MacLean’s Magazine Art and Decoration for Town and Country Homes
Summerizing the City Home
KATHRINE M . CALDWELLMay151924
MacLean’s Magazine Art and Decoration for Town and Country Homes
Summerizing the City Home
KATHRINE M . CALDWELL
REST from the glare of summer sunshine, shelter from the hot breath of a gasping day—just a step will find them if it is taken across the welcoming doorsill of a summer home.
I am not thinking of a mountain shack perchedhigh amongst the tree tops; nor yet of a lakeside cabin, placed to catch the little breeze that ruffles the water and chases tiny curling wavelets toward the sandcastles on the shore; lovely summer homes these, but—not more than one in ten of us leaves the house that shelters us through all the other seasons, to seek summer in her own cool fastnesses.
The other nine—
Why if they are clever, they bring that coolness and contentment to the yearround home, and séttle down to its calm enjoyment ' for the warm months.
Let me whisper one advantage that is theirs at the outset. The house that is built to withstand winter’s cold offers greater resistance to summer’s heat than does the lightly-built summer cottage. Thick walls, substantial roof, a deep cellar, are aids in the matter of keeping out the heat.
The rest of the matter lies in the hands of the housekeeper. There are three approaches to the question of the summer home, each trying to out-clamor the others for her attention.
One is the practical equipment she provides for comfort’s sake close-fitting screens, for instance, on every door and window—(and the wise woman knows the value of getting them on early); dark blinds on sunny windows, that can be drawn during the day, to keep out heat and prevent the fading of the furnishings.
The second claimant is the group of aids who cry to the home-maker —“This is vacation time—for you as well as the rest of the world.
Take measures to lighten your labors and to shorten your working day, that you, too, may enjoy some of the summer play-time.”.
And the third way of achieving summer calm and comfort is purely a thing of atmosphere; the giving of an effect of space and coolness and shadowed restfulness. Intangible, yes, but quite as potent an influence as the two practical issues already mentioned.
You have been in the kind of house I mean—perhaps it is your own house, in which case I hope you will read on if only to give me the support of your agreement. You cross the threshold of such a house, to find yourself conscious, at once, of a feeling of space, of freedom, of restful welcome. You glimpse, in this direction and in that, little vistas that charm and soothe you; there is no glare; a gentle flutter of light drapery at the windows, quiet color, open spaces, murmur to you of the loveliness of summer. And, forgetting what, a moment before, you thought the too-great ardor of the sun, you un■ reservedly agree with them.
I HAVE watched several clever women work their warm weather magic in transforming the home that was so adequate to winter’s need ; and I know now that their success is by no means measured by the. amount of money they can spend to work' their happy changes.
Two living rooms come quickly to my mind—I so love to visit in them both. Their mid-summer effect is the same, though differently achieved.
One, a great long room with many windows looking down a beautifully wooded hillside, is richly carpeted with a Donegal rug of great beauty—dark green, with wandering sprays of terra cotta flowers. The room is of such proportions that its large rug is needed to hold its furnishings together, so it is not lifted in summer. But the color scheme of the whole room, while the essential harmonies are the same, is lifted to a lighter key.
The rich brocaded curtains of deep terra cotta, so effective in giving color and warmth in winter,
come down, and so do the embroidered filet net glass curtains. The two are replaced by filmy, pale green silk gauze, drawn to the sides of all the windows, leaving a clear view of the garden and the lovely pines and birches beyond.
The panels of needlework, the big tapestry that hangs on one long wall, the oil paintings and terra cotta lamp shades, all disappear in June. The pale-green painted walls, that make such a lovely background for the color and beauty of panels and pictures, are delightfully unadorned. Soft putty colored vellum shades supplant the colorful shades on the larger lamps.
Slip covers of glazed chintz, of pale green, some of them are patterned in the old cockle-shell design, some plain.
Ornaments, too, are put away, to gain added interest when they reappear next fall. Two or three small white marble figures gleam in shadowed corners; green ferns, growing plants bowls of cut flowers, add the only touches that are needed. From the yellow and bronze tulips of the early season, to the mari-
golds and bronze mums~of Iate~summer„ there are plenty of flowers in the yellow and orange and henna tones that give all the vivid accent that is needed.
An exquisite room;quiet, satisfying, lovely.
But not more effective than another room in which I love to enjoy a leisured “dish of tea and talk.” It is good talk— and good tea—that the clever hostess dispenses.
Perhaps the thing I admire most is the leisure I just mentioned. There is always a sense of calm, unhurried well-being in that house that is a triumph of good management; for there are noservants, but an active young family, and a slender purse, to be fitted into the scheme of things. Only good management on the home-maker’s part, a love of beauty in her surroundings and in the life that is lived against these backgrounds, and the practical ability to
make much out of little, make the fitting possible.
Plain walls are again an aid to an open, untramelled effect. A
neutral paper, in a soft tone between old ivory and champagne, is, as always, a good start. Woodwork is painted in exactly the same tone —for this is one effective method of giving added size to a room; and in this case, the room is not a large one; effects of spaciousness have to be created, instead of generous proportions being actually there, as in the former case.
This room boasts few pictures at any season —half a dozen delightful etchings, simply mounted in narrow, black frames.
“Sometimes I take them all down in summer, sometimes I leave a single favorite where it will do the most good,” my hostess told me one day, when we were talking over this very question of “summerizing” the house. “I am relentless in
the matter of any kind of bric-a-brac. My candlesticks go —they do heavy duty all winter, for I think there is nothing so truly cheery as candle light. Everything goes but flower receptacles. I press every jar and bowl into duty. That great jar of dull brown glazed crockery, that I fill with fruit blossoms in spring and fresh green, and with flower spikes, all summer—is in solemn truth my bean pot! At this time of year I prefer it in this role—-I don’t fancy baked beans as a hot-weather dish.”
GREEN vines drip from bowls on the mantle, in wall brackets and from a hanging basket silhouetted against the window. And that window’s drapery! Silken gauze is far beyond my friend’s resources; but the warm chenille curtains, that draw closely across her winter windows, would be a fearful anachronism at this season and had to give way to some lighter treatment.
Sheer white voile, plainly hemstitched, does duty all year round as glass curtains. At either side, lengths of lovely color— just the color of the sea, when it is neither blue nor green, flutter gently with the breeze.
“My latest triumph,” said my hostess. “Mosquito netting, my dear. Ordinary white netting—dipped in my invaluable dye pot. I blended the colors myself, experimenting by dipping and drying bits of netting until I found I had that cool blue-green of deep water. I knew I probably shouldn’t succeed in matching such a subtle shade in cheap cottons, so I dipped enough bargain-sale cotton rep to cover those two chairs and some cushions. Gave some old white cotton fringe a dip, too, to edge those cretonne table runners; it goes nicely with their soft cream and brown tones, doesn’t it?”
Her one floor lamp and a table lamp carried new shades—cheap imitation parchment, I was informed, on which had been pasted a series of dancing nymphs— silhouette cut-outs of black, light-weight card. These were not purchased ready cut, but were traced on black card from a particularly charming magazine illustration, then carefully cut out and applied.
The heavy rug is always lifted in summer by this housekeeper—and before the fire place there lies a small rug that had been made from the good portion of a discarded bedroom carpet—a good camel’s hair tone, fringed in self-color. When the floor is in good condition—either waxed and polished hardwood or a well-painted floor—this is a very good arrangement.
In a house that has a living room with so definite a character and so much charm as either of the two I have described, you are quite certain, even though you penetrate no farther, that the rest of the rooms are wearing the lightest and most appropriate of summer garb.
You fancy bed rooms with sheer white curtains, hung straight or looped back with a pretty band of chintz or a white cord; a little white valance across the top, or perhaps a shallow valance of a light chintz, is the only additional drapery. Tabletops are cleared of all but essentials. The bed is spread with white dimity or pique of a light, easy-tolaunder weight.
In the dining room, tailored covers of naturalcolored linen or rep or cotton burlap, bound around the edges with cotton tape, are tied into place on the chair seats. If the backs of the chairs are upholstered in leather or dark fabric, matching slips are drawn over them and tied in place with perky bows of the colored tape.
Plainest of unbleached linen or creamy cotton poplin, hemstitched or bound (preferably in selfcolor or white), make the best of runners for buffet and table.
Silver and cut glass disappear from their places of honor, leaving a simple
bowl of fruit or flowers in calm possession of the sideboard’s cleared expanse.
Very simple linens are prescribed by common sense. Large white cloths are unnecessary labor-makers, and are really not so attractive for the usual informal meal as are runners or doilies of linen, cotton weaves, or even of pretty lightgrounded chintz.
The key note to successful summer furnishing lies in the elimination of every possible adornment and of essentially warm-looking furnishings; in the introduction of light fabrics and cool colors— an atmosphere of calm and rest, a feeling of open spaces.
The cool colors are grey, green and blue; these should provide all the main color expanses, with happy notes of yellow and rose and violet, used just as accents and to relieve an effect which might be too inanimate. All the vivid colors must be used with much discretion, however, if they are not to destroy the very quality we have striven to put into our room.
Lighter rugs, such as the linen flax rug, and those of cotton and wool rags, dyed in all the delightful colors; small rugs— Eastern rugs are always excellent if one is fortunate enough to possess them; polished floors or those dark-stained or painted in interesting colors to match the wall treatment; these are floor pointers which make for less work and more charm.
Light fabrics, from the stunning striped or hand blocked linens and cool, lovely glázed chintz in old time patterns, through all the ginghams, chambrays, muslins, to home-dyed unbleached cotton or the netting already described ; flowered chintz, happy cretonne, with its fresh gay colors on pale ground, in open, scat-
tered pattern ; plain sunproof cloth, banded or appliqued with just enough chintz to lighten and brighten it.
Slip covers far from the old time funeral garb that usually advertised the family’s absence, are to-day charming in their own right and a boon when it comes to covering heavy upholstered pieces,treasured silk covers or those that have grown shabby in service. Summer slips should be of the simplest cut—plainly tailored, with only a piping or binding to relieve them; careful fitting is what establishes much of their claim to distinction. If flounces are used, the informal gathered flounce is often preferred to the more labored-looking pleated one.
It is reálly not a big business, this of bringing summer to the winter home. It has the double merit of making the house at once more pleasant to live in and more easily cared for.
And in the autumn, when you again bring out your treasures of fine linen, your glass and silverware (which is quickly restored to an untarnished condition by a bath in a dishpan of hot water in which a bit of old aluminum ware is immersed and a teaspoon each of salt and soda added); when you put your beloved pictures back upon the walls, bring out your pretty ornamental bits, your rows of candles, your cheery, warm-tinted lamps and curtains and rugs; when perhaps, you are encouraged by its temporary absence to leave in kindly retreat some unlovely piece you never did like—your house will be newly charming to you. For the second time, you will decide that changing into summer garb is very well worth the trouble it takes—and would be so if it were only for the pleasure of finding new delight in your possessions when they re-appear with novelty added to their other charms.
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