Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay.

The Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.50-51 (July-Dec. 1917)) online

. (page 48 of 76)
Online LibraryThomas Babington Macaulay MacaulayThe Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.50-51 (July-Dec. 1917)) → online text (page 48 of 76)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ented practitioner of any profession is one of great difificulty ; but es-
pecially in the matter of decoration, this problem is treated in such a
light and unintelligent manner (or not treated as a problem at all) that
it is rarely and indeed largely by chance that a competent advisor is ever
procured. In addition to this, the profession of interior decoration is at
the present time surrounded by confusing conditions and has a greater
proportion of incompetent practitioners than are to be found in the other
professions, so that the problem of choice is rendered even more difficult.

It would seem, therefore, that to present some facts of the conditions
now existing in this profession and to differentiate clearly Ijetween "the
trade of decorating" and "the profession of decorating" should prove
more interesting and helpful than a further discussion of decorative the-
ories. Professional advice in decoration is as necessary as architectural
advice in building. This is not generally understood, nor was it gener-
ally understood thirty years ago, when constructors were building miles
of brownstone fronts, that an architect was necessary; but we have
progressed, and an architect's advice is now considered indispensable even
in the construction of manufacturing plants. In a few years the decora-
tor's advice will also be considered indispensable. The average interior
of today is almost as bad as the brownstone fronts of yesterday. That
these interiors are less monotonously un\'arying than the brownstone
blocks is almost their only point of superiority.

There are several causes for this lack of true beauty in our homes.
First, there has long been a general lack of interest in the subject of dec-
oration, and the resulting ignorance of its importance and its principles
is great. This condition, however, is being overcome by the publicity
given the subject of decoration in magazines, books, lectures and schools.
The awakening of public interest is so apparent that we need not dwell
further on this cause.

A second cause is the general idea that the services of a decorator are
not necessary. On that point one may well pause to think. Undeniably
the average person is not born an artist ; even the sense of beauty comes
with the training of the eye. Yet by study and e.xperience almost anyone
may learn the main esthetic principles underlying decoration and some-
thing of its history. It is a notable fact that highly educated and cultured
women with a natural fondness for art sometimes become excellent ama-
teur decorators. Their lives bring them in constant contact with beauti-
ful things ; they have traveled and spent much time on the continent or
in the east, studied the art treasures of Italy. I-'rance, and England. These
women have absorbed this art and have ai)plied their kn<iwledge to their
homes, experimenting, changing, and trying out until the result was most
delightful. Women who have liad these advantages and who have a keen
interest in the subject of decoration may, I believe, safely handle tiieir
own problems; but those who lack such training should, by all means,
retain a trained advisor; they will thus be saved many regrets.


The third and perhaps the greatest cause of the lack of beautiful in-
teriors in our modern homes lies in the unsatisfactory conditions exist-
ing in the profession of interior decoration itself. Four distinct sets of
people are professionally interested in this work of making homes.

There are the shops, wholesale or retail, which carry stocks of furni-
ture, fabrics, paintings, and other decorative and useful accessories for
the home. These shops are always ready to take entire charge of the
decoration of a house. They are. of course, in business to sell their mer-
chandise, as much of it as possible, more or less irrespective of its en-
vironment. They stand in the same relation to the professional decorator
that the drug store has to the physician, except that the law strictly lim-
its the professional advice which a pharmacist may give, while the shop-
keeping decorator is limited only by his client's bank account. Both
decorator and shopkeeper (like physician and pharmacist) are indispens-
able, and these shops import excellent examples of antique furniture, tap-
estries, other furnishings, and both decorator and client procure much
of decided value from them.

Another considerable group consists of decorators without ability and
usually without training, who may be successful or otherwise. This class
is comprised of amateurs, young "gentlemen" and young "ladies" who
"go in for decoration," and women of social position or high connections
who find it necessary to earn a living. A great proportion of the suc-
cessful decorators — financially — are just this type of people, who enter
the business from the top and not the bottom. If these decorators are
agreeable and have the ability to make friends, they are usually success-
ful from their own point of view. Tiiose who desire a lovely home, how-
ever, would do well to remember that the decorator's personality is of no
earthly use in the decoration of a house. One might as well select a bond
for investment because one took a fancy to its color. Decorators of this
class may be easily determined by a few careful inquiries as to the pro-
fessional training of the decorator in question.

To a third class belongs the decorator of taste and training. Able dec-
orators, like all those who seriously enter a ])rofession, have to devote
conscientious years of study, prefcraljly in a school of reputation, and
serve an apprenticeship under pro])erly trained practitioners. They should
have a clear understanding of architecture and a thorough knowledge of
the history of decoration and of the i)rinciples of esthetics, especially in
their relation to color. Tlicy must know the history of textiles and the
vahie and wearing (|ualities of modern fabrics and a tliousand and one
other matters. In siiort. it is necessary to liegin at the bottom and work
up. estai)lishing a firm foundation for future work. The decorator wlio
has had this training I would recommend. .Such a decorator will have
i)ut one aim — a successful interior of artistic merit. If they are success-
ful financially, well and good, but that must be a second consideration.

The fourth class f>f decorators consists of architect — not so great a
paradox as it soimds, for what is decoration but the architecture of the
interior of the architect's building? .\niong the architects at the top of
the profession are men of careful training and excellent taste, and when
such men as these carry through the interior decorations of the build-
ings they design the results are admirable. The architect, liowever, will
not decorate a buiUling unless he lias been the author of it, so that his
services are available for only a limited nund)er of cases.

It is ap|>arent that of those who do decoration the third class, the
trained si)ecialisl>; in dccoijiiion. ;nc ilin-c wli.wr in-lp will prove of most


value to the average houseliokler. Much can be learned from an inter-
view, if one will but beware of letting a pleasing personality and a pleas-
ant manner warp the judgment. If a decorator with an unfortunate per-
sonality has made a success, it is comparatively certain that the success
was made on professional merit. The pros]>ective client should inquire
the number of years which have been devoted to study and apprentice-
ship, examine photographs of work, and, if possible, see actual rooms
which have been arranged by this decorator. Consultation with any
friends one may have who are engaged in the fine arts may also aiYord
assistance. This method may not lead directly to one of the best decora-
tors, but it certainly will bring about better results than are given by the
usual haphazard selection.

Even the selection of a competent decorator, however, does not by any
means assure a successful result ; much may depend upon the relations
of the client and the decorator. Confidence in the decorator selected is
essential. The client should strive to maintain a sympathetic and re-
ceptive mood towards the schemes submitted for discussion and should
allow the designer considerable latitude in carrying out the detail, for his
enthusiasm will be in direct proportion to his freedom.

There will unquestionably be moments of doubt as the work pro-
gresses, but judgment should be reserved for the completed work. It is
difficult for the layman to visualize the results in advance, and what
seems a mistake may be the artistic climax of the work. A natural mis-
take, and one to be carefully avoided, is that of submitting suggestions
of the decorator to the judgment of acquaintances. These acquaintances
cannot possibly know the many intricate conditions pertaining to the
problem in point, and the result of their criticism is likely to be a hope-
less bewilderment on the part of the client.

On the other hand, the decorator must constantly endeavor to create
confidence. The prevailing shop idea of today must be laid aside. The
decorator is selling not merchandise but brains. Large stocks of mer-
chandise are entirely unnecessary for him, though it is advisable for him
to collect objects of unusual merit when the opportunity arri\es, for sucli
things are hard to procure at short notice.

A last and very important phase is the relation of the decorator and
the architect, when both have been retained. The decorations maj' either
make or ruin the architecture ; hence it is of first importance to the archi-
tect to have a certain amount of authority over the decorator. In any
case, it is essential that they work together in harmony. The decorator
must relate his decorative scheme to the architecture and an architect
should have the proper authority to see that this is done.

The task for the client to secure this harmony amongst his advisors
is not, as it first appears, almost hopeless, but is indeed a simple one. If
the architect has created confidence, it is well to have him recommend
the decorator, who will then feel a moral obligation to the architect to
harmonize the furnishings to the background. If the client has faith in
a decorator, he should consult with him and if necessary have the dec-
orator recommend the architect, who will then feel the responsibility of
working in harmony with the decorator and may even, if necessary, de-
sign the house as a background suitable to preconceived ideas of the
decorator. .


Color Schemes for Suburban Homes

By A. A. KELLY, in the National Builder

HARMONY is the controlling element in the matter of exterior decora-
tion of houses with paint. By harmony is meant that perfect agree-
ment of the colors which will produce upon the vision a feeling of
restful accord, no one color standing out from the others, but all combining
to form a whole that may be likened to a natural or even a painted land-
scape. Tkit each house must be considered alone when choosing its color-
ing, although the same kind of building, if amid the same kind of sur-
roundings, etc., may be painted exactly the same.

In a general way the colors most suitable for houses are red. white, yel-
low, brown and gray. Still, speaking in a genera! way, yellow or gray
suits a plain, pitched roof or square colonial house. Grays and browns are
useful on those nondescript houses that are not exactly pretty to look at.
The grays are to be preferred when they run on the yellow, rather than on
the blue tones, being warmer. White suits the formal type, like the
colonial. White is always fine on those farm houses that are surrounded by
trees and shrubbery, amidst which the white sparkles and shines delight-
fully. Even in winter, when the leafage is gone, the white shows up well.

A rather low-built house requires light and cheerful coloring. This will
serve to make it appear higher: whereas, dull colors will cause the opposite
effect. Hence dark colors are best suited to tall buildings, in subduing their
height. Never paint a colonial house in such colors as brown, red, or any
pronounced dark color. Sometimes the house and trim is jjainted solid
white, with dark green blinds and shutters. Or the trim will be bottle

Almost any old stone farm house will look well with white or pale
yellow walls and white trim, with green blinds and moss green roof.
What about the doors? They will do in ])ure white, or grained oak. .-Xlso
the walls will look well done in a brownish gray and white trim, with
a deeper shade of the wall color for the blinds, or a dark green will do.

It is a pretty safe rule that almost any color of trim will answer on a
white-body house. Such trim colors as these, for instance: Pea green,
gray, j)ale yellow, or a very light brown. P>ut when the owner desires
a change from white, the body of the house might be made a warm dral),
or gray stone, medium dral), light bronze, or ivory white with white trim,
or colored trim. In general a house done entirely in white does not look
well, but would be Iietter done with a colored trim, like bottle green,
gray, or a nice drab. With such trim the white house would show uji
very much whiter than when done entirely in white. .And all white paint
on the outside, as well as inside, should be white and not off color a bit.
h'rench and jjcarl gray are nice body colors for a farm house. .And a
frame house will look well with a slate color body, and liglit gray trim,
bl.ick sasi), and roof olive green, .\notiier good color scheme is Ixuly
medium drab, trim ivory wiiite, and sash chocolate brown.

The following color chart may be found useful for reference (the
colors named refer to l)ody, trim and sash, in the order given ) :

No. 1 — Pearl pray, ])ure white, maroon.

No. 2 — Cream, light brown, dark bottle green.

No. 3 — Ivory white, ])ure wliite, maroon.

No. 4 — Pure white, dark bottle green, black.

No. S — Medium dr.-ib, i\ory white, maroon.

No. 6 — t'hocol.itc i>rown. |)ure white, white.


Xo. 7 — l-"rciic!i fjra)', |)iire white, maroon.

No 8 — (.'t)l<)nial yellow, pure white, white.

Xo. 9 — I'roiize fjray. pure white, maroon.
Xo. 10 — Fawn, pure white, maroon.
Xo. 11 — (jray stone, ivory white, chocolate brown.
Xo. 12 — Slate, pure white, maroon.

Here is another useful color table, it jirescribing for various house

I-'or the colonial or formal tyi)e: I'xxly white, yellow or gray; trim
white, roof natural color wooden shinijles or slate: blinds moss green,
bronze green, or chrtune green, dark or medium, as ])referred.

Irregular or jiicturesque style: Body red: trim red: sash white; roof
unstained shingles ; if blue slates are used, then do not use red on trim or
body, r.linds very dark green; or this scheme: liody brown, trim
creamy white, roof moss green, blinds medium chrome green.

Mansard roof style: I'.ody. yellowish gray, trim same, roof is usually
slate: blinds green.

Small cottage style: Body red. trim white, natural shingles, blinds
dark green.

Cement and stucco: Body white, yellow or gray: trim, brown stain,
for white and yellow schemes, white trim for gray body. In all three
cases use red for roof; blinds for gray body, pale blue-green.

If given to choose the colors, do not copy from any near-by house. .\
diversity of colors, all blending harmoniously, affords a pleasing picture
to the eye, and when each householder uses taste and avoids copying
from her neighbors a group of suburban buildings form a perfect picture.

Summer houses, or any house structure intended only for temporary
use. will look best when painted in light, airy colors. More substantial
and permanent buildings are better done in darker colors. Brick and
stone buildings may have their window and door frames painted the
color of their sills and capstone, if any; otherwise any color that will
agree with the color of brick or stone.

A fine private stable was painted thus : The weatherboarding a dark
drab, stall blinds the same, rain conductors a dark green, doors green
with drab panels, and window sash Tuscon or Indian red.

If the stable had shingles on its sides, I would simply oil them. Ditto
if bricks. Roof shingles should be di])ped in red stain, and brushed with
same stain after being laid. The interior woodwork may be finished

Here is a suggestive scheme that may fit in some time: Body a rich
olive, white trim ; roof moss green, side gable deep buff, sash greenish
black, door deep green, porch floor a green between the door and body
color, chimney cream.

I'or a low-posted cottage: Body and trim white, sash black or red,
])orcli floor mossy green or a burnt sienna, shingled roof stained olive
green, and chimneys and foundation red.

Some people like a lemon yellow body color. It is rather glaring, but
under certain conditions as to surroundings, etc., it does very well. The
trim color may be white, a soft harmonizing green for the gables, black
sash, roof ukjss green, and chimneys and foundation red. Such a house
should set amid shrubbery and trees.

It is a peculiarity of color that it can make a dark house stand out
or recede : hence dark colors are best for the house that has little archi-
tectural beauty, or that is small and near larger and more pretentious


houses. The plain square house is one that needs dark and plain color-
ing. It is well to visit localities where there are fine residences, large
or small, and note the colors used.

One can learn more that way than by anj- reading, because the les-
sons are illustrated by form and color. Of course, you will meet with
some examples of bad architectural form and coloring, but I think this
will be found exceptional, at least in places where pains have been taken
to get good effects, and, of course, where money has not been stinted.
When you come across a very good example of coloring make a mental
note of it, particular!}' if you have in prospect the building of such a
structure. There are some very finely colored bungalows that will mter-
est you. These squat buildings are extremely pretty, as a rule, and af-
ford good color lessons, to one interested in such matters. Much of the
work is done with stains, as much of the wood finish looks best done in
the natural, or at least simply stained, not painted.

I will close with a few suggestions for making up some commonly
used colors for painting, not for ordinary good work, but just for what
might be called rough painting. A green may be made with Prussian or
ultramarine blue and yellow ochre ; black and medium chrome yellow
make a good brownish green, used for many purposes and saving the cost
of the high-priced ijigments. Also black and yellow ochre.

These give ])ernianent paints, though that will depend upon the kind
of thinning you do. Thinned with linseed oil. it will be all right, but if
trimmed with a mineral oil or benzine the paint will not be durable. It
ma}' also be stated here that if you use any coal-oil in the paint it will
produce scaling later on, especially if a coat of paint be applied over it.
You may be tempted to use a little mineral oil to cheapen with, but do
not heed the painter who tells you that coal-oil will do no harm in paint.

Good browns may be made from black and ochre, or black and orange
chrome yellow, with some Venetian red also. Yellow ochre and Indian
red make a good color; also chrome yellow and Indian red. With ochre,
black and Prussian blue you may make a rich bottle green. Kronze green
is very often used, and may be made from orange yellow, drop black and
a little burnt sienna. The most useful colors you will find to be ochre,
black, burnt umber and Venetian red. \\'ith these, with white lead for
a base, you may make almost any colors you will need to use.

Recent Work of Mr. Louis C. Mullgardt

.Mr. Lciuis t'hristian .Mullgardt. I'". .\. 1. .\., of San i'nincisco. is pre
])aring plans for an elaborate country lor .Mr. Herbert C". Hoover,
.America's food conservation specialist. The new Hoover home will be
erected in the f(M)thills near Palo .\lto and in design will be what Mr. Mull-
gardt styles the .\mcrican school. I'ireproof material will lie used, with
an exterior of white cement and terra cotta tile roof. .Mr. Mullgardt is also
preparing working drawings for a beautiful marble and granite
letun for Mr. .M. 11. de ^'onng, ])ublisher of the Ihronidc, and a S()00,000
wholesale and office building to cover an entire block in Honolulu for
the Then. H. Davies Company, Limited.

.Mr. .Mullgardt's most recent work will he shown in tiie coming December
number of The .\rchitect and Engineer, inchnling his sketches for improvements
in the ^'os^•nlitc \ alley, the new busine-s center for llonolnht. and the recently
ct)ni|ili.t(ci nniscuni in ( iolden (late Park.


Relative Cost of Different Types of Buildings

A STORY which originated in an eastern engineering publication show-
ing the cost of an architect's design, compared with that of a struc-
tural engineer for the same huilding. to the disadvantage of the archi-
tect, has been going the rounds of the trade ])ress. While the evident pur-
pose of the story was to show the superior skill of the structural engineer
in his particular field the comi)arison is made in a manner which does, un-
intentionally perhaps, an injustice to the architect, says Southwest ihiilder.

The building in question was a two-story commercial structure at Wil-
mington, Del. The architect's plans provided for a masonry building with
steel columns and girders and wood floors. The cost fi.xed by l)ids taken
was $34,.S21. The structural features of the building were redesigned by
a structural engineer substituting reinforced concrete columns and floors
for steel columns and girders with wood jcjists and floors and metal lath
for wood lath. The cost of the building as determined by the structural
engineer was $31,802, cfifectiug a saving of $2719. The cost of the structural
concrete was $6369, against $4759 for structural steel and $2600 f(5r concrete
and cement in the building as designed by the architect. In the btiilding
with reinforced concrete columns and floors there was a saving of $.^20 on
lumber, $500 on carpentrv labor and $1000 on brickwork and an addition of
$102 for metal lath.

Whether the architect was given an opportunity to redesign the building
with reinforced concrete structural features does not appear, nor do we
assume if he had done so that he would not have employed an expert con-
crete engineer to perform the work. The engineering of a building such as
was originally designed by the architect is a much simpler task than the
engineering of a reinforced concrete structure. I-'ew architects consider
themselves sufficiently skilled in engineering to do the structural work on a
reinforced concrete building without the assistance of an expert engineer.

But this is not to the real point. The relative cost of different types of
buildings is not wholly a matter of engineering or design. The relative cost
of materials and methods of construction is an important factor. The
price of structural steel has advanced during the last three years out of all
proportion to the advance in prices of other building materials. Whether
the structural engineer could have saved anything in cost by re-engineering
the structure with a steel interior frame and wixid floors is an open ques-
tion. * * *

A parallel illustration of the facts developed regarding the Wilmington
building can be cited in Los Angeles. Plans for a two-story brick com-
mercial building with steel interior frame and wood floors were made by
a Los Angeles architect about two months ago. The lowest bid on the
building was $25,000. The architect redesigned the building, employing a
structural engineer, and suljstituted reinforced concrete frame and floors
for steel frame and wood floors and metal lath instead of wood lath. By
this change the cost of the building was reduced $3000. There were special
reasons for preferring the steel construction to reinforced concrete, but in
view of the great difference in cost the architect recommended that the
reinforced concrete design be accepted. The structural steel for this build-
ing alone would have cost at the market price in Los .Angeles about $8000.

Reinforced concrete construction has been recognized for many years
as the cheajKst type of fireproof construction. It is cheaper today at cur-

Online LibraryThomas Babington Macaulay MacaulayThe Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.50-51 (July-Dec. 1917)) → online text (page 48 of 76)