Hundred-year-old Farmhouse Living Rooms

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, May 7, 1914:  Two rooms got put in order for today.

1913-10-52-dThe daintily flowered wallpaper and chair cushions, the plain rug and the curtains are all in various tones of lavender, while the two mahogany tables offer a pleasing bit of taste.

Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Yeah! It must be wonderful for the spring cleaning to be about finished and to have redecorated rooms with new wallpaper. One room that was redone was the sitting room; I’m not sure about the other room.

The October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal had a fun article about decorating farmhouses:

Good Taste in the Farmhouse

1913-10-52-gIn the living room above we have shown how successfully one family has solved the problem of a long narrow room. A few good pieces of furniture have been placed as apparently to reduce the length of the room; and well-proportioned rugs—one placed lengthwise and one at right angles to this—also tend to improve the appearance of the room.

1913-10-52 fThe living room was once a kitchen in an old farmhouse. Only furniture of Colonial design should be used in a room of these architectural features, as the great open fireplace, the paneled woodwork, and the rough heavy ceiling beams bespeak that period.

25 Responses

  1. My old “barn” turns 100-years-old next year. I love having an idea of how it might have been decorated.

  2. Wow! I cannot imagine taking all this time for spring-cleaning. I wonder if every year was like this, or if Grandma’s family did some extra sprucing up this spring??

  3. That was interesting add. i was always told they would do the wall paper once every couple of years because of the coal dust in the corners was hard to clean off the paper around the moldings and top corners.

    • Whew, it had to have been an incredible amount of work to re-wallpaper every few years. Our heating and cooking methods are so much cleaner today.

  4. Do you think their rooms looked anything like the pictures? My grandprents didn’t live in farm houses but their furniture was much heavier and there was more of it. By the time I came along anyway.

    • Like you, I don’t really think that the rooms in Grandma’s house looked much the ones in the drawing. I think that the magazine probably published “aspirational” drawings (or maybe “inspirational” would be a better word).

  5. It would be like living in a whole new place, wouldn’t it? Now when they entertain, they can also show off their new living room.
    Diana xo

  6. Helena’s diary is beginning to make me feel guilty!

    • I don’t feel guilty–There’s just no way I could ever do all of the housework and farm work that people did a hundred years ago! :)

  7. Love these old pictures of fashionable rooms! I’m sure grandma’s was equally stylish.

  8. I’m even heaving a sigh of relief for her. I’m bursting to hear what happens next!

  9. I bet grandma is feeling pretty good today. A completed job well done is such a great feeling.

  10. My grandfather’s kitchen was the living room. He had a sort of daybed that served as a couch. Everything revolved around the kitchen table. And he had wall paper. Jane

    • I’d completely forgotten about it until you mentioned them, but we also had a daybed when I was small. I can still remember laying on it, watching the rest of the family go about their normal routines, when I had the measles. . . and the chicken pox.

  11. I love these rooms, they transport me to another place and time.

  12. Great pictures I love the second one. I feel envious though of Helena, she is just about done sprucing up her home and we are just getting ready to paint two of ours! I had always wanted a kitchen like in photo 2 but I guess it would have had to be living room/kitchen.

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