Transforming Your Space: Inspiration for Walls and Floors

The Woodwork

The color of the woodwork in the house is important, for it dictates to a degree the color scheme for the rooms. If the woodwork is really beautiful, because of the modeling and musical spacing of delicate and refined moldings and other details as it was in the houses of fifty or more years ago, it is right that it should be given proper emphasis. This is best obtained, perhaps, through the use of white paint or enamel.

How charming some of this old colonial woodwork is, if we will but take a moment to enjoy it; it is a delight to the eye! But the ordinary woodwork in the modern house cannot afford to have its uninteresting mediocrity or ugliness brought to the front. It should be stained or painted in low-toned colors that it may assume a very subordinate place in the room.

In general, grayed, deep browns or greens are restful and unobtrusive, and are colors with which wall papers will harmonize. It is wise to avoid strong contrasts between walls and woodwork unless we know what contrasts are good. This applies to the halls, living room, dining room and kitchen.

The Bathroom and Bedrooms

For the bathroom and the bedrooms, white is allowable, even with poor woodwork, because the furnishings and the wall papers are generally light in value, hence the light woodwork is not much in evidence. Moreover, where scrupulous cleanliness is so absolutely essential, the light colors are better.

Certain colors appeal to us at once; we say that they are beautiful, charming, tender; others impress us as being cheap or uninteresting. A dark, luminous brown awakes in us a more agreeable response than does a light, faded brown; a soft, gray green, as made in paint by mixing red with green, is preferable to a cold, hard green made from black or blue and green. Cream white excites a more sympathetic mood than does pure white and is made by adding a bit of ochre or burnt sienna to white. Warm tones are generally better than cold or neutral tones.


The Woodwork

The practice of giving the woodwork several coats of varnish, producing a weak and unattractive yellow-brown, is unfortunate. The color itself is destitute of interesting character, and only brown wall papers will harmonize with it. Rooms thus finished may be much improved by painting the woodwork a good color, even though the grain of the wood is sacrificed. Paint will cover a multitude of sins.

It is a mistake to suppose that highly polished or varnished woodwork is a mark of excellence. Quite the reverse is true. The woodwork should not shine, it should not catch and reflect lights as does a mirror; a very subordinate element in the room, it should remain unobtrusively in the background. Therefore, if rubbed in oil and pumice stone after varnishing, to remove the gloss, or if waxed instead of varnished, the effect is enriched.

This statement does not apply to fine woodwork which is finished in white solely that its fine proportions and modeled details may be seen to the best advantage.

The Floors

There is one day in the week on which every housekeeper who does her own work hangs out the significant sign, “Our busy day.” That day is washing day, the day upon which we celebrate the removal of dirt from things. In the carpeted home there is another festive and joyous occasion every week or two, the day upon which we put dirt onto things sweeping day.

The housekeeper appears with swathed forehead, with gloves, and murky look, and all shelves, chairs, and tables left in the room are sympathetically arrayed. It is only necessary to half enter the room to understand the wisdom of the housekeeper’s method. The air is alive with stifling dust as if she were sifting ashes. Where does the dust come from? From the carpet, of course.

Such dirt is never found in the house with hardwood floors; it cannot hide itself there as in a carpet. The dust that settles to the floor rests largely upon the rugs, and these are always swept or beaten out-of-doors.

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The Floors

As sweeping a carpeted room always arouses to activity the accumulated dust, dusting must follow sweeping. Not so in the house with hardwood floors, for the floor can be quickly gone over with a large bristle broom or with a damp cloth, neither of which raises an appreciable amount of dust. At housecleaning time the carpeted home is riotously upset, for a few days the inmates are practically homeless, unless the vacuum system of cleaning be employed. But however done, the cleaning of carpets is an expensive job.

In the winter time, the carpet does offer a grateful suggestion of warmth and protection. To one who throughout his long life has been accustomed to this suggestion, its lack is sadly missed. Old people generally prefer carpets; let us not try to argue them from their right and privilege. But we, who are not committed to any plan of floor covering through years of custom, ought to know that from a hygienic point of view the hardwood floor is by all means the proper one for our home.

If our floors are not hardwood, they can be made very attractive indeed by painting them several coats to harmonize with the woodwork, generally a dull brown or soft gray-green; occasionally, if a warm tone is necessary, Venetian red may be used.

Straw Matting

Straw matting is the next best thing for our floors. Choose a good matting and one with comparatively plain ground; the best mattings are generally the most satisfactory in design and in service, and the best matting is less expensive than a good carpet. Moreover, it is cleaner and will wear about as long. Cheap mattings are made for cheap tastes.

We have a perfect right to our likes and dislikes, and if we prefer carpets, let us choose those which are good in design. Carpets having large, separated spots of strong color are bad. One enters a house where one of these carpets is on the floor, and while listening to the conversation of the hostess.

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