and next, an elaborate decoration of the rooms out of keeping with
the position of the owner. And the third is the elaboration of ornament on the
furniture, this not being superadded to utility, but subversive of it - ornament
being understood to mean a superfluity above utility - permanently fixed or
carved upon the article. Decoration means something portable, as vases, glasses,
and pictures. The walls of a room covered with an appropriate wallpaper, a
ceiling elaborately worked in moulded forms, as well as its cornices, and carved
or beaded doors, are said to be ornamental. The meanings of the two words are
very distinct. A person may be decorated with a feather but is not thereby
rendered more ornamental. A man's own fine head of hair is an ornament - it is
irremovable by ordinary means - but his medals and jewellery are decorations.
Elaboration of ornament and decoration, in a house of great pretension but with small means to support it, is not a mark of good taste, neither is confusion of colour; when blues and greens, reds and violets, are indiscriminately mingled.
The treatment of the walls in small houses at a rental of £20 to £50 per annum is usually very unsatisfactory. In the suburbs of large towns the rooms of such houses are generally small; thus a large-patterned paper will cause them to appear much smaller, and the use of a border will produce an apparent decrease in their height. The return to fashion of the wainscot, or dado is of [-19-] inestimable value to those about to furnish a small house; and about the economy of its use there can be no question.
In the narrow passages a high dado, painted a dark buff or brown, with a line still darker on top, and the upper wall coloured in distemper, is superior in its wear and cleanliness to any wall-paper, as the painted dado can be kept fresh and clean with soap and water, and the distempering renewed when necessary at a small cost. This treatment can be continued up the staircase, and the painting of the doors and woodwork in the house should be of a uniform tint. For yellow or buff walls the dado and woodwork may be chocolate or olive brown, or a dark blue toned down with black. With walls of pale a sage green, the woodwork may be either darker tints of the same, or dull green-blue, olive-brown, or Indian red. The fashion of graining the woodwork in imitation of natural woods can only be defended on the score of durability, as it is ugly and inartistic in the extreme.
In the bedrooms, where we desire to combine "sweetness and light," the paper should never be a source of arithmetical problems to the occupant, but should contain some rambling design, in which, try our best, we can discern neither beginning nor end, and should be of pale shades of either rose, amber, or green.
For both drawing-room and dining-rooms the new wall- papers, in lengths with the accompanying dado, are now a produced at prices within the reach of all.
The ceilings throughout the house require to be coloured in sympathy with the respective rooms. A warm tone of straw colour or pink on the ceiling of a room on the north-side of the house adds sunshine to the aspect at once. The cold white we have been so long used to is no longer fashionable, and we have returned to the charming ideas of decoration still to be admired in houses of the Elizabethan period.
The blinds should be uniform in material in the front of a house. The front windows may have Venetian blinds if it be a southern aspect, while if facing the north they may be made of buff union cloth, which produces a mellow, warm tone when the light passes through it, or the newly-introduced red blinds, which are equally pretty and comfortable-looking.
There are some rules for furnishing rooms properly which may be always remembered, and which will well repay the trouble of learning. As regards form, the more cultivated and refined the intellect the greater is them craving for correct and refined designs. It is truthfully said that "the eye creates its own beauty," but on the other hand the eye may be educated not to select forms of ugliness and fancy them beautiful.
In small rooms, if any of the furniture be too large, no matter how good its quality, how handsome its shape, or how perfect its finish, if it have no fitness for its place it will exhibit the pretension and vulgar ambition of its owner, and look more as if taken in payment of a debt than as if selected by an educated mind. Costly carved furniture, or imitation of such, is totally out of place when accompanied by small means and limited domestic service; for it is either covered to keep it from dust, or it is not kept clean and bright, as carved work should be, and thus it gives a look of shabbiness to the whole place, which irritates the temper of an observer, but is totally unfelt by those who, see without observing. Plain but a well-shaped furniture, without angles or stiffness, shining and clean, and having no dust-holes, gives a marvellous sense of repose to the looker-on, provided such furniture is for use and not for show.
Almost the first thing to be done towards furnishing is a the making and putting up of blinds; and where expense is a matter of consideration, and Venetian blinds not to be thought of, the affair is not one of trouble nor much cost. Brass blind-furniture, requiring only fixing with nails or screws, can be obtained at most ironmongers'. It consists of the wheel and pin for each end of a roller.; also, the sockets for fixing them into the proper place, The wooden rollers and laths are usually kept by carpenters ready for sale. A woman may manage to fix all this properly, and afterwards make the blinds and put them up.
The blind must not be nailed close to the ends of the roller, but a space of half an inch left on each side. Thus if the roller be 36 inches long from end to end, allow 35 inches for the space the calico of the blind is to fill; and the calico for this blind must measure 37 inches in width - always keeping the blind material one inch wider than the roller. The cloth will require the selvage to be cut oil straight, and then the two sides folded down an inch in width. To do this accurately, with an inch measure and black-lead pencil mark off the width of an inch down each side. Then fold the seam, single-turned, on the marks, and herring-bone them down.
For the seam to admit the lath, turn down a hem, and work in the centre of it an eyelet-hole in overcast stitch for the purpose of admitting the ring-screw. Then, instead of hemming this, sew it. Turn down once the remaining raw edge of the blind, and mark the centre with marking- ink; write on it, also, the name of the room in which it is to be placed. Mark with ink the centre of the blind-roller, and the lath the same, and also with the name of the room; so that, when a change of blinds is necessary, there is no waste of time or trouble in measuring them for the different windows. In nailing on the blind, nail it first in the centre, then at the two ends, with a few tin tacks, not driven close; then try with the two hands whether the blind will roll well. If not, it is certain that somewhere it is not straight, and will require to be put so. After the blinds, the kitchen requisites should be mentioned. The matter of kitchen ranges is a vexed one. Makers recommend different kinds; but a truly economical and serviceable range - one that burns little fuel, not as matter of choice, but of necessity, and gives the greatest amount of heat without waste-is yet to be found. Many of them are wonderful contrivances, apparently, for the saving of labour, but with far too much ingenuity about them for any but an engineer to manage; being also, at the same time, the most coal-consuming. The small cooking stoves for use with a lamp are in some cases marvels of economy, and two people can cook their own meals with the smallest possible amount of labour and cost. Gas stoves are an improvement on the ordinary kitchen range, but the expense of the requisite fittings is an objection. To know how to cook with simple means and appliances is an art which may be easily acquired, and to this object our papers on Cooking will be especially directed.
There is one thing which most kitchens may have at a moderate expense, and that is a warm-plate, made in the shape of a tin box, a quarter of a yard deep, half a yard wide, and forty inches long, similar in shape to those which pastry-cooks keep filled with boiling water to rewarm their pastry. This can be fixed to serve as a table and forms, with the aid of gas, a hot-plate for keeping food in dishes warm till the moment of serving. The top should have two hinged lids, and the bottom be perforated to admit of two jets of gas underneath the lids, which can be opened for the purpose of lighting it. This same contrivance can be placed in the cupboard adjoining the boiler; a pipe fitted to the latter will conduct the steam, and so keep it always hot, without the expense of gas.
Kitchen cupboards should have shelves which, unless the landlord places them in, need not be fixtures. Movable shelves, fitted into a groove like the sides of a box, and furnished with rollers, can be drawn in and out at pleasure for the purpose of cleaning them.
It is not often that laths and hooks for hanging up dish-covers are found in houses of moderate rental. For [-20-] these, two uprights require to be driven into the wall, one at each end, and not deeper than the largest dish-cover, and upon these a wooden lattice-work is fixed, with also the necessary brass hooks screwed in, for holding the covers. The lattice-work prevents the covers from greasing the wall if, as is often the case, a careless servant put them up without wiping.
In dark kitchens, or others where the range is set in a dark place, one of the greatest comforts to a cook is to have a gas-light placed, with movable joint, on the left- hand side of the range when facing it, but high up, so that a light may be thrown on the saucepans or frying-pans when needed. In the shelves of the kitchen dresser, and in all shelves of cupboards, there should be a sloping groove in the centre, terminating in a raised rim, otherwise too often on the slamming of a door the crockery will clatter down and be broken. A beading put on is of little use/
Every mistress, no matter what her income, has her own ideas about the kind and quantity of kitchen furniture required. A young bride leaves her home, where a sufficient number of servants have been kept for all household work, where the kitchens are bright with tins and coppers, and everything looks as comfortable as labour can make it. Full of the memory of this, she has no idea but that her kitchen must look nearly the same, and therefore provides the usual adornments, though having but one servant, perhaps, to perform all the duties of a regular staff.
In a small family with less than two servants, we hold that no more bright articles should be introduced than are needed for daily use, and no more time be expended upon the polishing of them than is absolutely necessary. A general servant cannot do more in the kitchen than to keep the dish-covers, kitchen fender and fire-irons, tin funnels, tea and coffee pots bright; but it does not follow that ample requisites in the way of saucepans, strainers, and things of the kind should not be provided. In our Cookery articles our readers will find instructions as to the various culinary utensils which are requisite. We here only suggest the kitchen furniture generally.
THE GENERAL FURNITURE OF THE HOUSE.
FROM the kitchens we proceed upwards to the passage, by custom termed a hall,
but which is either a large room at the entrance to the dining and other rooms,
or, as is most frequently the case in modern houses, a passage more or less
narrow. It is certainly bad taste to crowd into what is generally a limited
space the furniture fitting only for a large hall; but how often are seen
pictures crowded on the wall as at the entrance to a photographer's studio, and
heavy chairs and tables that have perhaps seen service in a more appropriate
place! In small houses the passages are generally so narrow as to admit only of
one chair, a table, and a hat-rack-these are all inexpensive matters; but where
means will permit, a hat and umbrella stand, with table, and looking-glass above
it, and all arranged in one piece, makes the most compact, complete, and
handsome article of furniture. Some of these stands have the framework made in
painted iron, the paint being a mixture of colours resembling a grey agate stone
more than any other tint, and which really looks light and elegant. An oak -
is, wood painted and grained as oak - hat and umbrella stand can be purchased for
30s.; but oak furniture is out of place except in large halls. Mahogany is best
for passages. A mahogany hat-rack, with brass hangers tipped with white china,
will cost 10s. 6d. There are some long narrow tables with turned legs, but
without a drawer for hat and clothes brushes, that can be purchased for a
guinea. A plain mahogany hall-table, with drawers, will cost £2. A mahogany
hall-chair can be had for 15s. A folding iron chair, with cane seat and back, is
an excellent substitute for the usual chair seen in passages, as it is cheaper,
more comfortable to sit on, does not require so much cleaning, and may be
pressed into instant service, either in a room or in a garden where a heavy
hall-chair could not be carried about. Heaviness, as regards weight, seems to be
a characteristic of much modern furniture, but has no apparent
advantage-lightness, with strength of joint, glue, and screw being generally
A gas-light in a passage should spring from the wall opposite to and between the doors of the two sitting- rooms, the projecting gas-pipe having a movable joint. Thus one gas-jet will light a portion of the staircase, the passage in its whole length, and prevent a stranger from stumbling into either room when both are unlighted. Also, the gas can be turned back against the wall, as far as the ground-glass globe will permit, to allow of the removal of furniture or trunks. In large halls this arrangement would not be suitable. The floor-cloth should be the width of the passage, but if it be not, the floor on each side should be painted of the same colour as the ground of the floor-cloth - by no means of a different tint. The most useful colour for wear is a very light yellow-brown, having a dark brown pattern upon it. The cloth is primed with much the same tint, hence if the pattern wear off the defect is not m much seen. When there is much walking over it, a narrow strip of stair-carpet, which may be of bordered felt, inexpensive and efficient, should be laid down; it will save the oil-cloth very much; but this, however, must be taken up every day and swept underneath, otherwise the grit and dust will very soon abrade the surface of the cloth underneath it. Oil-cloth is very quickly destroyed by cleaning it with soap and soda, which, in taking off the dirt, remove the paint also. The use of warm water and a clean flannel, with a clean cloth afterwards to wipe it dry, once a week, will keep it fresh without injury. Once a month a scrubbing-brush may be used, but no soap or soda.
In houses where the passage is large enough to be termed a hall, a design on the oil-cloth in imitation of encaustic tiles looks very well, and in one of large dimensions real tiles should be employed. These are occasionally troublesome by getting loose, and a man-servant should know what cement or mortar to use in resetting them; but with tiles, or their imitation, the surroundings should harmonise. The staircase, when it faces the door, plays an important part in the look and degree of respectability which attach to a house; but there is one especial nuisance in modern town houses of moderate rental - say from forty to seventy pounds - that the staircases are usually exceedingly narrow and mean-looking - a defect which cannot be avoided.
To grain the stairs and varnish them is at first an expensive process to the tenant, but it is the most lasting, inasmuch as they can be re-varnished every six months, by any one in the house, with but very little expense of material and of labour. An oil-man will always recommend the proper varnish, but oak varnish has been found to answer extremely well.
In the matter of stair-carpets, as a rule the softest texture is the best. The hard Dutch carpets wear out directly. The real Venetian are the best, but are now rarely to be obtained. We cannot point out particularly the kind of carpet which should be bought, other than the best Brussels, if it can be had; this lasts a very long time with care - that is, care in sweeping it with a soft brush - not scrubbing it with the hard side of a baluster-brush, as most servants will if they are let alone. Much injury arises to all carpets from servants being allowed to run about with high-heeled and sometimes nailed boots. The only way to get over the difficulty is, when engaging them, to mention that only house-slippers can be allowed to be worn by them in the house.
Stair-carpets should be in length a yard longer than is needful for each flight of stairs, so that when they are taken up for shaking (not beating), they may not be put down again in the same creases, and thus at a trifling expense the carpets will wear as long again as by the usual method of exact measurement. The length required is ascertained by allowing half a yard for each stair, and adding to this the length needed for the landings. Thick brown paper should be laid down under the carpet, otherwise the latter will soon be worn out. "Corticene floor-covering" is a new and much-recommended material as a substitute for oil-cloths. It can be obtained (with borders of any width) at from 3s. 6d. to 4s. per yard; an 18-inch border at 2s. Brass stair-rods of the ordinary kind are not expensive, and the stair-eyes are purchased by the dozen. Rooms with folding doors are the most convenient for a small house, as the doors may be closed at pleasure; but both rooms should be similarly furnished as far as the carpet, chairs, and curtains are concerned. Felt carpet is to be had in suitable tints; it is not expensive, and is easily made, and, when good, will wear tolerably well. There are many advantages in a felt carpet: not among the least is that when it is worn out in the centre, the sides which are good can be cut off, bound, and arranged for bedside carpets; and that which is very much worn serves instead of buying house-flannel for cleaning doorsteps, kitchen hearths, and other rough work. But if a carpet be cut through the worn part, and the two unworn sides be joined together, and the worn part be placed against the wall, a most undesirable impression of dust, and of the carpet never being swept underneath the chairs, will be conveyed. For this reason felt carpets are not convertible for the same rooms, and this is a disadvantage. Also, when taken up for shaking the felt shrinks, and cannot without trouble be stretched to fit the same room again; and even if pieces have been turned down all round to allow of this shrinking, yet the bright colours of the unworn edges contrast unfavourably with the worn portion.
Kidderminster carpets of a good quality are almost [-126-] indestructible, and having two surfaces they are really double. They are soft to the touch, being all wool; if hard, the wool is mixed with hemp or other harsh substance, and will then quickly wear out. They will wash well - a process neither difficult nor troublesome when done at home - and wear better after the process than previously; but allowance will have to he made in the quantity of carpet purchased for the shrinking occasioned by this cleansing. The designs on Kidderminster carpets are rarely ever suitable for sitting-rooms, the green moss or small green-and-black coral pattern excepted. These are in good taste, but cannot everywhere be met with, and are expensive. Some really good woven imitations of this kind of carpet, in pattern and quality, are to be met with in wide width for 3s. 6d. or 4s. a yard.
The quality of Brussels or velvet-pile carpets may be ascertained in the same way that a lady tests the excellence of her velvets - by bending down the surface of the fabric with the lines running length-ways; it will then be seen how close the lines of wool are to each other, and upon this degree of closeness depends the quality of the carpeting. Also, if the back of the carpet - that is the foundation upon which the wool is woven - looks coarse and loose, it will wear badly.
Tapestry carpeting is distinguished from Brussels by each colour of the latter being woven in separately, the wool never being cut, but carried over or underneath another colour; while tapestry is woven entirely of one tint, and then the brightest, most attractive colours are printed upon it. Of course this cannot wear like Brussels, neither can the gradations of shade or luxuriance of tint be found in the latter as in tapestry ; so a purchaser has to choose between strength and beauty. A Brussels carpet having many colours is very expensive, but it wears well.
Finger-plates of white china are easily put on, and prevent finger-marks; but they should be fixed both above and below the key-hole, and as close to it and the edge of the door as possible.
In the two rooms there will need to be - a couch, one or two easy-chairs, eight other chairs, and a chiffonnier, one centre-table, also one to form a dining-table in the back room. In most houses, low-rented ones excepted, the useful low cupboards have gone much out of fashion; the upper part of these, where they exist, above the top slab, should be utilised as book-cases, which are not difficult to make, nor expensive to have made, consisting entirely of shelves; but whatever number they may be, each should have a strip of leather or leather-cloth two inches in depth, to protect the upper part of the books from dust.
A Chiffonnier is one of the most useful pieces of furniture in every room. When made plainly of mahogany it does duty for a sideboard where the latter would be too expensive an article, or the room too small to admit one. If it be placed in the front and superior room, the addition of glass in the doors and back makes a room look lighter and gayer, but this adds somewhat considerably to the expense. Glass does not look well set in mahogany; it should have rosewood or walnut, in which woods a very pretty chiffonnier can be obtained at from six to eight pounds-but then the tables and chairs should match.
Chairs - The best material for covering chairs is Utrecht plush, which will bear excessive use for twenty years. It has never been made popular in England by furniture makers, but it is the most economical, even if the expense be greater in the first instance than woollen rep, which is the next best thing to it. The latter must be all wool, otherwise there is no wear in it; very good can be had from 6s. to 10s. a yard, double width, it is best to purchase the chairs ready covered ; still, old ones may be made to look like new, and be covered at home with comparatively little expense. In the back sitting-room there should be a dining-table, which may have a deal top if expense be an object. Its size must depend upon that of the room. And here we recommend that, as far as possible, the meals of the family should be taken in the back room.
Easy Chairs.-There is more care required in the selection of these necessary articles than in almost any other. Some appear as if they were arranged rather for penitential chairs than anything else. The back aches, or the neck becomes stiff, when sitting in them, although perhaps they look truly comfortable till they are tried. The cane-seated arm-chairs (Fig. 1) are useful and inexpensive, but are a nuisance if they creak. The very best of them may be had for 17s. 6d;; also one of the same kind termed the Derby chair, which is without arms, and if not cane-seated to match the arm-chair, is made of laths, the cost being about. 4s. 6d. This can be padded, cushioned, and covered in chintz or worsted rep, and thus it makes a most comfortable easy-chair for a lady, in which she can work or read; quite as pleasant to sit in as many of the more expensive. Our engraving will show the kind that is meant.
Window-curtains.- For these the best material is good woollen damask; it wears well and keeps its colour, and may be after four years re-dipped and calendered, and will look like new. Very good quality can be purchased for less than 5s. a yard, double width. Good rep will cost double the price, and is only suitable for lofty and large rooms.
A Chimney-glass, by its shape or size, gives either a common or a refined aspect to a room. If it be possible to afford one higher than it is broad, but nearly the breadth of the chimney-piece, it will look far better than one which is wider than it is high. Very good ones indeed may be purchased for £5 ; and it is better to sacrifice something else in the room, and expend the money on a good glass. One with a neat-patterned frame, gilt all round, with scrolls at the bottom of the two sides, always looks well and appropriate; while glasses with a nondescript gilt ornament in the centre of the top look pretentious and vulgar.
Fenders and Fire-irons, more in their shape than their quality, give a look of refinement and culture about the room. The pretty twisted irons, neither too small nor too large for the grate, should be chosen rather than those with a plain surface. The first are more easily kept clean than the last, and do not look so shabby if they have been neglected in the cleaning; but if they be cleaned daily, and the bright poker and shovel are used as much as they need to be, they are easily kept bright, unless ruined by the dangerous practice of putting the poker into the fire, and letting it remain till red-hot. A plain fender, bronzed, with a flat steel rim, upon which the feet may be put to warm if needed, looks better than one of a more elaborate pattern, which is difficult to keep free from dust.
It would be quite useless, in these days of "follow my [-127-] leader," to suggest how much more comfortable and convenient the old squab sofa is, with its square mattress and cushions, than the more modern but unmeaning couch, with a scroll end, pretty to look at, but neither comfortable nor so pleasant for use. In France couches look their best, and do duty for sofas during the day, but at night they can be carried into any bed-room, uncovered, the two scrolls at the end turned down, and the cushions taken off, when a luxurious spring mattress is revealed, upon which the cushions are replaced, and a good, comfortable bed is at once arranged. However, this contrivance has not yet been introduced into England. As a covering for a couch, the American leather-cloth wears badly, though it is rapidly superseding the use of horsehair. But better than the former is a good dark green Coburg cloth ; it wears well, and can be replaced when shabby at small expense.
THE furnishing of bedrooms affords scope for great taste in selecting
expensive articles, or for much ingenuity in fitting and adapting materials to
the limits of small means, yet such as shall not be devoid of beauty or
elegance. Mahogany now takes the place of the dark well-polished oak of former
days. The silver fir and enamelled furniture are specialities of different
makers, the one being polished or varnished deal, white or stained, and the
other painted in delicate colours, and varnished, or japanned, as it is termed
by the trade. Of the two the deal is the most useful, and is not inelegant. The
only drawback to the beauty of enamelled wood is that it shows every spot and
finger-mark, and cannot be cleaned without. some tarnish. A carefully trained
housemaid will not soil it with uncleanly touch; but splashings will show on the
washstand. Mahogany and walnut are certainly the best woods for bedroom
furniture, if somewhat expensive. Birchwood is excellent also, and when of good
grain in tint resembles satin-wood, formerly so much prized. [-156-]
Chairs, tables, and washstands are made of it. It never stains nor spots,
nor do water drops show on it so much as on mahogany. There is little if any
difference in the price of these woods. Full-sized Arabian bedsteads may be had
at prices from £2 17s. 6d. to twelve guineas. A bedroom may be furnished for £120,
and yet not have anything in it excessively costly, or for £38, or for £20,
and less; all depends upon material, workmanship, and design. There is little
difficulty in selecting furniture when expense is no object, but when means are
limited it is another affair. It may be asked what kind of bedsteads will best
repel insects. Experience has shown that wood and iron are invaded without
distinction, and that no wood is known to be safe from them except one, and this
is quassia, or the bitter-wood of commerce.
As a wood for bedroom furniture which shall look well to the eye, and be really useful, mahogany or walnut, even for limited means, is in the end the cheapest, because it never wears shabby, and it can be cleaned and polished. Beechwood bedsteads, when painted in imitation of oak, and varnished, look clean and even handsome, but in three years they require cleaning and fresh japanning, as it is termed. Japanned imitations of maple look as if spotted by flies or other insects. There is very little difference in the price between a plain mahogany and a painted Arabian, or half-tester bedstead; but a very handsome mahogany would, of course, be considerably dearer; still, a good-looking bedstead of mahogany is attainable for a moderate price.
In cheap bedsteads there are generally some defects. They are as showy as others more expensive, but the blemishes have to be discovered. If a bedstead be displayed in an upholsterer's shop, and it be chosen, probably the intending purchaser will be told that one equally good, if not better, can be sent. The one shown is only a specimen, and cannot readily be taken down. However, examine well the uprights which support the head, see that there are no cracks or warp of wood, also observe the places where the casters are screwed on; see that the mid-rib-if it may be so called, the piece of wood which underneath the laths extends from head to foot of the bedstead-is strong and unwarped, and that the laths fit in easily. It would be a most desirable thing if makers of bedsteads would introduce narrow laths of some flexible material, instead of the miserable deal laths now prevalent, and which necessitate a straw palliasse, a wool mattress, and a bed ; better have the entire space between the sides filled with plain wood, not laths, for then the palliasse can be dispensed with.
Spring mattresses are excellent so far as they go, but these, too, have their discomforts. In some the springs are set on strong strips of wood, and are entirely open to inspection, so that if one spring gets out of order, it can be replaced without trouble, and at little expense; but the failing is that the surface material being drawn over the springs at the head and foot, the mattress is sunk when it should be higher at the head, or at least level with the centre. To obviate this defect a bolster stuffed with cotton flock should be placed at the head and foot.
There is no doubt that spring mattresses are the best for comfort and cleanliness, but should have an additional mattress on the top, to prevent unequal pressure on the springs. The mattress may be of horsehair, of wool, or of three or four coarse blankets, quilted not too closely together. The last contrivance has great advantages, inasmuch as blankets are easily detached from each other, washed, and put together again. A wool mattress must be understood as one not of cotton flocks-which lump quickly in hard masses-but of sheep's wool. The variety in the prices of this kind arises from the quality and length of wool. The best are of pure wool, and will cost at least £4 10s. For the same price an excellent hair mattress can be purchased; an inferior one, which, in appearance, thickness, and softness of wool, is equal to the first, will cost about £1 7s. The one will be made of long wool, either pure from the sheep, or the combings from blankets in one process of their manufacture, and in their wear will not readily "felt," or the fibres separate into lumps. The inferior kind are made of wool picked from old carpets, worn blankets, &c., which is generally short, and of various colours, or brown only, and "felts," or masses, readily into lumps. In France wool mat. tresses are opened once a year. The wool is picked loose with the hand, the dust is beaten out with sticks, and when thus cleansed the mattress is re-made. In England it is the fashion to have what is termed a bordered style of mattress, and which only an upholsterer can re-make. In France the envelope of the wool is cotton, and in shape like a sheet, but with a line or mark down the centre. The women who re-make them lay the beaten wool in even layers on the . half of the covering, then turn the remaining half over, sew the sides securely, and with a mattress-needle fasten the wool in its place at regular intervals, as is done in English mattresses.
Feather beds are not now in such general use as formerly. After they have been in use for some time, they should be purified by steam. There are several qualities of feathers, and of course a difference in the price ; as also of the ticking and the shape of the bed. A bordered bed is more expensive than a plain one, because there is more labour in making the casing. Excellent bed, bolster, and pillows, may be had for six pounds five shillings, and the very best for ten pounds.
There are various qualities of goose feathers, distinguished by different names, though to the uninitiated they appear very nearly alike in everything but colour. The best feathers are fluffy, with down on the stems, and are curved, or curled as it is termed-the fluffier the better- and the best white feathers have this fluffiness in perfec. tion: they are also cleaned and bleached. The difference of quality mainly consists in the feathers having a more or less degree of down on them. A good bed may easily be recognised if, on pressing it, the feathers rise quickly, forcing the ticking up with them. If, on the other hand, they do not rise, the feathers are old or of very inferior quality, but more likely old, because, if feathers are subjected to a steam process, they become cleaner, and their down and other filaments are rendered light and elastic.
Much difference of opinion has arisen about the wholesomeness of sleeping upon feather beds. There is no doubt that spring mattresses will, when they can be cheaply made, supersede in a great measure feather beds, as being less liable to take infection, and more easy to arrange, and occasion less dust than feather beds. The dust which often arises in shaking feather beds, is due to a process used to prevent the feathers from coming through the ticking; a cheating process, which respectable upholsterers ought not to adopt. It was formerly, and ought to be so now, the universal practice to rub the inside of the ticking with beeswax, which was wholesome and answered the desired end. Now, even the ticking of a good bed is painted over on the inside with whitening and size, or some equivalent; the result is, that when it is quite dry, the dust comes through. In purchasing a bed, have a portion of it ripped open, that no mistake may be made in the matter.
In reference to wardrobes or their equivalents, the weight of the purse must determine which, some few hints may be given. Wardrobes may be had at any price, from five pounds to one hundred guineas, with a looking-glass in the centre door, or without. The straight glass is an excellent arrangement. A well-made winged wardrobe is a splendid piece of furniture, always provided that the ornamentations be not too elaborate and minute. In these dust soon gathers and makes the whole thing look shabby. By a winged wardrobe we mean one with a centre door, with or without plate glass in it; this opens and [-157-] reveals four or five drawers, and above these is generally a small recess with two door~ on each side. On each side this centre arrangement is a door which on being opened presents a hanging closet; also at the bottom, generally a deep drawer: sometimes the drawers here are omitted. A japanned wardrobe of this description can be purchased without the glass for nine guineas, with it, for eleven guineas. A smaller wardrobe of japanned wood with a hanging recess only, enclosed by a door and with two deep drawers, will cost about five guineas. Mahogany and walnut wardrobes can be had at any intermediate price from eight guineas to eighty and upwards. Walnut wood is a trifle more expensive than mahogany. Very good substitutes for hanging closets may be made by utilising the recesses which are to be found in every modern house, instead of the capacious cupboards and closets with which an old one abounds. A deal shelf should be placed six feet from the ground in one of the recesses and a foot or two above this a second shelf. Underneath the lowest shelf should be inserted wooden pegs, or a bronzed iron rod, with five bronzed hooks which slide along the rod, or one of the portable mahogany "hanging wardrobes," as they are termed, supported by two strong brass-headed P nails; this arrangement covered by ample dimity or chintz curtains, or lace over pink cambric, at once improvises a hanging closet. There should be double curtains, one short one, or two meeting in the centre, arranged with curtain-rings, on an iron rod, the two ends slipped into two iron staples. The lower curtains are managed in the same way, but so that they may be drawn or undrawn, without ntaterially interfering with the upper one. White dimity. Curtains, which may be made ornamental by bordering them with coloured stripes of a pretty chintz, are the best 7 kind, and give the least trouble when washed.
Two very useful articles in a room are an ottoman for dresses, and a boot and shoe press with a tray. That for dresses should be a box as long as the bedstead is wide; any packing-box will do, covered both on the outside and inside. When the cover is lifted, the front should unhook and fall down on hinges, and reveal inside three trays, made to slide in and out; the trays are of course taped in the usual manner, so that when any dress deposited upon them is wanted, it can be removed without disturbing the others. The lid should have strong hinges and a lock, and a cushion made square at the edges (like a bordered bed), stuffed with worsted wool, and nailed on at the edges with tin tacks. The inside paper should be blue. The outside may be covered with black leather-cloth glued on, so that, if needed, the box will bear a journey or a voyage. To make it look handsome in the room, it must have a a chintz covering lined with unbleached calico, or any other strong and cheap material, and this slipped over the box, so that it is readily removable for access to its contents.
Bedroom chairs are to be bought at all prices, and of x all descriptions, but mahogany, rosewood, and walnut are rarely, and excepting by desire, sold as bedroom chairs. Birch, sycamore, and bamboo are used. The old-fashioned rush-seated chair has given place to interlaced cane, which is to be preferred for appearance and cleanliness, as rush seats hold the dust. Chairs painted in blue or pink and white, match similarly painted furniture all others vary in price from 3s. 6d. to 8s.
A sofa, or an easy-chair, is desirable in a bedroom (though a very serviceable reclining couch may be improvised from the garde-robe ottoman above described with the addition of a pillow). An excellent sofa, convertible into a bed, if needed, and soft enough, is obtainable for 65s., and even a less sum. Bedroom sofas and easy chairs should not exhibit much wood, and should be well stuffed with worsted wool. Some of them are miser- able affairs, and to be avoided.
It is common to have mahogany wash-stands with marble tops, yet when the other furniture is of polished deal, certainly the wash-stand should be the same; hut as marble would be out of place on deal, the top should be painted a plain white, not marbled. It is not difficult to renew this. A good way to keep the top of a wash-stand always fresh-looking, is to cover it with an American cloth, to look like white marble. A portion of the centre should be cut out, if needed, to admit the basin. Marble tops are liable to get very discoloured and spotted. Many recipes have been published for cleaning marble; but stains made by chemicals are usually indelible. A mistress will need to be very particular in observing that a marble top is kept clean by being wiped every day, and at least twice a week it should be scrubbed with hot water and soda, without soap. Acids destroy the polish.
There are points about chests of drawers which, if furniture be desired to last, should be looked to. One set will appear outwardly as good as another, though at a much lower price, and, of course, inferior in quality. Inferior chests of drawers are made of common white deal, the drawers are roughly dove-tailed together, and the backs of the chests, not of the drawers so thin and rough that they will, after a time, scarcely bear removal from one room to another; the locks are badly put in, and are of the commonest description ; moreover, the drawers are with difficulty pulled out or pushed in, from the wood being green and unseasoned, old, or otherwise of inferior quality.
BEDROOM FURNITURE (continued from p.157).
WHEN articles of furniture are offered at a very low price defects
should be sought for; the cheapest things are not always the best. Chests of
drawers, with a deep drawer at the bottom, and without feet, are more convenient
than the usual make; nevertheless, the feet are useful in keeping the drawers
dry, if they are placed on the ground floor.
It is a disputed point whether the use of bed-furniture is detrimental, or not, to health. When draught is occasioned by ill-fitting doors and windows, some protection to the sides of a bedstead is necessary ; but where there is no draught, it is better to have no hangings. The old-fashioned four-post bedstead, with its array of draperies, was suited to the times in which it originated yet, even now by some persons these cumbrous four- posters are preferred, as giving a grand and imposing appearance to the room. We give, on the next page, an engraving of one of the four-post bedsteads (Fig. 1), with the chair, toilette-table, and glass, of the time of Queen Anne. The table, chair, and mirror are very elegant ; but in the latter, utility is sacrificed to appearance ; the glass is very small compared with the size of the frame, underneath which is a time-piece. The recumbent figures on each side the mirror are of Dresden china, and contain essences, perfumes, and cosmetics.
The Arabians, Figs. 2 and 3, are excellent substitutes for four-post bedsteads, as they admit of curtains without entirely excluding the air. The top-usually called the tester-should not be covered excepting by net-work. The upright posts of an Arabian bedstead should be polished or painted ; but they are often left rough and unsightly, to be covered with dimity or other material, whereas this should hang from the tester down the head [-184-] part, and at the back of the uprights, not be wound round them. If furniture is preferred, it should never be of woollen.
The same objections might be made to covering the floor with a carpet; but the draught underneath the door and the ventilation caused by the open chimney, prevent the carpet from retaining foul air. For sanitary purposes, nothing is more unhealthy than stopping up the chimney. The ventilating aperture of a bedroom should be above the level of the head of a person who is lying on the bed, consequently, the bedstead should not be high.
A carpet under a bedstead is objectionable ; it receives all the dust and flue, which, not being easily removable, creates a fine nursery for fleas. Yet it is often economical to carpet the whole of a room, so that when the carpet is somewhat worn it may be turned, that which was at the opposite end of the room to underneath the bedstead ; but to keep the flue from penetrating, there should be a piece of floor-cloth the size of the bedstead, placed under it and this looks well, can be wiped with a damp cloth every day, and lasts for years. It is most certainly healthier to have a bedroom entirely uncovered with carpet, excepting in places where a person would stand so that the floor could be washed once a week with sand and water, never with soap. When this is adopted, the boards should be laid even and be closely joined, and the bed-side carpets selected be the close-cut pile, which are sold erroneously for hearth-rugs. Three of these carpets round a bedstead, and a fourth before a looking-glass, make a room look exceedingly well at a small cost-say, thirty shillings, not more. A piece of Indian matting, well bound at the two ends, is better than carpet or thin oil-cloth for laying down before the wash-stand. Some persons prefer "mitred" carpets of Kidderminster make joined at the corners, and placed round the bedstead in one piece. This plan entails the losing half a square of material at each corner, or nearly a yard of carpet; and besides, a servant cannot so well shake carpets of such a form. The great objection to an uncarpeted floor is, that the latter is constructed too often of green wood, and thus shrinking and warping, after a time the interstices require filling up with laths of wood.
Swing-glasses of a cheap kind are a source of vexation to a housekeeper, from the tendency the screws have to [-185-] come loose, so that the glasses swing without check. Common looking-glasses have for their backs a thin veneer of wood, set in with brads. Those of a better kind are made with backs to slide in like the sliding lid of a box, and are then fixed with a screw. It is best to give a high price, and have the frames of the glass better finished. It is true that at first the screws appear firm, but in a short time a slight rattle is heard between the glass and the wood at the back, occasioned by the nuts of the screws falling off. It may seem easy enough to put these on again, and it certainly is so with proper tools; but these axe not always at hand, and the work requires the most delicate handling, to prevent the nuts from scratching, or the finger tips from rubbing off the quicksilver. Some glasses are fastened in such a way that only a cabinet-maker can remedy their defects. Many schemes have been adopted for the greater perfection of this fastening, but none are wholly successful in glasses of moderate cost ; but, as looking- glasses are rarely purchased more than once in a lifetime, the price for a good article should not be an object. Oval looking - glasses have one defect, they show only the face and head, the remaining part of the figure being cut off; therefore, however handsome they look, they are not desirable for persons with small means, who cannot afford a cheval glass.
There are a great variety of toilette-tables, from the simple table with one drawer, to the duchess table with many drawers and with swing-glass fixed and standing on pedestals, which are really small nests of drawers. Others have, in addition, from three to five drawers below the top of the table on each side ; this style is termed knee - hole drawers, and is most useful. A japanned toilette-table with one drawer can be had for 9s. One unpainted, without drawers, but with turned legs, oval-shaped in front, and four feet long, may be had far the same price ; the one requires only a toilette-cloth over the top, the last must have pink cambric surrounding it, and be covered again with book muslin gathered like a full skirt round the table; or with dimity, bordered with one stripe of coloured bordering taken from the coloured striped dimity. This is a cheap and excellent method of bordering curtains hung before a recess to simulate a wardrobe, or for the coverings of a toilette-table. Three yards of coloured striped dimity cost 3s., and from this twenty-one yards of bordering can be rent.
It must be recollected that, inexpensive as these tables and coverings appear to be, they are ultimately rendered very dear by the cost of washing the coverings. Moreover, there is something to be considered in their great danger of taking fire.
A mahogany toilette-table, a yard long, surrounded by a rim, and having two drawers, can be purchased for 24s.; one four feet long-and this is of ample size for any ordinary room - for 38s.; but with an increased number of drawers, seven instead of two, and arranged on each side, to leave a vacant space in the centre, thus forming a knee-hole table, it will cost from 90s. to £6 orL8. Every toilette-table should move on casters; the cheap ones are without them, and their addition increases the expense, unless the matter be arranged between the intending buyer and seller, before purchasing. Marble-topped tables are not desirable. Articles of glass and china may be placed on them with careless hands, and in a hurry such wares are often broken.
A servant's bed-room should have as few articles in it as are consistent with comfort. A bed and bedstead, with two soft mattresses, a pillow, three blankets, two soft unbleached sheets and pillow- slip, a soft and inexpensive coloured counterpane, a chest of drawers, a looking-glass, wash-stand, with the usual requisites of white ware, and a chair, are all that is needed. One of the most comfortable bedsteads is the truckle or cross bedstead. These have gone very much out of fashion, but they are portable, inexpensive, and desirable to sleep on. The next in point of comfort is the iron bedstead, because the interlacing laths are flexible. In the matter of cleanliness, wood and iron bedsteads are equal; the latter do not prevent bed insects from congregating, but the iron is easily cleaned and painted. From wooden bedsteads insects may also be wholly extirpated by washing in strong brine and boiling water. The skirtings and cracks in the walls, doors, and window - frames, also need the same process. Figs. 4,5, 6, and 7, are pat. terns of furniture for a servant's room.
The less carpet laid on the floor of a servant's room, the healthier and freer from dirt it will be. Once a week, the boards should be washed with salt and water, in winter and summer. A clock is essential in the bedroom, but it should be an eight- day brass clock, which is inexpensive, and this clock should be locked in a box having a glass cover, the box being placed so that the cover opens like a cupboard door. An alarum clock is useless ; the sleeper, after a morning or two, gets accustomed to the sound, and sleeps on regardless of her excellent friend.
BEDROOM FURNITURE (continued from p. 185).
MEDICAL men consider it the more healthy plan to sleep on
beds with as few draperies as possible. With a view to promote healthy slumber,
and yet have ornamental surroundings, furniture-makers have again brought into
general use the Arabian bedstead, in wood, iron, and brass, which they term
"half-tester, and "canopy, according to the pattern. No matter what
draperies or hangings these bedsteads have, they always look well. Some
draperies are enormously expensive, others by no means costly, and with the
slightest addition of fringe or band of pattern of colour may be made very
pleasing to the eye. Of the latter, undoubtedly white dimity-or its equivalent
in an inwoven pattern of white with alternate stripes of dimity-is the best. It
is easily washed, and then looks like new; and it lasts many years. The outside
head valance should have a deep white bullion fringe, or netted lace; the inner
one should be quite plain.
Another variety is of dimity, with a chintz or coloured cambric border, about three inches wide, to the valance and curtains, either of scarlet Turkey-twill or washing mauve cambric. Moreover, these white hangings are helps to cleanliness ; not a speck or an insect can sully their purity without a chance of speedy discovery.
Chintz furniture lined with a complementary colour is handsome and fresh-looking. The expense of both chintz and lining will not exceed that of a good quality of dimity. In towns, and places where white rapidly changes to a dingy yellow, chintz is to be preferred. A bedstead of irony similar to that in page 184 (Fig. 2), and ornamented in colours and gold. can be purchased for £2 8s. Chintz furniture, lined and made for the same, would cost £3 17s. 6d. This expense would of course vary more or less according to the colour and quality of the material. A chintz with several colours is costly ; one with two or three comparatively less so. Care should be exercised, in selecting lining to a chintz, to have a tint that will contrast well with the complexion. A pale green will impart the cadaverous hue of sickness ; a buff has no contrast with the skin. A pale pink or blue suits well, but strong dark colours are to be avoided. When chintz hangings arc soiled they should be sent to a cleaner's, to be washed and calendered ; but if this process be too expensive - about 2½d. or 3d. a yard - they may be washed at home in a lather made with hot water, ox-gall, and curd soap, and afterward rinsed in alum-water, and dried in a shady place. The ox-gall preserves all colours, hut articles [-244-] washed with it require to be exposed for some time to the air to destroy the peculiar odour of the gall, but not in the sun, or where there is a very strong light. As calendered or glazed articles last three times as long as when unglazed, the expense is not really so great as it at first seems.
Brass bedsteads are many of them to be greatly admired for their exquisite beauty and lightness of appearance. They are sometimes lacquered to prevent tarnishing. They are somewhat expensive, varying in cost from £4 15s. to £20 for one of full size. The difference in price arises not altogether from the more or less artistic beauty or elaboration of design, but from the quantity of iron, instead of the more costly metal, which is used in their construction, and also the greater or smaller diameter of the head and foot pillars. A five feet wide bedstead-all brass without much ornament, would cost about £12 10s.; but with only the foot rail of brass, and the remaining part of iron, the difference less in expense would be £4.
One word may be said here about the foot-rail of a bedstead - never to purchase one without it, if comfort be studied.
For entire brass bedsteads, hangings of silk and lace, with cords and elaborate tassels, or a rich striped chintz, with pink lining, seem to be the only appropriate furniture to contrast well with the brilliant brass-work. The illustration, Fig. 1, shows such a bedstead with hangings complete.
A French pattern brass bedstead, with hangings, is elegant when the hangings are disposed artistically by being drawn through two united rings of some fanciful fiat device, or as a true-lover's knot, or any other quaint design, so that it be not a single ring. This support for the drapery is screwed into the ceiling, in the same position and distance from the wall as the centre front of a tester would be in a half-tester bed stead. The hangings or drapery, in two pieces, cut of four breadths wide, are measured, slanting over the bedstead, from the screwed ornament slanting to the ground, and three quarters of a yard, or more, of extra material to be allowed on each piece beyond the actual measurement. This is now drawn up in a bunch - not on the selvage side and thrust through one of the rings, where it is secured by tying a tape round the material and fastening it to the ring, but concealing the tape The second piece is arranged in the same manner, and then the two puffs are pulled out in front as full as possible. Two sides of the curtains fall down at the back, and are then trimmed to form a head-piece. The remaining portion falls over the sides of the bedstead in two curtains, which are looped back in the day time, each by a broad band of ribbon bordered with silk gimp, mounted on stiff buckram, and looped with a concealed cord, the colour of the ribbon, to each pillar of the bedstead.
The material for this furniture may be of a broad-striped chintz, lined with pale pink, or of white dimitv, or damask dimity bordered with a handsome stripe of chintz - of course bordered only on three sides, but not those which [-245-] are drawn through the rings. This is very graceful, is inexpensive, and when washed and ironed, always looks as good as new.
In France great taste is shown in the arrangement of the drapery of a bedstead. it is often placed in an alcove in a sitting-room, one side of the bedstead not projecting beyond the walls, which are level with it. Overhead hangs a drapery of silk, relieved with lace or white muslin.
A most convenient form of bedstead, and which takes up but little room, is convertible into a couch by day, and can be shortened or lengthened at pleasure, to form either a child's cot, or, at night, a bed for an adult. The mattresses and pillows necessary for this arrangement are sold with the bedstead, which is two feet six inches wide. It can also be folded into a small compass, and be placed away, or taken as a part of travelling equipage.
The best form we have seen of corresponding good taste, with the advantages of English manufacture, is that figured in the accompanying cuts, Figs. 2, - , 4. They are manufactured by almost all the well-known ironmongers and general furnishers, who have certainly attained in this country a high degree of perfection in every department of bedroom furniture.
In a long and narrow apartment-if means are limited, so that one room only can be used for both bed and sitting-room-the space at the end of it can be utilised, and the greater equality of proportion will make the room appear more square, and longer even than its original size. We will imagine that one side of a bedstead, whether of brass or iron, is placed against the centre of the wall, at the head a portable closet, Figs. 5 and 6, with shelves and a deep drawer; at the foot an enclosed washstand, and the whole hidden by a damask curtain of the width of the room; the curtain, hung upon a brass or mahogany rod, supported by three iron staples screwed into the joists of the ceiling. The whole affair, bedstead, press, washstand, and curtain, will not cost more than £10.
Four-post Bedsteads.-The materials composing these are wood, brass, and iron, or a combination of the latter two. They are of two shapes- the oblong tester and the tent. For the latter, the whole of the hangings, including the curtains, are generally made in one piece, but in this way the furniture is troublesome to wash. It is better to sew the curtains on to the head, foot, and sides of the bedstead. The curved iron of its roof is to be covered with list or strips of old flannel; tapes are not thick enough. Each curtain, of which there are four, is made of three breadths of wide or four of narrow dimity. The measurement for the hangings commences at the bottom of the head part, a little below the laths, and is continued over the tester or domed roof to the foot. As dimity shrinks much in the washing, a half yard extra must be allowed for it, and it may be folded in at the head or foot. The lining should be measured in the same way, the position of the bars of iron marked in it by creases. Upon the end of these, four strings of two ends each, should be sewed, that the lining may be tied to the bars. A covered button on the right side conceals the sewing on of the strings. The white dimity is now put on outside of this. The curtains must each have a deep hem, to allow of the material shrinking, and be measured from the highest part of the bedstead, and after the first is cut and sloped, the remaining urtains can be cut from the dimity so as to save the material, by utilising the space occasioned by the slope of one curtain to the slope of another. The curtains should be sewed on to be easily removable, but must be first gathered to the right size, and bound with red lace, a white binding sold for the purpose, and a plain band of the same sewed inside the binding, and by this the curtains are sewed on. As the bed- lace shrinks in the washing, it must not be strained in sewing it, but rather put on full.
The canopy bedstead is an extremely pretty and inexpensive style. One six feet six in length, by five feet, can be had for less than forty shillings ; with this the drapery is in one length, and secured to the centre top bar by strings of ribbon. All hangings of this kind should have a deep bullion fringe at each end, to keep the furniture even and heavy where most needed. The width of it should be four times that of the bedstead, and this will admit of its falling over on each side, thus forming a curtain. A lining may be added in the same way as directed for the tent shape.
Four-post bedsteads, of mahogany or other wood, are even now by many persons preferred to a less heavy form. Those who take pride in a large and imposing- looking bedroom will find a handsomely-carved bedstead of this description add much to the appearance of the apartment, provided it be furnished with damask hangings of woo] or silk, the valances trimmed with deep fringe of the same colour as the damask, and relieved by silken curds and tassels of a well-contrasting colour. The foot curtains, too, may be useful in shutting Out the light, if it be too intrusive, instead of using very dark blinds, which always cast a gloom over everything. The entire absence of bed furniture from the tester will effectually prevent that closeness in the atmosphere which would occur if the tester were covered, and the omission will detract little if any, from the beauty of the bedstead. Crimson or green damask should have a bullion fringe of the same shade of tint as the material, but this should be relieved by maize-coloured silken hangers, which are sold from ninepence each, and upwards. The binding also should be a mixture of the two colours. Such would cost from £12 to £20. Whether the furniture be white or coloured, it is well at all times to place and fasten a calico sheet, or an equivalent for it, entirely over the tester, if there be one, and down the back of the head of the bed, for the purpose of effectually excluding the dust ; also, for the same purpose, the bottom valance should be lined with dark glazed lining.
Instead of iron rods, formerly in use for the curtains to run on, when attached to small brass rings, and which were concealed by the double valance, which is now dispensed with, large and handsome-looking rods or poles of the same wood as the bedstead, are now used. On these are slid wooden rings having brass eyelets, through which [-246-] the hooks in the curtains are passed. One great disad vantage of these wooden rings is, that with a slight motion, even that caused by a person walking overhead, the rings, if close together, rattle, which is an annoyance even to an ordinary sleeper, and is a weariness to an invalid An improvement upon wooden rings is to have them of india-rubber. Metal rings should never be used.
BEDROOM FURNITURE (continued from p. 246).
Mattresses.-In a previous chapter a brief allusion is made to this
necessary article of bedding. Formerly, and even now in some countries when the
bedstead has a good sacking instead of laths or iron, a mattress was not deemed
necessary, but when this was dispensed with, the feather bed was one of fifty
pounds of good goose feathers, or mixed with other poultry feathers. Such a
couch needed no mattress, but now it is considered almost indispensable to the
comfort of the sleeper, and is by many persons preferred to a bed. Of mattresses
there are many kinds, and made of various materials. Among the first in
estimation, the spring mattress, shown below, holds its place. This is formed of
a succession of coils of stout copper wire, either galvanised or otherwise, each
coil somewhat resembling an hour-glass. These are often set in a solid box-like
frame; but when completely covered it is difficult to replace a weak spring or
repair any damaged part. A newer and much better form is where the framework
consists of stout laths, resembling those of an ordinary wooden bedstead, but
much thicker, and having one or two transverse bars running from head to foot,
according as the width needs them. The springs are fastened to the laths, or to
another series of laths, and the whole is then covered with the ordinary checked
covering. The advantage of this make is, that should a spring become weak, it
can be seen at once where the mischief lies, and it can be repaired most
readily. A mattress of three feet wide and six feet in length is purchasable for
27s., and one five feet wide for 50s. A mattress or bed on the top of this is
necessary for the protection of the springs beneath.
The cheapest mattresses are the straw ones. They may be purchased from 12s. to 25s., according to quality; they are very thick and hard, and of course require a hair mattress or a feather bed on the top of them to make them comfortable. In the country they are sometimes made at home, and filled with clean fresh straw, the ticking being sewn up like a bag, the size of the bed. In Italy the dried leaves of the Indian corn, or maize, are universally used for this purpose; and also the leaves of the chestnut and beech. Paper Cut in fine pieces is used for both pillows and mattresses, and many charitable people make them for the poor. In cutting out a mattress, the rule is to allow an extra inch to every foot, to give room for the stuffing in both length and width. The sides are always cut the selvage way of the ticking.
For putting on the top of spring mattresses, nothing exceeds the comfort of six blankets quilted as a mattress would be, and which can be readily taken apart, washed, and put together again ; neither need this substitute be expensive, because six of the kind known as "Aldershot" blankets can be placed together and be covered with a Cotton ticking and quilted; the expense of such a mattress would not exceed 23s.
Whatever mattresses are needed, those of cotton flock should not be chosen, on account of their tendency to become lumpy.
Quilts and Counterpanes.- The warmest, lightest, best, and consequently most expensive bed covering is an eiderdown quilt, made of the best down put into a silken covering. One for a full-sized bedstead would cost £5 5s.; but one of the same size made of coloured goose down,· termed "Arctic down," and in a coloured cotton covering, would not be more than 35s. A number of cotton counter- panes piled one on the other would fatigue the sleeper, and not impart a tithe of the warmth of down or sheep's wool. It is a mistake to imagine that a pile of clothes will impart heat. Warmth is produced in the human body, and the object should be to retain that heat, by adopting such clothes as will, with a due regard to ventilation, prevent much of it from escaping. Sheep's wool, either as blankets, flannel, or woollen damask, will do this; also feathers, down, and furs. All textures of wool and silk are non-conductors of heat-that is, they do not allow the heat of the body to escape, consequently beds furnished with three blankets, two upper and one under, and a down quilt, or with an extra blanket instead of a quilt, wiU be found to be both comfortable and healthy.
The next counterpane to notice is the Massillian quilt, sometimes termed Marseilles and Marcella. These, on the surface, are made in imitation of the old-fashioned quilting of old blankets between chintz and white linen, which were formerly so prized. These Massillian quilts are comfortable, light, and elegant, and are purchasable at prices varying from 17s. to 40s. for a full-sized bedstead.
Very pretty quilts have recently come into fashion, with woven stripes of red, blue, or pink, on a white ground. The revival of needlework has also introduced bed-covers of crash, embroidered with coloured flowers in crewels, to match the embroidered curtains and bed-hangings.
Chintz bed -covers, to match the furniture of the bedroom, are also a novelty, and in London they possess one great advantage - that of keeping clean much longer than white counterpanes.
The bright-coloured Austrian blankets are also to be commended, many people using them for travelling rugs, as well as for bedding.
Servants' coloured cotton quilts, if of tolerable quality, are both soft and warm. They are not so finely woven as others purchased at a higher cost, and the material being less dressed in the manufacture, is more fluffy and warmer.
Supposing that economy is strictly necessary, and that a quilt, even of the very poorest description, cannot by any means be purchased, warmth in bed may be obtained by lining a sheet or other calico article, no matter how old, with brown paper, first well crumpled and rubbed to render it soft. The warmth this produces is almost incredible, because it does not allow the heat of the body to escape.
A warm and useful quilt can be made by utilising the down off poultry or goose feathers, which may be purchased for from is. to Is. 4d. per pound. The process of home-manufacture of these cheap and useful quilts may be described as follows:-
First strip off all the down from the feathers; then take some strips of glazed calico, coloured or white, each strip two yards long and nine inches wide; sew the sides of each strip together to form a long tube; sew up one end securely; into each tube put three ounces of feather strippings, but gradually-that is, sew a quarter of a yard of the tubing, then put in a few strippings, and pin them in while proceeding to sew another portion. Thus, when the sewing of a tube is completed, the filling will be also.
These tubings are now to be sewn together, as many as [-286-] are needed for the length of the bedstead; and will form a warm and pretty quilt - the pattern being a succession of ridges - and the expense is almost nominal in a family where poultry is kept. Care only is required in the matter of cleaning and drying the feathers. When a duck, fowl, or goose is plucked, the feathers should be put into plenty of warm water, and a little soda be well stirred about; then taken out and thrown into cold water; then lifted and put to drain on a cloth over a large pan, or in any other convenient mode, such as a large net, which may be made for the purpose. When drained, spread the feathers between cloths to absorb the moisture; and, finally, tie them up loosely in two or three bags made of muslin, a coarse kind such as is sold for fourpence the yard. Then put the bags in a warm oven, leaving the oven door open. Do this for a succession of nights, till the feathers are quite dry; they may then be put away in - paper bags. If this be done at each poultry-picking, the affair is one of little trouble, the stripping being done at any leisure time.
Feather Beds- A bed, bolster, and two pillows complete, for a full-sized bedstead, may be had at from three to twelve guineas, the difference in price being regulated by the quality of the feathers, the make, quality, and description of bed-tick, and the weight of the bed. The unbordered beds of merely two surfaces of tick sewn together within the band round, which is termed the border, seem to be fitting beds for the nursery, but they are not so. Moreover, they are not comfortable. If poultry feathers, clean and sweet, as above said, cost is. a pound, an unbordered bed, containing thirty-four pounds of feathers, a bolster with six pounds, and two pillows each containing one and a half pounds, in a cotton tick, will cost £3 ready-made; and this mode of purchasing is the cheapest. The cost of the feathers being £2 7s., the price of the tick, and workmanship for it and the bolster and pillows will be only 16s. This is for the cheapest kind of full-sized unbordered bed. The next description of feather is English grey goose, at 1s. 4d. per pound; superior realises as much as 1s. 10d. and 2s. 6d. per pound; and, lastly, the very best white goose, at 3s. per pound.
In purchasing a new bed it will be necessary to see the feathers ; and if they have a tolerable quantity of fluff or down at the ends of them, the stems small, and the feathers well curled,. they are good. White goose - feathers are the highest priced ; they are of good colour, and are not likely to be mistaken for fowls' feathers, which have much less down upon them. For a bedstead five feet six inches wide, and a proportionate length, not less than forty-seven pounds of feathers should be apportioned to the bed, seven pounds to the bolster, and two and a half pounds for each of two pillows; thus fifty-nine pounds of feathers will make the bed complete. In giving an order for a bed, state the weight, size, and quality required, also whether to be of cotton or linen tick, and mention the price desirable to give for the feathers per pound. A cotton tick, instead of one of linen, would considerably lessen the price, but in either case a waxed tick should be stipulated for, seeing that in many instances nothing is done to prevent the feathers coming through excepting to cover it on the inside with a coat of whitewash, or other inferior matter, which, after a little time, comes through the tick in clouds of dust, and which cannot be remedied but by emptying the tick, washing, and waxing it.
The quality of the feathers of a bed ready made can be pretty well judged by pressing them down; if they rise up quickly, the feathers are new and downy; is on the contrary, the rise is but slow or not at all, then they are old, and however well they have been cleaned, have from age lost the greater portion of their down, and are worthless. Purchasing beds at public auctions and private sales entails some risk of purchasing with them the seeds of disease. These sales are often consequent upon a bereavement, which causes a home to be broken up, and if the fatal stroke were fever, those who afterwards lie on the bed of a fever-stricken patient are likely to get the disease. As the cost of purifying feathers is not more than 3½d. per pound, it is scarcely worth while running any risk of this kind.
BEDROOM FURNITURE (continued from p. 286).
Blankets. - To sleep under a heavy weight of bed-clothes is a burden
to most people, and whatever be the lightness of the outer quilt, if the
blankets be made of coarsely-spun wool of a poor quality, there will be
considerable weight in them, but little warmth. Alight, soft, and well- woven
blanket will give more warmth than two of coarse and inferior make. The best
blankets are on both sides nearly if not quite alike in the "fluff" of
the wool, which, - however, is not long, but on the contrary, somewhat short,
thick, and very soft. Such blankets are known by the name of "extra
supers," and will cost from 35s. to 50s. a pair. The process of raising a
pile on the blankets is a most important operation. It is effected by rollers
covered - with brass pins, and over these one side of the blanket is passed
twice. and three times over the other, which is on that side termed the right
side of the blanket; and if the wool with which blankets are spur. be of
inferior quality, this dressing will vanish the first time they are washed,
Another thing which adds to the cost and also beauty of blankets is, previously
to the pile being raised on them, that they are beaten with ponderous wooden
hammers, reducing a blanket sometimes to half its original weight; by this
process all extraneous matter is beaten out of them. In common blankets the
beating is less, and they are consequently less soft.
Blankets are sold by the width and length of so many quarters in size, and should be chosen for their weight, softness of wool, and thickness in pile on both sides- blankets of this quality can seldom be had under 30s. the pair; those of less excellence from any price above 12s. per pair. Common blankets shrink very much in washing them, which is not the case with the better kind; the different process of manufacture and the quality of the wool causing the difference.
The Aldershot blankets, made of dark wool, slate-coloured or brown, are useful for servants' blankets, and they are inexpensive-good-sized ones can be purchased for 6s. per pair. They are very soft when washed, and do not shrink so much as common white blankets. When put into a calico casing, two of these make an excellent and warm quilt for winter for servants' beds.
Sheets and Pillow-cases Formerly, before the cotton era, linen sheets were highly prized; now these are scarcely to be seen among the poorer classes. Linen sheets seem to belong, by right, to the upper and well-to-do middle classes. It is not alone the difference in the price of the material that has ruled this, but the poorer classes have found out that calico sheets are a great deal more comfortable and less likely to increase rheumatic tendencies. In former times, and even at the present day, in low, clamp situations, among some of the peasantry who cannot afford the luxury of coddling for slight ailments, every effort is made to ward off sickness, and in their homes blankets will be found in place of sheets. Martyrs to rheumatic affections have been cured by constantly sleeping in blankets, and where the skin is too irritable to admit of these, the soft, unbleached cotton sheets, manufactured for use in India and the tropics generally, have been found an excellent substitute. Unbleached cotton is much warmer than the bleached kind. One hundred and fifty years since an Act of Parliament was passed imposing a penalty of £5 upon the wearer, and £20 upon the seller of a piece of calico. This was to encourage the trade in flax, and in articles woven from it. No Act of Parliament, however, could stop the progress of such a universal good as th~ introduction of cotton. Those who could not indulge in linen garments and sheets on account of the expense, were in a few years, when cotton became cheap, enabled to be clad decently, and have a sufficient change of bedclothes previously unattainable. Prior to the civil war in America, upwards of sixty-five millions. had been invested in cotton machinery, which employed four hundred and fifty thousand people, who divided among them annually upwards of eleven millions sterling. The domestic trade of England alone realised twenty-four millions sterling. Such is the value of cotton in a financial point of view.
Now, of cotton there are several kinds, mostly resolving themselves into long and short staple; at least, these are the ordinary two kinds which a housekeeper needs to know anything about. Articles made of long staple wear better than when made of short staple, because in the spinning, the joins are not so frequent, and the cotton itself is silkier and softer. During the war much of the worst kind was imported to give employment to the starving operatives, and was woven into calico, its defects being hidden by the quantity of "dress it contained. These defects are uneven projections in the calico caused [-347-] by spinning short staple cotton of inferior quality, and when an undressed calico is held to the light they are easily discernible. A calico of this description will not wear well, simply because it is made of unevenly-spun cotton. In all cotton cloth some defects of the kind are perceivable, hut a purchaser should choose that which has the fewest, and of course this will be the most expensive. Sheeting calico should have the thread round and even, both threads, warp and woof, being alike, not a thin thread running the length of the material, and a thick one across it. This calico will "slieve," that is, one thread pull from the other, or it will crack across, without other indications of wear. Calico for sheets is sold in widths suitable for beds of different sizes, and is not dearer in proportion than a number of breadths equal to the width of sheeting would be; but three breadths of three-quarters wide calico seamed together would be stronger than sheeting calico without a seam. The quantity of calico necessary for one sheet the full size for a large bedstead would be three yards and a quarter long by two and a half wide. Whatever be the width of a sheet, it should be three- quarters of a yard longer than it is wide.
For servants' and young schoolboys' sheets, the unbleached brown cotton, free from black specks on both sides, is undoubtedly the best material. The oftener it is washed the softer it becomes, and when not too fine, imparts warmth nearly as much as wool does. It is also the best thing for pillow-cases.
Sheets of linen, to those who have been accustomed to them, cannot be dispensed with-habit is second nature. The same observations apply to choosing the linen for these as to calico: the fabric should be free from coarse threads, that is coarse by comparison with the surrounding threads, and the edges of the material even. The manufacturers have a practice of "dressing" linen so that the threads look sound and even, but are not really so; the quality can only be detected by rubbing soft one end of it. When a great number of coarse threads are prominently visible, the cloth is made of short flax imperfectly spun, and will not wear well.
The practice of rolling a bolster in the sheet is not a comfortable one, nor is it thrifty. The ticking soon gets dirty. A bolster-case is always needed, and even if the sheets be of calico, this and the pillow-cases should be of linen. Yard wide cloth is sold for the purpose. A bolster-case should be sixty inches long for a five-foot bedstead, and less or more in proportion to its size. The case may be joined at one end, and four buttons and button-holes on a hem two inches wide will fasten it at the other end, or one end maybe set into a circular piece of linen four inches in diameter, and the opposite end drawn up close with a string of tape. Pillow-cases rather more than three-quarters of a yard long are of Irish linen a yard wide, the selvage of one side, doubled in half and seamed together; the two raw edges is a felled seam, and the remaining selvage side, turned down, is a hem an inch broad, and for closing this end over the pillow have four small linen buttons and neatly-made button-holes opposite the buttons sewed upon the hem of the seam.
Towelling.- There is a great variety of fabrics sold for towels. First comes the huckaback - originally hucklebock - i.e., having a knotted or bunched surface - and this, when made of coarse linen, is certainly most excellent for absorbing the wet and for rubbing the skin, whereby to create a reaction and glow. Material of this description can be bought for eightpence the yard, and the Unbleached is preferable. As all linen articles shrink in washing, huckaback should not be fine, but thick and loose in its texture. Eighteen nails is the proper length for a towel, which should be fringed at the ends, by cutting the selvage on the four sides about an inch in depth, then ravelling so far, and finally sewing over the towel between the fringe in an irregular manner. Thus it never ravels in washing. The reason for fringing the ends is, that when hemmed, the dirt is rarely rinsed out of the hems in washing, and the mangle cannot leave the impression of the hems on the next towel or article beneath it.
Russian Towelling-, termed by drapers "crash," is a strong material of narrow width made in Russia, and imported therefrom. Many persons prefer this make for towels because of its roughness when new; and when old, it is soft, and strong, and convertible to other household purposes. This kind is preferable for runner-towels ; - three yards is a good length for a runner and at 5d. a yard it can be bought of an excellent quality.
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