Artistic San Francisco dining rooms (1900)

Artistic San Francisco dining rooms

Have you an artistic dining room?

Here are some that give an excellent idea of harmonious arrangement for beauty and comfort

The dining room is the room of all others which may not be overlooked or slighted. It is across this threshold that we walk three times a day. It is in the dining room that we throw off all formality, and become simply ourselves to our friends. Here the inner man is taken care of.

The dining room — that is, the dining room as we of this age know it — is certainly of very recent style. in the earlier days, our ancestors ate in the hall; then later a banquet hall was built for ceremonial purposes. Two very admirable descriptions of the old-time dining hall are those found in Dumas’ “Twenty Tears After” and Scott’s “Ivanhoe.”

No simple word
Uttered at our mirthful board
Shall make us sad next morning, or affright
The liberty that we’ll enjoy tonight

The very word “dining-room” breathes hospitality.

The old English house plans were often built with two or three rooms designated as dining-rooms, and which could be used at different seasons of the year. They in no manner resembled our modern dining-rooms, as they were not in direct connection with the kitchen and were probably used for living rooms when not in use for dining purposes. Recently, the dining-room has been specialized as an apartment for dining purposes only.

In the middle ages, people dined at long tables composed of boards resting on trestles, while the seats were narrow benches or stools so constructed that they could be carried away after the meal was over.

In a dining-room — a dining-room that is a dining-room and not a back drawing room, as is the case in so many houses where space is cramped — the most essential points are light and air. Have it light and sunny, and if possible always to the east, so that the morning sun can pour in.

The fad or craze — or, to be more dignified, the fashion — of old furniture is our latest impulse in house decorations. The most popular styles are the Flemish, Colonial and antique French oak; odd furniture from the beginning of the eighteenth century.

The dining-room should be the most severe and set in its furnishings of any room in the house. It should look dignified and substantial. Never overcrowd it. A table, square or round, as preferred; chairs, a sideboard in antique style; a buffet and two china closets are sufficient. One of the closets is for crockery; the other, for cut or Bohemian glassware.

With the Flemish or English furnishings, the room must be large, with high ceilings and plenty of wall expanse. Heavy furniture marks these styles. The Flemish, which is exceedingly popular just now, comes either dark or light, just as personal taste suggests.

In the Colonial style, one finds paneled walls, with hardwood floors, rugs, mahogany table, chairs and woodwork.

To those who object to the darker shades, the French oak is used. It is much lighter and browner. The woodwork and furniture should harmonize. Tapestry walls, either real or in paper, are used; rugs, with hardwood or inlaid floors. If preferred, carpet can be used, and in our damp winter climate is perhaps to be preferred.

A very pretty idea, but one which can be carried out better in a country home than in a town house, is to have a doorway leading from the dining-room into the garden or to a veranda. This is a French or Spanish conception, and gives to a dining-room a more homelike air.

A fireplace is always essential in a dining-room. To come down to breakfast on a cold, bleak morning, there is nothing like a roaring, crackling wood fire to make things cheerful. If the room happens to be without a fireplace, it gives the breakfaster a fit of blues that would probably last throughout the day.

In San Francisco are many ideal dining-rooms. Among them is that in the Hobart residence, at the corner of Washington street and Van Ness Avenue. This is finished in antique mahogany, with high wainscoting, magnificent sideboard and a charming and cozy fireplace. On each side of the fireplace are benches.

Another dining-room, extremely original in design, is painted in white with a wainscoting about five feet high. Above this is a shelf to the ceiling. The wall above and sides are papered in delft pattern, blue and white. The decorations of old china are in the same shades. The furniture is of mahogany. This is a much smaller room than that in the Hobart house.

The decorations of dining-rooms should be of the simplest. A few pictures on the walls are not out of place. Still-life studies are usually preferred. On the shelves are found old brass candlesticks, plates, platters and delft jars. Since it became a fad to collect steins, these are also found arranged in rows along the shelves. A few palms by the windows add to a dining room’s air of general comfort.

On the following pages, see examples of four more San Francisco dining rooms, photographed in the year 1900 for this article.