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The History of Christmas
2,000 Years of Faith, Fable, and Festivity
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This book will take you on a journey from Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, through Roman times and the Middle Ages, into the Reformation and then the Victorian era. You will finally touch down in our modern–day Christmas with all the things that make us think of this wonderful season – decorations, presents, delicious food.
                                   
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One Person's Comfort is Another's Clutter
by Bob Brooke


 

For some people, comfort means coziness. For others, the freedom of uncluttered space. Which are you? I tend to lean towards a cozy home environment since I’ve been working at home for the past 35 years.

Some people are only comfortable when they can put their feet up. Does that mean you can’t enjoy older things? Is this contrary to collecting antiques? Definitely not.

Whatever comfort means to you, it’s probably the most important consideration when you’re furnishing a new home or apartment or refurnishing one you currently live in. Comfort isn’t limited to the padding of upholstered furniture. It extends to the emotional comfort that comes from having a space that reflects, reinforces, and satisfies you. A space that you can call home.

Before the current pandemic, many people worked away from home for at least 8 to 10 or more hours a day. They would come home from work to have dinner and relax a bit before going to sleep for another 6 to 8 hours before the cycle begins again. With many people forced to work from home because of the pandemic, how comfortable it is has greater importance.

When people think of antiques, their minds conjure up images of stuffy rooms filled with old, uncomfortable furniture. Many in their 30s and 40s have succumbed to large overstuffed sectionals facing wide-screen T.V.s—comfort and entertainment in one—but emotionally boring.

Each person is a combination of desires, wishes, tastes, wants, and needs—the result of personal experiences, memories, family relations, economic status, and work experience. All these things help to determine a person’s individual outlook.

Most home interiors reflect one or more of the following general styles: traditional, casual, country, romantic, cottage, high style, and eclectic. Which style are you?

Traditional
Traditional rooms can be as formal and decorative as you wish. Furniture styles generally follow the elegant looks of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. For those who can afford the higher prices of antiques made during these centuries by such designers as Thomas Chippendale, Heppelwhite, and Duncan Phyfe, this may be the style for you. Accessories can be fine porcelains, bronze statues, and luxurious antique Middle Eastern or Oriental rugs.

Casual
If you follow a simpler lifestyle, then perhaps a casual interior is for you. Rooms are open, clean, light and bright. Window treatments are simple. Furniture may be playfully colored in pastels or primaries, or be neutral-colored naturals and tends to follow a mix-and-match sort of arrangement. Textures may be smooth or rustic. But whatever the colors and textures, the emphasis is on easy-care, openness, simplicity and room to move around.



Country
Country interiors are warm and cozy—the kind that make you want to curl up by a sparkling fire. They employ furniture styles from the 17th and 18th centuries which are not as formal or delicate as those of traditional rooms. These pieces most likely will have come from farmhouses and houses of working class people. Unlike the refined varnished woods of the traditional style, these are often painted.

Romantic
If you’re an incurable romantic, then rooms with playful but simple furnishings are what you’re after. Like casual rooms, they’re warm and full of memories, much like country rooms. Whimsical accessories, such as lacy curtains that soften the light, and furniture which can be contemporary or traditional, but never heavy, characterize this look.

English Cottage
An offset of the romantic style is the English cottage look. Here, colors come from the islands while exotic touches accent comfortable, softly upholstered furniture. Anything that sparks fantasies or thoughts of long ago and far away can create a romantic room.

High Style
High Style interiors are dramatic, relying on experimental color schemes, strong lights and darks, luxurious fabrics and leathers, and clean, spare lines for their impressive effect. Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern furnishings are called for in these rooms. Less is more is the underlying theme.



Eclectic

If you’re a collector of just about anything, then the eclectic style is for you. Rooms are usually a combination of whatever strikes your fancy, from fine antiques in traditional styles to country and modern pieces thrown in. Heirlooms and hand-me-downs fit well into an eclectic arrangement. Eclectic rooms are not meant to be "catch-alls" for whatever doesn’t fit in elsewhere. Instead, successful ones depend on careful editing of the objects in them.

Mix Them Up

Some people furnish every room in their house, condo, or apartment in the same style. You may want to consider mixing them up. Make each room different in style but use the same colors in different amounts in each room to tie them all together. And don’t forget to study the different styles of furnishings down through the centuries.



You may want to consider decorating your living room in a more formal Victorian style while making your dining room Edwardian, one bedroom in Arts and Crafts, another in country Victorian, and so on.

If you like to collect things, don’t spread them all over your house, but create displays where they are most appropriate to the style of the room.



As I scan through my Facebook posts each day, I see photos of people’s home interiors. Some are beautifully done, others need a bit of help. This editorial is dedicated to all of you. And during this pandemic, you may have time to make some changes, large or small.

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How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

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Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

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