As a matter of fact, the knowledge of how to make a house distinguished both in appearance and in service is a much higher test than presenting a distinguished appearance in oneself and acquiring presentable manners. There are any number of people who dress well, and in every way appear well, but a lack of breeding is apparent as soon as you into their houses. Their servants have not good manners, they are not properly turned out, the service is not well done, and the decorations and furnishings show lack of taste and of inviting arrangement.
The personality of a house is indefinable, but there never lived a lady of great cultivation and charm, whose home, whether a palace, a farm cottage or tiny apartment, did not reflect the charm of its owner. Every visitor feels impelled to linger, and is loath to go. Houses without personality are a series of walled enclosures with furniture standing about in them. Sometimes their lack of charm is baffling; every article is ‘correct’ and perhaps even beautiful, but one has the feeling that the decorator made chalk-marks indicating the exact spot on which each piece of furniture is to stand. Other houses are filled with things of little intrinsic value, often with much that is shabby, or they are perhaps empty to the point of bareness, and yet they have that ‘inviting’ atmosphere, that air of unmistakable naturalness, which is an unfailing indication of high-bred people.
Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage by Emily Post, New York and London, Funk & Wagnalls Co, 1922/37. Page 182.