Xxx

THE HALL.

ALTHOUGH in its best estate in the modern dwelling the hall has in reality shrivelled into a mere entry-way, it should never be forgotten, even when in miniature, from what it is that in the first place it derives ; and as far as possible, either to its space or to the circumstances of the house of which it is part, its ancestral traits should be maintained and always vindicated.

The slightest glance within the door should perceive a character of cordiality and hospitality in the hall; and that character can just as plainly be told in its furnishing and decoration as if the hosts stood there in person with outstretched hands to greet the guest.

The idea that the hall is to present to the mind upon entrance is that of shelter—shelter and shadow and rest. It must be apparent that it is the entrance of a home—one of those homes where we draw the long breath of relief as we return to it and shut out the world behind us. The guest comes from all out-doors, from heat and sun, from cold and snow, or from gloom and rain, and always from some degree of fatigue of movement. Queen Aune He is to be made aware, the instant that the door closes after clock. foun(j tliis complete shelter, and put a barrier, for the time being, between him and the outside annoyance. Thus the door itself presents one of the main features of this hospitable shelter, for in its right mind it opens widely, swings easily, shuts heavily, and displays its great hinges and solid bolts like friends and warders. The next feature apparent will be that presented by the tinting of the hall, which gives it a large portion of its effect; and we think there can hardly be a question that this tinting should generally be in the darker shades. In houses meant merely for summer resort, at the sea-side or in the country, this is not so much to be insisted on, as the whole place in such houses has more or less of the nature of the garden pavilion, and doors are open and sunshine pouring in, and the hall is a thoroughfare but little different from a covered balcony. Yet even there it seems to us that it would be better if felt emphatically as a place of shadow. But in the house that is the family house the year round, where the family root is planted and its name and honor upheld, the character and dignity of home are to be considered and supported: that house is no garden pavilion set merely for pleasure and enjoyment; it is the place where the serious business of life goes on ; there the bride comes home to take up her duties and merge her existence in that of others, there the heir is born, there age is protected, and there the dead are brought back for the funeral procession to pass out of the wide old doors. Under such circumstances the frivolous frippery of light colors and gilding in the entrance hall may be pronounced to be as badly out of place as a young girl's gewgaws upon the matron's toilet, where character and majesty are demanded. Solidity and permanence are desirable characteristics to present, and in some covert but easily recognized way they are presented better by dark rich surfaces than by gay and airy ones. There are other places in the house where the gay and airy tints can be used to fitness and advantage.

We would recommend, then, in the wood-work of the hall the use of the dark or stained woods in doors, staircases, and wainscots. For the walls a deep dado of the wood, either plain or panelled, there being nothing finer or choicer than carvings of the various old linen panels there; above this the smooth wall surface either stained or papered in subdued tones—if the latter, with not too large a figure—upon which the family portraits are to be hung, and under the cornice a broad richly decorated frieze. If the dado is beyond the means allowed for outlay in this direction, there are very nice papers which are made expressly to be used in the same way, and the effect obtained, if not so rich and solid, is nearly as pleasant to the eye. The ceiling, if frescoed, should be frescoed with some formality, and not with any loose decorative fancy; if plain, should be tinted harmoniously, and well off the white; and if the dark rafters can be shown in any form, but particularly in 6et caissons, the result will be very noble. Great art has been exhibited in the old ceilings in wood and plaster, and there are many models from which ideas of work on a lesser surface can be borrowed.

The floor of the hall is another place where expense can be well bestowed on an inlaid or parquet, flooring of varying shades of woods in some geometrical design as destitute of dazzle as possible. Rugs, preferably the dark full-colored India ones, or those in imitation of them, are to be laid on this floor. To most eyes these are pleasanter than a carpet covering the entire floor. They are certainly cleaner and healthier, and but slightly more troublesome to the housekeeper, and they preserve the ancient tradition of the hall floor better, although tiles, marbles, and stones might do that better still, were they not nnsuited to our climate and customs in the main. Yet those whose house is on a smaller scale of expenditure will find that the carpet which covers the floors of the other rooms

Modern Qotbic Hall.

on the ground plan has a very pleasant appearance when continued over the floor of the hall also, adding to the effect of space, and preventing, if the space be small, the incongruous appearance of too many varying combinations of color and figure meeting the eye almost at once.

The staircase should be well set in the Hall, not too near the door, very broad, with a solid balustrade and hand-rail, the upper liall with its own balustrade suspended in such a way as to obtain for it a light gallery-like look. Low wide steps should make the flight, all the better if broken into landings. If the floor is parqueted, a strip of rich thick-piled carpet is laid down with rods over the centre of the flight, ending in a rug at the foot; if the floor is carpeted, then the same carpet wholly covers the stairs, secured with a button at either end of the step, and made yet softer and more enduring by a pad beneath, binding the stair's edge.

If one is the possessor of an ancestral chest, the hall is the place for it. If it should chance to be of darkened oak, carved with any hint of the quaint old designs, with very visible metal hinges and ponderous locks, it is invaluable; but if of the lighter, commoner woods, it is still a great possession, all the more should any genuine date have been carved upon it. It stands high, is long and broad, and usually has a till and a few small drawers within it, with a larger open place under the lid for hats and shawls. Few things give a more finished and stable look to the place than this chest.

Other furniture of the hall depends a great deal upon its size. A cabinet for curiosities, or for canes, umbrellas, fishing-rods, and guns, is appropriately placed there when there is room. A comfortable sofa or lounge, a pair of antlers on which to hang the hats, over a little stand for the stick that is wanted immediately, and two or three high-backed old-fashioned chairs, may accompany it.

Old Jacobean Hall.

When the house is not heated by a furnace, nothing is more delightful than a blazing grate in the hall, equally so when in summer it is filled with fresh green boughs, or lias a console of blossoming flowers before it. The evening light of the hall depends a good deal upon individual fancy; and we will only say that, unless there is some peculiarity in the construction that makes one wish to increase an effect of painted glass, the globes or shades are in better taste when in white than when in colored glass.

Every hall is improved by ¿he presence of pictures and other works of art. We are not speaking, of course, of princely halls, with their rows of statues, their bass-reliefs and bronzes and big vases. Most of our readers will hold themselves fortunate if they can spare from other places a single big vase and a statuette for the hall. Still, there are apt to be in all houses pictures better suited to the hall than to the portions of the house which are of a more strikingly domestic character; and the pictures most decidedly proper to the hall, as we have already intimated, are the family portraits. These are not exactly wanted anywhere else; they are perfectly placed there; the faces look down out of the frames as if your race welcomed your coming, and stood around you to receive your guests. Seen every day in their mute procession, they would seem to oblige one to maintain a standard of thought and behavior equal to the family legends; and as the household go in and out daily, and many times a day, along the thoroughfare where they hang, those whom they represent, although long since dust, seem still to have their part among the living.

It may seem fanciful, but to the person entering the hall a gush of bird-song from some unseen and remote quarter is a very pleasant greeting, full of the suggestions of home. It calls up some thought of inner rooms and sunny and flowery recesses not immediately open to the stranger, and makes one remember all the guarded privacy and sacred secrecy of Eastern homes, with their roses and birds behind their gilded lattices. Too "much thought and attention, indeed, cannot be given to this first step within the portals of the house. It is literally the first step that counts. The empty and careless hall, with its liap-hazard carpet, its chance table and chair, or its common rack and stand and its bare wall, cannot but chill the owner, every time he enters, with its unhomelike aspect; cannot but tell the stranger that guests are few and not expected—perhaps not too welcome; while the comfortable one where thought and time have been 6pent, if not a mint of money, stamps the house with the 6eal of some trained taste, refinement, and intelligence, and with a sense of warmth, of comfort, and of cordial hospitality, which latter, if some think to be a matter of choice, others, in the love of their fellow-man, like the Arab, hold to be a duty.

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