University of California Berkeley
Copyright, 1897, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
"Une forme doit etre belle en elle-meme et on
ne doitjamais compter sur le decor applique pour
en sauver les imperfections."
HENRI MAYEUX : La Composition Decorative.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I THE HISTORICAL TRADITION i
II ROOMS IN GENERAL 17
III WALLS 31
IV DOORS 48
V WINDOWS 64
VI FIREPLACES . 74
VII CEILINGS AND FLOORS ....... 89
VIII ENTRANCE AND VESTIBULE . . ... . .103
IX HALL AND STAIRS 106
X THE DRAWING-ROOM, BOUDOIR, AND MORNING-ROOM . .122
XI GALA ROOMS: BALL-ROOM, SALOON, MUSIC-ROOM, GALLERY 134
XII THE LIBRARY, SMOKING-ROOM, AND "DEN". . . 145
XIII THE DINING-ROOM 155
XIV BEDROOMS , 162
viii Table of Contents
XV THE SCHOOL-ROOM AND NURSERIES 173
XVI BRIC-A-BRAC 184
LIST OF PLATES
I ITALIAN GOTHIC CHEST i
II FRENCH ARM-CHAIRS, XV AND XVI CENTURIES . . 6
III FRENCH Armoire, XVI CENTURY 10
IV FRENCH SOFA AND ARM-CHAIR, Louis XIV PERIOD . 12
V ROOM IN THE GRAND TRIANON, VERSAILLES . . .14
VI FRENCH ARM-CHAIR, Louis XV PERIOD . . . 16
VII FRENCH Bergtre, Louis XVI PERIOD . . . .20
VIII FRENCH Bergtre, Louis XVI PERIOD .... 24
IX FRENCH SOFA, Louis XV PERIOD 28
X FRENCH MARQUETRY TABLE, Louis XVI PERIOD . . 30
XI DRAWING-ROOM, HOUSE IN BERKELEY SQUARE, LONDON . 34
XII ROOM IN THE VILLA VERTEMATI .... 38
XIII DRAWING-ROOM AT EASTON NESTON HALL . . .42
XIV DOORWAY, DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA .... 48
XV SALA DEI CAVALLI, PALAZZO DEL T . . . -54
x List of Plates
XVI DOOR IN THE SALA DELLO ZODIACO, DUCAL PALACE,
XVII EXAMPLES OF MODERN FRENCH LOCKSMITHS' WORK . 60
XVI II CARVED DOOR, PALACE OF VERSAILLES . . . .62
XIX SALON DES MALACHITES, GRAND TRIANON, VERSAILLES 68
XX MANTELPIECE, DUCAL PALACE, URBINO . . -74
XXI MANTELPIECE, VILLA GIACOMELLI .... 78
XXII FRENCH FIRE-SCREEN, Louis XIV PERIOD . . 86
XXIII CARVED WOODEN CEILING, VILLA VERTEMATI . 90
XXIV CEILING IN PALAIS DE JUSTICE, RENNES . . .92
XXV CEILING OF THE SALA DEGLI SPOSI, DUCAL PALACE,
MANTUA . .96
XXVI CEILING IN THE STYLE OF BERAIN . . . . 100
XXVII CEILING IN THE CHATEAU OF CHANTILLY . . .102
XXVIII ANTECHAMBER, VILLA CAMBIASO, GENOA . . 104
XXIX ANTECHAMBER, DURAZZO PALACE, GENOA . . 106
XXX STAIRCASE, PARODI PALACE, GENOA . . .108
XXXI STAIRCASE, HOTEL DE VILLE, NANCY . . .112
XXXII STAIRCASE, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU . . .116
XXXIII FRENCH Armoire, Louis XIV PERIOD . . .120
XXXIV SALA DELLA MADDALENA, ROYAL PALACE, GENOA . 122
XXXV CONSOLE IN PETIT TRIANON, VERSAILLES . . 124
List of Plates xi
XXXVI SALON, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU . . .126
XXXVII ROOM IN THE PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU . .128
XXXVIII Lit de Repos, EARLY Louis XV PERIOD . . 130
XXXIX Lit de Repos, Louis XV PERIOD . . . .130
XL PAINTED WALL-PANEL AND DOOR, CHANTILLY . 132
XLI FRENCH BOUDOIR, Louis XVI PERIOD . . .132
XLII Salon a I'italienne 136
XLIII BALL-ROOM, ROYAL PALACE, GENOA . . .138
XLIV SALOON, VILLA VERTEMATI 140
XLV SALA DELLO ZODIACO, DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA . 140
XLVI FRENCH TABLE, TRANSITION BETWEEN Louis XIV AND
Louis XV PERIODS 142
XLVII LIBRARY OF Louis XVI, PALACE OF VERSAILLES . 144
XLVIII SMALL LIBRARY, AUDLEY END 146
XL1X FRENCH WRITING-CHAIR, Louis XV PERIOD . . 150
L DINING-ROOM, PALACE OF COMPIEGNE . . .154
LI DINING-ROOM FOUNTAIN, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU 156
LII FRENCH DINING-CHAIR, Louis XIV PERIOD . .158
LIII FRENCH DINING-CHAIR, Louis XVI PERIOD . .158
LIV BEDROOM, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU . . .162
LV BATH-ROOM, PITTI PALACE, FLORENCE . . .168
LVI BRONZE ANDIRON, XVI CENTURY . . . .184
ANDROUET DU CERCEAU, JACQUES.
Les Plus Excellents Batiments de France. Paris, 1607.
LE MUET, PIERRE.
Maniere de Bien Batir pour toutes sortes de Personnes.
OPPENORD, GILLES MARIE.
MARIETTE, PIERRE JEAN.
L' Architecture Francoise. 7727.
BRISEUX, CHARLES ETIENNE.
L'Art de Batir les Maisons de Campagne. Paris, 1743.
LALONDE, FRANCOIS RICHARD DE.
Recueil de ses CEuvres.
AVILER, C. A. D'.
Cours d' Architecture. 7760.
BLONDEL, JACQUES FRANCOIS.
Architecture Franchise. Paris, 1752.
Cours d' Architecture. Paris, 1771-77.
De la Distribution des Maisons de Plaisance et de la Decoration
des Edifices. Paris, 7757.
Books Consulted xiii
ROUBO, A. J., FILS.
L'Art du Menuisier.
HERE DE CORNY, EMMANUEL.
Recueil des Plans, Elevations et Coupes des Chateaux, Jardins
et Dependances que le Roi de Pologne occupe en Lorraine.
Paris, n. d.
PERCIER ET FONTAINE.
Choix des plus Celebres Maisons de Plaisance de Rome et
de ses Environs. Paris, 1809.
Palais, Maisons, et autres Edifices Modernes dessines a Rome.
Residences des Souverains. Paris, 1833.
KRAFFT ET RANSONNETTE.
Plans, Coupes, et Elevations des plus belles Maisons et Hotels
construits a Paris et dans les Environs. Paris, 1801.
DURAND, JEAN NICOLAS Louis.
Recueil et Parallele des Edifices de tout Genre. Paris, 1800.
Precis des Leons d'Architecture donnees a 1'Ecole Royale
Polytechnique. Paris, 1823.
QUATREMERE DE QUINCY, A. C.
Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages des plus Celebres Archi-
tectes du Xle siecle jusqu'a la fin du XVIII siecle. Paris,
PELLASSY DE L'OUSLE.
Histoire du Palais de Compiegne. Paris, n. d.
LETAROUILLY, PAUL MARIE.
Edifices de Rome Moderne. Paris, 1825-57.
xiv Books Consulted
Histoire Generate de 1'Architecture. Paris, 1862.
Meubles Religieux et Civils Conserves dans les principaux
Monuments et Musees de 1'Europe.
VlOLLET LE DUG, EUGENE EMMANUEL.
Dictionnaire Raisonne de 1'Architecture Francaise du XI e au
XVI e siecle. Paris, 1868.
Palais, Chateaux, Hotels et Maisons de France du XV e au
XVIII 6 siecle.
Motifs Historiques d'Architecture et de Sculpture d'Ornement.
ROUYER ET DARCEL.
L'Art Architectural en France depuis Francois I er jusqu'a
Dictionnaire de rAmeublement et de la Decoration depuis le
XIII 6 siecle jusqu'a nos Jours. Paris, n. d.
Les Arts de 1'Ameublement.
Les Maitres Ornemanistes. Paris, 1880.
Dictionnaire des Architectes Francais. Paris, 1887.
Les Styles. Paris, n. d.
BlBLIOTHEQUE DE L'ENSEIGNEMENT DES BEAUX ARTS.
Maison Quantin, Paris.
Books Consulted xv
A Complete Body of Architecture. London, 1756.
Plans, Elevations and Sections of Holkham in Norfolk, the
Seat of the late Earl of Leicester. London, 1761.
Vitruvius Britannicus; or, The British Architect. London,
ADAM, ROBERT AND JAMES.
The Works in Architecture. London, 1773-1822.
The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide.
The Cabinet-Maker's Dictionary. London,
The British Palladio; or The Builder's General Assistant. Lon
SOANE, SIR JOHN.
Sketches in Architecture. London, 1793.
HAKEWILL, ARTHUR WILLIAM.
General Plan and External Details, with Picturesque Illustra
tions, of Thorpe Hall, Peterborough.
Original Designs in Architecture.
xvi Books Consulted
, WILLIAM HENRY.
History of the Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St. James's
Palace, Carlton House, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court,
Buckingham Palace, and Frogmore. London, 1819.
Encyclopedia of Architecture. New edition. Longman's,
History of Architecture. London, 1874.
History of the Modern Styles of Architecture. Third edition,
revised by Robert Kern London, 1891.
GOTCH, JOHN ALFRED.
Architecture of the Renaissance in England.
HEATON, JOHN ALDAM.
Furniture and Decoration in England in the Eighteenth
Handbook of Architectural Styles. New York, 1876.
HORNE, H. P.
The Binding of Books. London, 1894.
LOFTIE, W. J.
Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. London, 1893.
The English Gentleman's House. London, 1865.
STEVENSON, J. J.
House Architecture. London, 1880.
Books Consulted xvii
GERMAN AND ITALIAN
Architektur der Renaissance in Italien. Stuttgart, 1891.
Palast Architektur von Ober Italien und Toskana.
Geschichte des Barockstiles in Italien. Stuttgart, 1887.
Die Spat-Renaissance. Berlin, 1886.
LA VILLA BORGHESE, FUORI DI PORTA PINCIANA, CON L'ORNAMENTI
CHE SI OSSERVANO NEL DI LEI PALAZZO. Roma, IJOQ.
INTRA, G. B.
Mantova nei suoi Monumenti.
Luzio E RENIER.
Mantova e Urbino. Torino-Roma, 1893.
La Storia di Venezia nella Vita Privata. Torino, 1885.
II Settecento a Venezia. Milano, 1895.
LA VITA ITALIANA NEL SEICENTO. CONFERENZE TENUTE A FIRENZE
ROOMS may be decorated in two ways : by a superficial ap-
plication of ornament totally independent of structure, or by
means of those architectural features which are part of the organ-
ism of every house, inside as well as out.
In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the
conditions of life, and men camped in their castles much as they
did in their tents, it was natural that decorations should be porta-
ble, and that the naked walls of the mediaeval chamber should be
hung with arras, while a del, or ceiling, of cloth stretched across
the open timbers of its roof.
When life became more secure, and when the Italian conquests
of the Valois had acquainted men north of the Alps with the spirit
of classic tradition, proportion and the relation of voids to masses
gradually came to be regarded as the chief decorative values of the
interior. Portable hangings were in consequence replaced by
architectural ornament: in other words, the architecture of the
room became its decoration.
This architectural treatment held its own through every change
of taste until the second quarter of the present century ; but since
then various influences have combined to sever the natural con-
nection between the outside of the modern house and its interior.
In the average house the architect's task seems virtually confined
to the elevations and floor-plan. The designing of what are to-
day regarded as insignificant details, such as mouldings, archi-
traves, and cornices, has become a perfunctory work, hurried
over and unregarded; and when this work is done, the uphol-
sterer is called in to " decorate " and furnish the rooms.
As the result of this division of labor, house-decoration has
ceased to be a branch of architecture. The upholsterer cannot be
expected to have the preliminary training necessary for architec-
tural work, and it is inevitable that in his hands form should be
sacrificed to color and composition to detail. In his ignorance
of the legitimate means of producing certain effects, he is driven to
all manner of expedients, the result of which is a piling up of
*v- . y
heterogeneous ornament, a multiplication of incongruous effects;
and lacking, as he does, a definite first conception, his work be-
comes so involved that it seems impossible for him to make an end.
The confusion resulting from these unscientific methods has
reflected itself in the lay mind, and house-decoration has come to
be regarded as a black art by those who have seen their rooms
subjected to the manipulations of the modern upholsterer. Now,
in the hands of decorators who understand the fundamental prin-
ciples of their art, the surest effects are produced, not at the ex-
pense of simplicity and common sense, but by observing the re-
quirements of both. These requirements are identical with those
regulating domestic architecture, the chief end in both cases being
the suitable accommodation of the inmates of the housej
The fact that this end has in a measure been lost sight of is per-
haps sufficient warrant for the publication of this elementary
sketch. No study of house-decoration as a branch of architecture
has for at least fifty years been published in England or America ;
and though France is always producing admirable monographs
on isolated branches of this subject, there is no modern French
work corresponding with such comprehensive manuals as d'Avi-
ler's Cours d' Architecture or Isaac Ware's Complete Body of
The attempt to remedy this deficiency in some slight degree
has made it necessary to dwell at length upon the strictly archi-
tectural principles which controlled the work of the old decorators.
The effects that they aimed at having been based mainly on the
due adjustment of parts, it has been impossible to explain their
methods without assuming their standpoint that of architectural
proportion in contradistinction to the modern view of house-
decoration as superficial application of ornament. When house-
decoration was a part of architecture all its values were founded
on structural modifications; consequently it may seem that ideas
to be derived from a study of such methods suggest changes too
radical for those who are not building, but are merely decorating.
Such changes, in fact, lie rather in the direction of alteration than
of adornment; but it must be remembered that the results attained
will be of greater decorative value than were an equal expenditure
devoted to surface-ornament. Moreover, the great decorators, if
scrupulous in the observance of architectural principles, were ever
governed, in the use of ornamental detail, by the *w<ppo<r<;vT), the
"wise moderation," of the Greeks; and the rooms of the past
were both simpler in treatment and freer from mere embellish-
ments than those of to-day.
Besides, if it be granted for the sake of argument that a reform
in house-decoration, if not necessary, is at least desirable, it must
be admitted that such reform can originate only with those whose
means permit of any experiments which their taste may suggest.
When the rich man demands good architecture his neighbors will
get it too. The vulgarity of current decoration has its source in
the indifference of the wealthy to architectural fitness. Every good
moulding, every carefully studied detail, exacted by those who can
afford to indulge their taste, will in time find its way to the car-
penter-built cottage. Once the right precedent is established, it
costs less to follow than to oppose it.
In conclusion, it may be well to explain the seeming lack of ac-
cord between the arguments used in this book and the illustrations
chosen to interpret them. While much is said of simplicity, the
illustrations used are chiefly taken from houses of some impor-
tance. This has been done in order that only such apartments as
are accessible to the traveller might be given as examples. Un-
professional readers will probably be more interested in studying
rooms that they have seen, or at least heard of, than those in
the ordinary private dwelling; and the arguments advanced are
indirectly sustained by the most ornate rooms here shown, since
their effect is based on such harmony of line that their superficial
ornament might be removed without loss to the composition.
Moreover, as some of the illustrations prove, the most magnifi-
cent palaces of Europe contain rooms as simple as those in any
private house; and to point out that simplicity is at home even
in palaces is perhaps not the least service that may be rendered
to the modern decorator.
THE HISTORICAL TRADITION
THE last ten years have been marked by a notable develop-
ment in architecture and decoration, and while France will
long retain her present superiority in these arts, our own advance
is perhaps more significant than that of any other country.
When we measure the work recently done in the United States
by the accepted architectural standards of ten years ago, the
change is certainly striking, especially in view of the fact that
our local architects and decorators are without the countless ad-
vantages in the way of schools, museums and libraries which are
at the command of their European colleagues. In Paris, for in-
stance, it is impossible to take even a short walk without finding
inspiration in those admirable buildings, public and private, re-
ligious and secular, that bear the stamp of the most refined
taste the world has known since the decline of the arts in Italy;
and probably all American architects will acknowledge that no
amount of travel abroad and study at home can compensate for
the lack of daily familiarity with such monuments.
It is therefore all the more encouraging to note the steady ad-
vance in taste and knowledge to which the most recent ar-
chitecture in America bears witness. This advance is chiefly
due to the fact that American architects are beginning to per-
2 The Decoration of Houses
ceive two things that their French colleagues, among all the
modern vagaries of taste, have never quite lost sight of: first
that architecture and decoration, having wandered since 1800 in
a labyrinth of dubious eclecticism, can be set right only by a
close study of the best models; and secondly that, given the re-
quirements of modern life, these models are chiefly to be found
in buildings erected in Italy after the beginning of the sixteenth
century, and in other European countries after the full assimila-
tion of the Italian influence.
As the latter of these propositions may perhaps be questioned by
those who, in admiring the earlier styles, sometimes lose sight of
their relative unfitness for modern use, it must be understood at
the outset that it implies no disregard for the inherent beauties
of these styles. It would be difficult, assuredly, to find buildings
better suited to their original purpose than some of the great feudal
castles, such as Warwick in England, or Langeais in France; and
as much might be said of the grim machicolated palaces of re-
publican Florence or Siena; but our whole mode of life has so
entirely changed since the days in which these buildings were
erected that they no longer answer to our needs. It is only ne-
cessary to picture the lives led in those days to see how far re-
moved from them our present social conditions are. Inside and
outside the house, all told of the unsettled condition of country
or town, the danger of armed attack, the clumsy means of
defence, the insecurity of property, the few opportunities of
social intercourse as we understand it. A man's house was
in very truth his castle in the middle ages, and in France and
England especially it remained so until the end of the sixteenth
Thus it was that many needs arose: the tall keep of masonry
The Historical Tradition 3
where the inmates, pent up against attack, awaited the signal
of the watchman who, from his platform or echauguette, gave
warning of assault; the ponderous doors, oak-ribbed and metal-
studded, with doorways often narrowed to prevent entrance of
two abreast, and so low that the incomer had to bend his head;
the windows that were mere openings or slits, narrow and high,
far out of the assailants' reach, and piercing the walls without
regard to symmetry not, as Ruskin would have us believe, be-
cause irregularity was thought artistic, but because the mediaeval
architect, trained to the uses of necessity, knew that he must de-
sign openings that should afford no passage to the besiegers'
arrows, no clue to what was going on inside the keep. But
to the reader familiar with Viollet-le-Duc, or with any of the
many excellent works on English domestic architecture, further
details will seem superfluous. It is necessary, however, to point
out that long after the conditions of life in Europe had changed,
houses retained many features of the feudal period. The survival
of obsolete customs which makes the study of sociology so in-
teresting, has its parallel in the history of architecture. In the
feudal countries especially, where the conflict between the great
nobles and the king was of such long duration that civilization
spread very slowly, architecture was proportionately slow to give
up many of its feudal characteristics. In Italy, on the contrary,
where one city after another succumbed to some accomplished
condottiere who between his campaigns read Virgil and collected
antique marbles, the rugged little republics were soon converted
into brilliant courts where, life being relatively secure, social
intercourse rapidly developed. This change of conditions brought
with it the paved street and square, the large-windowed palaces
with their great court-yards and stately open staircases, and the
4 The Decoration of Houses
market-place with its loggia adorned with statues and marble
Italy, in short, returned instinctively to the Roman ideal of civic
life: the life of the street, the forum and the baths. These very
conditions, though approaching so much nearer than feudalism
to our modern civilization, in some respects make the Italian
architecture of the Renaissance less serviceable as a model than
the French and English styles later developed from it. The
very dangers and barbarities of feudalism had fostered and pre-
served the idea of home as of something private, shut off from
intrusion; and while the Roman ideal flowered in the great palace
with its galleries, loggias and saloons, itself a kind of roofed-in
forum, the French or English feudal keep became, by the same
process of growth, the modern private house. The domestic
architecture of the Renaissance in Italy offers but two distinctively
characteristic styles of building: the palace and the villa or hunt-
ing-lodge. 1 There is nothing corresponding in interior arrange-
ments with the French or English town "house, or the manoir
where the provincial nobles lived all the year round. The villa
was a mere perch used for a few weeks of gaiety in spring or au-
tumn ; it was never a home as the French or English country-house
was. There were, of course, private houses in Renaissance Italy,
but these were occupied rather by shopkeepers, craftsmen, and the
bourgeoisie than by the class which in France and England lived
1 Charming as the Italian villa is, it can hardly be used in our Northern States
without certain modifications, unless it is merely occupied for a few weeks in mid-
summer; whereas the average French or English country house built after 1600 is
perfectly suited to our climate and habits. The chief features of the Italian villa are
the open central cortile and the large saloon two stories high. An adaptation of
these better suited to a cold climate is to be found in the English country houses
built in the Palladian manner after its introduction by Inigo Jones. See Campbell's
Vitrumus Britannicus for numerous examples.
The Historical Tradition 5
in country houses or small private hdtels. The elevations of
these small Italian houses are often admirable examples of domes-
tic architecture, but their planning is rudimentary, and it may be
said that the characteristic tendencies of modern house-planning
were developed rather in the mezzanin or low-studded interme-
diate story of the Italian Renaissance palace than in the small
house of the same period.
It is a fact recognized by political economists that changes in
manners and customs, no matter under what form of government,
usually originate with the wealthy or aristocratic minority, and
are thence transmitted to the other classes. Thus the bourgeois
of one generation lives more like the aristocrat of a previous
generation than like his own predecessors. This rule naturally
holds good of house-planning, and it is for this reason that the
origin of modern house-planning should be sought rather in the
prince's mezzanin than in the small middle-class dwelling. The
Italian mezzanin probably originated in the habit of building
certain very high-studded saloons and of lowering the ceiling
of the adjoining rooms. This created an intermediate story, or
rather scattered intermediate rooms, which Bramante was among
the first to use in the planning of his palaces; but Bramante did
not reveal the existence of the mezzanin in his facades, and it was
not until the time of Peruzzi and his contemporaries that it be-
came, both in plan and elevation, an accepted part of the Italian
palace. It is for this reason that the year 1500 is a convenient
point from which to date the beginning of modern house-plan-