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Problem in Decoration
By Mary Davis Gilles, Home Furnishings Editor, McCall's Magazine
from Radio Retailing, November 1937

How Would You Fit a Radio Into These Rooms?

EARLY AMERICAN (top)--Dark blue walls, variety of design in upholstery and lamps. A table model with modern lines should tuck away without disturbing the ensemble.
GEORGIAN (middle)--But color scheme, fireplace and architectural details are of comtemporary design. A simple walnut console could be substituted for the cellarette on the left.
MODERN (bottom)--Still shows early American influence, with painted pine panel walls, turned leg octagonal table Almost any radio could be placed in this room if painted white.

Radios are furniture. Maybe that's what you think. But if you and the radio industry do, you are both almost alone in your opinion.

For instance, how many model rooms have you seen, during the last year, in which a console radio was featured--or was even included? Pick up any decorating magazine, leaf through the pages and count the radios shown in photographed rooms. If you find even one console radio, it's unusual.

But for all they're being ignored, you know that radios are being sold. However, isn't it possible that more of them could be sold? Isn't it possible that the approach to the whole subject of radios might be advantageously changed? And isn't it possible that the new approach should be to place more emphasis on radios as furniture? I believe it would be easier to sell console radios if women looked upon radios as they do on pianos--as furniture.

It's quite true that because of their design, console radios have been in disrepute with decorators. Many women have picked up the same point of view and what the woman says about room decoration goes. So, even though the man of the family would very often prefer a large model, because of superior reception, in the small hours of the night he is persuaded to get a table model for the sake of appearance.

So it's the ladies who must be sold on larger models and it's easier to do if radios are considered as furniture.

To sell radios as furniture, the salesmen must have quick answers and correct answers to two simple questions, that will always come up: "Can I use a modern radio in a living room that isn't modern? Where can I put it?"

Naturally this isn't the place nor the time to launch into a discourse on period furniture. However to answer the first question, you must know what type of room is under discussion and a few simple facts about present furniture trends will be helpful. Dollars to doughnuts the room will be one of four styles: (1) Early American--that is, maple (2) Georgian, known also as 18th Century and Colonial, in which either mahogony or walnut is the featured wood; (3) Modern; (4) No particular style.

Even though these furniture styles are running neck and neck in sales, they are also hand in hand because fashion today no longer insists upon or even condones over-period rooms. In fact, it's smarter to mix them up.

In some of the most lush decorating jobs to be seen on Fifth Avenue this fall you will find Georgian, Regency and Early Victorian furniture all in I single room. Also, you will find some purely modern furniture in every room up and down New York. There may only be an easy chair or a square-lined mirror coffee table. But a contemporary note is so inevitable so natural and so simple that whether a room is traditional or not, you can't escape some modern notes.

So the answer to the question, "Can I put a modern radio in a room with traditional design" boils down to this: "Yes, you can, because today it is considered correct to introduce modern pieces even in traditional rooms.

0f course, you can't just throw a modern console radio at in Eighteenth Century room and expect it to feel at home. You will have to face the second question: "Where shall I put it?" In some rooms ingenuity and imagination will be required to place a radio successfully. The only way to approach the problem is with an actual floor plan of the room, with fireplace, doors, windows and present furniture indicated. This is the successful approach to range and refrigerator sales and there really seems to be no reason why such a logical approach should not be successful with radios also. Public utilities with kitchen planning service now think nothing of redesigning a whole kitchen in order to assure satisfaction In the new appliances, so I'm not promoting any wild or unheard-of scheme when I say radio salesmen should be able to advise a woman in placing consoles so they will be at home in the room in which they will have to live.

The easiest of all radios to place is an end table type, which call be incorporated into almost any room. Moreover, it answers a real need, because, believe it or not, there's not a living room in the country with enough end tables. And I make that statement after checking over thousands of furniture floor plans. So when you advocate an end table radio you can be quite sure that there will be room for it. Moreover, from a decorator's point of view, end table models can be slipped into a room more unobtrusively than any other type of radio. Tucked away by the arm of a big wing chair, there will be modern invention and entertainment at the finger tips, but only old world charm to meet the eye.

If you are dealing with a living room furnished in maple the problem is more difficult because the walnut wood finish of most cabinets will loom up against the lighter maple like a fly on white frosting. Deal with such cases boldly. In other words, use paint or lacquer. Cover up that too conspicuous wood veneer with black or antique white paint. With such a finish repeated In another chair or table, even a radio will nestle down with hooked rugs and flower prints.

Console models are the most difficult to place pleasantly. The proportions are likely to be awkward, and only through careful plotting can their tall upright shapes be made to relax and become a part of a furniture grouping. After trying one grouping and another, if the radio still seems hopelessly out of place in the room, my solution would be to put the radio in a closet or in a corner behind a screen.

How to Handle Problem Children

Handling the "problem child" ... a big console flanked by bookcases.

Of course to my notion the most successful way to handle a console radio is to make it a part of a bookcase grouping. This can be done whether the book shelves cover a wall or are only pier cabinets. In one case as the shelves will completely surround the radio (see sketch). In the other the shelves may be the same height as the radio (see sketch). The purpose of this latter arrangement is to create a horizontal group instead of a perpendicular one, because it is easier to develop all attractive picture grouping, over a horizontal wall mass and of course the effect is more restful to the eye.

Another effective solution ... console surrounded by bookcases.

As yet I haven't mentioned the simplest arrangement. Many rooms have a pair of Windows spaced two or three feet apart. In such a room the radio may be placed between the windows with the radio flanked by a pair of chairs or plant stands to give real finesse to the grouping.

Perfect location for a tall console ... between two windows, flanked by chairs.

Unfortunately, there will always be rooms that are without wall space enough for the bookcase grouping, devoid of window pairs, and with floor space too valuable to give up to a screen. Then the only thing to do is to hold your breath, face the facts of life, and work out a corner grouping with a radio, an arm chair and a lamp. In short, a place where a man can relax and be happy. But remember the chair should be a big comfortable one. Such a group is an open admission that the comfort, convenience and pleasure of the family have not been subordinated to the mere appearance of the room.

However, even in the last arrangement, the radio must be considered as furniture because in order to make the radio convenient other furniture must be grouped with it.

All in all, if more could be done to put radios in the class of furniture rather than that of just musical instruments the whole sales angle on large radios would be easier to handle. Learn to sell radio as furniture.


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