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From the Archive: “A Living Room,” 1912

An L. and J.G. Stickley living room.

Design-history writers like to say that “people didn’t live in stylistically pure interiors”—which is a statement of fact as well as tacit permission for us to embrace comfortably eclectic, personal rooms now. That never stopped visionaries—and the manufacturers who supported them—from imagining compelling settings for a salable lifestyle. The Arts & Crafts movement was uniquely suited to a potent marriage of beauty and commerce.

As imagined by the Works of L. & J.G. Stickley, Inc., this living room takes every opportunity in the effort to sell the full impact of a holistic, integrated Craftsman aesthetic. Every nook and cranny is populated with “product.” Our gaze is drawn to easy symbols of homey warmth: books, teacups, comfy seating, a crackling fire. Beyond artful marketing, the room conveys a spirit.

Despite (or owing to?) the rather indistinct, painterly nature of the rendering, one authentic quality is remarkably clear: texture. With sensual green leather, gauzy rose-tinted curtains, matte blue-glazed tiles, and richly treated walls, along with hand-finished wood, hammered copper, brass tacks, and woven wool carpeting, every treatment evokes and invites touch . . . the hand of the maker reaching out to the hand of the user, in the past and today. 

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