Dell Bronson’s Decorating Style

Many of Isabella Alden’s stories were about resourceful women who, seeing a problem, immediately set their minds to finding ways to solve it. For these ladies, no obstacle was too big or too small.

One such heroine was Dell Bronson in The King’s Daughter. After living most of her life in the lap of luxury with a loving aunt and uncle, Dell was suddenly called home to live with her father, who ran a run-down saloon and kept an equally run-down home.

Beauty-loving Dell was dismayed when she first saw the bedroom her father had set aside for her:

In one corner stood a single bedstead, on which was mounted a feather bed, suggestive of a sweltering night, and the finishing touch was a blue and green patchwork quilt put on crooked.

There was … a queer, old-fashioned, twisted-legged table, a square wooden washstand with the paint worn off, and with one leg shorter than the others, so that it tottled whenever it was touched, making a racket over the nicked washbowl and dingy pitcher; three chairs, one a dingy rocker, with a pitiful green and purple cushion on the seat. These completed the furnishing of the room, except, indeed, a faded red and green and yellow carpet, which in its best and brightest days could not have been pretty.

But Dell didn’t spend time dwelling on the shabbiness of her surroundings. Instead, she reminded herself:

“Oh, Dell Bronson, you must not forget that your Father’s house is a palace, and that you are a King’s daughter; never mind the place in which you may have to stay for a little while, just to make your preparations, you know.”

So Dell immediately began making changes in the house that would benefit (and hopefully influence) her father. But at the same time, she began to make a few changes in her own bedroom.

When The King’s Daughter was first published, ladies’ magazines regularly published do-it-yourself articles about decorating on a budget.

One magazine provided a sample layout for a bedroom, including the best position for a washbowl and pitcher, like the one in Dell’s room:

Dell might have had a fireplace in her room to provide warmth in the winter months. One magazine published this design for “an artistic fireplace,” with screen made of cardboard and covered in an embroidered fabric, which could be made for about five cents.

Another magazine suggested making a “writing cabinet” from two small bookcases:


The shaped insert on the bookcases is cut from sturdy cardboard and covered with paper. The magazine also suggests using short pieces of muslin left over from making the curtains to cover the bottom shelves where less-than-dainty items may be stored.

Another magazine reminded young ladies they should not ignore the corners of their rooms, and gave simple instructions for making of a corner closet for storing clothes and shoes:

Resourceful Dell Bronson set about making changes to her plain and somewhat shabby bedroom. Within two weeks:

The blue paper curtains had given place to full white muslin ones, the bed was spread in white, as also was the little toilet table, and many little feminine graceful touches had softened its hard corners, and given it a look of home.

By the end of the story, Dell’s decorating efforts resulted in more than just a pleasant place to live; the lovely rooms she created helped influence her father and several townspeople to make positive changes in their lives.

Have you read The King’s Daughter? You can learn more about the book here.

Do you like do-it-yourself decorating projects? Where do you get your ideas?

What’s the best DIY project you ever completed?

2 thoughts on “Dell Bronson’s Decorating Style

  1. What a clever idea for a writing table! I have downloaded this book on my Kindle. Hopefully, this will help motivate and inspire me to freshen up my home decor!

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