INFORMAL UNBALANCED ARRANGEMENTS are especially nice in rooms furnished in the American Provincial feeling. This is an excellent term to describe a vast number of new houses all over America. It is a way of lifecomfortable and colorfuland allows you to have about you fine prints as in the photograph to the right, sturdy maple or fruit-wood furniture, and large comfortable chairs. To have or not to have this or the room above is a matter of individual taste. Here, in a knotty-pine paneled combination living-dining room, the well-designed mantel shows a large brass plate and jar balancing a pair of brass scales.
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Six small pictures accent the length of this mantel, which is in the form of a niche and is a clever handling of a problem. A group of china animals and luster pitchers complement the bird prints. Tvithout a mantel shelf, the wall above the fire opening becomes the place for an interesting picture, piece of fabric, and possibly, as here, standards with decorative accent or floor lamps.
Why groan over an ugly mantel that dates your room? The fireplace and the mantel around it should be a joy as well as the center of the decorative interest in the room. If you have a heavy brick mantel sticking out into the room, see if a mason can take some of its height and width away without injuring the flue. Replaster, and paint brick the color of the wall. The heavy wooden over-mantel may be ripped away. True, you must patch the plaster, reframe the mirror, and even, perhaps, buy a new mantel through your lumber dealer to set in its place. But isnt it worth it? And it is not prohibitive in cost. An ordinary carpenter, with this picture and a little guidance from you, could cut the scalloped frame to outline the old mirror and opening. It is best to leave brick or tile around opening and paint it.
The heavy wooden frame and column on the mantel above were ripped away. Instead of using the mirror, a slight concave recess above the mantel was framed and a row of lumiline lights were concealed at the top to light a picture.
The result shows at the right In some of our modern buildings, where rooms have offsets for a dining alcove and low partitions, the problem of how to treat the floor is a real one. Odd-shaped rooms in old houses also present a similar problem. What you should do depends somewhat on whether you wish to give spaciousness to the area as a whole or make distinct breaks between areas serving different purposes. My advice is to treat the floor area the same even if you have a wide partition or half wall. There ai'e tiro ways to do this. One is to cover the space from wall to wall with a carpet or linoleum and the other is to use two room-sized identical rugs that show but a four-inch space from the wall and between them. Although the first way is preferable, as in the photograph below, the second may prove to be less expensive and it will give almost the same effect. The object is not to accent the irregularity. Small scatter rugs may be used as accents.