Homelines of a Living Room – February 1919

I am going to describe the living room in a workman’s cottage I was privileged to enter. From the back-door, first one entered the scullery, where there was a porcelain sink, a bath, a gas stove and a gas-plate for baking scones (the cottage was on the outskirts of a small town). One next entered a small apartment which appeared to be a kitchen — but very tiny — with a corner fireplace of the old fashioned type; built entirely of brick and stone, with no bottom to the grate which is formed by the stone hobs at the sides, and vertical bars of iron in front, sloping outwards.

These used to be common in Scottish farm houses, and I asked the mistress of this how she came by her cosy and primitive grate. She said that the corner used to be occupied by a boiler and when a wash-house was built outside, the boiler was removed. She then thought it was a pity not to make use of the chimney and got a mason to built up the stonework, a blacksmith supplying the front bars, and iron plates to cover the hobs.

It was the warmest little corner in the house, she said, and the menfolk took their meals there, to avoid going into the living room with their dirty clothing. This most important apartment in the house had been a kitchen with a range, but having a gas stove and an open fire in the other place, the range was replaced by a tiled barless grate with copper boiler at the back for heating purposes. A luxurious easy chair was at each side of the fireplace.

The furniture presented a mixture of dining room, drawing room and bed room: a long room with a large double window opening on to a wide front garden and poultry run. On the side opposite the fireplace were the recesses familiar to Scottish eyes, and two fair white beds spread themselves temptingly in the firelight. Each had a pretty quilt prettily arranged at the foot. At the homely attractiveness of the sight I commented, “If I were weary or ailing, how beautiful it would be to lie there and look out at people sitting round the fire talking.”

The mistress said she had a daughter who was far away in a very good situation and what she enjoyed most when she came home was the privilege and delight of lying in one of these beds I could well believe it. So difficult — nay impossible — is it to wean ourselves from the dear bed habits of our childhood.

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