Setting the ambiance with a veranda


After World War I there was a fad to build verandas and be comfortable outside under a sheltering roof on nice days. This was the beginning of the decks and verandas still popular today.

Leisurely atmosphere. The veranda became the outdoor living room for families who could afford the pleasure. It was, and is, attractive by virtue of its informality and leisurely atmosphere.

Floor. Suggestions in 1919 included an art square or rugs. Grass mats were important due to the ease of cleaning them. They were reversible and serviceable for a length of time.

The rugs suggested were from India or Japan, were quite light and came in diverse colors. They could be easily removed at night or in stormy weather.

Furniture. The most popular furniture was unquestionably wicker, although fiber, willow and rattan were also available. People were cautious of willow and reed.

There were two grades of willow, one solid and one split. The solid was more expensive and more durable, which retained its value longer. Willow was lower in price but lacked the durability of reed.

Willow could be identified from reed due to black specks in its body.

Chair quality. To inspect reed construction to learn whether it was from excellent stock, turn the chair over and examine the ends. If it is mostly with pith and little surrounding wood, then it is of poor quality and will break easily.

Willow for wicker use must be 5-6 years old. Previous to that time, willow is only good for making baskets.

As willow develops, it forms a more woody layer. It loses its pith and is suitable for furniture with wearing qualities.

It also accepts paints well and green, black, brown, yellow and orange are attractive. Not all older wicker is white.

Other seating. Settees are quite admirable on verandas and take up less space than two chairs and are more comfortable.

Chaise lounges of wicker were at that time being revived, being furnished with cushions and pillows set in a striking color scheme.

In 1919 there were many shaped chairs of willow or reed. The most popular was the old English wing chair, with its high back and writing rest on one arm and a magazine rack on the other.

Tables. Tables were a necessity and there were many different styles, ranging from the little stand suitable for a work table or the double-decked-type suitable for an afternoon tea or luncheon. They were available either stained or enameled.

Tea carts were a suggested go-along since afternoon tea was a common occurrence in some circles.

Many had a removable tray and were finished in unusual combinations. Green and yellow were the most popular, although another striking combination was red and black.

Interesting combinations were also popular. Sometimes the body of the table or chair are in one or two colors and the legs and knobs a contrasting color. When rubbed down with linseed oil, a polished appearance is acquired.

Setting the stage. In the development of the veranda, a decorator should strive to obtain a casual, relaxed atmosphere, a natural setting and a quiet retreat with flowers and ferns, but be certain to leave plenty of open space.

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Next step: Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.