Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1920's Interior Decorating

Country Armoire by Kay Lamb Shannon from

Anyone interested in the theory of decorating in the 1920's can go here and click on the link that takes you to a free book written in the 20's.


Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia and Fellow Ladies,
I am a young homemaker who finds myself somewhat in the role of the "older woman" as mentioned in Titus. Another young homemaker (approximately 5 years younger than I am) has attached herself to me. I know that she is seeking friendship and guidance in being a Christian wife and mother, and I want to be an encouragement to her. It feels to me that she wants to get together too often. I find that when we visit, my attention is directed at helping her and somehow my children receive less of me. I know that we should treat our company politely and teach our children the same, but I feel that she intrudes on my time with my children, preparations for my husband, and general time for taking care of my house. Are these attitudes unChristian? She also invites us over, but I can't have a playdate every week. It exhausts me! Help! How can I be a friend without letting my friend takeover? I don't want to hurt her feelings. She has had a very lonely life. I think her "neediness" may keep other young women at bay. Thanks in advance for your advice.

Lydia said...

You can sometimes give women like that a list or schedule to follow so that they can be more responsible at home. It is not good for a family to have this extra burden on it. The family members cannot be themselves and have true relationships with each other if your attentions are divided. Also when she is around, hand her a broom and say, "If you don't mind, I'm getting a bit behind on my work, due to so much extra visiting. Why don't you sweep the floor, while I wash the dishes. We can still talk." She can help you with the laundry and with any other things you have to do. You should not stop and visit. Eventually she will conclude that she could be cleaning up her own house instead of working at yours. I don't mind people visiting me, but even a two hour visit that is not expected, can throw me off my timing, and then I feel drained. I love to invite someone for a special time but I don't want them "hanging out" all the time, so I understand your exhaustion. I agree there are a some needy people that find stability in being at your house or the house of others, but they need to know what Bible says we are to mind our own business and work with our own hands. We aren't supposed to be going from house to house being idle. It is that simple. It is not good for her that you accommodate this.

yoshi3329 said...

I love 1930's style furniture thanks alot!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link, Lady Lydia! I have bookmarked it for later reading. I have some work to do on decorating for sure!

To the first poster, I found there were some women like that when I first left my office job to be home. They had to have something to do, someone to see every, single day. If that is the case for her, her home will suffer for sure, but in the meantime, you cannot be her only friend. If she persists on being like this, she will need many friends.

When you do agree to see her, perhaps you could take the children to a park for a set amount of time and then you will have a reasonable excuse to leave (ex: Oh! It is 12 noon, I must go home and make lunch, goodbye!).

And I love Lady Lydia's advice too! I belonged to a few playgroups when I first left my office job, and when it was my turn to host, starting to clean up was my way of signaling that the meeting was over!


Anonymous said...

I remember a neighbor of my mother's who would stop down to our house very regularly, & as Anon. 7:20 mentioned in her comment, it could get to be a bit too much! Mrs. Sherman, I think your advice to keep on with some housework was appropriate. My mother would seat her guest at the kitchen table, with a cup of coffee, & then busy herself with whatever kitchen tasks she had been doing. She would excuse herself to tend to a load of laundry, etc. & then come back to the kitchen. Even this to-ing & fro-ing on my mother's part never seemed to bother the neighbor.

I feel badly for this younger lady's loneliness, & for your frustrations, Anonymous. I hope the friendship will thrive, but it sounds like some boundaries need to be set in place. Good luck!


Mrs. E said...

I just love the life of times past and they are a wonderful encouragement for today. I would have definitely fit right in back then :)

Yes I agree with you and your readers. Bounderies definitely need to be set and sometimes an "I'm busy" response must do when you are afterall, busy.

I think that doing things for others or visiting with others needs to be done when one has the time so that it doesn't interfere with one's family and duties. Time for others should definitely be scheduled in like everything else and thus wouldn't feel like a burden but still give said person or persons the time that they want and need from you.

It is wonderful, of course, to help others but it is not a good thing to let it become a chore or burden so it is best not to let it get to that point.

Thank you for such wonderful posts :)

Lydia said...

I have an email friend who phones me from the midwest. She always politely asks, before we enter into a conversation, if this is a good time for me! A couple of times I said it would be better if I could call back in an hour. Once I had to put her off til the next day. But at least she checks with me and makes sure I can function at home while talking to her. I appreciate it so much. I love having a phone that I can walk around with while making beds, cleaning out a drawer, washing dishes. I realize you can't do that with young children. They need a mother who is alert. Having company a lot can make a young family nervous and the children can get resentful because their mother is catering to someone else. I believe it is our Christian duty to show hospitality, but we can also harm these other people by not teaching them how to function. If they become too dependent they will never be able to pass on the ability to stay at home and work hard, to their children. They could be helped by a list I posted here of 30 things you could say "yes" to for 30 days. (Is your bathroom clean? Laundry caught up? Dishes done? Meals prepared? etc.) If you know this person well enough, you could make a list for her that would suit her needs. She could call you when everything was finished, or come over only after all that work was finished. There are some women who do not know what to do at home when they have quit work. They need to know that the things they rushed about trying to complete on the weekend, are the things they will be doing every day at home.If they feel they don't have anything to do, they can invite someone over for tea. Getting a house ready for that entails a lot of work. That would keep her busy. Also she needs to reach out to others. She can have many things to do that will help others, whether it be sending out cards, or making gifts for others. We were reading in Matthew today how Jesus taught us to be servants, not to be served. Coming over to someone else's house to excess shows someone who needs to learn to be of use to someone; to serve.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment on the poster who has the friend who is taking up so much time and energy. This is a difficult situation, because people who do this are often difficult to redirect once they have formed the habit of "hanging out" with someone else.

It's likely that this constant visitor is avoiding chores she needs to be doing by visiting. Also, if she has had a lonely life, it might be for a reason. Extremely "needy" people tend to drive others away from them with their clinginess and taking up of people's time. People begin to avoid them or make excuses for not seeing them, and they end up alone. It could be that Anonymous 7:20's visitor is one such person.

I can say from past bitter experience that boundaries need to be set now, and they need to be kept strong. Very often such needy people slowly chip away at boundaries, staying just a little longer, coming over a little earlier, missing obvious hints that you have other things to do. I went through something very similar with a very needy person who first encroached into our family business and then into our home. I wasn't assiduous enough to get the boundaries set and upheld early, and when I finally tried to do something to limit the endless visiting and calling, there was a big blow-up.

It got to the point where my constant visitor began to feel very proprietary about my home and my family's business. She literally drove customers away with her bossy and clingy behaviour. She eventually stopped knocking but would just walk into my house, or into the back room at the business (an insurance issue), and no matter how many times it was explained that she should not be in the back room for her own safety or that we were busy at home and couldn't visit right now, she simply would not leave.

I finally had to speak very sternly to this person, and of course the response was tears and upset. When I told her that she obviously had problems with boundaries, she said "I KNOW that!" When I asked her since she knew she had this problem with her behaviour, why she didn't work on it and try to be more respectful of people's privacy, she had no answer. She had been bogged down in care from social workers and psychologists for many years, and the one thing they had emphasized to her all along was that in some way, she was not responsible for her actions! This woman was in her fifties, yet all I could think of was a small child who keeps knocking on the front door early on a Saturday morning and won't listen when you tell them that they can't come in right now!

My family had to make the difficult decision to not have this person be part of our lives. It was not an easy thing to do, but her intrusions had become so continual, so disruptive and so unwelcome that there was no peace for my family anywhere, at work or at home. We got to the point where we were afraid to pick up the phone or answer the door!

Unfortunately, the popular emphasis on junk psychology has fostered the notion in many people that they are somehow not responsible for what they do that annoys and upsets others, because it is all part of a "syndrome" or "psychological problem". If they act like fools or irritate someone, it's not their fault, and other people should be infinitely patient and understanding because they have "problems". Because we now have all kinds of tags for different types of negative behaviour, that seems to give some people a feeling that it is all right to behave in any old way and then excuse it as depression, attention deficit disorder, bi-polar disorder and the like. Though these conditions do exist, they are much rarer than the media and pop psychologists (who are only looking to sell books) would lead us to believe.

I would encourage Anonymous 7:20 to try Lady Lydia's suggestions for setting some boundaries for her friend who visits too much, but if that doesn't bring about a positive change, it might be necessary to sit down and set definite boundaries for the relationship. These things can start out like water dripping on stone. It seems to make little difference at first, but before you know it, there's a huge hole worn in your life and you have a "friend" who is nothing more than an unwelcome burden. Once things progress to that point, there is no "learning" going on by the needy friend and no Titus quality to the relationship at all. You simply have a needy person who is feeding off your energy and taking up your precious time that should be spent with your own family - and giving back very little in return.

Lydia said...

When I first married, a preacher, I was burdened down with a similar problem. Concerned about the impressions we would leave on the community and concerned about the reputation of the church in that area, I allowed her to come in. The problem was, it was so early in the morning that I was never prepared. I never had time for a shower before she showed up, and was consequently not at my best. I never felt in control of the day. She had problems at home and was escaping them. If I had been in a similar situation I would have gone to a mall, and keep the problem within my family unit. Like Anonymouse #2, it began so gradually I didn't realize she had taken over my life. My children were forced to accommodate her children when they came and it got harder to be polite to them because they screamed so much and were so demanding. As most young families know, food is carefully purchased and doled out in those early years, and any infringement on the food supply by others could really throw our finances out of order. The expense of having this woman around seemed tremendous to us and our children began to want to have a "home of their own" where they could eat a meal with the family without others there. While we didn't mind caring for them, we got so worn out that I wanted to run away. I think it is imnportant for young women to be very very sensitive about imposing on others. We each have to make our own way. Sometimes loneliness is a hurdle a woman at home will have to get through. Think of the people before us that came over on the Mayflower, or the immigrants who left their people to forge their way in a new land. Anything good that is done is usually done by oneself. It is difficult to concentrate on homemaking if someone is hanging around a lot. I like people to drop by when they can, but my friends are always very careful not to impose. That is a sign of maturity. After being taken for "a long ride" several times in those early years, I just got so busy, and my family got so noisy that when such a type of person came around, they felt so uncomfortable they decided to latch on to someone else instead. I believe we should help these people by sharing with them how they are taking up other people's time and how hard it is for a young mother, who has to be on hand for her children at all times. You are right, these people sometimes become bossy and demanding, even to the point of trying to discipline other people's children, telling them to be quiet, etc. Psychology might say one thing, but the Bible says we are to mind our own business and work with our own hands so that no one can find fault with us.

Anonymous said...

Part of the reason they do this is that modern psychology has taught them that we are "social creatures," and that we must operate in a group. They overlook the fact that the social activity first begins in the home, in the family unit, and that even in that unit, each person is nurtured as in individual with their own talents and skills, so that they can operate on their own when they have to. The Bible warns about people who wander from house to house, being idle. It isn't right. While each of us has within our hearts a desire to "help" someone, we have to be able to discern when we are propitiating the problem by accomodating such a guest.

Lydia said...

This is a great time to ask for the authority of the husband! Ask him to speak to such a friend when it has become too much for you. What I have found is that these people do not take you seriously, but when you send a man to talk to them, they get the point a little better. My children used to do this when friends knocked on the door on Saturday. They wanted to be left alone, and so they would ask their Dad or me to tell the children that "we aren't allowed to play today." Several times my husband answered the door and told people it was family time and the children wouldn't be playing with them. In cases like the above, you can ask your husband to use his firmest, most authoritive voice to explain to the intruder that his wife needs more rest and will not be able to visit anymore.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia and Readers,

Some very good advice is being offered on the subject of sticky visitors! I've never encountered that particular problem; it must be terrible to have interlopers in your house. I agree with Carol when she identifies the common and erroneous belief that we are social creatures who need to operate in a group every waking hour. Public school probably gets this sort of thinking started.

Here is a fun website that can waste far too much of our time if we aren't careful but have a look-see if you like the teens and twenties decor. The Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University has scanned the entire inventory of the catalogs for the Aladdin Mail Order Homes that were so popular in the early twentieth century. The architecture of even the tiny homes is so pleasing and there are lots of pictures of furnishings and decor. I only wish I could order one of them today at the prices listed! The address is

I don't know how to make a direct link so I can only suggest you retype it in your browser.

My kind regards to all,

Mrs. T.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, Thank you for the link to the 1920s site. I found it very intersting. I wondered if there was a site dedicated to the 40s and 50s, as well? I did a little searching and did not find it. Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts. I always look forward to visiting Homeliving Helper. Peggy

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

That is a really interesting and informative link. Thank you for sharing it!
I want to take a moment to wish you a happy and blessed Easter weekend!

Anonymous said...

The visitor described in the first comment reminds me of the term "peer dependent," used to describe school children. It's part of a childhood of being told what to do and when to do it for several hours M-F in school, with time outside of school being filled with friends and entertainment. It goes along with the "I'm bored" feeling, if someone else, or some form of entertainment, is not occupying their time.

There is a ministry to families called Above Rubies that has a Bible study on motherhood, that may help her to see her potential in her own home.

A search on the net will show other studies on the home from other sources as well.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
I identify very strongly with the posts on "friends" who impose. I have a friend who has done this to me and my family quite often. She calls with the notion of "getting the kids together" for school breaks without even asking if we have plans. She wants to spend much of her free time at my house. This has gone on for years(and I allowed it), but now that I'm home, I relish my new-found freedom and have been ruthless in guarding it. I have managed to keep her at bay for 3 months now. I have simply been unavailable except for calls 2 to 3 times a week (down from 7 days a week, sometimes several times a day). She calls late in the evenings or on weekends, and thanks to caller i.d. I no longer pick up the phone. This is family time. She's visiting this Friday with her kids and I've set very strict parameters. She has in the past come over and stayed from 11 am until 7 or 8 at night. She does not see how inappropriate this is. Subtle hints don't work. This woman's house is a wreck, and I believe her excessive visiting is a way of not dealing with the clutter and disorganization at home. I do not want to be unchristlike, but I believe what Carol said is true-we should not be wandering house to house being idle, nor should we encourage those who do. I want to be a good friend, but this woman has worn me out! When I started complaining to my husband about this woman wanting to take up so much of my time, he wisely said: "Plan you day, or somebody else will!"

Lydia said...

Sometimes after a woman to whom time means nothing has spent a whole day and evening at my house, I figure out a way to limit her the next time around. When she calls and wants to drop by, I say, "I have quite a few commitments today, but I can spare one hour between 1 and 2 and I definitely have to be free by 2:05. It has worked every time.

The commitments do not have to be appointments away from home. I am committed to getting my dinner prepared and the shirts ironed and my rug vacuumed before 5 pm. I am committed to giving my time to my children, to catching up on paperwork, correspondence, and so forth, and I am committed to have some quiet time for creative things.

Sometimes I say, "If you are going to come out this far, and since I can only spare an hour to visit, you might want to find something else to do in the area after you leave here, to make it worth the trip." Then I tell them about some places they might go.

Of course if someone comes this far from another state and I've invited them to stay a few days, it is completely different. What I'm talking about here is the chronic drop-in lady whose house is a mess and she is just hanging out somewhere else all day, wasting someone else's time.

The women at home take their time and their lives and their work quite seriously. It is a gift, not a role to waste. There is a lot at stake here. When the Proverbs talks about a wise woman that "builds" her house, it is talking about a woman who has a mission. The foolish woman who "tears it down" is like the sloth who little by little, loses its chance at getting food because it is too slow. Eventually predators will come in and take over if a woman is not on guard. Those predators can be anything from clutter to disorganization, filth,poverty and discontent. A wise woman builds her house--organizes it, guards it, keeps it, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. Certainly everyone knows someone who wrecked her own home by not looking after the needs of the family and the house. When she doesn't look after things they deteriorate, and her family will avoid spending much time there. It is important to make these women who wander from house to house realize the danger they are in. In the Bible times there were warnings about the false teachers, maybe even men who thought they knew something great, wandering from house to house "captivating the minds of silly women." The lady who loves her home and wants to guard is also in danger if she lets these kind of wanderers in, because they can, subtly influence by their ways. For example, they may not be as neat and clean as you. Maybe they dont' cook or sew. So you may not notice that you are doing less of the things you love when she is around. So really you aren't supposed to accommodate too much of this kind of thing. I think you can tell them once or twice and give them some tools to work with, such as a schedule and maybe a demonstration of how to clean a bathroom or something. There is a saying: give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Such a woman might be taught to crochet, for example, and then she can develop an interest in something useful. We read in my mother in law's diary about several places she lived where there were women who came over and spent a long time. She solved the problem by making them study the Bible with her and converting some of them. Those who didn't want to settle down and study would not hang around much.

Anonymous said...

I know a couple of cases where a woman was a terrible houskeeper. I went over to help her get straightened out and even helped her fix dinner for her husband. She wouldn't stick to it and didn't come home much, going to visit other people instead. Her marriage eventually broke up and her child got into trouble with the law.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
Thank you for the words of wisdom. My time, my life, and my work are indeed precious gifts, not to be squandered. I will use your suggestions and be even more vigilant in guarding my home from "wanderers". Carol, your comments really hit the mark! My friend's husband has threatened to leave her in the past, and she caught her 10 year old attempting to shoplift a small toy from their local market a few months ago.