Furnish A Flat 1905

FLATS have transformed all our modes of living and our conceptions of home life. They accord with the feelings of the twentieth century. Whereas our ancestors troubled themselves greatly as to posterity (for which, by the way, we owe them our gratitude), we do nothing of the sort. We live for the moment, determined to get the best out of life.

But, on the other hand, flats have proved kindly promoters of matrimony. When less than a hundred a year will provide a home with taxes and tout compris, and £ 100 down will go a long way towards furnishing, many a young couple are tempted to launch into a life together, and trust to Providence for the future.

Some of our leading furnishing firms have issued elaborate lists of what can be done on a given sum, and these estimates begin under £ 100 ; and are so detailed and well illustrated that would-be purchasers can judge for themselves. Having thoroughly primed themselves, with the knowledge thus acquired they can betake themselves to these large upholsterers, and see a flat home fitted up entirely for the sum mentioned. One word of warning, however. It is true in each room hangs a card, showing what articles are included in the bargain; there are, besides, many knicknacks, pictures on the walls, and even a piano which you would not find enumerated. But as most young folk start in life with a large array of wedding gifts, these fill up the gaps as far as decoration goes very well indeed. A flat of this modest description consists of a hall, dining-and drawing-rooms, a bedroom and servant’s bedroom, bathroom and kitchen well supplied with the necessary utensils, china, glass, electro-plate, and cutlery. Linen and blankets are all included ; and when you come to consider the sum, it is perfectly wonderful what you get for the money, bearing in mind that the furniture is up-to-date and so pretty that the owners need never: be troubled by any sense of want of beauty or inappropriateness.

#Nearly £50 out of the sum are taken up with the fittings of the bedroom and drawing-room ; the dining-room costs under £20 £15 or £16 supply the kitchen needs. It is wonderful how far a few pounds will go. Blinds are left out, but carpets and lace curtains are included. An expectant bride and bridegroom should have at least another £50 in hand to settle themselves thoroughly comfortably, but with-out this they would be much better off than their grandparents, who spent double and treble the sum.

If they had to be content with the £100 only, they would find themselves, besides actual furniture, the possessors of fireirons, brass curtain rods and. fittings, fenders, coal scuttles, and much beside, which, furnishing in the ordinary way, run away with so much. Fumed oak and rush-bottomed chairs, quite in the twentieth-century style, make the dining-room look homely. and the easy-chairs and settees, the drawing-room as well as the other chairs, are covered with pretty light tinted stuffs which would not disgrace much more ambitious rooms The eye is pleased at every turn.

In the lists every article is priced, so that those who would like to spend a little more on certain items can do so. The mirrors and the writing-table are all designed to meet wants such as those who have been catering for the public for years recognise as being most acceptable and practical for the majority. The bedsteads are mostly black and brass, with a cleanly wire-woven mattress. Linoleum covers the floor where carpets are not provided. The house linen just meets the necessities of flat life, but might well be expanded : two pair of blankets  and two under-blankets might need augmentation when the nights were cold. But beside the white quilt there is a down one. A change of sheets is included, pillow-cases, a dozen and three towels, glass, tea-cloths, and dusters ; so that if it happened that the owner arrived from foreign lands, he could step into his flat and find all to hand that he must have, even to dinner and breakfast services and glass. The kitchen list would be invaluable to an inexperienced housekeeper, for everything that is absolutely essential to plain living is there, even to flat irons, an egg whisk, coffee canister and knife-board, steps, plate and shoe brushes, not forgetting a tin opener.

In an ascending scale of cost our views as homely as to the requirements of furnishing a home in a flat undergo many alterations. Even £200 make a wonderful difference. You may turn your thoughts then towards another bedroom and hall ; and corridors are carpeted, or at all events covered with felt, and there is a great expansion in the matter of the dining-room. If a man . has not a den of his own, he would look for a writing-table and bookshelves here. These bookshelves are often introduced over the sideboard, and a woman of taste will mingle china or bronzes with the volumes, which considerably lighten the aspect of the room. Those pretty dumb waiters, viz. round tables in two or three tiers -a relic of the past-have been resuscitated, and set in a corner to supply the place of a serving-table, and a couple of easy-chairs in the most comfortable, ample styles add to the com-fort of the inmates.

In furnishing a flat you have not only to think of the expense, but of the limited space, and to combine as many items of furniture as you can when the rooms are small. The dressing-table, chest of drawers, and the looking-glass should be all in one; the wardrobe should have a pier glass, and a boot cupboard should find a place under the washing-stand. In the hall one piece of furniture should represent a hall table, umbrella stand, and looking-glass, the sides having big hooks on which to hang coats.

There is no fear, in the. hands of a good furnishing firm, that what you buy will not please the eye; the danger always is that the articles may have no lasting virtues, and with young people starting in life this is all-important ; for as time goes on, and their area of existence widens and the income increases, the means of spending enlarges also, and to keep buying the same things over and over again is a mistake. If the furniture be good, it will always have its uses. Light coverings to chairs, settees, etc.,. are all very well, as far as looks go, in the country ; but in murky London and other towns they become shabby directly.

There is no doubt that a great deal of thought and trouble are saved by furnishing en-masse; but given time and a fair margin of money, the purchaser finds his reward if he picks up as many antique pieces of well-made furniture as he can, for the upholsterers in days of old gave patient, painstaking work, brought ingenuity to bear, and were most clever in making each piece” a double debt to pay.”

It is a saving and a convenience to choose for curtains, in a limited space, those that easily draw across the window, and do not descend to the floor, but end with the panes. Where it is possible to arrange a species of alcove for the bed, with a curtain to draw .across, you get the appearance of a sitting-:room. It seems consistent with our life that every one should possess a room apart. The daughters and sons of the house much appreciate it, and with a little ingenuity it can be arranged as shown in the sketch.

It is always well when furnishing to arrange in one’s mind beforehand the. particular style or period that shall predominate. In bedrooms there is much to be said for the French school, with the rich-looking mahogany beds having ormolu mounts and ornamentation that generally take the form of floral garlands. The modern looking-glass is mostly made with side wings, so that the whole effect of the profile and back can be seen. Fitments, when space is an object and a consideration, have much to commend them, and in these French rooms are frequently introduced ; but they have to be planned so that they can be moved, or they become the property of the landlord.

Quaintness and comfort go hand-in-hand in the Jacobean dining-room, with a Baldichino or alcove to the fireplace, and comfortable seats, so that you may enjoy your “ain fireside” to perfection. The chairs would be of that graceful form that have the tall narrow backs, and as often as not are of canework set in a carved wood frame.

I must bring to your notice a most excellent introduction for covering the walls of bath-rooms, viz. Emdeca, which is a metal in sheets, that can be cut with scissors to any size, but on the wall it looks like tiles. It has the advantage that, unlike paper,-it does not become discoloured with the heat of the steam, and it preserves its pristine freshness to the end. It is stuck on to the plaster with a special solution. In all well-arranged bathrooms now there is a fixed basin, with hot and cold water, which empties itself, and a towel airer. This consists of substantial metal tubes, in the shape of a horse, on which the towels are placed, and as the tubes are heated they dry them at the same time.

One old fashion is being revived, viz. for the locks of the doors not to be sunk in, nor mortised, but laid on the outside. Small glazed cupboards are let into the wall, to hold china on either side of the fireplace. Great pains have been taken to revive the old chintzes or to introduce chintz patterns on to cretonnes in unison with the periods of Chippendale or Sheraton. This always gives an old-world aspect to a room. A clever notion where there may be an unsightly cupboard door is to cover it with close-fitting chintz, both· inside and outside. This can be easily slipped on and off. A glance at the two illustrations will emphasise the information given ; both are sketched with some amplitude. It is always easy to leave out, and my aim has been to show to the fullest extent the capabilities of flat furnishing. Corner washing-stands of the old type, now so often adapted to the display of old china, are invaluable for their original purpose, and, though scarce, they are to be had, and corner wardrobes also. A bookcase and writing-bureau combined have many virtues; and if a couch is convertible into a bed-and there are many such to be had-it gives an opportunity of putting up a friend for the night which otherwise would be impossible.


The Lady’s Realm was a illustrated monthly women’s magazine published in London in the 19th century, initially edited by W. H. Wilkins.

The Lady’s Realm published 36 volumes between 1896 and 1914. This article appeared in the April 1905 edition. It was written by a lady called Ardern Holt, which may have been merely a pen name. The name appears on a book on fancy dress from 18979

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