living room

For many years, it has been my wont to liken the problem of home decoration to that of baking a cake!” wrote Muriel Whitlow, a home furnishings coordinator, in GDA’s May 1943 issue. “I always think of the decorative accessories of a room as the frosting on that cake. One can live without them to be sure, but, oh, how they do add that final touch—how much glamour they give to the room, how much more appetizing they make it!”According to Whitlow, home decorating came into its own during the 1800s, as seafarers brought in exotic finds from the Far East. But beginning in the Victorian era, ornamentation was “overdone”—the metaphorical cake overloaded with nuts, cherries and whipped cream. Then came the war time era, where consumers and retailers alike started “learning to blend the beauties of days gone by with the simplicity of today’s living demands.”

So what types of decorative accessories did Whitlow recommend to serve both form and function? Multi-purpose items, much like those that are popular today for their versatility and practicality. “Buy a pitcher that can serve a two-fold purpose,” Whitlow said. “Needed for water, lemonade, or a stronger fluid when the occasion demands—in the interim it may be filled with fresh greenery and placed on a table.”

Other tips included ways to dress up a table to be visually appealing, (“If you have a barren table, set up a tea set on it. Keep your books and magazines fresh and clean looking, don’t hide them away”) and how to match accessories with furniture (“If you have modern furniture and the fresh clear colors that combine with it so well, use plenty of simply designed glass, for glass will reflect those smart colors and its smoothness of line is part of the modern picture”).