Copyright
Candace Wheeler.

Principles of home decoration, with practical examples online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryCandace WheelerPrinciples of home decoration, with practical examples → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


r ■ :•


|S-:s«


; ' F- S


fc r^






'^"1




.




1




1.

































r




;




1


'■':




01




*•


1


F '


\




'










';. i


'






'\


;*






'


1




;


V .1


1






;■ '.








' ■ t


!■

























:.


1


,


m




1




1




:












i'





■ ■




K,


'


'


:







NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 07867760



MICROFILMED




HATF ^\;i2>\9\



/•'•?



■V







Principles of Home Decorat



ion



By the same author

Decorators and Decorating '

" Content in a Garden "

" How to Make Rugs "




<

O

u
h
Z

o
w

o
<

h

O



X



2;



o

S5






<

o

z
z

u

a.



S

o
o

of

6

z
z

5



Principles of
Home Decoration



With Practical Examples



By

vAvs, Candace Wheeler




New York

Doubleday. Page & Company

1903






111 • 1
3 * , » » * » ^

M ' 4 • I •

J i • . • • • •

1 ' ' * »

J (» 1 » »

. 1 », • ■• .



THE N


F.V7 YORK




7616


ASTOR, LENOX AND
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.
R 1903. L



Copyright, 1903, by

BouBLEDAY, Page & Company

Published February 1903



* •
1 •


• '


*




* • «

• «


-♦ -■


# * *


• c


•.


»


* •
m t


• V




» •


« • *






V


*

•••1




« •

• « » • •


• • *

•••




• • '








•.♦ :


< • •


•» » f «









^




• • •


k




r


f









• ! •


« •


*


*



CONTENTS

PAGE

CHAPTER 1 3

Decoration as an Art.
Decoration in American Homes.
Woman's Influence in Decoration.

CHAPTER II 17

Character in Homes.

CHAPTER III 22

Builders' Houses.
Expedients.

CHAPTER IV 34

Colour in Houses.
Colour as a Science.
Colour as an Influence.

CHAPTER V 42

The Law of Appropriateness. <

Cleanliness and Harmony Tastefully Combined.
Bedroom Furnished in Accordance with Individual
Tastes.

CHAPTER VI 63

Kitchens.

Treatment of Walls from a Hygienic Point of View.

CHAPTER VII 72

Colour with Reference to Light.

Examples of the EflFects of Light on Colour.

Gradation of Colour.



CONTENTS f Continued)

PAGE

CHAPTER VIII 89

Walls, Ceilings and Floors.
Treatment and Decoration of Walls.
Use of Tapestry, Leather and Wall-Papers.
Panels of Wood, Painted Walls, Textiles.

CHAPTER IX . .IIS

Location of the House.

Decoration Influenced by Situation.

CHAPTER X 122

Ceilings.

Decorations in Harmony with Walls.

Treatment in Accordance with Size of Room.

CHAPTER XI 128

Floors and Floor Coverings.

Treatment of Floors — Polished Wood, Mosaics.

Judicious Selection of Rugs and Carpets.

CHAPTER XII 1+2

Draperies.

Importance of Appropriate Colours.

Importance of Appropriate Textures.

CHAPTER XIII 160

Furniture.

Character in Rooms.

Harmony in Furniture.

Comparison Between Antique and Modern Furniture.

Treatment of the Different Rooms.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Dining-room in "Penny-royal" (Mrs, Boudinot Keith's

cottage, Onteora) Fronthnt<e

FACING PAGE

Hall in city house, showing efifcct of staircase divided and

turned to rear ........ 30

Stenciled borders for hall and bathroom decorations . . 50

Sitting-room in "Wild Wood," Onteora (belonging to

Miss Luisita Leiand) ...... 80

Large sitting-room in "Star Rock" (country house of

W. E. Connor, Esq., Onteora) .... 92

Painted canvas frieze and buckram frieze for dining-room 106

Square hall in city house . . . . . .130

Colonial chairs and sofa (belonging to Mrs. Ruth McEnery

Stuart) . . * . 160

Colonial mantel and English hob-grate (sitting-room in

Mrs. Candace Wheeler's house) .... 168

Sofa designed by Mrs. Candace Wheeler, for N. Y. Library

in "Woman's Building," Columbian Exposition . 176

Rustic sofa and tables in "Penny-royal" (Mrs. Boudinot

Keith's cottage, Onteora) 188

Dining-room in "Star Rock" (country house of W. E,

Connor, Esq., Onteora) 198



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (Continued)

FACING PAGE

Dining-room in New York house showing leaded-glass

windows . . . . . . . .212

Dining-room in New York home showing carved wains-
coting and painted frieze . . . . .216

Screen and glass windows in house at Lakewood

(belonging to Clarence Root, Esq.) . . . 222



Principles of Home Decoration



Principles of Home Decoration



CHAPTER I

DECORATION AS AN ART

"Who creates a Home, creates a potent spirit which in turn
doth fashion him that fashioned. ^^

pROBABLY no art has so few
■^ masters as that of decoration. In
England, Morris was for many years the
great leader, but among his followers
in England no one has attained the
dignity of unquestioned authority; and
in America, in spite of far more general
practice of the art, we still are without a
leader whose very name establishes law.
It is true we are free to draw inspi-
ration from the same sources which
supplied Morris and the men associated
with him in his enthusiasms, and in fact
we do lean, as they did, upon English
eighteenth - century domestic art — and
derive from the men who made that
period famous many of our articles of



4. PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

faith ; but there are almost no authorita-
tive books upon the subject of appro-
priate modern decoration. Our text
books are still to be written ; and one
must glean knowledge from many
sources, shape it into rules, and test
the rules, before adopting them as safe
guides.

Yet in spite of the absence of authori-
tative teaching, we have learned that an
art dependent upon other arts, as deco-
ration is upon building and architecture,
is bound to follow the principles which
govern them. We must base our work
upon what has already been done, select
our decorative forms from appropriate
periods, conform our use of colour to
the principles of colour, and be able
to choose and apply all manufactures in
accordance with the great law of appro-
priateness. If we do this, we stand upon
something capable of evolution and the
creation of a system.

In so far as the principles of decoration
are derived from other arts, they can be



DECORATION AS AN ART 5

acquired by every one, but an exquisite
feeling in their application is the distin-
guishing quality of the true decorator.

There is quite a general impression
that house-decoration is not an art which
requires a long course of study and
training, but some kind of natural knack
of arrangement — a faculty of making
things '* look pretty," and that any one
who has this faculty is amply qualified
for ** taking up house -decoration."
Indeed, natural facility succeeds in satis-
fying many personal cravings for beauty,
although it is not competent for general
practice.

Of course there are people, and many
of them, who are gifted with an inherent
sense of balance and arrangement, and
a true eye for colour, and — given the
same materials — such people will make
a room pleasant and cozy, where one
without these gifts would make it posi-
tively ugly. In so far, then, individual
gifts are a great advantage, yet one pos-
sessing them in even an unusual degree



6 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

may make great mistakes in decoration.
What not to do, in this day of almost
universal experiment, is perhaps the most
valuable lesson to the untrained deco-
rator. Many of the rocks upon which
he splits are down in no chart, and lie in
the track of what seems to him perfectly
plain sailing.

There are houses of fine and noble
exterior which are vulgarized by unedu-
cated experiments in colour and orna-
ment, and belittled by being filled with
heterogeneous collections of unimpor-
tant art. Yet these very instances serve
to emphasize the demand for beautiful
surroundings, and in spite of mistakes
and incongruities, must be reckoned as
efforts toward a desirable end.

In spite of a prevalent want of train-
ing, it is astonishing how much we have
of good interior decoration, not only in
houses of great importance, but in those
of people of average fortunes — indeed,
it is in the latter that we get the general
value of the art.



DECORATION IN AMERICAN HOMES 7

This comparative excellence is to be
referred to the very general acquirement
of what we call ''art cultivation " among
American women, and this, in conjunc-
tion with a knowledge that her social
world will be apt to judge of her
capacity by her success or want of suc-
cess in making her own surroundings
beautiful, determines the efforts of the
individual woman. She feels that she is
expected to prove her superiority by
living in a home distinguished for beauty
as well as for the usual orderliness and
refinement. Of course this sense of ob-
ligation is a powerful spur tothe exercise
of natural gifts, and if in addition to
these she has the habit of reasoiling
upon the principles of things, and is
sufficiently cultivated in the literature of
art to avoid unwarrantable experiment,
there is no reason why she should not
be successful in her own surroundings.

The typical American, whether man
or woman, has great natural facility, and
when the fact is once recognized that



8 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

beauty — like education — can dignify any
circumstances, from the narrowest to the
most opulent, it becomes one of the
objects of life to secure it. How this
is done depends upon the talent and
cultivation of the family, and this is
often adequate for excellent results.

It is quite possible that so much
general ability may discourage the study
of decoration as a precise form of art,
since it encourages the idea that The
House Beautiful can be secured by any
one who has money to pay for pro-
cesses, and possesses what is simply
designated as '' good taste."

We do not find this impulse toward
the creation of beautiful interiors as
noticeable in other countries as in
America. The instinct of self-expres-
sion is much stronger in us than in
other races, and for that reason we can-
not be contented with the utterances of
any generation, race or country save our
own. We gather to ourselves what we
personally enjoy or wish to enjoy, and



DECORATION IN AMERICAN HOMES 9

will not take our domestic environment
at second hand. It follows that there is
a certain difference and originality in
our methods, which bids fair to acquire
distinct character, and may in the
future distinguish this art-loving period
as a maker of style.

A successful foreign painter who has
visited this country at intervals during
the last ten years said, '' There is no such
uniformity of beautiful interiors any-
where else in the world. There are
palaces in France and Italy, and great
country houses in England, to the em-
bellishment of which generations of
owners have devoted the best art of their
own time ; but in America there is some-
thing of it everywhere. Many unpre-
tentious houses have drawing-rooms
possessing colour - decoration which
would distinguish them as examples in
England or France."

To Americans this does not seem a
remarkable fact. We have come into a
period which desires beauty, and each



lo PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

one secures it as best he can. We are a
teachable and a studious people, with a
faculty of turning " general information "
to account ; and general information
upon art matters has had much to do
with our good interiors.

We have, perhaps half unconsciously,
applied fundamental principles to our
decoration, and this may be as much
owing to natural good sense as to culti-
vation. We have a habit of reasoning
about things, and acting upon our con-
clusions, instead of allowing the rest of
the world to do the reasoning while we
adopt the result. It is owing to this
conjunction of love for and cultivation
of art, and the habit of materializing
what we wish, that we have so many
thoroughly successful interiors, which
have been accomplished almost without
aid from professional artists. It is these,
instead of the smaller number of costly
interiors, which give the reputation of
artistic merit to our homes.

Undoubtedly the largest proportion



WOMAN'S INFLUENCE IN DECORATION ii

of successful as well as unsuccessful
domestic art in our country is due to the
efforts of women. In the great race for
wealth which characterizes our time, it is
demanded that women shall make it
effective by so using it as to distinguish
the family ; and nothing distinguishes it
so much as the superiority of the home.
This effort adheres to small as well as
large fortunes, and in fact the necessity
is more pronounced in the case of medi-
ocre than of great ones. In the former
there is something to be made up — some
protest of worth and ability and intelli-
gence that helps many a home to become
beautiful.

As I have said, a woman feels that
the test of her capacity is that her house
shall not only be comfortable and at-
tractive, but that it shall be arranged
according to the laws of harmony and
beauty. It is as much the demand of
the hour as that she shall be able to train
her children according to the latest and
most enlightened theories, or that she



12 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

shall take part in public and philan-
thropic movements, or understand and
have an opinion on political methods.
These are things which are expected
of every woman who* makes a part of
society; and no less is it expected that
her house shall be an appropriate and
beautiful setting for her personality, a
credit to her husband, and an uncon-
scious education for her children.

But it happens that means of educa-
tion in all of these directions, except
that of decoration, are easily available.
A woman can become a member of a
kindergarten association, and get from
books and study the result of scientific
knowledge of child-life and training.
She can find means to study the ethics of
her relations to her kind and become an
effective philanthropist, or join the league
for political education and acquire a
more or less enlightened understanding of
politics; but who is to formulate for her
the science of beauty, to teach her how
to make the interior aspect of her home



WOMAN'S INFLUENCE IN DECORATION 13

perfect in its adaptation to her circum-
stances, and as harmonious in colour and
arrangement as a song without words?
She feels that these conditions create a
mental atmosphere serene and yet in-
spiring, and that such surroundings are
as much her birthright and that of her
children as food and clothing of a grade
belonging to their circumstances, but
how is it to be compassed ?

Most women ask themselves this
question, and fail to understand that it
is as much of a marvel when a woman
without training or experience creates
a good interior as a whole, as if an
amateur in music should compose an
opera. It is not at all impossible for a
woman of good taste — and it must be
remembered that this word means an
educated or cultivated power of selec-
tion — to secure harmonious or happily
contrasted colour in a room, and to select
beautiful things in the way of furniture
and belongings ; but what is to save her
from the thousand and one mistakes



14 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

possible to inexperience in this com-
bination of things which make lasting
enjoyment and appropriate perfection
in a house ? How can she know which
rooms will be benefited by sombre or
sunny tints, and which exposure will
give full sway to her favourite colour
or colours? How can she have learned
the reliability or want of reliability in
certain materials or processes used in
decoration, or the rules of treatment
which will modify a low and dark room
and make it seem light and airy, or
" bring down " too high a ceiling and
widen narrow walls so as to apparently
correct disproportion ? These things are
the results of laws which she has never
studied — laws of compensation and re-
lation, which belong exclusively to the
world of colour, and unfortunately they
are not so well formulated that they can be
committed to memory like rules of gram-
mar; yet all good colour-practice rests
upon them as unquestionably as language
rests upon grammatical construction.



WOMAN'S INFLUENCE IN DECORATION 15

Of course one may use colour as
one can speak a language, purely by
imitation and memory, but it is not
absolutely reliable practice; and just
here comes in the necessity for pro-
fessional advice.

There are many difficulties in the
accomplishment of a perfect house-
interior which few householders have
had the time or experience to cope with,
and yet the fact remains that each mis-
tress of a house believes that unless she
vanquishes all difficulties and comes out
triumphantly with colours flying at the
housetop and enjoyment and admiration
following her efforts, she has failed in
something which she should have been
perfectly able to accomplish. But the
obligation is certainly a forced one. It
is the result of the modern awakening
to the effect of many heretofore un-
recognized influences in our lives and
the lives and characters of our children.
A beautiful home is undoubtedly a great
means of education, and of that best



i6 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

of all education which is unconscious.
To grow up in such a one means a
much more complete and perfect man
or woman than would be possible with-
out that particular influence.

But a perfect home is never created
all at once and by one person, and let
the anxious house-mistress take comfort
in the thought. She should also remem-
ber that it is in the nature of beauty
to grow, and that a well-rounded and
beautiful family life adds its quota day
by day. Every book, every sketch
or .picture — every carefully selected or
characteristic object brought into the
home adds to and makes a part of
a beautiful whole, and no house can
be absolutely perfect without all these
evidences of family life.

It can be made ready for them, com-
pletely and perfectly ready, by professional
skill and knowledge ; but if it remained
just where the interior artist or decorator
left it, it would have no more of the
sentiment of domesticity than a statue.



CHAPTER II

CHARACTER IN HOUSES

" For the created still doth shadow forth the mind and ivill luhich
made it."

" Thou art the very mould of thy creator."

TT NEEDS the combined personality
^ of the family to make the character
of the house. No one could say of a
house which has family character, ** It

is one of 's houses" (naming one

or another successful decorator), because
the decorator would have done only
what it was his business to do — used
technical and artistic knowledge in
preparing a proper and correct back-
ground for family life. Even in doing
that, he must consult family tastes
and idiosyncracies if he has the rever-
ence for individuality which belongs
to the true artist.

A domestic interior is a thing to
which he should give knowledge and
not personality, and the puzzled home-

17



i8 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

maker, who understands that her world
expects correct use of means of beauty,
as well as character and originality in
her home, need not feel that to secure
the one she must sacrifice the other.

An inexperienced person might think
it an easy thing to make a beautiful
home, because the world is full of
beautiful art and manufactures, and if
there is money to pay for them it
would seem as easy to furnish a house
with everything beautiful as to go out
in the garden and gather beautiful
flowers ; but we must remember that
the world is also full of ugly things —
things false in art, in truth and in
beauty — things made to sell — made with
only this idea behind them, manu-
factured on the principle that an arti-
ficial fly is made to look something
like a true one in order to catch the
inexpert and the unwary. It is a curious
fact that these false things — manufac-
tures without honesty, without knowl-
edge, without art — have a property of



CHARACTER IN HOUSES 19

demoralizing the spirit of the home,
and that to make it truly beautiful
everything in it must be genuine as
well as appropriate, and must also fit
into some previously considered scheme
of use and beauty.

The esthetic or beautiful aspect of
the home, in short, must be created
through the mind of the family or
owner, and is only maintained by its
or his susceptibility to true beauty and
appreciation of it. It must, in fact,
be a visible mould of invisible matter,
like the leaf-mould one finds in mineral
springs, which show the wonderful
veining, branching, construction and
delicacy of outline in a way which one
could hardly be conscious of in the
actual leaf.

If the grade or dignity of the home
requires professional and scholarly art
direction, the problem is how to use
this professional or artistic advice with-
out delivering over the entire creation
into stranger or alien hands; without



20 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

abdicating the right and privilege of
personal expression. If the decorator
appreciates this right, his function will
be somewhat akin to that of the
portrait painter; both are bound to
represent the individual or family in
their performances, each artist using
the truest and best methods of art
with the added gift of grace or charm
of colour which he possesses, the one
giving the physical aspect of his client
and the other the mental characteristics,
circumstances, position and life of the
house-owner and his family. This is
the true mission of the decorator,
although it is not always so under-
stood. What is called business talent
may lead him to invent schemes of
costliness which relate far more to
his own profit than to the wishes or
character of the house-owner.

But it is not always that the assist-
ance of the specialist in decoration
and furnishing is necessary. There are
many homes where both are quite



CHARACTER IN HOUSES 21

within the scope of the ordinary man
or woman of taste. In fact, the great
majority of homes come within these
lines, and it is to such home-builders
that rules, not involving styles, are
especially of use.

The principles of truth and har-
mony, which underlie all beauty,
may be secured in the most inex-
pensive cottage as well as in the
broadest and most imposing residence.
Indeed, the cottage has the advantage
of that most potent ally of beauty —
simplicity — a quality which is apt to
be conspicuously absent from the
schemes of decoration for the palace.



y



CHAPTER III

BUILDERS' HOUSES
^^ Mine otun hired house.'*

\ LARGE proportion of homes are
^ ^ made in houses which are not
owned, but leased, and this prevents
each man or family from indicating
personal taste in external aspect. A
rich man and house-owner may approxi-
mate to a true expression of himself
even in the outside of his house if
he strongly desires it, but a man of
moderate means must adapt himself
and his family to the house-builder's
idea of houses — that is to say, to the
idea of the man who has made house-
building a trade, and whose experiences
have created a form into which houses
of moderate cost and fairly universal
application may be cast.

Although it is as natural to a man
to build or acquire a home as to a



BUILDERS' HOUSES 23

bird to build a nest, he has not the
same unfettered freedom in construc-
tion. He cannot always adapt his
house either to the physical or mental
size of his family, but must accept
what is possible with much the same
feeling with which a family of robins
might accommodate themselves to a
wren's nest, or an oriole to that of
a barn-swallow. But the fact remains,
that all these accidental homes must,
in some way, be brought into har-
mony with the lives to be lived in
them, and the habits and wants of
the family; and not only this, they
must be made attractive according to
the requirements of cultivated society.
The effort toward this is instructive,
and the pleasure in and enjoyment of
the home depends upon the success
of the effort. The inmates, as a rule,
are quite clear as to what they want
to accomplish, but have seldom had
sufficient experience to enable them
to remedy defects of construction.



24 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

There are expedients by which
many of the malformations and ugli-
nesses of the ordinary " builder's
house*' may be greatly ameliorated,
various small surgical operations which
will remedy badly planned rooms,
and dispositions of furniture which will


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryCandace WheelerPrinciples of home decoration, with practical examples → online text (page 1 of 9)