Nowadays, amazingly attractive “outdoor rooms" can be furnished at relatively small cost
MARY AGNES PEASEJune11929
The Porch Beautiful
Nowadays, amazingly attractive “outdoor rooms" can be furnished at relatively small cost
MARY AGNES PEASE
THE present age has been described as one of sinful comfort. Probably the describer was a descendant of one of the Puritans who had the strange idea that there was something evil about any kind of enjoyment. How surprised some of these stern old boys would be if they could see the luxurious mode of both indoor and outdoor living which is possible today, and which can be enjoyed by people in moderate circumstances as well as by the rich!
The pursuit of health and sun-tan in these latter days has increased the appreciation of the delights and benefits of living close to nature, and an increasing number of people are eating and sleeping, as well as playing, out-of-doors for as long as our climate will permit. As a result of this, much attention is being given to outdoor rooms, their form, furnishing and spirit, and the architect, the artist, the colorist and manufacturer have combined to give us the Porch Beautiful.
A Nautical Porch
'T'HERE are so many different kinds of porches that no hard and fast rule can be laid down as to their furnishing. They range from the elaborately planned and furnished sun-porch which boasts a fireplace, to the little “lean-to” that is at the mercy of the elements. Last year, as I was driving through the country, I saw a most attractive porch of the latter class. The owner had built a small cottage, and as an afterthought had added a little outdoor room at the side of the house by continuing the line of the roof with some rough beams which were joined by similar upright beams. These were stained brown and over them was stretched tightly some sail-cloth which might possibly have done duty first on some boat in the perilous seas. The sails were dyed a bright blue, and in addition to providing protection from the sun and rain, gave a suggestion of the sky to the occupant.
The furniture consisted of two steamer chairs with cushions made of the same blue material and a roughlymade, sturdy table and bench which suggested provision for the meal hour. The table wore a bright blue oil-cloth cover and was further enhanced by a pot of red geraniums which gave a contrast of color. A floor of rough boards was covered with some blue and black checked linoleum which was thoroughly in keeping with the setting. The cost of the whole thing must have been trifling, but this little outdoor room was full of charm and suggested comfort and the benefits of life in the open. It is easy to imagine that the color and simplicity of this place could afford rest and refreshment of spirit to its owners after a day of tiring work.
To the fastidious person, the only porch worthy of consideration is one that is screened to exclude flies and mosquitoes. It must be conceded that this condition makes the outdoor room much more comfortable, especially at meal-times. Last summer I left my porch unprotected by screens but added flower boxes along the low sills which framed the wide openings. The flowers seemed to act as decoys to the flies, for although the occasional mosquito came inside on foraging trips, we were untroubled by the flies.
It is perfectly amazing the good effects that can be achieved for porches at small cost. The various kinds of rattan, reed, fibre or willow furniture are, perhaps, the most practicable to use for this purpose. They are light in weight, and are, consequently, easily moved about, and they are inexpensive unless very finely woven. This year, the stick furniture seems to be the most popular. This may be because it lends itself more readily to painting and to color contrasts. Simple chairs and tables of the type illustrated can be stained or painted to fit into any color scheme. An important consideration in favor of this furniture is that it is practically impervious to rain.
Painted wooden furniture finished in the new porcelain-like enamel is also attractive and practical for porch purposes. This can be purchased in a “raw” state and finished in accordance with the color scheme planned, or it may be possible to collect old nondescript pieces and relate them to one another with paint. I did this with my porch furniture which consisted of an old cot bed with rusty springs, an old steamer chair, a straightbacked chair which had once belonged to a studio set, a double-decker table and a stool. These pieces were all painted jadegreen, even the rusty springs being treated to a coat of the rejuvenating color. Cretonne cushions and bedcover in green, yellow and black helped to make a happy ensemble, the entire cost of which was very little.
Facing Nature With Color
IT IS a mistake to suppose that one should not use bright colors in a porch. All furnishings that are designed to compete with Nature should carry clear, vivid color. Pale, lovely colors which are charming indoors fade into insignificance when brought out of doors. Jade green, yellow, Chinese blue and bright red are all admirably adapted to porch use. Everyone is adventuring in color nowadays, and what better place could there be to try out unusual contrasts than on a sun-porch? For example, a porch with blue awnings might have its simple wooden or stick furniture painted in orange with touches of blue. Or the colors might be reversed, and orange-striped awnings could form an interesting contrast to furniture painted in blue with touches of yellow.
Red as a color for furnishings is best suited to the porch of a house near the sea or one set in surroundings of luxuriant foliage. I saw one in Halifax in which the furniture was painted in sealing-wax red, and which had, as a subduing and contrasting note, cool gray linen cushions with pipings of scarlet. One has to be rather wary in the use of bright red, as it is a color which suggests heat.
Some of the new large-checked sunfast ginghams make charming cushion covers for porch use, and such material is cheap as well as suitable. Of course, nothing is lovelier than the waterproof chintzes and linens which from year to year grow more attractive in design and color. Some of them seem to carry the haunting charm of fragrant gardens in their flower patterns.
An important consideration in a porch is the providing of a proper floor effect. For this purpose there is nothing better than linoleum. In it, as in all other furnishings, the designer and the colorist have been busy and have made this material one of the most attractive of floor coverings. In addition to the beauty of its color and design, linoleum has the advantage of collecting no dirt. Some of the modernistic designs in linoleum are most intriguing. Oddly enough, these “strange” designs are well suited to all furnishings for out-of-door living, and seem quite at home with Nature.
If a porch has a large side opening which it would be an expensive matter to have glassed in, or which has an undesirable view, a home-made trellis may fill the bill admirably, as it ensures privacy, can be made immensely decorative, and admits air and light, as well as providing a background for climbing plants.
Why Not a Back Porch?
T OFTEN wonder why people do not make more use of the little back porches that open off the kitchen, and which are often mere storehouses for things that should be thrown away, or for brooms and the numerous implements that might be kept elsewhere. A mother has made use of the little back porch of her house by partitioning a part of it off and turning this part into a playhouse for her little girl. The little porch measures only seven and a half feet by seven and a half, but it holds the child’s table and chairs with a couch where she can take her nap. The remainder of the porch answers all the needs of a passage way from the kitchen to the garden. The furniture for the child’s room was painted a bright blue with transfer designs applied, which peopled it from fairyland. The dishes look and feel like china but are really of painted metal in the jolliest patterns. The child is perfectly happy in these surroundings, and is also within sight and sound of her mother while she is busy in the kitchen.
A kitchen porch might also be used as a children’s dining room for the summer, which would be an immense saving of wear and tear on everybody and everything concerned. For this purpose a hinged table and folding chairs could be provided which would cost little money and require little space. Such pieces could be painted in a bright color and varnished to make it waterproof. The children would love such a room, as it would spell picnicking with the element of luxury left in.
The two pieces of stick furniture illustrated are particularly interesting, for they are replicas of pieces made by a Canadian manufacturer for the Frascati Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, with which country Canada is gradually increasing her trade. Furniture of like design would grace any outdoor room as would also the sun-fast colorful and inexpensive cretonne which covers the cushions.
No porch is complete without some provision for books, and this has been arranged for in the pictured couch by attaching at the head a small cupboard for the purpose, which takes up little space and adds immensely to the comfort of the occupant. It is such little accessories that make for the well-equipped porch. A wall pocket for newspapers and magazines is a very desirable addition to a porch, as is also a waste-paper basket.
Not far from my habitat is a porch that is well situated for sunshine and breezes. It is very large and well-built, and could be turned into an outdoor sleeping room, dining room or living room—or all three. The only purpose which it seems to serve, however, is as a storing place for old furniture, extra windows and other unlovely objects. When I ventured to ask a member of the family why this porch was not utilized for its real purpose, she said that tfce family preferred to live indoors. What health, refreshment and fun they miss!
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