The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)
The small dining room demands neat furniture in the modern style and with a light finish. The larger room allows the owner to indulge her penchant for the ultra-modern (plus chromium and glass) or period style.
If the dining-room is to be a room for use at other than meal-times, take particular care in its planning. Design the furniture to fit the room, not to fill it. Provide fireside chairs for comfort, and bookshelves and magazine racks for the idle hour. In the main suite, avoid the dullness of heavy oak and mahogany. If the room is fairly small, have a gate-leg table which can be set back inconspicuously against a wall. The dining-chairs should, of course, be comfortable, with backs made to fit, and seats upholstered in hide, rexine or tapestry. The sideboard must be planned with due regard to contents; avoid end cupboards if wall space is limited; space for cutlery drawers is saved if a baize-lined box is incorporated in a draw-leaf table.
Nearly as important as design, is the wood to be used. Popular woods are straight-grain oak and walnut. A natural waxed oak finish is attractive. (This type of floor finish is common in America. Rugs are scattered about and the floor presents a very attractive appearance, but requires more polishing than most New Zealand housewives are willing to give). Interest is lent to a very plain design by the use of two woods, e.g., Jacobean oak and bronzed oak. A suite in straight walnut may have bandings of deep figured walnut.
Tables: The increasing use of beautifully grained woods accounts for the disuse of tablecloths. Mats (so easy to launder!) show the graining of the modern table and the beauty of old pieces and reproductions.
Most tables have flap sides, or are of the draw-leaf variety, so that they may be accommodated to the number of guests. Styles vary from those that remind one of the kitchen table (save that the top does not overhang, and the legs may be of the new rounded shape) to the period refectory table. The modern variant of the refectory has very wide table ends, sometimes enriched with simple carving. Another variety has roll ends.
Sideboards: In regard to style, aim for one in which the general outline satisfies the eye. Avoid the type where the “undercarriage” is set in from the edge of the piece, giving a top-heavy look. It is quite possible for a piece of good design to be clear of the floor without having this top-heavy appearance.
Most sideboards are of plain shape, with a flat surface and no top-piece. Interest lies in the decorative use of wood—banding, carving, or inlay (e.g., large squares, with the grain running in different directions).
In very modern sideboards the drawer and shelf arrangement is less conservative, as in the case of one page 59 with a straight top which has underneath it, on one side, two drawers, and on the other a shelf; below are cupboards, including a cellarette. The sideboard to match the table with roll ends has bow doors. Others have rounded corners. A modern piece has side cupboards with curved doors.
A handsomely carved reproduction to accompany a refectory table, has a top-piece with cupboards and “pillars.”