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

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.