A Decorator's New Year's Resolutions, by Frederick Victoria - Town & Country 1950
It is January first and the holidaze is over at last. But the festive season has left its mark. The scars go deeper than the tinsel shreds imbedded in the carpet and the tack holes in the mantel that tell where once the Christmas stockings hung. There may be a crack in the overmantel plaster that appeared the day you decided to burn all the Christmas wrappings at once and there are probably a few too-permanent reminders of that frightfully gay eggnog party that, somehow, got out of hand. Christmas was fun while it lasted but you and your house are ready for a good going-over. And January is the perfect month in which to face the temporary cataclysm that comes with refurbishing. You can go South and let George do it, or supervise the work yourself in unthreatened privacy. (If you did gie a part in January, nobody would come to it.) So take stock of your tired surroundings. Perhaps a lick and a promise, or bright accent here and there will do the trick or, as is often the case, it may be that nothing short of a complete from-the-skin-out reconstruction of your domestic setting will do.
In any case, it is well to begin with a list of ironclad New Year's resolutions. Here are some suggestions, culled from years of experience with the pitfalls of my trade.
One. To consult my decorator. Not just any decorator but the one whose taste, judged by his previous work, seems closest to mine - or if there is room for improvement, whose taste I aspire to. If I were ill, I would certainly not attempt to cure myself, any more than I would call in a physician whom I knew to be antipathetic to me.
Two. Having chosen my decorator, I will abide by his decisions and hold his advice in higher esteem than that of well meaning friends or relatives - just as I would, having chosen a specialist to ease a malady, eschew the medication recommended by local witch doctors.
Three. I will bless my decorator for insisting that I get rid of the oversized chimney piece that came with the house and I will welcome his suggestion that I replace it with a well-proportioned mantel, low enough to bring my lovely mantel garniture into the line of vision.
Four. I will rid myself of overscaled pieces, which are usually hand-me-downs anyway.
Five. I will cast all economic considerations to the winds and ruthlessly exile the oriental rug that grandfather brought from the Far East. (I've always hated the thing, anyway.)
Six. If a figured rug or carpet is substituted for it I will resist the temptation to cover the furniture in rich, figured fabrics that would make my room look "busy."
Seven. I will re-cover the man-of-the-house's favorite leather armchair in a fabric which conforms to the new scheme, in spite of all opposition. It will be just as comfortable and much, much better looking.
Eight. I will remove the electric wiring, fake candles, and imitation-flame bulbs form all my appliques, and substitute real candles for their flattering effect.
Nine. I will strive valiantly to strip my gaze of sentiment when I look at my pictures. If they are not in sympathy with the rest of the room, out with them!
Ten. I will not try to replace them with bargains.I will remember that there is no such thing as a bargain in art.
Eleven. I will never, never no matter whether I'm expecting guest or not, forget to keep fresh flowers in my rooms.
Twelve. Above all, in my house I will strive to create and maintain a lived-in look. I will remember that nothing is less inviting than a gaunt, sparsely furnished museum.