The art of furnishing a cottage home (1904)

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Art and comfort in furnishing the cottage home

In the fitting of a cottage home, whether old or new, certain considerations must always be to the fore, namely, the maximum of comfort with the minimum of labor; no unnecessary draperies to harbor dust and form attractive nests for insects; no upholstery that will not in the natural course of events be in daily use when the cottage is inhabited.

Curtains of a light material — cretonne, linen or unbleached calico — just the length of the windows, serve well as curtain and blind, and the nightly drawing of the curtains to cover the windows prevents the folds from sheltering spiders or large flies.

Rugs which can easily be taken up and shaken are the best coverings for wooden floors, and for the tile or brick floor, so common in old cottages, cocoa matting is effective, both as regards appearance and for its harmless absorption of the moisture, which in damp weather inevitably oozes from the surface of the bricks.

Indian dhurries are pretty and inexpensive for bedroom floors, and wash well; it is true the colors become fainter with the application of soap and water, but even so they are pleasant to the eye. It is a good plan to cover all boarded floors with a couple of coats of paint; white, light blue or ochre are good shades to use; the shiny surface of ordinary oil paint stands wear well, and a room so finished does not need the same amount of scrubbing as the ordinary wood floor, while the paint acts as a deterrent to the “woodlouse” and other destructive insects.

A sitting room may be made charming at small cost. A dresser is both ornamental and useful.

An old one, or one made up from old and seasoned wood, can be obtained in the neighborhood of twenty dollars. If stricter economy must be practiced, a common deal dresser stained brown or painted white answers the purpose admirably. A gate-leg oak table, upon which one can put anything down without fear of scratching or disfiguring its surface, is an appropriate and solid centerpiece. The size of the table must, of course, be determined by the size of the room; its condition, if it be of solid oak, is immaterial, as a few applications of beeswax and turpentine, or of furniture polish, will restore its appearance.

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If the cottage contains two sitting rooms besides the kitchen, it is well to keep the one we have described as the living room, and to furnish the other with a view to increased comfort. A couple of wicker chairs, wide enough to admit the free use of several loose cushions, are desirable resting places for tired folk, and a most alluring lounge can be made with one of the ordinary folding bedsteads. Saw off about a couple of inches from the bottom of each leg to lower the erection to a comfortable height, place the mattress upon it and allow it its complement of pillows.

Make a loose cover of cretonne with a deep flounce, throw this over the mattress; cover each pillow in a frilled case of the same material, and you have a pretty sofa, which may be used with a pile of cushions at one’s back, as a settee; or, in case of an extra guest, it can serve the purpose for which it was originally intended — that of bedstead.

A light make of folding table, which can at need be used out-of-doors for tea, is a valuable adjunct.

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