Let's Decorate

Decorating your 1860s Parlor:

The sofas and ordinary chairs are covered with satin damask, crimson and black, end deeply tufted, or knotted.  The frames are of rosewood,  delicately  carved, and of  the 'highest polish. One of the prettiest patterns, represents clusters of small and large roses, every petal being distinct. Frames of the same shape, and covered with velvet, plush, or hair-cloth, may be procured. Mahogany is the established accompaniment of haircloth, however. The lounging, or arm-chair, has a richly embroidered covering of plain damask; the bouquets are life-like in color and execution, rivaling the far-famed labors of our grandmothers. Indeed, this kind of needlework is once more the fashion; and chair-covers, embroidered in silks and worsted, or of silk patchwork, in an infinite variety of patterns, are constantly in the hands of fashionable upholsterers to be "made up."

The boudoir piano has been recently introduced in this country. It occupies about half the space of an ordinary square instrument, and the strength or volume of tone is not in the least diminished. They are fast superseding, in many families, the more cumbrous, square, and grand pianos, being easily transported, and a very elegant ornament to any room. Sofa tables seem to have taken the place of the centre-table, lately so much in vogue. They are usually oval in shape, with marble tops. The most elegant being of yellow or Sienna marble, which is twice the cost of an ordinary white slab.

And now we come to the étagère, or "what not," as this article of furniture is usually denominated. The real name comes from etage, a story, or division; and thus the range of shelves, as in the engraving, four stories high, has received its title. The plain ones of black walnut, with simply a beaded carving around the edges, are the most convenient article imaginable for a sitting-room, library, or nursery. This, however, more elegant and simple in construction, is intended only for the parlor. A drawer for engravings, etc., is attached to the central shelf, which is, in some cases, a slab of marble. In most hansel, elegantly bound books, and bijouterie of all descriptions, fill the different stories.

Philadelphia, February 1850

And now ... the cost

"Now," says the housewife, "I must at least have a parlor-carpet. We must get that to begin with, and other things as we go on..."
...she buys the Brussels carpet, which, with all its reduction in price, is one third dearer than the ingrain would have been, an not half so pretty.
Now let us see what eighty dollars could have done for that room...Thirteen rolls of good satin paper [buff]...A maroon bordering, made in imitation of the choicest French style...Cover the floor with, say, thirty yards of good matting.
......Select some one tint or color which shall be the prevailing one in the furniture of the room. Shall it be green? Shall it be blue? Shall it be crimson? To carry on our illustration, we will choose green, and we proceed with it one side of the fireplace there be, as there is often, a recess with a rough frame with four stout legs, one foot high, and upon the top of the frame have an elastic rack of slats. Make a mattress...or ...get a nice mattress...made of cane-shavings or husks. Cover this with a green English furniture print [glazed English or glazed French, and French twill]. With any of these cover your lounge. Make two large, square pillows of the same substance as the mattress, and set up at the back...feather pillows...shake them down into a square shape and cover them with the same print...
Cut out of the same material as your lounge, sets of lambrequins (or, as they are called, lamberkins,) a kind of pendent curtain-top, as shown in the illustration, to put over the windows, which are to be embellished with white muslin curtains. White curtains really create a room out of nothing.
...Let your men-folk knock up for you, out of rough, unplaned boards, some ottoman frames, stuff the tips with just the same material as the lounge, and cover them with the self-same chintz....broken-down arm-chair, stuff and pad and stitch...and cover it with the chintz like your other furniture... Presto--you create an easy chair.
If you want a centre-table...any kind of table, well concealed beneath the folds of handsome drapery, of a color corresponding to the general hue of the room, will look well.

    Wall-paper and border............................$5.50
    Thirty yards matting............................$15.00
    Centre-table and cloth..........................$15.00
    Muslin for three windows.........................$6.75
    Thirty yards green English chintz, at 25 cents...$7.50
    Six chairs, at $2 each..........................$12.00

    Total............................... ...........$61.75

Subtracted from eighty dollars, which we set down as the price of the cheap, ugly Brussels carpet, we have our whole room papered, carpeted, curtained, and furnished, and we have nearly twenty dollars remaining for pictures [varnished chromos in rustic frames].

....American Woman's Home, 1869, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
 and Catherine E. Beecher.

Article from housemouse.net

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Parlor Sofa

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Boudoir Piano

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