IT seems expedient that most of the other rooms of the house should be furnished after the conventional system of society, that is, on a scheme of general custom, with only the difference of individual taste and means. But the boudoir is the one place from which the conventional can be entirely banished, where eccentricity can be indulged, and where the dweller may intrench herself in the full enjoyment of her pet idiosyncrasies. If she wishes the room severe as an oratory, she has the right to order it; and if she prefers to represent in it the interior of a wigwam, there should be nobody to gainsay her, for that sole corner of the house is hers, and not the world's, and she is at liberty to make it the expression of all her hidden preferences. Its very name expresses its private character, derived as it is from the French verb bonder, to pout, and signifying a place for retirement when the world has put on an unfriendly aspect in relation to our especial sugar-plum, and our temper has become too much for our control. Yet it is in the boudoir that a lady sometimes receives her very intimate friends of either sex when she wishes their visit to be undisturbed, and it is not likely then that temper interferes with the scene; and therefore the room is arranged with other views as well as that of the comfort of pouting at one's ease.
It is only people of exceptional character who will be very likely to make the boudoir anything exceptional, for it is frequently felt that its name is an affectation in this country, and it will, as a general thing, be given the appearance which cannot meet with much criticism as a lady's sitting-room.
The boudoir is usually an up-stairs room, adjoining the bedchamber and dressing-room, and not too far from the nursery. Boudoirs play a great part in romances, but in the real life of America, at least, they are sufficiently rare. A bedchamber and dressing-room answer the needs of most of our ladies, and if there is a room to spare, it naturally becomes a sort of family sitting-room rather than the private luxury of one individual in the family. And even if, when the bride came, it was her boudoir, when the babies came, she lost her exclusive control. As a boudoir, al though there are no restrictions on its furnishing and no laws to be obeyed, yet there are certain habits which usually creep in because comfort demands them, and the most eccentric spine has moments of needing a cushioned resting-place. Thus we will find in the boudoir the lounge, the comfortable chair for one's self and another for one's friend, the prie-dieu, if one is devout, and a collection of rosaries or of other religious emblems, according to one's creed; all one's precious knickknacks not quite nice enough for the drawing-room, or else too personal in character for that more open place—one's favorite books and their shelves, one's peculiar and particular escritoire, one's sewing-table and work-basket, one's own easel and piano; and we will see that it is a place of soft colors, soft carpets and curtains, and with the pictures that mean more to one's self than to any one else in the world.
We recall a boudoir which was a small room whose floor was laid in a carpet of an indistinct figure, where the colors and outlines blended with one another like stuff that has " run " in the washing, although of a somewhat chintz-like pattern. The wall, then, from cornice to moulding, was hung with a chintz in paler tints, very nearly matching the idea of the carpet, arranged in fluted folds on a cord stretched along the sides of the room at top and bottom; from the top the chintz was stretched over the ceiling, still preserving its flutings, all of which met in the centre round the frosted silver knob from which hung silver chains holding a low lamp under a china shade that matched the prevailing tints and pattern. The two long windows, which opened on a balcony under outside awnings, had no drapery of any other sort than that furnished by the woven sprays of a wax plant and an ivy vine. Of course the chintz allowed no pictures; but, in defiance of the prohibition, it was puckered away opposite the windows just enough to frame a child's or a cherub's face that peeped through, and whose rosy cheeks and blue eyes were only in too much accQrd with the salmon pinks and Nile blues of the chintz. The davenport and table were of ebonized wood; the rest of the furniture was rattan; there was a guitar in one corner, a light cast on a pedestal in another, a straw work-basket piled with bright wools; and the whole place was like a little nest cradled in sunshine and flowers and leaves, and charming as a place could be without an atom of repose about it. Nevertheless, nothing could be more dangerous than such a room for all the chances of fire; and for this reason its owner never pretended to light the pretty lamp there, and if she used it after nightfall, used it for reveries in the dusk. It was heated through a register in the floor.
Of course no 6uch furnishing would be suitable for the room when used as the family sitting-room. In that room lamps, or candles, or gas must be burned, and there is a great deal of wear to which everything is subjected ; so that fancy gives way there to utility. Here, then, colors and fabrics that will endure are to be chosen, and articles of furniture that will not fall to pieces before the assaults of little tumbling and climb-ing legs. But it is not to be taken for granted that because the room has now become the family sitting-room, not open to all the world, therefore its appearance is a matter of secondary consequence, and anything will do here that will not do elsewhere. It is the home room, the inner shrine, and it must be as agreeable to the soul and senses as skill can make it, for here natures will be formed and here memories will return. And it is even desirable, whenever the purse allows, that the outfit should be just fine enough to make the children now and then aware that they are ladies and gentlemen, even if occasional lapses into native animalism do make refurnishing necessary once in a while.
There are English decorative papers, to be had of any dealer in the larger cities at very easy prices, for the walls of this sitting-room ; none of the satin-faced glaring papers covered with stripes or bunched about in bouquets, but those where geometric arabesques, or else the interwoven figures of idealized boughs and branches on idealized backgrounds, make the very walls objects of beauty. Here, certainly, the carpet should not cover the entire floor — in order that it may be the more frequently and easily removed and shaken, and put altogether out of the way for certain games of the children. There should be a low broad lounge, not too good for little boots to kick ; large low tables with books and work ; good secrétaires, with lights and inkstands and sketching-boards ; comfortable seats and hassocks ; an especially easy chair for the head of the house when lie honore the place with his slippered presence; cheerful pictures; and if used at all as a school-room, as when the children are taught at home, globes, piano, a canterbury for loose music, and stands to hold a pair of huge slates folding like a portfolio : with all this some vivid dashes of color, a Japanese scroll or two to take the young fancy travelling, a hospitable hearth, some growing plants, plenty of sunshine, and always neatness, if not always order. Further refinements, but none ever too fine for free and daily use, will be added here according to the power or the wisdom of the furnisher. For it will require but little experience to recognize that this room should always be a pleasant and inviting one, both as to outlook and interior, since here a good portion of the family life passes, and the children are more apt to remember it as the nucleus of home than rich dining-room or splendid parlors, or even the mother's room itself. It is a place where, in large measure, early surroundings help to create lifelong prejudices and tastes, and the love of beauty should be fed and nur-
tared and satisfied here as much as ki the most superb saloons, for the ability to do that is not at all a question of cost, but of knowledge and time and skill.
Not seldom, however, it is the dining-room which is used as the family sitting-room. But although that is a pleasant place to loiter in, it is but a poor plan, when it can be avoided, to use it for any but its own purposes. The maid coming in to lay the cloth for dinner or tea creates an unde-
6irable confusion; books and work are in danger of being soiled by unfit neighborhood ; and on occasions when the children are not wanted in the dining-room, there is 110 convenient place for their retirement. Besides, the care which the very great majority of American mothers take of their children makes the sitting-room almost a nursery, or else obliges it to adjoin the night nursery, and that is out of the question in a dining-room of even the least pretension.
It is, therefore, when the space can be afforded in the house, and on winter days the extra fire can be had to warm it, better to have a sitting-room for general family use separate from dining-room and parlors; and where there is not ground-room enough, it will be found nearly as convenient, and much more private, when up a flight of stairs, than when on the same floor with the hall-door. Privacy is, after all, a requisite of this room, where circumstances often oblige one to be in a very demi-toilet, and where, let the house-maid do her duty ever so thoroughly, there is likely to be more or less litter of the hour. It should be a room nice enough for the girl's embroidery to be about in it, and not so nice that the boy's carving would be unbearable rubbish there; a room to be kept so that the boys shall always remember that there stands the mother's throne, and that the girls can always make a little brighter to welcome the father; a room that should be made sacred to smiles, a happy room for shelter, no matter what gayety, or trouble, or confusion goes on in the house elsewhere; a room that is the very antipodes, in short, of the boudoir in its original uses: since the latter, in spite of its beauty and its comforts, meets but a selfish need, but the other opens its doors in self-abandonment till sybaritic enjoyment of solitude and a novel is lost in the life of the household.
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