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^^^.^OO much attention can scarcely be 
ffl expended on our sleeping rooms 

in order that we may have them 
wholesome, convenient and cheerful. It is im- 
possible to over-estimate the value of refreshing 
sleep to busy people, particularly to those who 
are obliged to do much brainwork. In the 
following pages will, we hope, be found many 
hints with regard' to the sanitary as well as 
the ornamental treatment of the bedroom. 




















WARDROBE . . ....... 45 

ANTIQUE LOCK-UP ............ 48 

BUREAU ; 49 



FIRE-PLACE .......... . . . . . . 58 






















DESK. 112 





T is only too easy to shock some 
people, and at the risk of shocking 
many of my readers at the outset, I 
must declare that very few bed-rooms 
are so built and furnished as to re- 
main thoroughly sweet, fresh, and airy 
all through the night. This is not going 
so far as others however. Emerson repeats an 
assertion he once heard made by Thoreau, the 
American so-called " Stoic," whose senses by 
the way seem to have been preternaturally acute 
that " by night every dwelling-house gives out 
a bad air, like a slaughter-house." As this need 
not be a necessary consequence of sleeping in 
a room, it remains to be discovered why one's first 
impulse on entering a bed-room in the morning 
B. R. 2> B 


should either be to open the windows, or to wish 
the windows were open. Every one knows how 
often this is the case, not only in small, low, ill- 
contrived houses in a town, but even in very 
spacious dwellings, standing too amid all the 
fragrant possibilities of the open country. It is a 
very easy solution of the difficulty to say that we 
ought always to sleep with our windows wide open. 
The fact remains that many people cannot do so ; 
it is a risk nay, a certainty of illness to some 
very young children, to many old people, and to 
nearly all invalids. In a large room the risk is 
diminished, because there would be a greater 
distance between the bed and window, or a space 
for a sheltering screen. Now, in a small room, 
where fresh air is still more essential and precious, 
the chances are that the window might open di- 
rectly on the bed, which would probably stand 
in a draught between door and fireplace as well. 
I take it for granted that every one understands 
the enormous importance of having a fireplace in 
each sleeping-room in an English house, for the 
sake of the ventilation afforded by the chimney. 
And even then a sharp watch must be kept on 
the housemaid, who out of pure " cussedness " 
(there is no other word for it) generally makes it 
the serious business of her life to keep the iron 
flap of the register stove shut down, and so to do 


away entirely with one of the uses of the chimney. 
If it be impossible to have a fireplace in the 
sleeping-room, then a ventilator of some sort 
should be introduced. There is, I believe, a 
system in use in some of the wards of St. 
George's Hospital and in the schools under the 
control of the London School Board, known as 
Tobin's Patent. Ventilation is here secured by 
means of a tube or pipe communicating directly 
with the outer air, which can thus be brought 
from that side of the building on which the atmo- 
sphere is freshest. If report can be trusted, this 
system certainly appears to come nearer to what 
is wanted than any with which we are yet ac- 
quainted, for it introduces fresh air without pro- 
ducing a draught, and the supply of air can be 
regulated by a lid at the mouth of the pipe. A 
sort of double-star is often introduced in a pane 
of glass in the window, but this is somewhat 
costly, and it would not be difficult to find other 
simpler and more primitive methods, from a tin 
shaft or loosened brick in a wall, down to half 
a dozen large holes bored by an auger in the 
panel of the door, six or eight inches away from 
the top, though this is only advisable if the door 
opens upon a tolerably airy landing or passage. 
If it does not, then resort to some contrivance, 
as cheap as you please, in the outer wall leading 

B 2 


directly into the fresh air. In most private houses 
it is generally possible to arrange for those to whom 
an open window at night is a forbidden luxury, that 
they should sleep with their door open. A curtain, 
or screen, or even the open door itself will ensure 
the privacy in which we all like to do our sleeping, 
but there should then be some window open on 
an upper landing, day and night, in all weathers. 
Believe me, there are few nights, even in our 
rigorous climate, where this would be an impos- 
sibility. Of course common sense must be the 
guide in laying down such rules. No one would 
willingly admit a fog or storm of driving wind 
and rain into their house, but of a night when 
the atmosphere is so exceptionally disturbed it is 
sure to force its way in at every cranny, and 
keep the rooms fresh and sweet without the 
necessity of admitting a large body of air by an 
open window. 

Supposing then that the laws of ventilation 
are understood and acted upon, and that certain 
other sanitary rules are carried out which need 
not be insisted upon here, such as that no 
soiled clothes shall ever, upon any pretence, 
be kept in a bedroom, then we come to the 
next cause of want of freshness in a sleep- 
ing-room : Old walls. People do not half 
enough realise, though it must be admitted 


they understand a great deal more than they 
once did, how the emanations from the human 
body are attracted to the sides of the room 
and stick there. It is not a pretty or poetical 
idea, but it is unhappily a fact. So the only 
thing to be done is to provide ourselves with 
walls which will either wash or clean in some way, 
or are made originally of some material which 
neither attracts nor retains these minute particles. 
Nothing can be at once cleaner or more whole- 
some than the beautiful wainscotted walls we 
sometimes see in the fine old country houses 
built in Queen Anne's reign. A bedroom of that 
date, if we except the bed itself, and the pro- 
bable absence of all bathing conveniences, presented 
a nearly perfect combination of fresh air, spotless 
cleanliness, and stately and harmonious beauty to 
the eyes of an artist or the nose of a sanitary 
inspector. The lofty walls of panelled oak, dark 
and lustrous from age and the rubbing of many 
generations of strong-armed old-fashioned house- 
maids, were walls which could neither attract nor 
retain objectionable atoms, and ventilation was 
unconsciously secured by means of high narrow 
windows, three in a row, looking probably due 
south, and an open chimney-place, innocent of 
" register stoves " or any other contrivance for 
blocking up its wide throat. Such a room 


rises up clearly before the eyes of my mind, 
and I feel certain that I shall never forget 
the deliciously quaint and hideous Dutch tiles 
in the fireplace, nor the expressive tip of Aha- 
suerus' nose in the tile representing his final 
interview with Haman. How specially beautiful 
was the narrow carved ledge, far above one's 
head, which served as a mantelpiece, over which 
simpered a faded lady with low, square-cut 
boddice, her fat chin held well into the throat, 
and a rose in her pale, wan little hand. A dado 
ran round this room about five feet from the 
floor, and I used to be mean enough, con- 
stantly, to try if it was a dust-trap, but I never 
could find a speck. That was because the house- 
maid had been taught how to wipe dust off and 
carry it bodily away, not merely, as Miss 
Nightingale complains, to disturb it from the 
place where it had comfortably settled itself, and 
disperse it about the room. 

But what I remember more vividly in this room 
than even its old-time beauty, was the thorough 
conscientiousness of every detail. The cornice 
might fairly claim to rank as a work of art, not 
only from its elaboration, but from its finish. The 
little square carved panels on each side of the 
chimney, serving as supports to the mantelpiece, 
held but one leaf or arabesque flourish apiece, 


yet each corner was as sharply cut, each curve 
as smoothly rounded, as though it had been 
intended for closest scrutiny. The wood of neither 
walls nor floors had warped nor shrunk in all 
these years, and the low solid doors hung as 
true, the windows opened as easily, as if it had 
all been built yesterday. What do I say ? built 
yesterday ? Let any of us begin to declare his ex- 
perience of a new, modern house, and he will find 
many to join in a doleful chorus of complaints 
about unseasoned wood, ill-fitting joists, and hurried 
contrivances to meet domestic ills, to say nothing 
of the uncomfortable effects of " scamped " work 
generally. In spite of our improved tools, and our 
greater facilities for studying and copying good 
designs, I am convinced that one reason why 
we are going back in decorative taste to the 
days of our great grandmothers is, that we 
are worn out and wearied with the evanescent 
nature of modern carpenter's and joiner's work 
to say nothing of our aroused perceptions of its 
glaring faults of taste and tone. Unhappily we 
cannot go back to those dear, clean, old oaken 
walls. They would be quite out of the reach of 
the majority of purses, and would be sure to 
be imitated by some wretched sham planking 
which might afford a shelter and breeding-place 
for all kinds of creeping things. No ; let those 


who are fortunate enough to possess or acquire 
these fine old walls treasure them and keep them 
bright as their grandmothers did ; not whitewash 
them, as actually has been done more than once 
by way of " lightening " the room. And who shall 
say, after that, that the Goths have ever been 
successfully driven back ? 

I dwell on the walls of the bedroom because 
I believe them to be the most important from 
a sanitary as well as from a decorative point of 
view, and because there is really no excuse for 
not being able to make them extremely pretty. 
You may tint them in distemper of some delicate 
colour, with harmoniously contrasting lines at the 
ceiling, and so be able to afford to have them 
fresh and clean as often as you choose, or you 
may paint them in oils and have them washed 
constantly. But there is a general feeling against 
this cold treatment of a room which, above all 
others, should, in our capricious climate, be essen- 
tially warm and comfortable. The tinted walls 
are pretty when the curtains to go with them 
are made of patternless cretonne of precisely the 
same shade, manufactured on purpose, with 
exactly the same lines of colour for bordering. 
I am not sure, however, that the walls I indi- 
vidually prefer for a bed-room are not papered. 
There are papers made expressly, which do not 


attract dirt, and which can be found of lovely 
design. A bedroom paper ought never to have a 
distinct, spotted pattern on it, lest, if you are ill, 
it should incite you to count the designs or should 
"make faces at you." Rather let it be all of 
one soft tint, a pearly gray, a tender sea-shell 
pink, or a green which has no arsenic in it ; but 
on this point great care is requisite. You should 
also make it your business to see, with your own 
eyes, that your new paper, whatever its pattern 
or price, is not hung over the old one, and that 
the walls have been thoroughly stripped, and 
washed, and dried again before it is put on. 

Bedroom walls, covered with chintz, stretched 
tightly in panels, are exceedingly clean and pretty, 
but they must be arranged so as to allow of being 
easily taken down and cleaned. The prettiest 
walls I ever saw thus covered, were made of chintz, 
with a creamy background and tendrils of ivy 
of half a dozen shades of green and brown artfully 
blended, streaming down in graceful garlands and 
sprays towards a dado about four feet from the 
ground. It was a lofty room, and the curtains, 
screens, &c., were made to match, of chintz, 
with sprays of ivy, and a similar border. I know 
other bedroom walls where fluted white muslin is 
stretched over pink or blue silk (prettiest of all 
over an apple-green batiste]. I dislike tapestry 


extremely for bedroom walls ; the designs are 
generally of a grim and ghostly nature, and even 
if they represent simpering shepherds and shep- 
herdesses, they are equally tiresome. There is a 
Japanese paper, sometimes used for curtains, which 
really looks more suitable and pretty when serving 
as wall-hangings in the bedrooms of a country 
house. I know a whole wing of "bachelors' 
quarters" papered by fluted Japanese curtains, and 
they are exceedingly pretty. The curtains of these 
rooms are of workhouse sheeting lined and bordered 
with Turkey red, and leave nothing to be desired 
for quaint simplicity and brightness. I must ease 
my mind by declaring here that I have a strong 
prejudice against Japanese paper except when 
used in this way for wall decoration. The curtains 
made of it are not only a sham, pretending to 
be something which they are not a heinous 
crime in my eyes but they are generally ot 
very ugly patterns, and hang in stiff, ungraceful 
folds, crackling and rustling with every breath of 
air, besides being exceedingly inflammable. 

Of course the first rule in bedroom decoration, 
as in all other, is that it should be suitable to the 
style of the house, and even -to the situation in 
which the house finds itself. The great point in 
the wall-decoration of a town bedroom is that you 
should be able to replace it easily when it gets 


dirty, as it is sure to do very soon if your windows 
are kept sufficiently open. I have known people 
who kept the windows of both bed and sitting- 
rooms always shut for fear of soiling the walls. 
I prefer walls, under such conditions, which can be 
cheaply made clean again perpetually. There are 
wall-papers by the score, artistically simple enough 
to please a correct taste, and sufficiently cheap not 
to perceptibly shrink the shallowest purse. 

But in the country it is every one's own fault if 
they have not a lovely bedroom. If it be low, then 
let the paper be suitable something which will 
not dwarf the room. I know a rural bedroom with 
a paper representing a trellis and Noisette roses 
climbing over it ; the carpet is shades of green with- 
out any pattern, and has only a narrow border 
of Noisette roses ; the bouquets, powdered on the 
chintzes, match, and outside the window a spread- 
ing bush of the same dear old-fashioned rose 
blooms three parts of the year. That is a bower 
indeed, as well as a bedroom. Noisette roses 
and rosebuds half smothered in leaves have been 
painted by the skilful fingers of the owner of 
this room on the doorhandles and the tiles of the 
fire-place as well as embroidered on the white 
quilt and the green cover of the writing-table. 
But then I acknowledge it is an exceptionally 
pretty room to begin with, for the dressing-table 


stands in a deep bay window, to which you ascend 
by a couple of steps. Belinda herself could not 
have desired a fairer shrine whereat to worship 
her own beauty. 

The memory of other walls rises up before me ; 
even of one with plain white satiny paper bordered 
by shaded pink ribbon, not merely the stiff paper- 
hanger's design, but cut out and fixed in its place 
by a pair of clever hands. This border of course 
looked different to anything else of the kind I had 
ever seen ; but according to strict rules of modern 
taste it was not "correct." Yet a great deal depends 
on the way a thing is done.' I see the Misses 
Garrett frowning as I go on to say that here and 
there a deep shadow was painted under it, and its 
bows and ends drooped down at the corners of 
the room, whilst over the fireplace they made the 
bright, circling border for a chalk drawing of a rosy 
child's head. But it was a pretty room, notwith- 
standing its original faulty design, and I describe 
it more as an illustration of the supremacy of a 
real genius for decoration over any hard and fast 
rule than as an example to be copied. Rules are 
made for people who cannot design for themselves, 
and original designs may be above rules, though 
they should never be above taste. 

I might go on for ever describing bedroom walls 
instead of only insisting on their possessing the 


cardinal virtues of cleanliness and appropriateness. 
Whether of satin or silk, of muslin or chintz, or of 
cheapest paper, nothing can be really pretty and 
tasteful in wall decoration which is not scrupu- 
lously clean, without being cold and glaring, and it 
should be in harmony with even the view from 
the windows. Every room should possess an air of 
individuality some distinctive features in decora- 
tion which would afford a clue to the designer's 
and owner's special tastes and fancies. How easy 
it is to people old rooms with the imaged likeness 
of those who have dwelt in them, and how difficult 
it would be to do as much for a modern bower ! 

If I had my own way, I would accustom boys 
as well as girls to take a pride in making and 
keeping their bedrooms as pretty and original as 
possible. Boys might be encouraged to so arrange 
their collections of eggs, butterflies, beetles, and 
miscellaneous rubbish, as to combine some sort 
of decorative principle with this sort of por- 
table property. And I would always take care 
that a boy's room was so furnished and fitted that 
he might feel free, there at least, from the trammels 
of good furniture. He should have bare boards 
with only a rug to stand on at the bed-side and 
fire-place, but he should be encouraged to make 
with his own hands picture- frames, bookcases, 
brackets, anything he liked, to adorn his room, 


and this room should be kept sacred to his sole 
use wherever and whenever it was possible to do 
so. Girls might also be helped to make and 
collect tasteful little odds and ends of ornamental 
work for their own rooms, and shown the differ- 
ence between what is and is not artistically and 
intrinsically valuable, either for form or colour. 
It is also an excellent rule to establish that girls 
should keep their rooms neat and clean, dust their 
little treasures themselves, and tidy up their rooms 
before leaving them of a morning, so that the 
servant need only do the rougher work. Such 
habits are valuable in any condition of life. An 
eye so trained that disorder or dirt is hideous to 
it, and a. pair of hands capable of making such 
conditions an impossibility in their immediate 
neighbourhood, need be no unworthy addition to 
the dowry of a princess. 



N the very old-fashioned, stately 
rooms of Queen Anne's reign the 
| carpeting was doled out in small pro- 
portions, and a somewhat comfort- 
less air must have prevailed where 
an expanse of floor was covered here and there 
by what we should now characterise as a shabby 
bit of carpeting. In fact a suitable floor-cover- 
ing or appropriate draperies for these old rooms 
is rather a difficult point. Modern tastes demand 
comfort and brightness, and yet there is always the 
dread of too glaring contrasts, and an inharmonious 
groundwork. Quite lately I saw a fine old-time 
wainscotted room, whose walls and floor had taken 
a rich dark gloss from age, brightened immensely 
and harmoniously by four or five of those large 
Indian cotton rugs in dark blue and white, to be 
bought now-a-days cheaply enough in Regent 


Street. The china in this room was of Delft 
ware, also blue and white, and it had short full 
curtains of a bright French stuff, wherein blue 
lines alternated with a rich red, hanging in the 
deep windows, whilst colour was given in a 
dusky corner by a silken screen of embroidered 

peonies. A Turkish carpet is of course inad- 
missible in a bedroom, and the modern Persian 
rugs are too gaudy to harmonise well with the 
sober tone of a wainscotted bedroom, but it 
is quite possible to find delicious rugs and 
strips of carpeting in greenish blue copied 


from Eastern designs. The difficulty is perhaps 
most simply met by a carpet of a very dark 
red, with the smallest possible wave or sugges- 
tion of black in it, either in strips or in a square, 
stopping short within two feet or so of the walls, 
I know a suite of old-fashioned bedrooms where 
the floor is covered with quite an ecclesiastical- 
looking carpet, and it looks very suitable, warm and 
bright, and thoroughly in keeping. In a house of 
moderate size there is nothing I like so much as 
the whole of a bedroom floor being carpeted in 
the same way landings, passages, dressing-rooms, 
and all and on the whole, taking our dingy 
climate into consideration, a well-toned red carpet 
or nondescript blue will generally be found the 
most suitable. 

Strange to say, next to red carpets white ones 
wear the best, but they make such a false and 
glaring effect, that they cannot be considered appro- 
priate even for a pretty bowery bedroom, half dress- 
ing-room, half boudoir. With ordinarily fair wear 
white carpets only take a creamy tint as they get 
older, and then their bouquets and borders, have a 
chance of fading into better harmony. But most of 
the designs of these carpets are so radically wrong, 
so utterly objectionable from the beginning, that 
the best which can be hoped from time is that it 
will obliterate them altogether. It is true we flatter 

B. R. C 


ourselves that we have grown beyond the days 
of enormous boughs and branches of exaggerated 
leaves and blossoms daubed on a crude ground, 
but have we escaped from the dominion of pat- 
terns, more minute it is true, but quite as much 
outside the pale of good taste ? What is to be said 
in defence of a design which, when its colours are 
fresh, is so shaded as to represent some billowy 
and uneven surface, fastened at intervals by yellow 
nails ? or spots of white flowers or stars on a grass- 
green ground ? The only carpet of that sort of 
white and green which I ever liked had tiny 
sprays of white heather on a soft green ground, in 
the miniature drawing-room of a Scotch shooting- 
box. There, it was so appropriate, so thoroughly 
in keeping with even the view out of the windows, 
with the heathery chintz, the roe-deer's heads 
on the panels of the wall, that it looked better 
on the floor than anything else could possibly 
have done. Morris has Kidderminster carpets for 
bedrooms, in pale pink, buff, and blue, &c., which 
are simply perfect in harmony of colour and 

People who consider themselves good managers 
are very apt to turn the half worn-out drawing- 
room carpet into one of the bedrooms, but this 
is not a good plan, for it seldom matches the 
draperies, and is also apt to become frowsy and 


fusty. I am not so extravagant as to recommend 
that a good carpet with plenty of possibilities of 
wear yet in it should be thrown away because it 
is not suitable for a bedroom. There are many 
ways and means of disposing of such things, and 
even the threadbare remains of an originally goo< 
and costly carpet can find a market of its own. 
What I should like to see, especially in all London 
bedrooms, is a fresh, inexpensive carpet of unobtru- 
sive colours, which can be constantly taken away 
and cleaned or renewed, rather than a more costly, 
rich-looking floor-covering, which will surely in time 
become and remain more or less dirty. But light 
carpets are seldom soft in tone, and I should be 
inclined to suggest felt as a groundwork, if the 
bare boards are inadmissible, with large rugs 
thrown down before the fireplace, dressing and 
writing-tables, &c. These should of course contrast 
harmoniously with the walls. If you have a room 
of which the style is a little too sombre, then 
lighten it and brighten it by all the means in 
your power. If it be inclined to be garish and 
glaring, then subdue it. 

People cannot always create,, as it were, the 
place in which they are obliged to live. One may 
find oneself placed in a habitation perfectly con- 
trary to every principle of correct taste as well as 
opposed to one's individual preferences. But that 

C 2 


is such an opportunity ! out of unpromising ma- 
terials and surroundings you have to make a 
room, whether bedroom or boudoir, which will 
take the impression of your own state. As long 
as a woman possesses a pair of hands and 
her work-basket, a little, hammer and a few tin- 
tacks, it is hard if she need live in a room which 
is actually ugly. I don't suppose any human 
being except a gipsy has ever dwelt in so many 
widely-apart lands as I have. Some of these 
homes have been in the infancy of civilisation, and 
yet I have never found it necessary to endure, for 
more than the first few days of my sojourn, any- 
thing in the least ugly or uncomfortable. Especially 
pretty has my sleeping-room always been, though 
it has sometimes looked out over the snowy peaks 
of the Himalayas, at others, up a lovely New Zea- 
land valley, or, in still earlier days, over a waving 
West Indian "grass-piece." But I may as well 
get out the map of the world at once, and try 
to remember the various places to which my 
wandering destiny has led me. All the moral I 
want to draw from this geographical digression is 
that I can assert from my own experience which 
after all is the only true standpoint of assertion 
that it is possible to have really pretty, as well 
as thoroughly comfortable dwelling-places even 
though they may lie thousands of miles away from 


the heart of civilisation, and hundreds of leagues 
distant from a shop or store of any kind. I mean 
this as an encouragement not a boast. 

Chintz is what naturally suggests itself to the 
inquirer's mind as most suitable for the drapery of 
a bedroom, and there is a great deal to be said in 
its favour. First of all, its comparative cheapness 
and the immense variety of its designs. Cretonnes 
are comely too, if care be taken to avoid the very 
gaudy ones. If there is no objection on the score 
of difficulty of keeping clean, I am fond, in a 
modern bedroom, of curtains all of one colour, 
some soft, delicate tint of blue or rose, with a 
great deal of patternless white muslin either over 
it or beneath it as drapery to the window. This 
leaves you more free for bright, effective bits of 
colour for sofa, table-cover, &c., and the feeling of 
the window curtains can be carried out again in 
the screen. A bedroom, to be really comfortable, 
should always have one or even two screens, if it 
be large enough. They give a great air of comfort 
to a room, and are exceedingly convenient as well 
as pretty. The fashion of draped toilet tables is 
passing away so rapidly that they cannot be de- 
pended upon for colour in a room, though we get 
the advantage in other ways. So we must fall 
back upon the old idea of embroidered quilts 
once more to help with colour and tone in our 


bedrooms. They are made in a hundred different 
and almost equally pretty designs. Essentially 
modern quilts for summer can be made of lace or 
muslin over pink or blue batiste or silk to match 
the tints of the room ; quilts of linen embroidered 
with deliciously artistic bunches of fruit or flowers 
at the edge and corners ; quilts of eider-down 
covered with silk, for preference, or if our means 
will not permit so costly a material, then of one 
colour, such as Turkey red, in twilled cotton. I 
have never liked those gay imitation Indian quilts. 
They generally " swear " at everything else in the 

But there are still more beautiful quilts of an 
older style and date. I have seen some made of 
coarse linen, with a pattern running in parallel 
strips four or six inches wide, formed by pulling 
out the threads to make the groundwork of an 
insertion. The same idea looks well also when 
carried out in squares or a diamond-shaped pat- 
tern. Then there are lovely quilts of muslin 
embroidered in delicate neutral tints, which look 
as if they came straight from Cairo or Bagdad, 
but which have never been out of England, and 
owe their lightness and beauty to the looms of 

One of the prettiest and simplest bedrooms I 
know had its walls covered with lining paper of 


the very tenderest tint of green, on which were 
hung some pretty pastel sketches, all in the same 
style. The chintzes, or rather cretonnes, were of a 
creamy white ground with bunches of lilacs pow- 
dered on them, and the carpet, of a soft green, 
had also a narrow border with bouquets of lilacs 
at each corner. The screens- were of muslin ovei 
lilac batiste, and the quilt of the simple bedstead 
had been worked by the owner's own fingers, of 
linen drawn out in threads. The very tiles of 
the fireplace for this pretty room had an open 
hearth with a sort of basket for a coal fire in 
the middle and the china of the basin-stand as 
well as the door-handles and plates, were all de- 
corated with the same flower, and although essen- 
tially a modern room in a modern house, it was 
exquisitely fresh and uncommon. This was partly 
owing to the liberal use of the leaves of the lilac, 
which are in form so exceedingly pretty. 

In an old-fashioned house if I wanted the 
draperies and quilt of my bedroom to be tho- 
roughly harmonious I should certainly go to 
the Royal School of Art Needlework in the 
Exhibition Road for designs, as they possess 
extraordinary facilities for getting at specimens 
of the best early English and French needle- 
work, and they can imitate even the materials 
to perfection. I saw some curtains the other day 


in a modern boudoir from this Royal School of 
Art Needlework. They were of a delicate green- 
ish blue silk-rep, which hung in delicious round 
folds and had a bold and simple design of con- 
ventionalised lilies in a material like Tussore silk 
appliqut-& with a needlework edge. Of course they 
were intended for a purely modern room, but there 
were also some copies of draperies which went 
beautifully with Chippendale chairs and lovely 
eld straight up and down cupboards and settees. 

There is rather a tendency in the present day 
to make both bedrooms and boudoirs gloomy; a 
horrible vision of a room with walls the colour of 
a robin's egg (dots and all) and black furniture, rises 
up before me, and the owner of this apartment 
could not be induced to brighten up her gloom by 
so much as a gay pincushion. Now our grand- 
mothers understood much better, though probably 
no one ever said a word to them about it, how 
necessary it was to light up dark recesses by con- 
trasts. You would generally have found an ex- 
quisite old blue and white Delft jar full of scented 
rose leaves, a gay beau-pot full of poppies, or even 
a spinning-wheel with its creamy bundle of flax 
or wool bound by a scarlet ribbon, in the un- 
regarded corner of a dingy passage, and I think 
we do not bear in mind enough how bright and 
gay the costumes of those days used to be. To 


a new house, furnished according to the present 
rage for old-fashioned decoration, our modern 
sombre apparel is no help. We do not lighten 
up our rooms a bit now by our dress, except 
perhaps in summer, but generally we sit, clad 
in dingiest tints of woollen material, or in very 
inartistic black silk, amid furniture which was 
originally designed as a sort of background to 
much gay and gallant clothing, to flowered sacques 
and powdered heads, to bright steel buttons and 
buckles and a thousand points of colour and light. 
Let us follow their old good example thoroughly, 
if we do it at all, and do our best to brighten the 
dull nooks and corners which will creep into all 
dwellings, by our attire, as well as in all other 



HEN we discuss a bedroom, the bed 
ought certainly to be the first thing 
considered. Here at least, is a 
great improvement within even the 
last forty or fifty years. Where 
are now those awful four-posters, so often sur- 
mounted by huge wooden knobs or plumes of 
feathers, or which even offered hideously carved 
griffin's heads to superintend your slumbers ? 
Gone, " quite gone," as children say. At first we 
ran as usual into the opposite extreme, and be- 
stowed ourselves at night in frightful and vulgar 
frames of cast iron, ornamented with tawdry gilt or 
bronze scroll-work, but such things are seldom seen 
now, and even the cheap common iron or brass 
bedstead of the present day has at least the merit 
of simplicity. Its plain rails at foot and head are 
a vast improvement on the fantastic patterns of 



even twenty years ago, and the bedsteads of the 
present day will long continue in general use in 
modern houses. Their extreme cheapness and 
cleanliness are great points in their favour, and 
when they are made low, and have a spring frame 
with one rather, thick mattress at the top, they are 
perfectly comfortable to sleep in besides being 
harmless to look at. 

But in many rooms where the style of both 
decoration and furniture has been carried back for 
a century and a half, and all the severe and artistic 
lines of the tastes of those days must needs be 
preserved, then indeed an ordinary iron or brass 
bedstead, of ever so unobtrusive a pattern would be 
ludicrously out of place. Still, if our minds revolt 
from anything like a return to the old nightmare- 
haunted huge Beds of Ware, we can find something 
to sleep on which will be in harmony with the rest 
of the surroundings, and yet combine the modern 
needs of air and light with the old-fashioned strict- 
ness of form and. beauty of detail. Here is a 
drawing (Fig. i) made from an old Dutch bed- 
stead by Mr. Lathrop. The sides are of beau- 
tifully and conscientiously inlaid work, whilst the 
slight outward slope of both the head and foot- 
board insures the perfection of comfort. To avoid 
a too great austerity of form, the upper cap of 
the foot-board has been cut in curves, and the 


solidity of the legs modified ever so slightly. 
The bedding of this bedstead must by no means 
project beyond its sides, but must fit into the 

FIG. 2. 

box-like cavity intended to receive it. In this 
bedstead (Fig. 2), which was made from a design 


by Mr. Sandier, more latitude is allowed in this 
respect, and its perfect simplicity can only be 
equalled by its beauty. 

The form of wooden bedstead (Fig. 3), which 
could easily be copied at all events in its general 
idea, by any village carpenter, would be exceed- 
ingly pretty and original for a young girl's bed- 
room. It is intended to be of oak with side 
rails which are to pass through carved posts, 
and be held by wooden pins, as are also the 
end rails. For durability as well as simplicity 
this design leaves nothing to be desired, and it 
can be made in almost any hard wood, whilst 
every year would only add to its intrinsic worth. 
How many of us mothers have taken special 
delight in preparing a room for our daughters 
when they return from school " for good " 
when they leave off learning lessons out of books, 
and try, with varied success, to learn and apply 
those harder lessons, which have to be learned 
without either books or teachers. 

What sumptuous room in after years ever affords 
the deep delight of the sense of ownership which 
attends the first awakening of a girl in a room of 
her very own ? and it is a vivid recollection of this 
pure delight of one's own bygone girl-days which 
prompts us to do our best to furbish up ever so 
homely a room for our eldest daughter. If a 


pretty, fresh carpet is unattainable, then let us have 
bare boards, with rugs, or skins, or whatever is 
available. Necessity developes ingenuity, and 
ingenuity goes a long way. I never learned the 
meaning of either word until I found myself very 
far removed from shops, and forced to invent or 

substitute the materials wherewith to carry out my 
own little decorative ideas. 

Some very lofty rooms seem to require a more 
furnished style of bed, and for these stately sleep- 
ing-places it may be well to have sweeping cur- 
tains of silk or satin gathered up quite or almost 


at the ceiling, and falling in ample straight folds 
on either side of a wide, low bedstead. They 
would naturally be kept out of the way by slender 
arms or brackets some six or eight feet from the 
floor, which would prevent the curtains from 
clinging too closely round the bed, and give the 
right lines to the draperies. But, speaking indi- 
vidually, it is never to such solemn sleeping-places 
as these, that my fancy reverts when, weary 
and travel-stained, and in view of some homely 
wayside room, one thinks by way of con- 
trast, of other and prettier bedrooms. No, it is 
rather to simple, lovely little nests of chintz and 
muslin, with roses inside and outside the wall, 
with low chairs and writing table, sofa and toilet 
all in the same room a bedroom and bower in 
one. Edgar Allan Poe declares that to 

" slumber aright 
You must sleep in just such a bed." 

But he only says it of the last bed of all. Without 
going so far as that, I can declare that I have 
slumbered " aright " in extraordinary beds, in 
extraordinary places, on tables, and under them 
(that was to be out of the way of being walked 
upon), on mats, on trunks, on all sorts of wonderful 
contrivances. I slept once very soundly on a piece 
of sacking stretched between two bullock trunks, 
though my last waking thought was an uneasy 
B. R. D 


misgiving as to the durability of the frail-looking 
iron pins at each end of this yard of canvas, which 
fitted into corresponding eyelet holes in the trunks. 
I know the uneasiness of mattresses stuffed with 
chopped grass, and the lumpiness of those filled by 
amateur hands with wool au naturel. Odours 
also are familiar unto me, the most objectionable 
being, perhaps, that arising from a feather bed in 
a Scotch inn, and from a seaweed mattress in 
an Irish hotel, in which I should imagine many 
curious specimens of marine zoology had been 
entombed by mistake. 

But there is one thing I want to say most 
emphatically, and that is that I have met with 
greater dirt and discomfort, worse furniture, more 
comfortless beds (I will say nothing of the vile- 
ness of the food !), and a more general air of 
primitive barbarism in inns and lodgings in out-of- 
the-way places in Great Britain and Ireland, than 
I have ever come across in any colony. I know 
half-a-dozen places visited by heaps of tourists 
every year, within half-a-dozen hours' journey of 
London, which are far behind, in general comfort 
and convenience, most of the roadside inns either in 
New Zealand or Natal. It is very inexplicable why 
it should be so, but it is a fact. It is marvellous 
that there should often be such dirt and discomfort 
and general shabbiness and dinginess under circum- 


stances which, compared with colonial difficulties, 
including want of money, would seem all that 
could be desired. 

However, to return to the subject in hand. We 
will take it for granted that a point of equal im- 
portance with the form of the bedstead is its com- 
fort but this must always be left to the decision of 
its occupant. Some people prefer beds and pillows 
of an adamantine hardness, others of a luxurious 
softness. Either extreme is bad, in my opinion. 
As a rule, however, I should have the mattresses 
for children's use rather hard a firm horsehair on 
the top of a wool mattress, and children's pillows 
should always be low. Some people heap bed- 
clothes over their sleeping children, but I am sure 
this is a bad plan. I would always take care that 
a child was quite warm enough, especially when it 
gets into bed of a winter's night, but after a good 
temperature has been established I would remove 
the extra wraps and accustom the child to sleep 
with light covering. A little flannel jacket for a 
young child who throws its arms outside the bed- 
clothes is a good plan, and saves them from many 
a cough or cold. In the case of a delicate, chilly 
child, I would even recommend a flannel bed-gown 
or dressing-gown to sleep in in the depth of winter, 
for it saves a weight of clothes over them. I 
never use a quilt at night for children; it keeps 

D 2 


in the heat too much, but blankets of the best 
possible quality are a great advantage. The 
cheap ones are heavy and not nearly so warm, 
whereas a good, expensive blanket not only 
wears twice as long, but is much more light 
and wholesome as a covering. Nor would I 
permit soft pillows ; of course there is a medium 
between a fluff of down and a stone, and it is just 
a medium pillow I should recommend for young 
children and growing girls and boys. The fondest 
and fussiest parents do not always understand that, 
on the most careful attention to some such simple 
rules depend the straightness of their children's 
spines, the strength of their young elastic limbs, 
their freedom from colds and coughs, and in fact 
their general health. Often the daylight hours are 
weighted by a heavy mass of rules and regulations, 
but few consider that half of a young child's 
life should be spent in its bed. So that unless 
the atmosphere of the room they sleep in, the 
quality of the bed they lie on, and the texture 
of the clothes which cover them, are taken into 
consideration, it is only half their existence which 
is being cared for. 

All bedsteads are healthier for being as low as 
possible ; thus insuring a better circulation of air 
above the sleeper's face, and doing away with the 
untidy possibility of keeping boxes or carpet-bags 




FIG 4- 


under the bedstead. There should be no valance 
to any bedstead. In the daytime an ample quilt 
thrown over the bedding will be quite drapery 
enough, and at night it is just as well to have a 
current of air beneath the frame of the bed. The 
new spring mattresses are very nearly perfect as 
regards the elasticity which is so necessary in a 
couch, and they can be suited to all tastes by 
having either soft or hard horsehair or finely picked 
wool mattresses on the top of them. Whenever it 
is possible, I would have children put to sleep in 
separate bedsteads, even if they like to have them 
close together as in Fig. 4. 

There are many varieties of elastic mattresses, 
though I prefer the more clumsy one of spiral 
springs inclosed in a sort of frame. For transport 
this is, however, very cumbrous, and in such a 
case it would be well to seek other and lighter 
kinds. It must be also remembered that these 
spring mattresses are only suitable for modern 
beds in modern rooms ; the old carven beds of 
a "Queen Anne" bedroom must needs be 
made comfortable by hair and wool mattresses 

In many cases, however, where economy of 
space and weight has to be considered, I would 
recommend a new sort of elastic mattress which 
can easily be affixed to any bedstead. It 


resembles a coat of mail more than anything else 
and possesses the triple merit in these travelling 
days of being cool, clean, and portable. 

The frowsy old feather bed of one's infancy 
has so completely gone out of favour that it is 
hardly necessary to place one more stone on 
the cairn of abuse already raised over it by 
doctors' and nurses' hands. A couple of thick 
mattresses, one of horsehair and one of wool, will 
make as soft and comfortable a bed as anyone 
need wish for. 

Instead of curtains, which the modern form of 
bedstead renders incongruous and impossible, 
screens on either side of the bed are a much pret- 
tier and more healthy substitute. I like screens 
immensely ; they insure privacy, they keep out the 
light if necessary, and are a great improvement 
to the look of any room. It is hardly necessary to 
say they should suit the style of its decoration. If 
you are arranging a lofty old-fashioned room, then 
let your screens be of old Dutch leather of which 
beautiful fragments are to be found with a ground- 
work which can only be described by paradoxes, 
for it is at once solid and light, sombre and gay. 
Any one who has seen those old stamped leather 
screens of a peculiar sea-green blue, with a 
raised dull gold arabesque design on them, will 
know what I mean. There are also beautiful old 



Indian or Japan lacquered screens, light, and 
with very little pattern on them ; even imitation 

ones of Indian pattern paper are admissible to 
narrow purses, but anything real is always much 


more satisfactory. If again your bower is a 
modern Frenchified concern, then screen off its 
angles by forans of gay tapestry or embroidered 
folding leaves, or paper-covered screens of delicate 
tints with sprays of trailing blossom, and here and 
there a bright-winged bird or butterfly. Designs 
for all these varieties of screens can be obtained in 
great perfection at the Royal School of Art 
Needlework. But for a simple modern English 
bedroom, snug as a bird's nest, and bright and 
fresh as a summer morning I should choose 
screens of slender wooden rails with fluted cur- 
tains of muslin and lace cunningly hung thereon. 
Only it must be remembered that these entail 
constant change, and require to be always ex- 
quisitely fresh and clean. 

It often happens that another spare bed is 
wanted on an emergency, and it is a great point 
in designing couches for a nondescript room, 
a room which is some one person's peculiar 
private property, whether called a den or a study, 
a smoking-room or a boudoir, that the said 
couch should be able "a double debt to pay" 
on a pinch. I have lately seen two such resting- 
places which were both convenient and comfortable. 
The first was a long, low settee of cane, with a thin 
mattress over its seat, and a thicker one, doubled 
in two, forming a luxurious back against the wall 


by day. At night, this mattress could be laid flat 
out on the top of the other, which gave increased 
width as well as softness to the extempore bed. 

The other, of modern carved oak, had been 
copied from the pattern of an old settle. It was 
low and wide, with only one deep well-stuffed 
mattress, round which an Algerine striped blue and 
white cotton cloth had been wrapped. Of course 
this could be removed at night, and the bed made 
up in the usual way. It struck me, with its low, 
strong railing round three sides, as peculiarly 
suitable for a change of couch for a sick child, 
though it could hardly be used by a full-grown 
person as a bed. 

So now all has been said that need be on the 
point of a sleeping place. It is too essentially 
a matter of choice to allow of more than sugges- 
tion ; and at least my readers will admit that I 
am only arbitrary on the points of fresh air and 



OMETIMES a room has to play 
the part of both bedroom and 
boudoir, and then it is of import- 
ance what form the "garde-robes" 
[shall assume. Fortunately there 
are few articles of furniture on which more lavish 
pains have been bestowed, and in which it is pos- 
sible to find scope for a wider range of taste and 
choice. Recesses may be fitted up, if the room be 
a large one, and have deep depressions here and 
there in the masonry with doors to match the 
rest of the woodwork, panelled, grained, and 
painted exactly alike, and very commodious hang- 
ing cupboards may thus be formed. But however 
useful these may be to the lady's maid, they are 
scarcely aesthetic enough to be entitled to notice 
among descriptions of art furniture. Rather let 
us turn to this little wardrobe (Fig. 6), too narrow, 



perhaps, for aught but a single gown of the present 
day to hang in, yet exquisitely artistic and pleasant 
to look upon. Its corner columns are mounted 
with brass, and every detail of its construction is 
finished as though by the hand of a jeweller. The 
lower drawers are probably intended for lace or fur, 
or some other necessary of a fine lady's toilette. 
It is very evident from the accommodation provided 
in the distant days when such wardrobes were 
designed, that "little and good" used to be the 
advice given to our grandmothers with their pin- 
money, and that even in their wildest dreams they 
never beheld the countless array of skirts and 
polonaises and mantles and Heaven knows what 
beside, that furnish forth a modern belle's equip- 
ment. Yet these moderate-minded dames and 
damsels must have loved the garments they did 
possess very dearly, for the heroine of every poem 
or romance of the last century is represented as 
depending quite as much on her clothes in the 
battle of life as any knight on his suit of Milan 
mail. Clarissa Harlowe mingles tragic accounts of 
Lovelace's villanies with her grievances about mis- 
matched ruffles and tuckers, and even the ex- 
cellent Miss Byron has by no means a soul above 
court suits or French heels. Still these lovely 
ladies had not much space assigned to them 
wherein to bestow their finery when it was not on 


their backs, and we must expect to find all the 
wardrobe designs of former times of somewhat 
skimpy proportions. Here is an antique lock-up 
(Fig. 7) of French make (most of the best designs 
for furniture came from France in those days) of a 

FIG. 7. 

very practical and good form to copy in a humbler 
material. This is made of a costly wood, probably 
rosewood, with beautifully engraved brass fittings 
all over it. The door of the upper half seems 




rather cumbrous, being only a flap which' opens 
out all in one piece, but a modern and less expen- 
sive copy might be improved by dividing this large 
lid into a couple of doors to open in the middle 

FIG. 8. 

in the usual way, without at all departing from 
the original lines. 

Fig. 8, again, is more of a bureau, and affords 
but scanty room for the ample stores of a lady's 

B. R. 


lingerie. It is, however, of a very good design in its 
way, its chief value being the workmanship of its 
fine brass ornaments. The handles of the drawers 
are peculiarly beautiful, and represent the necks 
and heads of swans issuing from a wreath of leaves. 
It would look particularly well in a bedroom in a 
large old-fashioned country house, where the rest 
of the furniture is perhaps rather cumbrous as well 
as convenient, and the glitter of the metal mount- 
ing would help to brighten a dingy corner. It 
cannot, however, be depended upon to hold much, 
and is chiefly valuable in a decorative sense, or as 
a stand for a toilette glass. 

In strong contrast to these two designs is Fig. 9 
of modern Japanese manufacture. It is easy to see 
that the original idea must have been taken from a 
common portable chest of drawers, such as officers 
use. The slight alteration in its arrangement is 
owing to Japanese common sense and observation, 
for it would have required more strength of character 
than a cockney upholsterer possesses, to divide one 
of the parts so unequally as in this illustration. 
But the male heart will be sure to delight specially 
in that one deep drawer for shirts, and the shallow 
one at the top for collars, pockethandkerchiefs, 
neckties, and so forth. The lower drawers would 
hold a moderate supply of clothes, and the little 
closet contains three small drawers, besides a secret 



place for money and valuables. When the two boxes, 
for they are really little else, are placed side by 
side they measure only three feet one inch long, 
three feet four high, and one foot five deep. They 

FIG. 9. 

hardly appear, from the prominence of the sliding 
handles, intended to be packed in outer wooden 
cases as portable chests of drawers usually are ; 
but it must be remembered that in Japan they 

E 2 


would be carried from place to place slung on poles 
carried on men's shoulders. There is a good deal 
of iron used in the construction, which must be 
intended to give strength, but it does not add to the 
weight in any excessive degree, for it is very thin. 
The wood is soft and light, and rather over-polished, 
but the Japanese artist would have delighted in var- 
nishing it still more, and covering it with grotesque 
gilt designs in lacquer, if he had been allowed. 
On page 55 will be found a roomy Chinese 
cupboard with drawers and nicely-carved panels. 

Many of our most beautiful old Indian chests of 
drawers and cabinets have this black ground with 
quaintest bronze or brazen clamps and hinges, locks 
and handles, to give relief to the sombre ground- 
work. Except that the drawers seldom open 
well, and are nearly always inconveniently small, 
they are the most beautiful things in the world for 
keeping clothes in, but it would certainly be as well 
to have, out of the room in a passage, some more 
commodious and commonplace receptacles. I have 
seen a corridor leading to bedrooms, lined on each 
side with wardrobes, about six or seven feet high, 
consisting merely of a plain deal top with divisions 
at intervals of some five feet from top to bottom. 
A series of hanging cupboards was thus formed, 
which had been lined with stretched brown holland, 
furnished with innumerable pegs, and closed in by 


doors of a neat framework of varnished deal with 
panels of fluted chintz. Besides these doors to 
each compartment, an ample curtain hung within, 
of brown holland, suspended by rings on a slender 
iron rod ; and this curtain effectually kept out all 
dust and dirt, and preserved intact the delicate 
fabrics within. Such an arrangement must have 
been, I fear, far more satisfactory to the soul of 
the lady's maid than the most beautiful old Indian 
or French chest of drawers. 

For rooms which are not old-fashioned in style, 
and in which it is yet not possible to indulge in 
French consoles or Indian cabinets as places to 
keep clothes in, then I would recommend the 
essentially modern simple style of wardrobe and 
chest of drawers. I would eschew "gothic," or 
" mediaeval," or any other style, and I would avoid 
painted lines as I would the plague. But there 
are perfectly simple, inoffensive wardrobes to 
be procured of varnished pine or even deal (and 
the former wears the best) which, if it can only 
be kept free from scratches, is at least in good 
taste and harmony in a modern, commonplace 
bedroom. It is quite possible, however by the 
exercise of a little ingenuity to dispense with modern, 
bought wardrobes, and to invent something which 
will hold clothes, and yet be out of the beaten track. 
I happened only the other day, to come across so 


good an example of what I mean/ that I feel it 
ought to be described. First of all, it must be 
understood that the bedroom in question was a 
small one, in a London house recently decorated 
and fitted up in the style which prevailed in Queen 
Anne's reign, and to which there is now such a 
decided return of the public taste. The other 
portions of the furniture were in accordance with 
the original intention of the room and consisted 
of a very beautiful, though simple, carved oaken 
bedstead, and a plain spindle-legged toilette 
table and washstand, also old in design. The 
chairs were especially fine, having been bought 
in a cottage in Suffolk, and yet they matched 
the bedstead perfectly. They had substantial 
rush-bottomed seats, but the frame was of fine 
dark oak, and the front feet spread out in a firm, 
satisfactory fashion giving an idea of solidity 
and strength. The fireplace was tiled after the old 
style, and the mantelpiece consisted of a couple of 
narrow oak shelves, about a dozen inches apart, 
connected by small pillars. These ledges afforded a 
stand for a few curious little odds and ends, and on 
the top shelf stood some specimens of old china. 
But the difficulty remained about the wardrobe, for 
the room was too small to admit old bureaus which 
would only hold half a dozen articles of clothing. 
1 See Frontispiece. 




So the ingenious owner devised a sort of corner 
cupboard to fit into an angle of the room, and to 
match the rest of the woodwork in colour and style, 
having old brass handles and plates like those on 

FIG. 10. 

the doors. It is a sort of double cupboard ; that 
is to say, whilst the left-hand side is a hanging 
wardrobe which only projects away from the wall 
sufficiently to allow the dresses to be hung up 
properly, the right-hand division is a chest of 


drawers. Not a row of commonplace drawers, 
however. No ; the front surface is broken by the 
introduction of little square doors and other 
arrangements, for bonnets, &c. We must bear in 
mind these drawers extend much higher than 
usual, and the cornice being nearly on a level 
with that of the wardrobe, there can be no 
possibility of putting boxes and so forth on the 
top ; but then, on the other hand, a goodly range 
of drawers of differing depth is provided. It 
certainly seemed to me an excellent way of 
meeting the difficulty ; and I also noticed in other 
bedrooms in the same house how odd nooks and 
uneven recesses were filled in by a judicious 
blending of cupboard and wardrobe which is evi- 
dently convenient in practice as well as exceedingly 
quaint yet correct in theory. 



ERHAPS the part of any room 
which is most often taken out of, or 
put beyond the decorative hands of 
its owner, is the fireplace. And 
(yet, though it is one of the most 
salient features in any English dwelling, it is, 
nine cases out of ten, the most repulsively 
ugly. When one thinks either of the imitation 
marble mantelpiece, or its cotton velvet and of 
false-lace-bedizened shelves, the artistic soul cannot 
refrain from a shudder. The best which can be 
hoped from an ordinary modern builder is that 
he will put in harmless grates and mantelpieces, 
and abstain from showy designs. The fireplace 
in either bedroom or boudoir should not be too 
large, nor yet small enough to give an air of 
stinginess, out of proportion to everything else. 
Here are two (Figs, n and 14). The design of 


each is as simple as possible, of plainest lines, but 
with no pretence of elaborate sham splendour. Fig. 
ii is of course only suitable for a small unassuming 
room, but if the tiles were old Dutch ones and 
the rest of the bedroom ware quaint blue and 
white Delft, an effect of individuality and suit- 
ability would be at once attained. Such a fire- 
place would look best 
in a room with wall- 
paper of warm neutral 
tints of rather an old- 
fashioned design, and 
I should like a nice 
straight brass fender 
in front of it almost 
as flat as a kitchen 
fender with delightful 
possibilities of sociable 
toe-toasting about it. 
Such a one I came 
across lately that had been " picked up " in the 
far east of London. It was about eighteen 
inches high, of a most beautiful simple, flat, form 
with a handsome twist or scroll dividing the design 
into two parts. Although blackened to disguise 
by age and neglect at the time of its purchase, it 
shone when I saw it, with that peculiar brilliant and 
yet softened sheen which you never get except 

FIG. ii. 




in real old brass ; a hue seldom if ever attained 
in modern brazen work however beautiful the 
design may be. This fender stood firmly a great 
and especial merit in fenders on two large, some- 
what projecting, feet, and its cheerful reflections 
gave an air of brightness to the room at once. 

There must always be plenty of room for the fire, 
and the actual grate should of course be so set as 

FIG. 12. 

to throw all the warmth into the room. Then, 
though it is rather a digression, only I want to 
finish off the picture which rises up before me, I 
would have a couple of chairs something like 
this (Fig. 12), and just such a table for a book 
or one's hair-brushes a little in front of these 
two chairs. And then what a gossip must needs 
ensue! Of course I would have a trivet on the 
fire, or before it. No bedroom can look really 


comfortable without a trivet and a kettle ; a brass 
kettle for preference, as squat and fat and shining 
as it is possible to procure. There are charming 
kettles to be found, copied from Dutch designs. 

Instead of the ordinary wide low mantelpiece 
one sees in bedrooms, I am very fond of two 
narrower shelves over such a fireplace as this. 
They are perhaps best plain oak, divided and 
supported by little turned pillars, and if the top 
shelf has a ledge half way a few nice plates look 
especially well. But there are such pretty designs 
for mantelpieces now to be procured, that it would 
be a waste of time to describe any particular style, 
and most fireplaces are made on scientific prin- 
ciples of ventilation. Nor is it, I hope, necessary 
to reiterate the injunction about every part of 
the decoration and detail of a room, whether 
fixture or moveable, matching or suiting all the 
rest. In some instances contrast is the most 
harmonious arrangement one can arrive at, but 
this should not be a matter lightly taken in 
hand. A strong feeling is growing up in favour 
of the old-fashioned open fireplaces lined with 
tiles, and adapted to modern habits by a sort of 
iron basket on low feet in the centre", for coals. 
Excellent fires are made in this way, and I know 
many instances where the prettiest possible effect 
has been attained. In a country where wood is 


cheap and plentiful, the basket for coals may 
be done away with and the fuel kept in its place 
by sturdy " dogs," for which many charming hints 
have been handed down to us by our grandfathers. 
Over the* modern fireplace, even in a bedroom, 
a mirror is generally placed, but I would not 
advise it unless the room chanced to be so dingy 
that every speck of light must be procured by 
any means. Still less would I have recourse to 
the usual stereotyped gilt-framed bit of looking 
glass. In such a private den as we are talking 
about, all sorts of little eccentricities might be 
permitted to the decorator. I have seen a looking- 
glass with a flat, narrow frame, beyond which 
projected a sort of outer frame also flat, wherein 
were mounted a series of pretty little water-colour 
sketches, and another done in the same way with 
photographs only these were much more difficult 
to manage artistically, and needed to be mounted 
with a back-ground of greyish paper. For a 
thoroughly modern room, small oval mirrors are 
pretty, mounted on a wide margin of velvet with 
sundry diminutive brackets and knobs and hooks 
for the safe bestowal of pet little odds and ends 
of china and glass, with here and there a quaint 
old miniature or brooch among them. In old, real 
old rooms anything of this sort would, however, 
be an impossibility, for the mantelshelf would 



probably be carried up far over the owner's head 
who might think herself lucky if she could ever 
reach, by standing on tip-toe, a candlestick off 

FIG. 13. 

its narrow ledge. Our grandmothers seemed to 
make it their practice to hang their less choice 



portraits in the space above the mantelpiece, and 
to this spot seem generally to have been relegated 

FIG. 14. 

the likenesses of disagreeable or disreputable, or, to 
say the least, uninteresting members of the family ; 


the successful belles and heroes occupying a more 
prominent place downstairs. Fig. 14 shows a pretty 
arrangement of picture, mirror and shelves for 

Before the subject of fire is laid aside, we must 
just touch upon candles and lamps. Fig. 13 is a 
simple and ordinary form of candlestick, which 
would be safe enough from risk of fire if these 
sheltering shades were made, as they often are, 
of tin, painted green, and then there would be no 
danger if it stood on a steady table, by the side of 
even the sleepiest student. But perhaps this design 
(Fig. 15) is the most uncommon, though it would 
not be safe to put so unprotected a light except in 
a perfectly safe draughtless place. However, there 
is also in this branch of decorative art a great 
variety of beautiful models to choose from. Antique 
lamps, copied from those exquisite shapes which 
seem to have been preserved for us in lava and 
ashes during all these centuries, with their scissors 
and pin and extinguisher, dangling from slender 
chains, lamps where modern invention for oil and 
wick meet and blend with chaste forms and lines 
borrowed from the old designers, and where the 
good of the eyesight is as much considered as 
the pleasure to the eye itself. 

Of washing arrangements, it is not possible to 
speak in any arbitrary fashion. Here is a modern 


French washing-stand (Fig. 16) made, however, to 
close up, which is always an objectionable thing, in 
my opinion, though it may often be a convenient one, 
Let your basin invariably be as large as possible 
and your jug of a convenient form, to hold and 
pour from. Every basin-stand should be provided 

with a smaller basin and jug, and allow at the same 
time, plenty of space and accommodation for 
sponges and soap. If, from dearth of attendance, 
it is necessary to have a receptacle in the room, into 
which the basin may be emptied occasionally 
during the day, I would entreat that it should be 
also of china, for the tin ones soon acquire an 
P. R. F 



unpleasant smell even from soapsuds. But I detest 
such contrivances, and they are absolutely inadmis- 
sible on any other score except economy of service. 

Fir,. 16. 

All bathing arrangements would be better in a 
separate room, but if this should be impossible, 
then they should be behind a screen. But indeed 


I prefer, wherever it is feasible, to contrive a 
small closet for all the washing apparatus, and 
to keep basin-stand, towel-horse, and bath in it. 
It is sometimes difficult to hit exactly upon a 
plan for a washing-stand for a very small room or 

FIG. 17. 

corner, and a copy of this Chinese stand (Fig. 17) 
for a basin and washing appliances, would look very 
quaint and appropriate in such a situation. Only 
real, coarse, old Indian, or Japanese china, would 
go well with it, however, or it might be fitted with 
one of those wooden lacquered bowls from Siam, 

F 2 



FIG. 18. 

and a water-jar from 
South America of fine 
red clay, and of a most 
artistic and delightful 
form. There are hun- 
dreds of such jars to 
be bought at Madeira 
for a shilling or two, 
and they keep water 
deliciously cool and 
fresh. If a demand 
arose for them they 
would probably be im- 
ported in large quan- 
tities. All washing- 
stands are the better 
for a piece of Indian 
matting hung at the 
back, for much necessary 
flirting and flipping of 
water goes on at such 
places, which stains and 
discolours the wall ; but 
then this matting must 
constantly be renewed, 
for nothing can be more 
forlorn to the eye or un- 
pleasing to the sense of 


smell, than damp straw is capable of becoming 
in course of time. 

For the corner of a boy's bedroom, or for 
the washing apparatus of that very convenient 
little cupboard or closet or corner which I 
always struggle to institute down-stairs, close to 
where the gentlemen of the family hang their 
hats and coats, this (Fig. 18) is a very good 
design. It is simple in form and steady in build, 
and a long towel over a roller just behind it will be 
found useful. The towel need not be so coarse 
as the kitchen " round " one, from which it is 
copied ; and above all things do not have it hard. 
It is a needless addition to the unavoidable 
miseries of life to be obliged to dry your hands 
in a hurry on a new huckaback towel. 

Many charming basin-stands have I seen ex- 
temporised out of even a shelf in a corner ; but 
such contrivances are perhaps too much of make- 
shifts to entitle them to mention here, only one hint 
would I give. Take care that your washing-stand 
is sufficiently low to enable you to use it with 
comfort. I once knew a very splendid and elaborate 
basin-stand, extending over the whole side of a 
dressing-room, which could only be approached 
by mounting three long low steps. I always felt 
thankful when my ablutions had ended and left 
my neck still unbroken. 

' * 



IHERE is no prettier object in either 
bedroom or boudoir than the spot 
where " the toilet stands displayed." 
Whether it be a shrine a la Duchesse 
((Fig. 19) or the simplest form of sup- 
port for a mirror, it will probably be the most inter- 
esting spot in the room to its fair owner. Conse- 
quently there is nothing upon which the old love 
of decoration has more expended itself even from 
its earliest days, or which modern upholstery 
makes more its special study than this truly 
feminine shrine. I will say nothing of mirrors 
with three sides which represent you as a female 
" Cerberus, three ladies in one," or indeed of mir- 
rors of any sort or kind, as our business lies 
at this moment more with the tables on which 
they should stand. These can be found or 
invented of every imaginable form, and contain 

CH. VI.] 



every conceivable convenience for receiving and 
hiding away the weapons which beauty (or rather 

FIG. 19. 

would-be-beauty, which is not at all the same 
thing) requires. 


Here (Fig. 20) is a sort of old-fashioned tiroir of 
an exquisite simplicity, and with but little space 
outside for the " paraphernalia " of odds and ends 

FIG. 20. 

which the law generously recognises as the sole and 
individual property of even a married woman. 
Such articles would need to be stowed away in 



one of its many drawers. Instead of the frivo- 
lous drapery which would naturally cover a deal 
toilet-table, the only fitting drapery for this 

FIG. 21 

beautiful old piece of furniture (of French design 
evidently) would be an embroidered and fringed 
strip of fine linen which should hang low down on 


either side. In a darksome" room, imagine how 
the subdued brightness of its metal mountings 
would afford coigns of vantage to every stray sun- 
beam or flickering ray from taper or fire ! And in 
its deep, commodious drawers too, might be neatly 
stowed away every detail of toilet necessaries. 
On it should stand a mirror which must imperatively 
be required to harmonise, set in a plain but agree- 
able frame without anything to mar the severe 
simplicity of the whole. There are several pieces 
of old furniture, however, which are better adapted 
to be used as toilet-tables than the subject of the 
illustration. Such a piece of furniture is more 
suitable when it is divided, as is often the case, into 
three compartments, the centre one being consider- 
ably further back than the side-pieces. In this way 
a place is secured for the knees, when seated at 
it, and this central cupboard, when filled with 
shelves, makes an excellent receptacle for brushes 
and combs, and so forth. 

The defect of these old tiroirs is that they are 
rather small and low, and consequently look best 
in a small room, but they offer great variety of deco- 
rative embellishment (Fig. 21), and are very satisfac- 
tory, as stands for a small oval toilet-glass in an 
old frame to match. The designs too of the brass 
mountings for door and drawer are nearly always 
exceedingly beautiful, and vary from the simplest 


shining ring to a small miracle of artistic brazen 
work. These shining handles take away a good 
deal from the seventy of decorative treatment 
which would naturally exist in the rest of the room, 
and it is under such conditions, where form takes 
precedence of colour, that we learn the full value 
of these little traps to attract and keep a warm 
glitter of light. 

Here is a simpler design for a toilet-table (Fig. 
22) which would look very well standing between the 
windows of a lofty room. If it was found that a 
good light for the looking-glass had been sacrificed 
to the general harmony of the room, then a smaller 
glass might be placed in a window, just for occa- 
sional use. 

Some of the old-fashioned " toilet-equipages " 
are very beautiful just as they have come down to 
us. They are occasionally made in silver, and com- 
prise many articles which cannot by any possibility 
be brought within the faith or practice of a modern 
belle. Still they offer charming forms for imitation, 
especially in the frames of the old hand-mirrors, 
whose elaborate simplicity (if one may use such 
a paradox) puts to shame the more ornate taste of 
their modern substitutes. Next to silver or tortoise- 
shell, I like ivory, as the material for a really 
beautiful and artistic set of toilet appendages, its 
delicious creamy tint going especially well with all 


shades of blue in a room. But I prefer the surface 
of the ivory kept plain and not grotesquely carved 
as you get it in China or Japan, for dust and 
dirt always take possession of the interstices, and 
lead to the things being consigned to a drawer. 
Now I cannot endure to possess any thing of 
any kind which had better be kept out of sight 
wrapped carefully away under lock and key. My 
idea of enjoying ownership is for my possession to 
be of such a nature that I can see it or use it every 
day and all day long if I choose so I shall not 
be found recommending anything which is "too 
bright and good for human nature's daily food." I 
have seen toilet-tables under difficulties, that is on 
board of real sea-going yachts, where it has been 
necessary to sink a little well into which each 
brush, box or tray securely fitted ; and I have 
seen toilet-tables in Kafir-Land covered with com- 
mon sixpenny cups and saucers, and shown as 
presenting a happy combination of use and orna- 
ment, strictly in conformity with " Engleez fasson." 
But perhaps our business does not lie so much 
with these as with the ordinary dressing-table 
which is now more used in the modern shape of 
a convenient table with a scoop out of the middle, 
beneath which the knees can fit when you are 
seated at it, and with a couple of drawers on each 
side. This too is covered by a white serviette of 



FIG. 22. 


some sort, and supports a large toilet-glass of 
equally uncompromising utility and convenience. 
But however readily these good qualities may be 
conceded to the modern toilet-table it is but an 
uninteresting feature in an ideal bower. If the 
room be an essentially modern one, and especially 
if it be in the country, nothing affords a prettier 
spot of colour in it, than the old-fashioned toilet- 
table of deal covered with muslin draperies over 
soft-hued muslin or batiste. Of course me carica- 
ture of such an arrangement may be seen any day 
in the fearful and detestable toilet-table with a 
skimpy and coarse muslin flounce over a tight- 
fitting skirt of glaring pink calico, but this is a 
parody on the ample, convenient stand for toilet 
necessaries, the draperies of which should be in 
harmony with the other colours of the room. It 
would need however to possess many changes of 
raiment, in order that it may always be kept up to 
the mark of spotless freshness. These draperies are 
prettier of plain soft white muslin without spot or 
figure of any kind, and may consist of two or three 
layers, draped with all the artistic skill the construc- 
tor thereof possesses. It is also an improvement, if 
instead of only a hideous crackle of calico beneath, 
there be a full flounce or petticoat of batiste which 
would give colour and graceful folds together. 
This is a very humble arrangement I know, but 




it can be made as effective as if it cost pounds 
instead of pence. And this is one of the strong 
points in all hints on decoration, that they should 
be of so elastic a nature as to be capable of ex- 
pansion under favourable circumstances, though not 
beyond the reach of extremely slender resources. 

I do not recommend draped mirrors for modern 
toilet-tables on account of the danger from fire, 
and I like the style and frame of the looking-glass 
on the table to harmonise thoroughly with the rest 
of the furniture. 



T seems a pity that sofas and 
(chairs made of straw or bamboo 
[should not be more used than 
they are. I mean, used as they 
| come from the maker's hands, 
not painted or gilded, and becushioned and 
bedizened into hopeless vulgarity. They are only 
admissible an nature!, and should stand upon 
their own merits. Those we have as yet attempted 
to make in England are exceedingly weak and 
ugly compared with the same sort of thing from 
other countries. In Madeira, for instance, the 
chairs, baskets, and even tables, are very superior 
in strength and durability, as well as in correctness 
of outline, to those made in England ; and when 
we go further off, to the East, we find a still 
greater improvement in furniture made of bamboo. 
Here is a chair (Fig. 23), of a pattern familiar to all 
travellers on the P. and O. boats, and whose acquaint- 

CH. VII.] 



ance I first made in Ceylon. It is essentially a 
gentleman's chair, however, and as such is sinking 
into an honoured and happy old age in the dingy 

recesses of a London smoking-room. Without 
the side-wings, which serve equally for a table or 
leg-rest, and with the seat elongated and slightly 
B. R. G 


depressed, such a chair makes a delicious, cool 
lounge for a lady's use in a verandah. 

FIG. 24. 

Then here (Fig. 24) is a Chinese sofa made of bam- 
boo which, in its own country, would probably not be 


encumbered with cushions, for they can be removed 



at pleasure. Where, however, there is no particu- 
lar inducement to use cane or bamboo, then it 
would be better to have made by the village car- 
penter a settee or settle, which is the real word 
something like this. The form is, at all events 
correct ; and in a private sitting-room, furnished 
and fitted to match, the effect would be a thousand 
times better than the modern couches, which are 
so often padded and stuffed into deformity. 

Nothing can be simpler than the lines of the 
design, as is seen in this drawing (Fig 256), without 

FIG. 258. 

the cushions ; and it would come within the scope 
of the most modest upholstering genius. In one's 
own little den which, by the way, I should never 

G 2 

8 4 


myself dignify by the name of boudoir, a word 
signifying a place to idle and sulk in, instead of 

a retreat in which to be busy and comfortable 
such odds and ends of furniture, so long as there 

FIG. 27. 

CH. vii.] DECORATION. 87 

be one distinct feeling running through it all, are 
far more characteristic than commonplace sofas 
and chairs. If one must have large armchairs in 
a boudoir, or in a bedroom, here is one (Fig. 26) 
which is big enough in all conscience, and yet would 
go more harmoniously with an old-fashioned room 
than any fat and dumpy modern chair. If, on the 
other hand, the house in general, and this parti- 
cular room, chances to be essentially in the style of 
the present day, then you would naturally choose 
some of the comfortable modern easy-chairs, taking 
care to avoid the shapes which are a mass of 
padded and cushioned excrescences. But modern 
armchairs can be very pretty, and I know several 
which are low and long, and straight and unas- 
suming, and which yet preserve quite a good dis- 
tinct outline. Such chairs as these are a sort of 
half-way house between bed and board, between 
absolute rest and uncomplaining unrest ; famous 
places for thinking, for watching, for chatting, and, 
above all, for dozing. 

The bedrooms I am thinking of and writing 
about have, we must bear in mind, a certain 
element of the bower or boudoir or private sitting- 
room in them, and so I must stand excused for 
a suggestion about a place for books or music. 
Here is a delightful corner for a piano (Fig. 27), but 
sometimes such a thing is out of the question, and 



it is only possible to find space for a few shelves. 
These can always be made suitable and pretty 
either of a simple old form in plainest oak to 

Fie. 28. 

match the severe lines of an old-fashioned room, 
or of deal painted black, varnished, with a gilt line 
grooved in front, and a bit of bright leather to gc 

vii.] DECORATION. 89 

with a more modern room. To my mind books 
are always the best ornaments in any room, and 
I never feel at home in any place until my 
beloved and often shabby old friends are un- 
packed and ranged in their recess. I once 
extemporised a capital book case out of a blocked - 
up window, and with' a tiny scrap of looking- 
glass let in where the arch of the window 
began its spring, and rilled by some old bowls 
of coarse but capital old china, whose gaudy 
colours could only be looked at safely from a 

As time goes on, one is sure, in such a beloved 
little den, to accumulate a great deal of rubbish 
dear, perhaps, only to the owner for the sake of 
association. Which of us has not, at some tender 
time of our lives, regarded a withered flower, or 
valueless pebble, as our great earthly treasure ? 
So, in later days, a plate,, a cup, a pipe will be 
precious, perhaps, to one as mementoes of the 
place and companions where and with whom it 
was bought. But if such trifles, though too dear to 
be laid aside, are yet not intrinsically good enough 
to form part of a collection, and to take a pro- 
minent share in decoration, then I would either 
stand them aside on a little etagtre like that to 
be found on page 79, or else get the carpenter 
to put up graduated shelves, which may be quite 


pure and simple in taste and yet suit the rest of 
the room. This (Fig. 28) is a capital valuable hint 
to keep photographs or prints at hand, and yet in 
safety. Take my advice, and don't have fringe 
or mock lace, or gilt nails at the edges by way of 
decoration. Have a nice piece of wood, walnut, 
oak, even varnished pine, if you choose, neatly 
finished off at the edge, or, if it suits the rest of 
the room, black, with a little narrow gilt line in a 
depression. I think something ingenious might 
be done with Japanese tea-trays, taking care to 
choose good designs. 

The worst of such a dear delightful den as I 
am imagining, or rather describing, is the tendency 
of the most incongruous possessions to accumulate 
themselves in it as time goes on. What do you 
think of a pitcher like this (Fig. 29) standing in one 
corner, just because, though of common ware, and 
rather coarsely modelled, the colour of the earthen- 
ware is delicious in tone, and the design bold and 
free ? It was brought from South America, and 
cost only six shillings, or thereabouts, but if it had 
cost as many pounds it could not have been more 
thoroughly in harmony with the surroundings of 
its new home. 

One hint may not be out of place here, and that 
is with respect to table-covers. Many people are 
fond of covering up writing tables, and every occa- 



sional table, with a cloth ; and these draped tables 
are generally great eyesores in an ill-arranged 
room. The covers seldom harmonise, and nowa- 
days many hideous pieces of work are accom- 
plished in the name of the School of Art which 

FIG. 29. 

are far removed from the artistic and beautiful 
designs which alone proceed from the School itself. 
There indeed you may find patterns which would 
go beautifully with any old-time furniture, and 
which might be worked on deliciously neutral tints 
of cloth or serge. But beware of staring, gaudy 


table-covers, of shabby material, of which the best 
that can be hoped is that they may speedily fade 
into better harmony. The Queen Anne tables 
were never intended by their designer to be covered 
up by drapery. They are generally inlaid in deli- 
cate designs, which it would be a sin to conceal ; 
nor could we afford to lose the slender grace of 
the legs. The clumsy, ill-finished cheap table of 
the present day is all the better for a cover, and 
wonders may be done in improving a bare, cold, 
unhappy-looking room, by a good table-cover here 
and there, or a nicely embroidered sofa-pillow of 
cloth or satin, or, better still, one of those lovely 
new low screens, with the tall tufts of grass or 
lilies which we owe to Walter Crane's skilful 

I confess I like a room to look as if it were 
inhabited, and that is the only drawback that the 
rooms furnished in the seventeenth century style 
have in my eyes. You scarcely ever feel as if 
any one lived in them there are seldom any signs 
of occupation, especially feminine occupation, lying 
about, no " litter," in fact ; litter being a powerful 
weapon in the hands of a person who knows how 
to make a room look comfortable. Then I am 
told that litter is incongruous in a Queen-Anne 
room, for that the women of those days had not 
the same modes of employment as ourselves. The 

vii.] DECORATION 93 

greatest ladies, if they were blessed with an 
energetic temperament, only gave it free scope 
with their medicine chest or in their still-room or 
linen closet ; while the lazy ones were obliged to 
dawdle away a good deal of their time in bed 
or at their elaborate toilettes. But still I am 
always longing to overlay a little of the modish 
primness of the distant days we are now copying, 
with something of this busy nineteenth century's 
tokens of a love of art or literature. And in a 
room with any claim to a distinct individuality of 
its own, this would always be the case. 



OWEVER skilfully designed the 
arrangements of a house may 
appear to be, however sumptuously 
decorated and furnished its rooms, 
it is impossible to know whether 
a great law of common sense and practical 
usefulness has guided such arrangements, until 
there has been an illness in the house. Then will 
it be discovered too late alas ! whether doors 
and windows open conveniently, whether fire- 
places give out proper warmth, how the apparatus 
for ventilation works, and whether the staircases, 
landings, cupboards, and a thousand uncon- 
sidered items of the architect's labours have been 
planned in the best possible way, or in the stu- 
pidest. For the comfort and convenience of the 
patient at such times, it is by no means neces- 
sary that much money should have been spent 
on the construction of the house that chances 

CH. viii.] THE SICK-ROOM. 95 

to shelter him in his hour of suffering, nor that 
its furnitures or decorations should be of a costly 
character. Fortunately such things need not aim 
at anything .higher than cleanliness and conveni- 
.ence, and we only require to exert our own 
recollections in support of this assertion. As far 
as my individual experience goes, I have seen an 
old woman, who had been bed-ridden for years, 
more comfortably housed and tended beneath a 
cottage roof, and her room kept more exquisitely 
clean and sweet than that of many wealthy 
patients in splendid houses. Of course everything 
depends on the capacity for organisation and ar- 
rangement in the person who has charge of the 
invalid, but the nurse's task may be made much 
easier by having to perform it in a bedroom 
and under conditions which are in accordance 
with the exigencies of such a time. 

Many smart and pretty-looking bedrooms are 
discovered by their sick owner to be very different 
abodes to what they seemed to him in health. 
Awkwardly-placed doors and windows produce 
unsuspected draughts ; the too close proximity of 
an ill-arranged staircase or housemaid's closet 
becomes a serious trouble, and a low pitched 
ceiling prevents proper ventilation. It is more 
difficult than one imagines to find in a badly 
proportioned room a single convenient place for 


the patient's bed. It must be either close to the 
door, or touching the fireplace, or under a window 
or in some situation where it distinctly ought not 
to be. I have known such faults faults which 
occasioned discomfort every moment, and had to 
be remedied by a thousand make-shift contrivances, 
occur in splendid rooms in magnificent houses ; 
and I have known poor little modern dwellings in 
a colony to be perfectly free from them. When I 
am told, " such or such a room or house is a very 
comfortable one to be ill in" then I know that 
the construction and arrangement of that abode, 
however simple it may appear, must needs be up 
to a very high mark indeed. Of course a great 
deal can be done to modify existing evils, by a 
judicious arrangement of screens and curtains, by 
taking out useless furniture, by substituting a com- 
fortable low bed, easy to get at, for a cumbrous 
couch where the unhappy patient's nose seems 
as if it was intended to rub against the ceiling, 
and various other improvements. But what can 
remedy a smoky chimney, or a grate where all 
the heat goes up the chimney, or windows that 
rattle, and doors that open in every direction 
except the. right one? How can an outside land- 
ing or lobby be created at a moment's notice, or 
a staircase moved a yard further off? Of course 
if an illness gave notice before it seized its victim, 

vni.] THE SICK-ROOM. 97 

if people ever realised that a house should be so 
constructed as to reduce the chances of illness to 
a minimum, and raise its possible comforts to a 
maximum if it did come, then everything would 
go on quite smoothly and we should cer- 
tainly live, and probably die, happy. But this 
is exactly what we do not do, and this chapter 
would never have been written if I had not 
seen with my own eyes innumerable instances 
where neither want of money, nor space, nor 
opportunity for improvement were the causes of 
a wretchedly uncomfortable sick-room. 

I have known bedrooms which looked nests of 
rosy, luxurious comfort until their owner fell ill, 
and then turned suddenly, as it seemed, into miser- 
able comfortless abodes of frippery and useless, 
tasteless finery where a candle could scarcely be 
placed anywhere without risk of fire, and where 
the patient has deeply complained of the way 
the decorations of the room " worried " her. As 
a rule, in a severe illness, sick people detest 
anything like a confusion or profusion of orna- 
ments or furniture. If I am in authority in such 
a case, I turn all gimcracks bodily out, substituting 
the plainest articles of furniture to be found in 
the house. Very few ornaments are allowable in 
a sick-room, and I only encourage those which 
are of a simple, correct form. I have known the 
B. R. II 


greatest relief expressed by a patient, who seemed 
too ill to notice any such change, at the substitu- 
tion of one single, simple classical vase for a whole 
shelf-full of tawdry French china ornaments, and 
I date the recovery of another from the moment 
of the removal out of his sight of an exceedingly 
smart modern dressing-table, with many bows of 
ribbon and flounces of lace and muslin. I do not 
mean to say that the furniture of a sick-room 
need be ugly only that it should be simple and 
not too much of it. Nothing confuses and worries 
a person who is ill like seeing his attendants 
threading their way through mazes of chairs and 
sofas and tables ; but he will gladly look and 
find relief and even a weary kind of pleasure in 
gazing at a table of a beautiful, simple form, placed 
where it is no fatigue for him to look at it, with 
a glass of flowers, a terra-cotta vase, a casket, any- 
thing which is so intrinsically beautiful in form as 
to afford repose to the eye. 

I have often observed that when people begin 
to take pleasure in colour, it is a sure sign of 
convalescence for in severe illness, unless indeed 
it be of such a nature as to preclude all power 
of observation, form is of more importance' to the 
patient than colour. One learns a great deal 
from what people tell one after they are well 
enough to talk of such things as past, distem- 

vni.] THE SICK-ROOM. 99 

pered fancies. For instance, I was once nurs- 
ing a typhoid fever patient, who lay for some 
days in an agony of weakness. He had been deaf 
as well as speechless, and all his senses appeared 
to have faded away to the very brink of extinction. 
Yet afterwards when he became able to talk of 
his sensations at different stages of his illness, he 
mentioned that particular time, and I found he 
had been keenly conscious of the forms of the 
objects around. He spoke of the pleasure which 
the folds of a curtain had afforded him, of the 
"comfort" of the shape of the old-fashioned 
arm-chair in which I used to sit, and of how 
grateful he had felt when he observed that 
divers gimcracks had been removed from his 
sight. Later, as he grew better, and the weary 
eyes craved for colour, I found it necessary to 
pretend to be busy dressing dolls or making 
pincushions, to afford myself an excuse for a 
little heap of brightest coloured silks and frag- 
ments of ribbon placed where he could see them, 
and the daily fresh bunches of flowers were a 
perpetual delight to his eyes. 

An ideal sick-room then should first of all 
possess walls which will not weary or worry the 
sick person, and no good pattern will do this. 
The low bed should be so placed that whilst it 
would be sheltered from draught (the aid of one or 

H 2 


two screens will be useful here) the light would 
not fall disagreeably on the patient's eyes. No 
rule can be given about light. In some cases the 
sick person loves to look out of the window all 
day, whilst in others a ray of light on the face 
is agony. In such circumstances the bed should, 
if possible, be so arranged as to allow the light 
to come from behind, for it is only in rare and 
exceptional cases that sunshine as well as outer 
air may not be admitted daily into a sick-room. 
We are fast getting beyond the ignorance of a 
north aspect for a bedroom, and most of us know 
that sunshine is quite as necessary to a bedroom 
as to a garden. No children will ever thrive 
unless they have plenty of sunshine, as well as 
air in the rooms in which they sleep, and a sick- 
room should also have both in abundance. If the 
weather be hot, it is easy, in England, to modify 
the temperature by means of outer blinds, per- 
siennes, open doors, and other means. Few people 
understand what I have learnt in tropical coun- 
tries, and that is, how to exclude the outer air 
during the hot hours of the day. The windows of 
the nursery or sick-room (for we all need to be 
treated like children when we are ill) should be 
opened wide during the early cool, morning-tide, 
and the room flooded with sun and outer air. 
Then, by nine or ten o'clock, shut up rigorously 

viii.] THE SICK-ROOM. 101 

every window, darkening those on which the sun 
would beat, out-side the glass by means of 
blinds or outer shutters until the evening, when 
they may all be set wide open again. All 
woollen draperies, curtains and valences should be 
done away with in a sick-room. If the windows 
are unsightly without curtains, and the illness is 
likely to be a long one, then substitute soft, 
patternless muslin or chintz, or, prettiest of all, 
white dimity with a gay border, but let there be 
no places of concealment in a sick-room. Every 
thing unsightly or inodorous should be kept out 
of it, and herein is found the convenience of a 
well-planned and well-arranged house, where 
clothes-baskets, and things of that sort, can be 
so bestowed as to be at the same time handy 
and yet out of the way. 

If it were not for the unconceivable untidiness 
and want of observation which exists in the human 
race, such cautions as not to leave about the room 
the clothes the sick person has last worn, hanging 
up or huddled on a chair in a corner, would 
seem superfluous. But I have actually seen a girl 
stricken down by a sudden fever, lying at death's 
door, on her little white bed, whilst the wreath 
she were at the ball where she took the fatal 
chill, still hung on her toilette glass, and her poor 
little satin shoes were scattered about the room. 


She had been ill for days ; there were two 
ladies'-maids in the house, besides anxious sisters, 
parents, and nurses, and yet no one had thought 
of putting these things out of sight. The first 
rule, therefore, to be observed in nursing even 
bad colds, where the sufferer may have to stay in 
bed a few days, is to send all the linen he has 
been wearing to the wash at once, and to put 
away everything else in its proper place. Boots 
should never be allowed in a sick-room, for the 
leather and blacking is apt to smell disagreeably 
and they ought immediately to be removed to 
another place. 

Then there should be if possible outside the door 
of the sick-room, either on a landing or in another 
room, a convenient table, covered with a clean, 
white cloth, on which should be ranged spare 
spoons, tumblers, glasses, and so forth, and what- 
ever cooling drinks are wanted, all so managed 
that dust shall be an impossibility. Inside the 
room, on another small table, or shelf, or top of 
chest of drawers, according to circumstances, should 
be kept also on a snowy cloth, just whatever is 
actually needed at a moment's notice medicines 
and their proper glasses, &c., and a spoon or two, 
but the instant anything is used, it should be an 
established rule that the nurse puts the spoon or 
glass outside, and supplies its place with a clean 

vin.J THE SICK-ROOM. 103 

one. In most cases, a servant need only renew 
the supply outside twice a day. 

As for keeping trays with nourishment in the 
room, it is a sign of such careless nursing that 
I should hardly dare to mention it, if I had not 
more than once gone to relieve guard in a friend's 
splendid sick-room at daylight, and seen the 
nurse's supper-tray of the night before on the floor 
whilst the room, in spite of all its beautiful de- 
corations, smelt sickly and disgusting with the 
odour of stale beer and pickles.. It is incredible 
that such things should happen, but in the con- 
fusion caused by a sudden and severe illness, 
untidy and careless habits are apt to come to 
the surface, and loom largely as aggressive faults. 
Sickness is not only a great test of the sufferer's 
own character and disposition, but of those of 
the people around him, and as a general rule, I 
have discovered more beautiful qualities in sick 
people, and those about them, who dwell in 
cottages or even hovels, than in more splendid 
homes. Everyone knows how really kind poor 
people are to each other, and never more so 
than when the angel of disease or death is hover- 
ing over the humble roof-tree. 

Food, or nourishment as it is called in sick- 
room phraseology, would not so often be refused 
by the patient if it were properly managed. Who 


does not know the wearisomeness of being asked, 
probably in .the morning, when the very thought 
of food is an untold aggravation to one's sufferings 
what one could " fancy " ? And this is probably 
followed by a discussion on the merits or possi- 
bilities of divers condiments, to each of which as 
it is canvassed before him' the wretched patient is 
sure to declare a deep-rooted repugnance. A sick 
person, until he reaches that happy stage of con- 
valescence when it is an amusement to him, should 
never be allowed to hear the slightest discussion 
on the subject of his nourishment. Whatever the 
doctor orders should be prepared with as wide a 
range of variety as can be managed, and offered 
to him in the smallest permissible quantities, 
exactly cold or hot enough to take, and served 
as prettily and daintily as possible, at exactly the 
right moment. The chances are a hundred to one 
that, if it is within the range of possibilities that 
he can swallow at all, he will take. it. If he does 
not, there should be no argument, no attempt at 
forcing it on him ; it should at once be taken 
quite away and something different brought as 
soon afterwards as is prudent. Few people realise 
how extraordinarily keen the sense of smell be- 
comes in illness, and how the faint ghost of a 
possible appetite may be turned into absolute 
loathing by the smell of a cup of beef-tea, cooling 


by the bed-side for ten minutes before it is 

I am always guided in a great degree about 
nourishment by the instincts of my patient, and 
I never force stimulants, or anything equally dis- 
tasteful on a sick person who is at all reasonable 
upon such matters. I once had a patient to nurse, 
whose desperate illness had brought him very near 
the shadowy land. It had left him, and the 
doctors assured me that his life depended on how 
much brandy I could get down his throat during 
the night. I told him this, for he was quite 
sensible, when he refused the first teaspoonful, and 
he whispered in gasps, " I'll take as much 
milk as you like ; that stuff kills me." So I 
gave him teaspoonfuls of pure milk all through 
the night every five minutes, and not a drop of 
brandy. The doctor's first reproachful glance in 
the morning was at the untouched brandy bottle, 
and he shook his head, but when he had felt the 
sick man's pulse his countenance brightened, and 
he graciously gave me permission to go on with 
the milk. Of course there are cases when the 
patient never expresses an opinion one way or 
other, and then the only safe rule is to obey the 
doctor's orders, but I never fly in the face of 
any strong instinct of a sick person rationally 


So now I hope we have some glimmering idea 
of what a sick-room should be : cool in summer, 
warm in winter, but deliciously sweet and fresh 
and fragrant always. Simple in its furniture, but 
the few needful articles, of as agreeable shapes 
and as convenient as possible a room which 
can be looked back upon with a sort of affec- 
tion as a place of calm, of discipline, and of 
organization, as well as of the mere kindness 
and willingness to help, which is seldom, if ever, 
absent from a sick-room, but which is not the 
beginning and end of what is necessary within 
its walls. 

There are bed-rests and bed-tables to be 
hired for a sick person's use in almost any town 
in England; or, if it is preferred, any village 
carpenter could make a table with legs six or 
eight inches high, and a top of a couple of smooth 
light planks, about two feet six long, scooped 
out in the middle. This is very convenient when 
the patient is well enough to sit up in bed and 
employ himself. The bed-rests are equally simple, 
the upper half of a chair, padded, and made 
to lower at convenience, while a loose jacket or 
wrapper, easy to slip on, of flannel, should also 
be provided to throw over the patient's shoulders 
when he uses chair and table. When the patient 
can sit up and occupy himself this sort of table 




will be found a great comfort. It might just as 
well be used when lying on a sofa. 

One word more, like a postscript, for it has no 
real business to intrude itself here. It is only an 

entreaty to all nurses or those in authority in a 
sick-room, to wear the prettiest clothes they 
possess. Not the smartest, far from it; the 
simplest cottons, cambrics, what you will, but nice 
and fresh and pleasant to look at. If it is only a 


dressing-gown it may be a charming one. No 
hanging sleeves, or dangling chains, or streaming 
ribbons, but sufficient colour for weary eyes to 
rest on with pleasure. An ideal toilette for sick 
room nursing would be a plain holland or cambric 
gown, made with absolute simplicity long enough 
to be graceful without possessing a useless train 
rather tight sleeves, and no frills or furbelows ; 
a knot of colour at. the throat and in the hair, 
or on the cap only let your ribbons be exquisitely 
fresh and clean and a nice large apron, or rather 
bib, with one big pocket in front. This apron 
may be tied back not too tightly, please with 
the same coloured ribbons, and a little change of 
hue now and then is a great rest and refreshment 
in a sick room. There are charming linen aprons 
now embroidered in School of Art designs of 
the shape I allude to, but they can be made 
equally well in print, or plain holland, or linen. 

No garment that rustles or creaks, or makes 
its presence audible should ever cross the thresh- 
old, but the toilette of the nurse should always 
be exquisitely clean and neat, and yet as bright 
and pretty as possible. No sitting up at night, no 
anxiety or unhappiness should be an excuse for 
a dirty, dishevelled attendant in a sick-room. It 
is always possible to steal half an hour morning 
and evening to wash and change, and do one's hair 


neatly, and the gain and comfort to the patient as 
well as to the nurse, is incalculable. This also 
would not be touched upon if my own recollections 
did not supply me with so many instances, where 
all this sort of care was considered to be abso- 
lutely worthless, and yet sick people have remarked 
afterwards how perfectly conscious they had been 
of all such shortcomings, and how such and such a 
tumbled cap, or shawl pinned on awry had been 
like a nightmare to them. Beauty itself is never 
more valuable than in a sick-room, ami if laws 
could be passed on the subject, I should like to 
oblige all the pretty girls of my acquaintance to take 
it in turn to do a little nursing. I venture to say 
that no ball-room triumphs would ever compare 
with the delight their possession of God's greatest 
and best gift would afford to His sick and suffering 
creatures. But a nurse may always make herself 
look pleasant and agreeable, and if she have the 
true nursing instinct, the ready tact and sympathy 
which a sick-bed needs, she may come to be re- 
garded as "better than pretty" by her grateful 



ERHAPS the kindliest and wisest 
I advice with regard to a spare room, 
would be the same as Punch's 
famous counsel to young people 
(about to marry a short and em- 
phatic "Don't." In a large country house, 
perhaps even in a small country house, the case is 
different, for the spare room too often represents 
all the social variety which the owners can hope 
for, from year's end to year's end and the only 
change from town life possible to half the bees 
in the great hive. It is scarcely possible to 
imagine an English country house, be it ever so 
humble, without its spare room, or the warm 
cordial welcome which would be sure to greet 
its succeeding inhabitants. How fresh and sweet 
and dainty do its simple appointments look to 
jaded eyes ! how grateful its deep stillness to world- 
deafened ears ! How impossible, in a brief summer 

CH. ix.] THE SPARE ROOM. in 

week, to believe that life can ever be found dull 
or monotonous amid such delicious calm ! A 
walk in the gloaming in a country lane, always 
supposing it is not too muddy a cup of milk 
fresh from the cow, a crust off the home-baked loaf, 
are all treats of the first order to the tired cockney. 
I have often noticed the sort of half-pitying, half- 
contemptuous amazement with which my country 
hostess has beheld my delight at being installed 
in her spare room, my rapture at the sight of 
meadows and trees, or the sound of cawing rooks 
and the whirr of mowing machines. And how 
fresh and clean ought this country spare room to 
look ! How inexcusable would be stain or spot, 
or evil odour amid such fragrant surroundings ! 
Why should not the sheets always smell of lavender 
(as a matter of fact, they do not, I regret to state) ? 
why should not there be always a jar of dried 
rose-leaves somewhere "around," as our dear, 
epigrammatic, Yankee cousins say ? 

I do not think I really like silks and satins 
anywhere ; I acknowledge that they fill me 
with a respectful admiration and awe for a 
short space, but that soon wears off, and my 
accidental splendour bores me all the rest of the 
time I have to dwell with it. No, the sort of 
guest-chamber which I love to occupy in the 
country is as simple as simple can be, and not so 


crowded with furniture, but that a little space is 
left here and there where a box can be placed 
without its intruding itself as a nuisance for which 
one feels constantly impelled to apologise. If I 
am so fortunate as to find in a corner of my room 
a little frame, about two feet high made by the 

FIG. 31. 

village carpenter, or the big boys of the house- 
hold, for this box to stand on, then, indeed, I 
know what luxury means. You have your box 
so much more under your control if it is raised 
a little from the floor, and it is ever so much 
easier to pack and unpack. The taste and charac- 
teristics of the owners of the house, which you may 
be sure is to be found in all their surroundings, 

ix.] THE SPARE ROOM. 113 

is never more apparent than in the spare room. 
Sometimes your hostess tries to make you happy 
with looking-glasses, and I have shudderingly 
dwelt in a room with five large mirrors and sundry 
smaller ones ; or else you are abashed to find 
how many gowns there is space for, and how 
few you have brought. But this extreme is better 
than the other : I have had to keep my draperies 
on all the available chairs in the room because 
I was afraid to open and shut the diminutive 
drawers of an exquisite, aged coffre which was 
provided for their reception. Beautiful as was 
this article of furniture, I would gladly have 
changed it for the commonest deal chest of 
drawers, long before the week was out. In spare 
rooms, as in all other rooms, money is not every- 
thing. It will not always buy taste, nor even 
comfort. Doubtless many of my readers who 
may happen to have led as varied a life as mine 
has been, will agree with me in the assertion, that 
as far as actual comfort goes, they have often 
possessed it in a greater degree under a very 
humble roof-tree, than beneath many a more 
splendid shelter. Everybody has their " little 
ways " (some of them very tiresome and odd, I 
admit), and there are splendid spare-rooms in which 
apparently no margin has been left, no indulgence 

shown, for any little individualities. 

B. R. I 


I should not be an Englishwoman writing to 
other Englishwomen if I did not take it for 
granted that we all desire most ardently that our 
guests should be thoroughly comfortable in their 
own rooms as well as happy in our society, and 
so I venture to suggest that visitors should not 
be fettered by too many rules, that, however 
homely the plenishing of the guest-chamber 
must needs be, it should never lack a few fresh 
flowers, a place to write (Fig. 31), pen and ink, a 
tiny table which can be moved about at pleasure, 
a dark blind for the window, and such trifles 
which often make the difference between comfort 
and discomfort, between a homelike feeling directly 
one arrives, and the incessant consciou- ness of 
being " on a visit. " 

But with regard to spare rooms in a town house, 
what advice can be given beyond and except 
that horrid " don't " ? Especially true is this in 
London. No one has the least idea how many 
affectionate relations he possesses until he has 
an empty bedroom in a London house. It would 
almost appear as if such things as hotels and 
lodgings had ceased to exist, so incessant, so 
importunate are the entreaties to be " put up " 
for a couple of nights. And let me say here that 
visitors will prove much more of a tax in London 
than they ever are in the country. For rural visitors 

ix.] THE SPARE ROOM. 115 

scarcely ever seem to realise or comprehend how 
methodically mapped out is the life of a pro- 
fessional man living in London, how precious 
are to him the quiet early hours which they insist 
upon leaving behind them in the solitude of the 
country. Speaking as a London hostess, I may 
conscientiously assert that the guests who have 
kept me up latest at night, who have voted break- 
fast at 9. 30 unreasonably early (without consider- 
ing it was a whole hour later than our usual time) 
have been those people who ordinarily led the 
quietest and most clock-work existence in their 
country home. I will say nothing here of the im- 
possibility of inducing them to regard distance or 
cab-hire as presenting any objection worth con- 
sideration in their incessant hunt after the bargains 
erroneously supposed by them to be obtainable in 
every shop. I have been scolded roundly by 
country visitors for keeping early hours and leading 
a quiet life in London, and I have never suc- 
ceeded in impressing on them that in order to 
get through a great deal of hard work, both my 
husband and I found it necessary to do both. 

To a professional man, with a small income, 
the institution of a spare room may be regarded 
as an income tax of several shillings in the pound 
It is even worse than that ; it means being forced 
to take in a succession of lodgers who don't pay, 


who are generally amazingly inconsiderate and 
exigeante, and who expect to be amused and 
advised, chaperoned and married, and even nursed 
and buried. It is inconceivable upon what slender 
grounds, or for what far-fetched reasons, your dis- 
tant acquaintance, or your compared to yourself 
rich relation, will unhesitatingly demand your 
hospitality. And oh, my unknown friends, how 
often are we tempted to say yes to the well- 
to-do relation who asks the question of us, and to 
find an excuse to shut out the poor one who really 
needs it ? Ah how often ? 

It is really a trial to be unable to receive one's 
nearest kith and kin, one's sailor brother or sister 
home from India, because "we have no spare 
room," yet that very beginning, natural and de- 
lightful as it is, cheerfully and laughingly borne 
as the little privations it entails may be, is often 
the beginning of a stream of self-invited guests 
who literally worry us, if they don't exactly " eat 
us," out of house and home. 










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