I was cleaning up in the library today and looking through some of my decorating books. I have an extensive collection of decorating books and that's putting it mildly. For a few years, I belonged to a decorating book club and so I ordered, and ordered, and ordered, and then ordered some more. Finally, I stopped ordering but the result is that I now have shelves full of wonderful and useful books.
Probably not even half of them.
One of the books I came across today is a beautifully written and illustrated copy that tells all about the in's and out's of decorating a Victorian home. There were a lot of olden quotes inside, which I am very fond of, so I thought you all might enjoy knowing how a Victorian home should, and would, have been taken care of and decorated in days of yore. I must warn you, though, this post is overloaded with pictures. The book deals with the whole house, so I thought it would be fun to make this a post with continued references to different rooms in future writings. So, let us continue with "The Workings of a Victorian Home", Part One, The Dining Room.
I just finished making the linen runner.
"Dinner, being the grand solid meal of the day, is a matter of considerable importance; and a well-served table is a striking index of human ingenuity and resource."
Mrs. Isabella Beeton
Beeton's Book of Household Management
A Valentine Tea for Two
"The dinner hour will completely test the refinement, the culture and good breeding which the individual may possess. To appear advantageously at the table, the person must not only understand the laws of etiquette, but he must have the advantage of polite society."
Thos. E. Hill
Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms
"The dining room should be light and airy. If possible it should have a pleasant outlook and a window through which the morning sunlight will enter...Paper the walls with warm tints and have both dado and frieze. Have an inlaid wood, oiled, stained or painted floor on which rugs may be used or dispensed with according to taste. The window drapery should be in deep, rich colors. The chairs should be chosen square, solid styles and upholstered in embossed or plain leather. The dining-table should be low, square or bevel-cornered, and when not in use should be covered with a cloth corresponding in shade to the window drapery..The sideboard should be of high, massive style, with shelves and racks for glassware and pieces of china. There was a time when the dining room looked like a picture gallery; but the prevailing fashion now confines the number of pictures to two or three small fruit pieces and one or two plaques of still life."
Richard A. Wells, A.M.
Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society
"There is nothing like individual taste in these matters (of decoration); but a few hints will be acceptable...In your Dining Room...the paper should be rich and warm in tone, without staring patterns, and the cornice, and moldings massive...The general effect should be that of substantial comfort."
Alexander V. Hamilton
The Household Cyclopaedia of Practical Receipts and Daily Wants
My newest junking find
Green transferware plate, another new find
Royal Doulton, England
The tiny demitasse cup with pink flowers belonged to my great-grandmother. The handle has broken off, but not bad, since the little beauty survived when her house burned to the ground.
The pink and white cup also survived the fire.
"Besides the regular dining-room furniture, tables, chairs, sideboard, and serving table, the addition of a plate rail or rack for plates, pitchers, and other decorative china objects, and of a china cabinet with glass doors for displaying the best china, help to give a room character and beauty. The effect of these articles will be very much heightened if the wall coverings are in solid colors...The color scheme of the dining room would preferable be in cheerful tones, as blues, yellows, or reds, according to the amount of light the room receives."
"The table-cloth should be of the finest quality, ornamented with lace embroidery, if desired; but the latest edict of fashion precludes the introduction of any colored materials that do not wash...The room may be lighted with either white or colored candles or lamps...Decorations should always be arranged in such a manner that they will not interfere with the guests' view of one another. At present the preference is for low dishes of flowers of delicate perfume; all those which have a strong fragrance, such as tube-roses, etc., should be avoided, as the odor is apt to become oppressive in a warm room."
Mrs. John A. Logan
The Home Manual
This concludes our presentation of The Victorian Home, Part one, The Dining Room. Please join us at a later date for the next installment of The Workings of the Victorian Home, Part Two.
I'm sharing today with:
Open House Party with Sherry
Sunday's Best with Cathy
Rustic Restoration Weekend with Tammy
Seasonal Sundays with The Tablescaper