Calcimined walls and near-antique furnishings are, naturally, not the only means of producing a homey effect. Their chief merit lies in the fact that they are effective, inexpensive, and easily changed. No matter how pleasing the tone, plain calcimined walls will probably pall after a while, but by that time the home owner will know whether paper or paint is the better treatment. With an old house, either is historically correct. The earliest were, of course, primitive affairs with walls of rough plaster or feather-board paneling in natural wood color. By the 18th century, paint was already being used for decorating both. Here the wall treatment was not limited to a plain color but was varied by stencil designs. A geometric pattern was usual. Then came wall papers of geometric or scenic design.
Thus, it is for the householder to decide just what manner of decoration he wishes to live with. For instance, a paneled room may be finished in the natural wood or painted. The latter was customary in colonial days as life became easier and money more plentiful. Personally we consider painted paneling, trim, and other woodwork pleasanter and less monotonous to live with day in and day out but that is a matter of individual taste. In the last analysis it is not what his neighbor likes, it is what the home owner himself wants to live with that really matters.
In choosing wall paper, one is limited by the type and size of room to be so decorated. You may have a weakness for the old French scenic papers depicting, in large squares, historic or sporting events. These are most effective in the large central halls of the more formal country home but produce a distinctly odd appearance in the tiny, low-ceilinged rooms of the story-and-a-half farmhouse. Here small patterns and designs that tend to make the rooms look larger must rule.
Over-fussy curtains and draperies at the windows should also be avoided. We well remember an otherwise charming little place where the use of color and type of furnishings was most skillful. One experienced a curious sense of gloom and stuffiness, though, even at midday. A glance at the windows explained it. They were of the 18th century farmhouse type and into their 42 by 28 inch dimensions had been crowded the modern roller shade, fussy ruffled dimity curtains and heavily lined chintz draperies surmounted by a six-inch valance! With all these, the aperture left for light and air was limited indeed.
An able interior decorator could have controlled the over-zealous drapery buyer or she could have found out for herself by a little independent study of proper window treatment for a house of that type. In other words, whatever the kind of house, remember that windows are intended to let in light and air. Both constitute excellent reasons for living in the country. Proper curtains and draperies lend a softening and pleasing effect but, as in a stage setting, they are only props and must not be allowed to dominate the scene.