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Wharton, Edith (1862-1937); Codman Jr., Ogden (1863-1951) / The decoration of houses
(1898)

VI: fireplaces,   pp. 74-88


Page 86

86             The Decoration of Houses
hours in polishing brass or steel fenders, andirons, coal-scuttles
and door~knobs, when all these articles might be made of some
substance that does not need daily cleaning.
  Where wood is burned, no better wood-box can be found than
an old carved chest, either one of the Italian cassoni, with their
painted panels and gilded volutes, or a plain box of oak or walnut
with well-designed panels and old iron hasps.   The best substi-
tute for such a chest is a plain wicker basket, without ornamen-
tation, enamel paint or gilding.  If an article of this kind is not
really beautiful, it had better be as obviously utilitarian as possible
in design and construction.
  A separate chapter might be devoted to the fire-screen, with its
carved frame and its panel of tapestry, needlework, or painted
arabesques.   Of all the furniture of the hearth, it is that upon
which most taste and variety of invention have been spent; and
any of the numerous French works on furniture and house-deco-
ration will supply designs which the modern decorator might
successfully reproduce (see Plate XXII).   So large is the field
from which he may select his models, that it is perhaps more to
the purpose to touch upon the styles of fire-screens to be avoided:
such as the colossal brass or ormolu fan, the stained-glass screen,
the embroidered or painted banner suspended on a gilt rod, or the
stuffed bird spread out in a broiled attitude against a plush
background.
  In connection with the movable fire-screen, a word may be
said of the fire-boards which, until thirty or forty years ago, were
used to close the opening of the fireplace in summer.  These fire-
boards are now associated with old-fashioned boarding-house
parlors, where they are still sometimes seen, covered with a
paper like that on the walls, and looking ugly enough to justify


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