Character In Houses

"For the created still doth shadow forth the mind and will which made


"Thou art the very mould of thy creator."

It needs the combined personality of the family to make the character of

the house. No one could say of a house which has family character, "It

is one of ----'s houses" (naming one or another successful decorator),

because the decorator would have done only what i
was his business to

do--used technical and artistic knowledge in preparing a proper and

correct background for family life. Even in doing that, he must consult

family tastes and idiosyncracies if he has the reverence for

individuality which belongs to the true artist.

A domestic interior is a thing to which he should give knowledge and not

personality, and the puzzled home-maker, who understands that her world

expects correct use of means of beauty, as well as character and

originality in her home, need not feel that to secure the one she must

sacrifice the other.

An inexperienced person might think it an easy thing to make a beautiful

home, because the world is full of beautiful art and manufactures, and

if there is money to pay for them it would seem as easy to furnish a

house with everything beautiful as to go out in the garden and gather

beautiful flowers; but we must remember that the world is also full of

ugly things--things false in art, in truth and in beauty--things made to

sell--made with only this idea behind them, manufactured on the

principle that an artificial fly is made to look something like a true

one in order to catch the inexpert and the unwary. It is a curious fact

that these false things--manufactures without honesty, without

knowledge, without art--have a property of demoralizing the spirit of

the home, and that to make it truly beautiful everything in it must be

genuine as well as appropriate, and must also fit into some previously

considered scheme of use and beauty.

The esthetic or beautiful aspect of the home, in short, must be created

through the mind of the family or owner, and is only maintained by its

or his susceptibility to true beauty and appreciation of it. It must, in

fact, be a visible mould of invisible matter, like the leaf-mould one

finds in mineral springs, which show the wonderful veining, branching,

construction and delicacy of outline in a way which one could hardly be

conscious of in the actual leaf.

If the grade or dignity of the home requires professional and scholarly

art direction, the problem is how to use this professional or artistic

advice without delivering over the entire creation into stranger or

alien hands; without abdicating the right and privilege of personal

expression. If the decorator appreciates this right, his function will

be somewhat akin to that of the portrait painter; both are bound to

represent the individual or family in their performances, each artist

using the truest and best methods of art with the added gift of grace or

charm of colour which he possesses, the one giving the physical aspect

of his client and the other the mental characteristics, circumstances,

position and life of the house-owner and his family. This is the true

mission of the decorator, although it is not always so understood. What

is called business talent may lead him to invent schemes of costliness

which relate far more to his own profit than to the wishes or character

of the house-owner.

But it is not always that the assistance of the specialist in decoration

and furnishing is necessary. There are many homes where both are quite

within the scope of the ordinary man or woman of taste. In fact, the

great majority of homes come within these lines, and it is to such

home-builders that rules, not involving styles, are especially of use.

The principles of truth and harmony, which underlie all beauty, may be

secured in the most inexpensive cottage as well as in the broadest and

most imposing residence. Indeed, the cottage has the advantage of that

most potent ally of beauty--simplicity--a quality which is apt to be

conspicuously absent from the schemes of decoration for the palace.