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Pianos in Rooms

Ideas on how to place and arrange pianos in rooms, decorate them, and store music.

This will consist of notes covering an assortment of articles, together with suggestions for their arrangement. The first problem is one that continually faces us, and that is the placing of the piano.

To put a piano in its right position is extraordinarily difficult, and it is a difficulty seldom overcome successfully. An upright piano looks best if it projects into a room with one end against a wall; as the back will show it may be covered with a piece of antique material. Piano cases can be lacquered and decorated, and a grand piano lends itself to the treatment; in green and gold, blue or black and gold, or any of the colour combinations that lacquer can offer, it can acquire an interest which its rather ugly outline would ordinarily render impossible. A strip of material, velvet, needlework, or brocade, on some portion of a grand piano may sometimes improve its appearance, though musicians will protest against this because it is supposed to interfere with the tone.

Piano in Centre of Room
Piano in Centre of Room, 1909.
A modern piano has taken the place of the table as the centrepiece of the room.

In a music-room where a piano is the all-important object and where everything else is subservient, we can fall in with the ideas and wishes of musicians ; but in a drawing-room where ordinary people will sit, whose appreciation of sound is not so acutely developed that they would be rendered uncomfortable by the difference in tone caused by a strip of velvet on the piano lid, we may really consider ourselves at liberty to study the appearance of the piano. To overload it with jars and vases and photographs is wrong. The instrument is not intended to combine the functions of a mantel-shelf and a china cabinet, and one lamp or one bowl of flowers is all it should be expected to carry.

A place for storing music is always a difficulty. The really useful sort of cabinet would contain a series of shallow drawers, similar to the cases used for displaying collections of birds' eggs. This would enable different pieces of music to be filed systematically under classified headings. The nearest approach to such a cabinet is a small Jacobean chest on a stand, with a deep drawer at the top, and doors below in front of three or four shallow drawers. Failing a chest of drawers, a cupboard or cabinet with a good number of shelves or two tiers of vertical divisions would be very helpful. There are many examples of small mahogany cupboards and commodes that could be fitted up in this manner without expense or difficulty.

Next: Decorating with Room Screens.

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