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Location Of The House

Besides the difference in treatment demanded by different use of
rooms--the character of the decoration of the whole house will be
influenced by its situation. A house in the country or a house in town;
a house by the sea-shore or a house situated in woods and fields require
stronger or less strong colour, and even different tints, according to
situation. The decoration itself may be much less conventional in one
place than in another, and in country houses much and lasting charm is
derived from design and colour in perfect harmony with nature's
surroundings. Whatever decorative design is used in wall-coverings or in
curtains or hangings will be far more effective if it bears some
relation to the surroundings and position of the house.

If the house is by the sea the walls should repeat with many variations
the tones of sea and sand and sky; the gray-greens of sand-grasses; the
blues which change from blue to green with every cloud-shadow; the pearl
tints which become rose in the morning or evening light, and the browns
and olives of sea mosses and lichens. This treatment of colour will make
the interior of the house a part of the great out-of-doors and create a
harmony between the artificial shelter and nature.

There is philosophy in following, as far as the limitations of simple
colour will allow, the changeableness and fluidity of natural effects
along the shore, and allowing the mood of the brief summer life to fall
into entire harmony with the dominant expression of the sea. Blues and
greens and pinks and browns should all be kept on a level with
out-of-door colour, that is, they should not be too deep and strong for
harmony with the sea and sky, and if, when harmonious colour is once
secured, most of the materials used in the furnishing of the house are
chosen because their design is based upon, or suggested by, sea-forms,
an impression is produced of having entered into complete and perfect
harmony with the elements and aspects of nature. The artificialities of
life fall more and more into the background, and one is refreshed with a
sense of having established entirely harmonious and satisfactory
relations with the surroundings of nature. I remember a doorway of a
cottage by the sea, where the moulding which made a part of the frame
was an orderly line of carved cockle-shells, used as a border, and this
little touch of recognition of its sea-neighbours was not only
decorative in itself, but gave even the chance visitor a sort of
interpretation of the spirit of the interior life.

Suppose, on the other hand, that the summer house is placed in the
neighbourhood of fields and trees and mountains; it will be found that
strong and positive treatment of the interior is more in harmony with
the outside landscape. Even heavier furniture looks fitting where the
house is surrounded with massive tree-growths; and deeper and purer
colours can be used in hangings and draperies. This is due to the more
positive colouring of a landscape than of a sea-view. The masses of
strong and slightly varying green in foliage, the red, brown, or vivid
greens of fields and crops, the dark lines of tree-trunks and branches,
as well as the unchanging forms of rock and hillside, call for a
corresponding strength of interior effect.

It is a curious fact, also, that where a house is surrounded by myriads
of small natural forms of leaves and flowers and grasses, plain spaces
of colour in interiors, or spaces where form is greatly subordinated to
colour, are more grateful to the eye than prominently decorated surface.
A repetition of small natural forms like the shells and sea-mosses,
which are for the most part hidden under lengths of liquid blue, is
pleasing and suggestive by the sea; but in the country, where form is
prominent and positive and prints itself constantly upon both mental and
bodily vision, unbroken colour surfaces are found to be far more

It will be seen that the principles of appropriate furnishing and
adornment in house interiors depend upon circumstances and natural
surroundings as well as upon the character and pursuits of the family
who are to be lodged, and that the final charm of the home is attained
by a perfect adaptation of principles to existing conditions both of
nature and humanity.

In cottages of the character we are considering, furniture should be
simpler and lighter than in houses intended for constant family living.
Chairs and sofas should be without elaborate upholstery and hangings,
and cushions can be appropriately made of some well-coloured cotton or
linen material which wind, and sun, and dampness cannot spoil, and of
which the freshness can always be restored by laundering. These are
general rules, appropriate to all summer cottages, and to these it may
be added, that a house which is to be closed for six or eight months in
the year should really, to be consistent, be inexpensively furnished.
These general rules are intended only to emphasise the fact that in
houses which are to become in the truest sense homes--that is, places of
habitation which represent the inhabitants, directions or rules for
beautiful colour and arrangement of interiors, must always follow the
guiding incidents of class and locality.

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