Elsie de Wolfe

21 Mar

The House in Good Taste. Still relevant after 98 years.

Elise de Wolfe paved the way for interior design before there was a name for the profession. Her classic tome, The House in Good Taste, was published in 1913.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much of her savvy advice is relevant even today, but my favorite chapter is entitled The Small Apartment. Here’s a key passage from this section:

“The living room is the nucleus of the modern apartment.  Sometimes it is a studio, living room and dining room in one. Sometimes living room, library and guest room, by the grace of a comfortable sleeping couch and a certain amount of drawer or closet space.  At any rate, it will be more surely a living room than a similar room in a large house, and therefore everything in it should count for something.  Do not admit an unncessary rug, or chair, or picture, lest you lose the spaciousness, the dignity of the room.”

How true those words are.  I know that most of the furniture in my living room has to work really hard, and I don’t have a thing in the space that doesn’t serve a purpose or three. De Wolfe’s wisdom also speaks to the importance of keeping your space well-appointed, but not cluttered with useless accessories or furnishings. Allowing in only the stuff you love and need, helps to create an environment that can act as a sanctuary from city life. But you don’t have to be an urban dweller in a small home to benefit from that basic design lesson, even the resident of the McMansion on the hill would be well-advised to obey.

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