It is hard to conceive of a more ugly article of furniture than the ordinary hot water or steam radiator and yet it is possible to make even this ugliness serve both a useful and an aesthetic purpose.
IN EVERY home there are articles of furniture, fixtures and utility corners which are absolutely necessary to the
comfort of the household, but aesthetically unprepossessing. In this class fall the radiator, the sewing-machine, open cupboards, “lay away” boxes, or any object of unbeautiful usefulness which the routine of home life demands. It takes a certain amount of ingenuity to successfully disguise their unlovely characteristics and at the same time preserve them for unhampered use.
The Ever-Present Radiator
RADIATORS are the prime offenders in the crime of absolute ugliness in any interior. Shortly, it undoubtedly will be the rule in well-built houses and apartments to have them covered as part of the routine wood-work, but meanwhile it is the problem of the individual to deal with them as effectively as may be. Perhaps the most inexpensive form of radiatorcamouflage is the simple expedient of having a well-fitting board made which will just cover the top of the radiator, and will have sufficient over-hanging edge to give it a purchase on the coils. Such a board, when neatly planed and sandpapered, may be stained the color of the surrounding woodwork. On a rougher board, wall-paper may be pasted on to match that on the wall, provided it is a dark one or figured. Plain light paper, of course, would be impracticable.
Although this “top” does not hide the whole radiator, it does a great deal to
distract the eye from its unattractive identity. Book ends may be carpentered on in the making, but it seems preferable to use “removable” ones which can be shifted at will. One may wish to change or augment the setting by flowers, a pair of candle-sticks or a decorative bowl or tray.
Whenever a radiator is covered, it should be in the surrounding woodwork of the room for, even when disguised, the purpose of taking away its prominence is defeated if it glares forth as something different and alone.
An Architectural • Arrangement
TN THE more ambitious disguises for the radiator, there are several original departures. In the large picture shown on this page, a charming arrangement has been thought out in the original planning of the room.. The crossslatted box which ¡covers the register is ¡an integral part of two Colonial china ¡cabinets, and is useful ¡either as a windowseat or as a place for flowers. Practically speaking, this location of the radiator, directly _ beneath the main window, is the
scientific placement, as air is warmed as it enters the room. In our zeal for a total disguise we must not forget the practical purpose of the object to be hidden. Great care must be taken to insure that the heat-giving properties of radiators are not in any way lessened by whatever structure we put around them. Vertical and cross-slats are an ideal treatment for this reason.
This cross-slat treatment, as shown in the photograph, is admirable for the low, long type of radiator which may be converted into window-seat or recess. For the higher type of coil, which usually is not so situated that it may be linked up with any group but occupies some nonedescript position around the wall, the vertical slats with a closed top are the best form of box. Each slat corresponds with a coil beneath, and the whole has a rather dignified effect. In dining rooms, this style has its practical uses. It is high enough to look like a proper small sideboard, and may be used for warming plates, keeping serving dishes warm and doing buffet service generally, during and between meal times.
A low or high radiator may be the basis for a built-over bookcase or china cabinet. Vertical slatting is usually the most successful treatment for this arrangement as well. Note in the smaller illustration how a long low register has been converted into a most attractive bookcase near a section of wall which nicely accommodates a desk.
Two Points to Avoid
A MATTER which must be carefully looked into in covering radiators, is the accessibility of the pressure-adjustment gauge at top, and the “on” and “off” valve at bottom. Your carpenter may know his business sufficiently well to allow for this, but you will probably have a more satisfactory piece of work if you talk it over with him. It is not always necessary to have these parts visible. In the case of a panelled cross-slat cover, one panel may open out like a closet, while in a vertical slat type, two or three sideslats may be made detachable.
Never attempt to “curtain” a radiator with cretonne or chintz. In the first place it shuts out the heat; in the next it is
hopelessly bad taste to use textiles in the treatment of any distinctly architectural feature, much less one whose heat radiation will glow it out as though in a breeze! There is no rule of good sense or good taste, however, which forbids the draping of a colorful shawl or bit of silk over a radiator once it has been covered.
What Can We Do With the Sewing Machine
THE sewing-machine is a bete noir unless, as is seldom the case, there is one room which can be devoted exclusively to sewing. In a bedroom it usually crowds things, and in any room in which actual living and receiving is done, it is simply an eye-sore. Moreover these rooms can never conscientiously be torn up with sewing. The most reasonable place where a sewing-machine may find harbor is the guest-room, it seems to me. For the turning of a spare room into a sewingroom discommodes no one, and there the machine may successfully be made into an integral piece of bedroom furniture with little trouble. All modern machines are of the “fold in” variety, but some do not have an absolutely flat table surface even when folded. The centre panel is often raised about one inch. In covering with chintz or cretonne this is a difficulty that may be overcome by tacking the material onto a board the exact size of the top of the machine, to serve as a second top. The material may be stretched over this and tacked down, the petticoat also tacked around the edges. An even
better arrangement, if you use a cutting board, is to have the board for the machine planed and oiled so that it may be used for this purpose, then make the chintz cover a slip one that may be dropped over the machine with the board resting on top. In this way your whole heavy sewing artillery is once and for all placed and disguised. Of course, a machine with a perfectly flat surface, will take this slip cover alone.
With a flat surface, ‘covered attractively in chintz or even some of the daintier combinations which glorify the draped dressing table, your machine may supply your guest room with that article of furniture. With a mirror hanging above it, it will serve admirably for this use in a room which is only occasionally occupied. Such dressing tables are very attractive with an underslip of pink or blue sateen and dotted net or swiss over-cover, in artificial silk, or with linen pique, smartly and simply embroidered in color,
Chests are not in themselves unsightly. Even if they are of rough wood., they ma./
be painted or covered with chintz and made to look neat if not absolutely decorative. Yet they have greater possibilities. Have you ever wished for a chaise-longue or comfortable sofa in your bedroom? There is hardly ever room for both a large chest and a lounge too, but a simple pinebuilt chest, sofa length, may be turned into a very comfortable couch when its sides and a small cot mattress are covered with cretonne. A restful fat cushion or two, and the bedroom sofa is created. Being body length, it will hold coats, fine dresses, curtains and everything that is too large or too good to be rolled up and put away in the usual manner.
“By Cubby Hole and Press”
ALMOST every house has its glory holes and caverns. Sometimes they are most romantic and interesting, but more often it is a problem to keep them clean and clear, much less make them pay their way in the matter of the space they cover.
Curtaining off such places, like giving a feverish patient cold water, is a measure which does more harm than good in the end usually. It is too much of a temptation to pile things into them out of sight! The first thing to do with a dark corner is to throw light into it. If it is not wired for electricity, a light can usually be carried into it by an outside extension from the room on which it gives. The most worthwhile recesses of the kind which I have seen, are those which have been turned into large built-in chests-of-drawers, cupboards-—even bins. A big white-painted structure of drawers can look very attractive, opening out of a bedroom, with a bowl of flowers upon it, or a lamp. A pair of fresh-looking chintz portieres, open on either side of its access, are then not in the class with the curtains that “hang to hide.”
The art of devising well-protected and well equipped closet and storage room is one which has been taken up as a specialty by one prominent interior decorator in New York. This specialist advocates actual decoration of closets—papering and attractive painting. Especially in the treatment of childrens’ closets has she done rather original and interesting things on the theory that a child will find fun in hanging up and keeping his clothes, toys and books tidy if he has a proper, commodious and interesting place in which to put them. Accordingly, her children’s and young people’s closets are a particular study, and all manner of intriguing little innovations are introduced in the way of hat racks and boxes, deed and shallow drawers that do not stick, deep toy bins that open out from the face of the wall or the cupboard, hooks for school bags, stands for hockey sticks, golf clubs or rackets, marked off rows for shoes of all kinds—all in ample space, well lighted and raised up and protected from the dust of the floor.
Other Built-in Sightsavers
A WOODPILE is a necessity, but it is an unattractive looking thing as well as one that takes up too much room on back porches during the winter. In building a house, provision can be made always for a wood-closet which may be filled from the outside and opened from the within. Such a closet may be provided right beside the fireplace as part of the mantel scheme, also filled from the outside. The saving of energy and dirty hands which such arrangements provide can easily be imagined.
The problem of bringing the goodly object of necessity into the appropriate scheme, is an interesting bit of homemastery which may be undertaken both in the house that is being built or in one which has stood for many years. Those who have had to make such changes in the actual physical features of older houses, however, will have many plans for obviating them in the house they themselves will build one day.
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