Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Table Decoration

FOR the young and inexperienced we state a few rules for table decoration. If you have furnished your dining-room to accord not only with your taste, but the scale upon which you intend living, be careful that the dining-table never strikes a false note, never "gets out of the picture" by becoming too important as to setting or menu. You may live very formally in your town house and very simply, without any ostentation, in the country, but be sure that in all of your experimenting with table decoration you observe above all the law of appropriateness.

Your decoration, flowers, fruit, character of bowl or dish which holds them, or objet d'art used in place of either; linen or lace, china, glass and silver, each and all must be in keeping. The money value has nothing whatever to do with this question of appropriateness, when considered by an artist decorator.

Remember that in decorating, things are classified according to their color value, their lines and the purpose for which they are intended. The dining table is to eat at, therefore it should primarily hold only such things as are required for the serving of the meal. So your real decoration should be your silver, glass and china, with its background of linen or lace. The central decoration, if of flowers or fruit, must be in a bowl or dish decorative in the same sense that the rest of the tableware is.

Flowers should be kept in the same key as your room. One may do this and yet have infinite variety. Tall stately lilies, American Beauty roses, great bowl of gardenias and orchids are for stately rooms.

Your small house, flat or bungalow require modest garden flowers such as daffodils, jonquils, tulips, lilies-of-the-valley, snapdragons, one long-stemmed rose in a vase, or a cluster of shy moss-buds or nodding tea-roses.

A table set with art in the key of a small ménage and on a scale of simple living, often strikes the note of perfection from the expert's point of view because perfect of its kind and suitable for the occasion. This appropriateness is what makes your "smart" table quite as it makes your "smart" woman.

Wedgwood cream color ware "C. C." is beautiful and always good form. For those wanting color, the same famous makers of England have an infinite variety, showing lovely designs.

Unless you are a collector in the museum sense, press into service all of your beautiful possessions. If you have to go without them, let it be when you no longer own them, and not because they are hoarded out of sight. You know the story of the man who bought a barrel of apples and each day carefully selected and ate those that were rotten, feeling the necessity of not being wasteful.

When the barrel was empty he realized that he had deliberately wasted all his good apples by not eating one! Let this be a warning to him who would save his treasures.

If you love antiques and have joyously hunted them down and, perhaps, denied yourself other things to obtain them, you are the person to use them, even though the joy be transient and they perish at the hand of a careless man or maidservant Remember, posterity will have its own "fads" and prefer adding the pleasure of pursuit to that of mere ownership. So bring out your treasures and use them!

As there are many kinds of dining rooms, each good if planned and worked out with an art instinct, so there are many kinds of tables. The usual sort is the round, or square, extension table, laid with fine damask and set with conventional china, glass and silver, rare in quality and distinguished in design.

For those who prefer the unusual there are oblong, squarely built Jacobean and Italian refectory tables. With these one makes a point of showing the rich color of the time-worn wood and carving, for the old Italian tables often have the beveled edge and legs carved. When this style of table is used, the wood instead of a cloth is our background, and a "runner" with doilies of Old Italian lace takes the place of linen.

In Feudal Days, when an entire household, master and retainers, sat in the baronial hall "above and below the salt," tables were made of great length. When used out of their original setting, they must be cut down to suit modern conditions.

In Krakau, Poland, the writer often dined at one of these feudal boards, which had been in our hostess's family for several hundred years. To get it into her dining room a large piece had been cut out at the centre and the two ends pushed together.

For those who live informally, delightfully decorative china can be had at low prices. It was once made only for the peasants, and comes to us from Italy, France, Germany and England. This fact reminds us that when we were traveling in Southern Hungary and were asked to dine with a Magyar farmer, out on the windy Piista, instead of their usual highly colored pottery, gay with crude, but decorative flowers, they honored us by covering the table with American ironstone china! The Hungarian crockery resembles the Brittany and Italian ware, and some of it is most attractive when rightly set

When once the passion to depart from beaten paths seizes us it is very easy to make mistakes. Therefore to the housekeeper, accustomed to conventional china, but weary of it, we would commend as a safe departure, modern Wedgwood and Italian reproductions of classic models, which come in exquisite shapes and in a delicious soft cream tone. If one prefers, it is possible to get these varieties decorated with charming designs in artistic colorings, as previously stated.

For eating meals out of doors, or in "sun-rooms," where the light is strong, the dark peasant pottery, like Brittany, Italian and Hungarian, is very effective on dull-blue linen, heavy cream linen or coarse lace, such as the peasants make.

Copper luster, with its dark metallic surface, is enchanting on dark wood or colored linen of the right tone.

Your table must be a picture composed on artistic lines. That is, it must combine harmony of line and color and above all, appropriateness. Gradually one acquires skill in inventing unusual effects; but only the adept can go against established rules of art and yet produce a pleasing ensemble.

We can all recall exceptions to this rule for simplicity, beautiful, artistic tables, covered with rare and entrancing objects, irrelevant, but delighting the eye. Some will instantly recall Clyde Fitch's dinners in this connection, but here let us emphasize the dictum that for a great master of the art of decoration there need be no laws.

A careful study of the Japanese principles of decoration is an ideal way of learning the art of simplicity. It is impossible to deny the immense decorative value of a single objet d'art, as one flower in a simple vase, provided it is given the correct background.

Background in decoration is like a pedal point in music; it must support the whole fabric, whether you are planning a house, a room Or a table.

Example of a Charming Hall Spoiled by Too Pronounced a Rug

Shows how a too pronounced rug which is out of character, though a valuable Chinese antique, can destroy the harmony of a composition even where the stage is set with treasures; Louis XV chairs, antique fount with growing plants, candelabra, rare tapestry, reflected by mirror, and a graceful console and a settee with grey-green brocade cushions.

About The Author
Melani Widjaja dedicates her time to makeover her clients project. For more home decor ideas visits

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