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Candace Wheeler.

Principles of home decoration, with practical examples online

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the great mahogany doors were spots
of colour in prevailing spaces of
blankness. Now, however, any one
at all learned in art, or sensitive to
beauty, would pronounce it a beau-



220 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

tiful room. The way in which the
ceiling with its heavy centre-piece and
plaster cornice is treated is especial-
ly interesting. The whole of this
is covered with an ochre-coloured
bronze, while the walls and door-
casings are painted a dark indigo,
which includes a faint trace of green.
Over this wall-colour, and joining
the cornice, is carried a stencil de-
sign in two coloured bronzes which
seem to repeat the light and shadow
of the cornice mouldings, and this
apparently extends the cornice into a
frieze which ends faintly at a picture-
moulding some three feet below.
This treatment not only lowers the
ceiling, which is in construction too
high for the area of the room, but
blends it with the wall in a way
which imparts a certain richness of
effect to all the lower space.

The upper part of the windows,
to the level of the picture-moulding,



FURNITURE 221

is covered with green silk, overlaid
v^ith an applique of the same in a
design somewhat like the frieze, so
that it seems to carry the frieze across
the space of light in a green tracery
of shadow. The same green extends
from curtain-rods at the height of
the picture-moulding into long under-
curtains of silk, while the over-cur-
tains are of indigo coloured silk-can-
vas which matches the walls.

The portieres separating the din-
ing-room from the drawing-room are
of a wonderfully rich green brocade
— the colour of which answers to
the green of the silk under-cuftains
across the room, while the design
ranges itself indisputably with the
period of the plaster work. The
blue and green of the curtains and
portiere each seem to claim their own
in the mixed and softened background
of the wall. .

The colour of the room would



222 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

hardly be complete without the three
beautiful portraits which hang upon
the walls, and suggest their part of
the life and conversation of to-day
so that it stands on a proper plane
with the dignity of three generations.
The beautiful mahogany doors and
elaboration of cornice and central
ornament belong to them, but the
harmony and beauty of colour are
of our own time and tell of the gen-
eral knowledge and feeling for art
which belongs to it.

I have given the colour-treatment
only of this room, leaving out the
effect of carved teak-wood furniture
and subtleties of china and glass —
not alone as an instance of colour in
a sunny exposure, but as an example
of fitting new styles to old, of keep-
ing what is valuable and beautiful in
itself and making it a part of the
comparatively new art of decoration.

There is a dining-room in one of




GLASS BY DUNHAM WHEELER




SCREEN BY DORA WHEELER KEITH



SCREEN AND GLASS WINDOW IN HOUSE AT LAKEWOOD
(Belonging to Clarence Roof, Esq.)



FURNITURE 223

the many delightful houses in Lake-
wood, N. J., which owes its unique
charm to a combination of position,
light, colour, and perhaps more than
all, to the clever decoration of its
upper walls, which is a line and broad
composition of swans and many-col-
oured clusters of grapes and vine-
foliage placed above the softly
tinted copper-coloured wall. The
same design is carried in silvery and
gold-coloured leaded-glass across the
top of the wide west window, as
shown in illustration opposite page
222, and reappears with a shield-
shaped arrangement of wings in a
beautiful four-leaved screen.

The notable and enjoyable colour
of the room is seen from the very
entrance of the house, the broad
main hall making a carpeted highway
to the wide opening of the room,
where a sheaf of tinted sunset light
seems to spread itself like a many-



224 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

doubled fan against the shadows of
the hall.

All the ranges and intervals, the
lights, reflections, and darks possible
to that most beautiful of metals —
copper^ — seem to be gathered into
the frieze and screen, and melt softly
into the greens of the foliage, or tint
the plumage of the swans. It is an
instance of the kind of decoration
which is both classic and domestic,
and being warmed and vivified by
beautiful colour, appeals both to the
senses and the imagination.

It would be easy to multiply in-
stances of beautiful rooms, and each
one might be helpful for mere imita-
tion, but those I have given have
each one illustrated — more or less
distinctly — the principle of colour as
afi'ecting or being affected by light.

I have not thought it necessary to
give examples of rooms with eastern
or western exposures, because in such



FURNITURE 225

rooms one is free to consult one's
own personal preferences as to col-
our, being limited only by the gen-
eral rules which govern all colour
decoration.

I have not spoken of pictures or
paintings as accessories of interior
decoration, because while their influ-
ence upon the character and degree
of beauty in the house is greater than
all other things put together, their
selection and use are so purely per-
sonal as not to call for remark or
advice. Any one who loves pictures
well enough to buy them, can hardly
help placing them where they not
only are at their best, but where
they will also have the greatest in-
fluence.

A house where pictures predom-
inate will need little else that comes
under the head of decoration. It is
a pity that few houses have this ad-
vantage, but fortunately it is quite



226 PRINCIPLES OF HOME DECORATION

possible to give a picture quality to
every interior. This can often be
done by following the lead of some
accidental eiFect which is in itself
picturesque. The placing a jar of
pottery or metal near or against a
piece of drapery which repeats its
colour and heightens the lustre of its
substance is a small detail, but one
which gives pleasure out of all pro-
portion to its importance. The half
accidental draping of a curtain, the
bringing together of shapes and col-
ours in insignificant things, may give
a character which is lastingly pleasing
both to inmates and casual visitors.

Of course this is largely a matter
of personal gift. One person may
make a picturesque use of colour and
material, which in the hands of an-
other will be perhaps without fault,
but equally without charm. In-
stances of this kind come constantly
within our notice, although we are



FURNITURE 227

not always able to give the exact
reasons for success or failure. We
only know that we feel the charm of
one instance and are indifferent to,
or totally unimpressed by, the other.
It is by no means an unimportant
thing to create a beautiful and pict-
uresque interior. There is no influ-
ence so potent upon life as harmoni-
ous surroundings, and to create and
possess a home which is harmonious
in a simple and inexpensive way is the
privilege of all but the wretchedly
poor. In proportion also as these
surroundings become more perfect
in their art and meaning, there is a
corresponding elevation in the dweller
among them — since the best decora-
tion must include many spiritual les-
sons. It may indeed be used to
further vulgar ambitions, or pamper
bodily weaknesses, but truth and
beauty are its essentials, and these
will have their utterance.



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