I DON’T know why, but I always associate the dining-room with the bathroom. Perhaps it is because, no matter when a meal is ready, there is always someone just finishing dressing, or rushing off to wash their hands.
My dining-room is in cream and brown – cream walls widi a stippled all-over brown effect, and a brown carpet. Velvet russet-coloured cm-tains pull right across the window.
The main dining-room light is above the centre table. No matter if the ceiling is high or low, this is the correct place for the main light. And the table should be so arranged that no light falls on the faces of the diners but direcdy on the table.
Wall lighting should be introduced if the room is large enough for this to be possible.
When guests enter a dining-room the side lights only, or the candles on the table if there are no side lights, should be lit. This makes a dining-table stand out most effectively as guests enter a room. A flick of the hand, when all sit down, could flood the room with the centre ceiling light.
I have brass candlesticks each side of my mantelpiece and a galleon ship in the centre of the mantelshelf. Three large brass trays hang on the walls, and I have many brass ash-trays, a brass dinner-gong, and a brass coal-box in the room.
Against one wall is a large wall-bookcase, composed of shelves added to each other when the necessity arose to house more books. There is a desk at the window and a sideboard on the opposite wall. Around my centre table are the four dining-room chairs, and in the fold-over drawer of the desk are a few table games.
I light the russet-coloured candles in the brass candlesticks on Sunday afternoons and set a special high tea. I don’t keep my surprises for guests only, but have many treats for the family. And how appreciative they all are! Let me pass on to you all I have learnt about’ the table.’
The proper height of a table-centre depends on the number of persons sitting down. If a large number, use a high centre-piece; if only six or eight, dien use a low centre-piece to permit conversation to be easy for the guests.
Try to have an attractive and interesting centre-piece arrangement for the family table every Sunday at dinner-time. Mine is usually a congratulatory message to the member or members who have done something outstanding during the week. I like giving praise when it is due. One of my married discoveries has been that too little constructive praise and too much destructive criticism is handed out in the average home. I did it myself before I learnt common sense and the effect these things had on the morale of my family.
But back to the table. . . . The correct space to allow per person is from twenty to twenty-four inches. Arrange knives and forks in the order of their usage, starting at the point farthest from the plate on either side. Place the knives at the right, cutting edge towards the plate. Forks to the left, prongs pointing up.
Correct position of the soup spoon is at the right of the knives, hollow up. The coffee spoon is placed on the saucer when the coffee is poured. Place cards should be on the left of the guest. Always serve from the left. the table should be cleared before serving the dessert. Leave the fruit and the candles on the table.
Serve coffee in the living-room.
Use your finest tablecloth for special teas and have a bowl of flowers as a centre-piece. Arrange the tea service at one end of the table, cup handles all facing to the right and the spoon handles also facing to the right.
Place knife and pastry-fork one each side of the plates. Put table-napkins on the plates, or to the left of the forks if there is a big meal. Use old greeting cards for menu cards by just removing the insidcs’. All decorative effects should be on the table and never overlapping it.
Place sandwich, cake and biscuit dishes attractively on the table so that you have an alternate dark and light cake arrangement.
A buffet table arrangement is best when there is company, for it saves the hostess a lot of work and she can have everything arranged beforehand and then have time to enjoy herself with her guests. Piles of plates, cutlery and glasses should be arranged at one end of the table, and serving spoons placed beside the dishes of food.
Have a bunch of balloons tied above the centre light and some time in the evening have them released and watch the fun as they are coming down. Then have the game of bouncing them to each other until there are no balloons left.
The thing to remember is that you need not wait until you have guests to have fun like this – have such an evening with your own family now and then. They will love it.