For instance, in the dining room a gate-leg table of the Puritan years has settled down comfortably with a set of Windsor chairs that are probably a hundred years younger. Other rooms are furnished with William and Mary and Queen Anne pieces so arranged as to appear to be waiting for the owners of Marlpit Hall, in its heyday, to come back. Upstairs are bedrooms with four-post beds of varying ages mingled with other furnishings that are in harmony, though not necessarily of the same period.
This is a very fair example of an Early American home where two or more generations were born, lived, and died. In those days the average citizen did not discard his home furnishings just because they went out of style. He moved them to less important rooms and bought as he could afford of new pieces made “in the neatest and latest fashion.”
The home owner today can well plan to use what he has, making a few additions as he and his house become better acquainted. If he has a number of Oriental rugs and some member of his family has a fixed idea that those of the hooked variety are the only kind suitable for a country home, let him buy one or two good hooked rugs, in the interests of peace, and lay them down with his Orientals. Both will be found in harmony because both have the same basic idea, skillful weaving of colors into a distinct but variegated pattern. Besides, the American colonists, industrious as they were, did not depend solely on the work of their hands for floor coverings and other accessories. Oriental rugs or Turkey carpets, as they were then called, were used here in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They were popular in England, also, as is shown by Hogarth’s drawings.
In fact, most house furnishings are surprisingly adaptable. As with people, it is largely a matter of bringing out their pleasing traits and subduing their unattractive aspects. A quaint piece of bric-a-brac that was a misfit in the city apartment may look just right on the corner of the living room mantel in your country home. The old spode platter that reposed almost forgotten on the top shelf of a closet may come into its own on the Welsh dresser of your dining room. The same holds with pictures, mirrors, and clocks.
As for furniture, don’t discard a comfortable piece that you like just because it doesn’t seem to fit into the scheme of decoration. A chair or a sofa that appears to quarrel violently with all other pieces in a room can often be made to conform by a change in upholstery, or in cases of extreme ugliness, with a slip cover of heavy chintz, denim, or rep.
“You see that chair,” said one country house owner, a few months after settling in his new home. “Sallie has thrown out every stick of furniture we had when we first went to housekeeping except that. She keeps moving it around from one spot to another but so far has kept it because I like a comfortable chair to drop down in when I come home at night. If I find it gone some day I shall know it is time for me to move on also.”