Timeless Household Advice, 1907

When I first got my Kindle, I went wild with the pre-1923 books (they’re free on Amazon). Tonight, going through my “Clippings” in the Kindle, I came across passages that I’d highlighted in Clara Laughlin’s timeless book The Complete Home (1907).  While certain sections of the book are outdated and merely amusing to read, others are still quite useful today. Here are some quotes I thought you’d enjoy, just as relevant (or even more relevant) that when Ms. Laughlin wrote them over a hundred years ago.

On decorating purchases: “Sagacity and a modest fund will sometimes do more than plethora and no thought.”

“Generally speaking, the showiest designs are in the cheaper goods, and the showier a cheap article is the quicker its shoddy qualities will be made manifest.”

“Though furniture should not be chosen for its beauty or associations alone, it must not be considered at all if beauty if absent.”

“A pretty good rule is to test everything first by its usefulness; if it is not useful, we may dispense with its purchase. Even at that, it may be necessary to demand that the article shall be not only useful but absolutely indispensable, for between the beguiling advertisement and the crafty salesman, almost anything that is manufactured may be proved necessary.” [emphasis added]

“If nine out of ten persons bought only what they could not do without, what they did purchase could be of a great deal better quality.”

On the importance of good table linen: “Table linen . . . seems to weave into its delicate patterns and traceries all the light and sunshine of the room, and to give them back to us in the warming, quickening good cheer which radiates from a table daintily dressed. . . . When we have immaculate table linen we dine; otherwise we simply eat, and there are whole decades of civilization between the two.”

On making purchases slowly and thoughtfully: “Here a little and there a little, with time to get acquainted with and enjoy each added treasure as it comes.”

About Charity

I have an inexcusable number of cookbooks (and like to experiment with them), have worked in architectural antiques, and have been sewing most of my life. I recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Apparel, Merchandising, & Design from Iowa State University. Doing household things (except for cleaning!) and hunting for antiques are my favorite pastimes.
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3 Responses to Timeless Household Advice, 1907

  1. Jenny says:

    I love these!

  2. I now understand my wife’s thing about table linen. Eating on nice linen is “dining.” It is not merely “eating.” It is so much more…well… civilized! I wonder sometimes if our fast-food culture, eating out of sacks with our fingers is not a giant step backwards. Did you watch “Downton Abby?” Those people knew how to dine!

    • Charity says:

      I agree with you!

      I haven’t watched Downton Abbey yet, but so many people have recommended it that I’ll have to do that soon. 🙂

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