For convenience and trim snugness the breakfast alcove has an allure all its own
MARY AGNES PEASEMay11929
The Breakfast Nook
For convenience and trim snugness the breakfast alcove has an allure all its own
MARY AGNES PEASE
THE illustrations accompanying this article show, in one case, the dining room reduced to its least common denominator—a table and two benches —and in the other, a combination breakfast room and child’s play room. Both these rooms are full of comfort, color and charm, and show what can be accomplished when one has a limited amount of space and money and wishes to reduce labor without sacrificing beauty.
The breakfast alcove pictured on this page is part of the house of a young couple who live in the suburbs of a large city. It was designed by the husband for the comfort and convenience of his wife, who without outside assistance carries on the duties of home-maker, mother and professional writer.
This little breakfast room, which is frequently used also for luncheon and dinner, would probably in an earlier day have been either a pantry or a store room, but modern methods and the ingenuity of the present-day manufacturer have eliminated the necessity for quantity storage, and in consequence, the pantry of yesterday has been metamorphosed into the alcove of today. As it is just beside the kitchen, the business of serving in it is enormously simplified.
The table and benches are easily washed or dusted, and it is an easy matter to “pick up” after a meal.
The alcove faces the west, and permits an unfettered view of glorious sunsets. As the windows are of the casement type, plenty of air and direct sunshine are always possible.
The walls and ceiling are painted an orange color and the furniture and woodwork are in an ivory tone. The long cushions for the settles are covered in dull blue rep, and the small cushions and curtains are of striped blue and orange chintz. The whole combined effect is one of dignity, simplicity and unusual charm.
The table is the only piece of furniture in the room that is not stationary. I was informed by the lady of the house, who is more or less an efficiency expert, that it is really an advantage to have a movable table, as it simplifies the cleaning of the room and also makes possible its occasional removal to other parts of the house, if required.
In the cupboards above the settles are rows of dishes in gay colors which add the requisite “high lights” to the picture.
To obtain the maximum degree of comfort in a breakfast alcove, it is important to have sufficient electric outlets. These make the preparation of informal meals a very simple matter, as coffee, toast and other food can be prepared “while you wait.”
If there are children in the house, the alcove is a great blessing for everyone concerned. Here, there is nothing to disturb, nothing to spoil. What a joy for a child to have a place to have a tea party where every prospect pleases and the word “don’t” is seldom heard!
A Combination Breakfast and Play Room
THE other breakfast room pictured belongs to another young couple, who also live beyond the city limits as the view from the window would indicate. This room was probably intended in the first place as a maid’s room, but as there is no maid in this family and as the room was bright and sunny and directly off the kitchen, it became the breakfast room, and also the indoor play-room of the owner of the doll family which is prominently displayed in the picture.
This room has another window similar to that photographed and is consequently flooded with sunlight. Both windows are bright with flowering plants which thrive amazingly in this sunny room. The English ivy has crept all over the place and will soon have accomplished a complete tour of the room.
Green is the key color of this room. The painting, papering and, in fact, the making of some of the furniture were all done by the owners of the house, both of whom are very much interested in interior decorating. In another article I shall tell you of some of their more ambitious work in this direction. As this particular room was the last one in their house to be furnished, there was not much money for the purpose, so a good deal of ingenuity had to be employed to secure a good effect.
The breakfast table was formerly a large kitchen table which was purchased for two dollars and cut down to suit the room. The chairs were also of the kitchen variety and cost only a dollar each. The man of the house made the cupboard and a serving table, which latter was not included in the picture. The corner cupboard was made after the pattern of a Scotch dresser, which he remembered from childhood as a familiar object in his mother’s kitchen.
These pieces were all finished with jade enamel paint, and are most effective against the wall paper which has a putty-colored background with trailing branches of flowers in orange and blue. Orange curtains add the final note of color in this ensemble.
This room has become such a favorite in the family that the more formal dining room is seldom used. The informal character of the smaller room and its spring-like colors have a most inviting quality.
Green is one of the colors most used in decorating. It has a cool restful quality and combines well with many other colors. In addition, it is a color that one does not tire of easily, and is ideal for a room which gets plenty of sunshine.
T ASKED the young homemaker to tell me something of her experiences in painting her furniture. She said that she thought most novices made a mistake in making their first attempt at painting on a battered piece of furniture, because there is so much work involved if this is to be properly done. The surface finish already on the furniture has to be removed, and the whole smoothed down before the paint can be applied; all of which is a lengthy business and is not always entirely successful. An unfinished piece of furniture, she advised, was the best adventure for a beginner — a kitchen table or chair.
There are few women who can resist the triumvirate of a can of paint, a brush and an old piece of furniture, especially at house-cleaning time. There is a sense of power in being able by a few strokes of the brush to completely change the effect of the article in hand. It is important in painting to hold the brush loosely and to work from the left to the right. Also it is important to keep the paint well stirred, to keep a can of turpentine near at hand for thinning purposes, and to sandpaper the furniture before as well as after each application of paint.
My informant described to me her methods for painting old pieces which, she says, can be made very beautiful if one has the patience to do the necessary work involved. Any varnish or shellac must be completely removed as must also an oiled surface. Paint remover should be applied until the finish can be easily scraped off after which the furniture should be washed to get rid of all trace of the remover. When it is dry, go over it with fine sandpaper to remove any excrescences. Brush off the dust and fill all cracks and dents with putty, and then give the entire surface a coat of shellac which fills the pores of the wood and prevents too much absorption. The sandpaper is again brought into requisition for a final rub before the paint is applied. Always paint with the grain of the wood. In the case of tables and chairs, the grooves in the legs should be painted first and a long stroke should be used.
It sounds a bit wearisome, but the results shown by this particular housekeeper would seem to justify the labor. Before starting on her painting adventure she had studied her subject very thoroughly by reading various books on the treatment of woods and by noting the experience of other amateurs.
There is plenty of floor space in the breakfast room pictured for the child of the house to play in, and, in addition, the chief essentials are there—fresh air, sunshine and every detail concerning hygiene. Children are very sensitive to color, but undoubtedly the harmonious combination of shades, so popular with nature, could not fail in this case to have a very happy effect.
We are absorbed in color to-day from cellar to garret. Pots and pans, stoves, refrigerators and all the things that go to make up the equipment of a kitchen appear in gala dress. There are no black pots or sad irons nowadays. Every room in the house is influenced by the new radiance. Even linens are touched by it and can no longer come under the general term of “snowy.” The shops invite us to buy pink sheets and green tablecloths. We live in a wonderful age when the only things to prevent one from having practically everything imaginable are desire and cost. That much can be had, however, at small cost is exemplified in the illustrations given herewith.
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