Changing Things Around

In house furnishing, “Everything in its Place” is a rule that occasionally should be forgotten

MARY AGNES PEASE September 15 1929

Changing Things Around

In house furnishing, “Everything in its Place” is a rule that occasionally should be forgotten

MARY AGNES PEASE September 15 1929

Changing Things Around

In house furnishing, “Everything in its Place” is a rule that occasionally should be forgotten

MARY AGNES PEASE

THERE is in most families a struggle between two opposing forces: a desire for change and a strong resistance to it. In the home life it is usually the husband who is opposed to any difference in the wonted habit. He wants his home to be an oasis of calm familiarity, an abode that he can enter in the dark with the certainty that everything is in its accustomed place. In opposition to this, his wife may like to alter the position of the furniture at occasional intervals, because she finds it dull to have the same arrangement year in and year out.

I heard a man complaining bitterly the other day because his wife had replaced a rather disreputable old chair in his room with a larger and more modern piece of furniture. It seems that, unaware of this substitution, he had gone to the room in the dark, and had had a rather disastrous encounter with the changeling.

“I can’t see why women want to change things around,” he complained..

“I never feel sure that any of my belongings will be in the same place at night that they occupied in the morning. Even my shaving things aren’t allowed to remain stationary. I never know where I’m at!”

This might possibly be a case where a woman took too seriously the rather shop-worn advice—to keep her husband guessing ! It is more than likely, however, that the reason why the majority of husbands and wives do not see eye to eye in this matter of changing things around, is because men get opportunities in their business to satisfy their desire for variety and experimentation, while women with the same eager wish for difference, but with a more curtailed outlook, try to diversify their surroundings in what is supposed to be their place—the home.

A Doctored Sofa

THERE are many ways of introducing variety into a room without in the least disturbing the ‘lay of the land.’ When such change is accompanied with greater comfort it is particularly desirable. For example, I have an old sofa with which I have been associated all my life, and for which I have a sentimental attachment. Although made of beautiful wood and carefully constructed, it has never been very popular, either as a seat or a couch. It was a Victorian product, and started life with the horsehair covering so well known in that period. The chief objection to it was that the seat sloped downward from the middle toward the front; it was a bit unstable in character. I found, upon consulting a cabinetmaker, that it was possible to provide an entirely new seat which would answer every requirement of comfort by day, and could also be used most satisfactorily as an emergency bed. You will notice that in the new seat there is no suggestion of slope. It fits comfortably under the knees of anyone who sits up on it, and makes an ideal place on which to take the odd forty winks.

The metamorphosis of this sofa has been accomplished without apparently increasing its size or appreciably altering its outlines. It was necessary to bring the arms of the sofa forward slightly for perfect alignment, and, to make this possible, a small piece of wood was fitted into the part which joins with the back on each side. This alien bit has been concealed by a narrow strap of the damask covering, as can be seen in the illustration, and its presence does not detract in the least degree from the satisfactory appearance of the sofa. To crown all, the work of reconstruction, which included also a new cover, was exceedingly moderate in cost.

I can thoroughly recommend this method of introducing change into one’s surroundings. It is one that could not offend the most conservative, for it aims to preserve the charm and character of the old furniture; it should also have a strong appeal to the more modern-minded, for it applies up-to-date methods of comfort.

Another method of change is that exemplified in the desk illustrated. In its first incarnation, this piece was a little walnut bed. As it became ancient of days, its use declined until it eventually became a cellar piece. One day somebody suggested that the wood might be utilized for something; so it was remolded nearer to the owner’s requirements as pictured. It is able to give a complete answer to the query: When is a bed not a bed?

A Remodelling in Old Wood

IF ONE has fine old wood, it is not an expensive matter to have it made into new pieces. In addition to the joy of obtaining useful and desirable accessions in this way, there is also the feeling of satisfaction in turning something useless into something that is useful and beautiful; and something also that carries with it a bit of history. The bed from which this desk was constructed was made in Scotland many years ago. Later, it accompanied an adventurous pair to Australia, where it was one of the chief pieces of furniture in a tent during gold-rush days. When it was middle-aged it travelled to Canada, where it is again in service, although completely changed in form. What new piece of furniture bought in shop today could hold such memories?

could hold such There is no need to be discouraged by the possession of ugly or uncomfortable furniture. A way can usually be found to overcome either of these shortcomings. Remodelling, or paint, or in some cases both, can be employed to turn the ugly duckling into a swan. In most cases also the transformation can be effected at small expense. There is no better way to satisfy one’s longing for variety in furnishing than to change something from ugliness into a thing of beauty. Only in rare cases is old furniture too hopelessly ugly to redeem.

A Place for Everything

/"\NE feels a certain sympathy with the man who objected to the “changeful” attitude of his wife in the arrangement of the furniture. He had probably been carrying in his mind a picture of his home in which the different pieces of furniture occupied definite places, and when he found that these had been shifted about, it upset his mental picture and disturbed his physical comfort. As a rule, one seldom finds exactly the right place for things when they are first arranged in a room, but as time goes on the furniture seems almost to suggest the spot to which it definitely belongs. It is sometimes difficult to arrange furniture so that it satisfies one’s artistic desires and at the same time suits practical requirements. Certain pieces such as a piano and a desk need careful placing for light to enable them to carry out their obvious functions, and this consideration occasionally is at variance with the proper association of the furniture. For perfect arrangement, furniture should be so placed that it suits both the horizontal and the vertical requirement. The first means the association of the pieces with one another and with whatever may be considered the central point in the room—a fireplace, a large window, or the like. The second refers to the relation of the furniture to the walls—the sequence from high to low. When furniture has been arranged to suit both these requirements it makes a picture that it is not advisable to disturb. If change is required, it can be introduced by color in background, in draperies, or in small accessories, any of which can bring charm and novelty if carefully chosen.

In making any changes in furniture or arrangement it is advisable to hasten slowly. Let us suppose that you have some of those yellow oak atrocities, so popular about forty years ago, which have really nothing to recommend them except, perhaps, the quality of the wood and their sturdiness of construction. Before embarking on an orgy with the saw and axe to remove the little curlicues and inartistic embellishments which characterize the majority of these pieces, it would be well to study various types of furniture with simple lines, and select carefully those which might be used as models for the proposed reconstruction. By this means I had an old, yellow oak sideboard remodelled on the lines of a Welsh dresser. After it was stained and polished it was a really beautiful piece of furniture and is one that will stand the bludgeonings of time.

Changing things around may sometimes be advisable or necessary, but before making any drastic changes it is well to be sure that by doing so we will add to the well-being of the family and to the beauty of our surroundings.