Saturday, March 10, 2007
excerpts from ART AND ECONOMY IN HOME DECORATION 1910
This book includes chapters on how to make rugs, stenciling and block printing on fabric, flower arranging, portieres, curtains and the various fabrics used to make them, lamps, lampshades and needlework.
There’s also a chapter on finishing touches, pillows, bedspreads, etc. and how to’s for some.
Another chapter is devoted to decorating a summer home by the sea or a lake.
The final two chapters in the book are called Describing Some Interesting Rooms and How Some Craftworkers Fitted up Their Home. I haven’t included anything from them, you may hit the link at the bottom of this article if you care to look at the book.
Choosing a color scheme
In a small house it is well to decide on colors and tones that blend with the color of the hall. If the hall is narrow and gloomy, yellow should be chosen. A plain yellow-felt paper above a burlap dado of deeper yellow or tobacco brown will harmonize with a dining-room of brown and copper.
If the dining-room is ten or eleven feet high, the plate-rail might be hung level with the top of the door, using a strong plain yellow cartridge paper, or crinkled felt or burlap. A frieze of warm coppery tones of modern English design should be hung from the plate-rail to the picture moulding, on a level with the eye. Below the picture moulding, brown burlap, paint, or even a crinkled brown felt could be used. Another dado could be substituted, by dividing the walls into sections with strips of wood four inches wide, nailed sixteen or eighteen inches apart. These strips could be placed over paint or burlap and be stained to match the rest of the woodwork of the dining-room. A dull brown would be especially pretty with this scheme.
If the room has light-oak woodwork, it can be changed at a small cost by removing the varnish with ammonia and applying a brown stain; this could be waxed when dry. If there is a low ceiling, the same idea could be carried out by hanging the plate-rail about seven feet from the floor, instead of level with the door.
The sitting-room on the first floor should be green and yellow, which would give a feeling of unity with the hall, whether it be used as a reception-room or as a drawing-room. A two-toned green paper could be used with yellow hangings. A soft yellowy cream tint on the ceiling would look well.
Probably the large room on the second floor will be used as a living- or morning-room, and, if so, should be made bright and pretty by the use of a flowered paper of old rose and green, with a plain base of grass cloth, jute, or denim hung below a photograph-rail. Following out this idea, all the woodwork, including the corner seat, must be treated with an ivory-white paint.
There are many pretty flowered papers for bedrooms. Softness of tone is hard to find, but may be secured by a little perseverance. English and French papers cost the most, but are much softer than those made in America. Some of the domestic have narrow colonial stripes, which may be found among the fifteen-and twenty-cent papers. They are extremely pretty. They can be hung on the side walls to the cornice; but if the room is very high, a frieze of plain color deeper than the tint of the ceiling would be preferable
Instead of all the walls having a last coat of smooth plaster, one might be left rough and sanded. The hall would look well in this way, and could be colored or left the original gray of the plaster. A stencil decoration, if of strong tones and good design, would add to its appearance. The living-room might be decided upon as more suitable for gray walls which would form an admirable background for pictures.
If a frieze is used in the hall, it should stop at the foot of the stairs. Nothing looks worse than a frieze running on a slant above the staircase. A beautiful one could often be afforded in the lower hall when the expense would be uncalled for on the second landing. If there is no place for the frieze to terminate at a moulding or arch near the staircase, place a little beading at the end of it, which will be all that is necessary to finish it off.
A city house is sometimes found with a high narrow hall, varnished walnut woodwork, and badly lighted. These defects can be mitigated in several ways, however. It was my privilege to see what had been done by a young artist who bought a house of this kind, matching all its commonplace neighbors. By doing the decoration himself, he succeeded in making his knowledge of color and form of practical value. As the hall was gloomy, the walls were painted a soft golden yellow, bringing an atmosphere of sunshine into it. The wall was divided by a heavy dado moulding, placed about seven feet from the ground; below this a burlap of golden brown was used. This was ornamented by a stencil decoration in green, placed just below the moulding. The upper wall was stencilled with a tree motif, the tops of which formed a continuous frieze. This extended only to the arch at the foot of the stairs, the ordinary plaster ornaments were removed, and the arch made square and left the depth of the frieze. ……The woodwork was painted one coat of brown paint and overgrained, producing the effect of dull-finished oak, which was most attractive. A high settle, stained green, with well-designed sides, gave opportunity for holding a visitor's hat and coat. Those of the family were hung at the end of the hall out of sight. The staircase and floors were covered with one width of velvet carpet, which had a small conventional design in yellow. A few inches of stained floor were left at each side of the strip….
The vestibule was painted a deeper tone than the hall walls, and the marble dado was softened by toning with color. The vestibule doors had curtains of bobinet with a tree motif stencilled on them, suggesting the decoration inside.
a Craftsman library table
Sometimes these are so bad that it is absolutely necessary for something to be done to conceal them. A shabby black-marble mantelpiece can be transformed by pasting muslin over it and then covering it with several coats of paint. In a room with white trims a marble mantelpiece, painted white, takes on an entirely different garb, and is unobtrusive because it matches the woodwork. A white marble mantelpiece, cold and unapproachable in its appearance, can be treated to a coat of acid, which will turn it to a greenish-yellow shade, and will remove the high polish so objectionable in out-of-date mantels. Of course, the bad design still remains, but if the surface is agreeable, the improvement in the
appearance of the renovated mantel is remarkable. The landlord may be obdurate and may have to be reasoned with, but if he does not like it he can be reassured, for when the mantelpiece has been covered with muslin, and painted, the material can be removed and the polish added with no damage to the original.
In a room with rough-cast walls and mission furniture a severe style of fireplace is most appropriate. Red brick is an excellent choice when heavily pointed with black or ivory mortar. The mantel-shelf should be of heavy oak supported by beautifully carved pilasters or quaint gargoyles. Wrought-iron andirons and a few heavy ornaments on the mantelpiece would be in perfect accord with such a room.
If a living-room is colonial, the fireplace must be in keeping. The colonial mirror should fit between the shelf and a well-designed moulding. The mantel should be made of carefully carved wood with a facing of dull-gray marble. The candelabra on the shelf must be in keeping with the room, which should be furnished in mahogany of good colonial design.
Another colonial scheme is a simple fireplace of Pompeiian brick built almost level with the wall. The purple red of the brick blends well with many papers of low tone. A stronger note must be accented in the tiles which form the hearth. Such a fireplace is so inexpensive to build that any one could have it instead of a badly designed one, which would otherwise spoil a good room.
A fireplace built on somewhat similar lines with Pompeiian brick facing and an Arabian tiled hearth could have the detail beautifully carved and a simple panel mirror placed above the shelf.
In the living-room in a summer cottage an altogether different kind of fireplace can be built of rough stone found in the neighborhood. This should be surrounded with a heavy oak shelf supported by corbels of stone or oak.
There are several good methods of curtaining these ..casement.. windows. A sash curtain can be hung on a rod especially made for casements.
It is fastened securely at one end, and has a rough rubber disk at the other, doing away with the necessity of taking down the curtain to wash the window. As shades cannot be used, it is desirable to have a pair of curtains wide enough to cover all the casements. One long rod supported in the middle is fastened to the casing, and can be used in conjunction with sash curtains on each casement window. Or, better still, the sash curtains can be dispensed with altogether. When this is done there should be a deep valance to take away the glare from above when there are no shutters.
There are so many delightful curtain materials sold by the yard …. Raw silk and China silk, challies, linen taffetas, Singapore lattice, bloom-linens, serge, and even Turkey red can all be used when plain materials are needed. Among figured materials there are many charming varieties: cretonnes with their creamy grounds, white glazed chintzes with their strong designs of old-fashioned flowers, linen taffetas with stencil floral effects, Madras in soft greens with old rose or yellow flowers, or Madras in self-tones in lovely shades, seem to grow more beautiful each season. Japanese cottons are found in blue and white, Java prints in strong, contrasting colors, and also in yellow and white, red and white, and occasionally in green and white.
Among the Oriental stuffs, plain colors in deep rich shades hold their color in a way that no Western manufacturer can imitate. Some of the flowered muslins are also excellent for casement windows, if of good color and design.
All the materials mentioned can be used for inner curtains…
For sash curtains a transparent material is needed. The most suitable are fishnets, bobinets, colonial nets, scrims, cheesecloths, and Madras, which are made in soft creamy shades, more beautiful in down-stairs rooms than dead white. Sometimes white is best in a bedroom, and for this purpose white Swiss, plain or dotted, comes in all qualities. Among other suitable materials are nets, dimities, point d'esprit, and nainsook, any of which make sheer and dainty curtains. The new stencilled curtains are especially suited for bobinets and scrims, and if properly done will stand sunlight and soap. Sometimes the design runs down the front and across the bottom of each curtain. Others are made with the design running across the top and also just above the hem at the bottom. One with a strong design of grapes and leaves with a heavy stem, stencilled on cream bobinet, looked most beautiful in a dining-room, with soft green burlap on the walls.
In providing portieres for a double door, the portiere can be made by lining or sewing two separate materials so as to form one curtain. The curtain itself will look well, but either one side or the other of the opening will show a blank space of woodwork; also when the sliding doors are closed, one room will be without its portieres. The most usual way is to make the portieres to suit each room, the lining of one matching the front of the opposite portiere. It is best to use sateen as a lining, as this is made in a wide range of colors. Wherever possible, the lining should match the curtain, but if the heavy curtains at a window are hung wide enough to come in front of the cream or white curtain, and will be seen through the sheer curtains from the outside, then they must be lined with cream. To my mind curtains lined with the same shade are much more attractive than those lined with white or cream, but they should not be more than twenty-four inches wide when pleated up, and not be brought forward to go in front of the window. An abomination constantly seen is a pair of heavy curtains meeting in the middle of a window and then held tightly back by a cord or band. They give a feeling of uneasiness to those who appreciate the fitness of things, and are in themselves a contradiction. Why hang them forward if you want them back ? The same fault may often be seen in sash curtains. They are hung on a rod at the top and bottom of a window, and then a foolish white band or cord holds them back in the middle.
ROSE VALLEY FURNITURE
A great deal of care is necessary in the method of hanging pictures. Wire cord gilded or silveredis usually made use of, and may either be carried to the picture moulding and hung at an acute angle, or two separate wires may be run perpendicularly and fastened to two separate hooks. This method is necessary for large pictures, but whenever it is possible, do without these cords. They are ugly, and it is far better to mark the wall by nails and have no visible cords than to have too many wires visible. A very practical idea is to use the fasteners which can be secured by three slender nails, scarcely heavier than pins. Three of these nails hammered into the wall to each picture make hardly any perceptible mark on the paper, and yet do away with the necessity for a long wire. Such
fasteners are strong enough to hold medium-sized pictures.
I need hardly say that in these days pictures must be hung flat, or almost flat, against the wall. In order to make them hang in this way, have the rings near the top of the picture. A good rule for the placing of pictures is to bring the centre on a level with the eye
Until a year or two ago the word applique suggested luxury. Costly hangings embellished with applique work were seldom even seen by the average person. They were read of in books as adorning the mansions of the wealthy.
The expensive materials upon which the work was done, and the enormous cost of labor expended in applying intricate designs, placed the hangings at a price far beyond the reach of the person of ordinary means. Now we constantly come across good work in this line done on linens and mercerized cottons in excellent designs, and entailing only a mod-
erate amount of labor. Such work can be undertaken by many who wish to add to the beauty of their homes.
BATHROOMS AND KITCHENS
For bathrooms, painted walls are very often used, and are always in good taste. A wooden
or tiled dado is almost invariably used nowadays. Above these we can have some of the beautiful varnished papers which seem more serviceable than paint, but we must avoid those ugly little imitation-brick designs, of which every one is so heartily tired. There are several very pretty ideas in bathroom papers. One in square tiles shows a Japanese treatment of a pine-tree motif. Another is formed by stripes of iris leaves with a flower appearing at regular intervals in the stripe.
Kitchens and pantries are frequently painted, although a few architects go to the expense of tile walls in preference. Housekeepers are finding out that painted walls are apt to look smeary after a half-yearly scrub, and to-day favor is given to varnished papers, which can be renewed every other year.
The following two chapters have been included in their entirety.
WHAT TO AVOID IN THE HOME
That’s what the chapter is called !
It is very clear that if a house has been lived in a long time, and the furniture and pictures have always been kept in the same places, year after year, the occupants will have grown accustomed to their surroundings, while the casual visitor will marvel that such delightful people can go on living in such an environment. Who is not familiar with the parlors with colorless felt paper on the wall, without a break of moulding, frieze, or dado, with high ceilings and heavy cornices picked out in many colors and centre pieces to match; on the floor also a pale carpet with roses as big as cabbages ? The doorways, nearly as high as the room, have long plain chenille portieres flanked on either side by a half-door flat against the wall. The gas fixture is out of reach. There are good pictures on the walls in heavy carved gilt frames, with huge white mats out of all proportion. They are, moreover, hung far too high. A whatnot full of useless trash stands against a wall, topped by a couple of books placed crosswise on the shelf.
The room is scrupulously clean, the steel fire-irons and grate shine with careful polishing, the chairs are covered with figured materials of many and various designs, and resting lightly on the top is a crocheted antimacassar, with small ones to match on the arms. All has been costly and good in its day, so that nothing shows the signs of wear, nor will it in this room that is so little used and carefully preserved. The windows have long curtains of design alien to that already in the room. These meet in the middle and are looped tightly back with tasselled silk loops. Against the glass at each window are dead-white Nottingham lace curtains of monotonous design.
A ponderous round table, marble-topped, with a tall onyx lamp in the centre, crowned with a pink and gold globe, occupies the middle of the room. The sofa against the wall has a waving line of wood with fruit carefully carved. The two ends form easy chairs, and are covered with "tidies" to protect them from the head. To complete the picture, there is a black-marble mantel of correspondingly bad design. In truth, there is not much to be done if all these decorations are to remain. Yet there are many people, comfortably off, who own just such rooms, and though they do not think of improving their surroundings, are not averse to spending thousands of dollars on an automobile.
Good advice for such people who can afford it is to make a clean sweep; redecorate and furnish under careful advice. To those, however, who are conscious of needed improvement, yet have not the means at their command for many needed purchases, a few improvements can be suggested. The mantel must be painted to match the woodwork. On it have a cover of plain velours with dull gold braid trimming. A frieze of paper of good design can be added above the felt paper if it is still too clean to be renewed. Hang pictures on a level with the eye, as far as possible, and add others to form little groups tastefully arranged. The large table need not assert itself in the middle of the room, but can be pushed toward a corner. On it place a round cloth of velours with dull gold braid to hide the join. A brass student-lamp might replace its onyx predecessor. Possibly hangings for the doors can be found. If not, buy Arras cloth, which will not need lining. Have the chenille curtains torn apart and woven with other colors into rag-carpet rugs, to be made use of in one of the bedrooms. The carpet can also be sent to a good house, where it can be made into pretty reversible rugs. There would be about fifteen yards of rugs if your carpet measured sixty yards. After staining the floor, a few Eastern rugs could be bought, or, if this is out of the question, have the carpet dyed green and made into rug shape, with the floor stained at the edges. The heavy curtains must hang straight, and if too long must be shortened. There should be a low seat near the fire.
The piano can be placed with its back to the room, and have a soft, plain drapery on the back, hanging from a sash rod. Against this a stand, on which a palm or Boston fern may be placed, will add to the general improvement of the room.
If there is a tea-table in the room set out with cups and saucers, banish it. The maid can bring all in from the pantry if it is the custom of the house to have afternoon tea, and if it is not the custom, no longer put up with such a ridiculous sham. If there are little knicknacks around, put them away, and keep only the pieces of good proportions, good designs, and good coloring. Avoid all things that belittle a room and give it a fussy appearance.
DECORATION OF A MODERN SUBURBAN HOME
Pay attention if your home is circa 1910 !
IN deciding on the color scheme of a house, we must remember that the rooms must be studied in relation to one another and be in harmony. We will take, as an example, a suburban house containing eleven rooms, with a large porch and surrounded by a small garden. We will suppose the living-room is 13x18, and has windows on three sides; next to it is a small parlor 8 x 10, which opens into a hall about n x 15. The parlor is divided from the hall by pillars, so the color scheme of hall and parlor must be the same.
The first point to be considered is the furniture. Having decided on mahogany in the hall, living-room, and parlor, we will choose yellow papers for the first- and last-mentioned, with cream-tint ceilings and ivory-white woodwork. The treads of the stairs and banisters are all to be of white with a mahogany handrail. The walls of the hall would look well in a pure colonial yellow, which can be found among felt papers. A burlap of golden brown could be used, as it will be found to be economical in the end, as the burlap protects the walls where they get the hardest wear. Usually the shape of the hall admits of very little furniture: a chair, a small table, and a mirror are about all that are necessary. Against the staircase the wide seat should have a mattress covered with brown leather. The coat closet in the rear provides room for coats, hats, and umbrellas, and is more practical than a hat-tree.
If there are hardwood floors throughout the house, it is advisable to have rugs. Hardwood floors and rugs are always preferable to carpets, and should be used in the hall with long runners on the stairs.
The parlor with its white-ivory woodwork can have a two-toned fabric paper of a deeper shade of yellow than the hall. Never select a smooth, shiny paper. It is always hard and repellent, holding no light, and softening no reflections. Among the English papers can
be found dull flat surfaces that give the feeling is used, Arras cloth or velours would be utilized for hangings and furniture coverings. On the ceiling a faint-green paper would be advisable.
In arranging the furniture, have large roomy chairs on either side of the fireplace, and before the fire a wide sofa, with an ample supply of cushions. Behind the sofa a library table with the usual appointments would be well placed. A large Oriental rug should be chosen in tones of dull blue and old reds.
At the opposite end of the hall we usually find the dining-room. The furniture for this room could be mission. The room would look well in a shade of soft Venetian red. A two-toned striped paper could probably be found in this color. Have the ceiling of ivory white. The woodwork could be stained dark brown or black, to match the color of the furniture, and against this background the silver would look very effective. A wide window probably takes up much of the wall space, and the fireplace may be placed in the corner. Curtains of raw silk, undyed, would tone in with the red-and-black scheme.
The bedrooms would be pretty painted ivory-white; the large room over the dining
room might have a two-tone yellow-striped paper, with chintz hangings of yellow roses and green leaves; chair-covers and bed-valances should all be of the same material. Here, as at all the windows, sash curtains of fine-dotted Swiss would be suitable, and would give an appearance of uniformity from the outside.
Many people like shades of green sun-fast Holland throughout the house, but white with a green lining would also be very appropriate for the sleeping-rooms.
The floors all being of hardwood, Martha Washington hand-woven rugs would be economical and suitable for the bedrooms and bathrooms. They come in beautiful colors. A set of small green rugs, with bright yellow borders, would be very attractive in the yellow bedroom.
Another room could have bird's-eye maple furniture and a white enamelled bed. A gray-blue cheviot paper could be used with the love-bird frieze; the scheme could be carried out in gray-blue cretonne for the furniture covers and hangings.
The guest-room might be in lavender or green with paper of clematis or wistaria. A high base of green felt paper could be used, and if the room is high enough, the flowered paper could extend on to the ceiling about two feet, the rest of the ceiling being left the same shade as the background of the figured paper. There is a lovely white linen taffeta fifty inches wide, with a shov/er of wistaria, which makes a pretty bedroom-hanging. The bed, if preferred, could have the spread and valances of the same Swiss as the sash curtains, and this over lavender sateen would be ideal for a guest-room. The furniture would be effective in bird's-eye maple; the bed could be white enamel. At present it is the fashion to cover the pillows with a long strip of the same material as the bedspread, trimmed on the four sides. It is laid over the pillows and hangs down at each side the same length as the spread. I prefer this to any other pillow-cover, since the bolster rolls take up so much room when not in use.
The rugs in this room would be very artistic if made of green material and tan warp. The borders could be the same shade of lavender as the taffeta, or tan.
If the nursery is on the west side of the house, the color scheme could be ecru with a dado of Cecil Aldin's charming poster pictures. "Noah's Ark" or the "Chickens and Ducks" are a never-ending delight to children. If there is a low dado of plain paper, and just above this the frieze, the children would have the pictures within their range of vision. They are apt to forget them when they are placed too high, whereas at the height suggested they are high enough to be seen but not destroyed by chubby little ringers. On the plain spaces above, simple framed pictures of Cecil Aldin's can be hung to give the right balance to the room. Have the rugs fairly heavy and larger than in the bedrooms, so that the children cannot trip when romping.
In the bathroom have rugs that can be constantly washed, and tiled walls and floors.
Let the maids' rooms be pretty and attractive, with dainty curtains and pretty, cheerful wall-papers; the furniture may be inexpensive, but let it be artistic. They know when a room has been carefully furnished, and give better service in return when they see there has been much thought for their comfort.
block printed fabrics
Two wallpapers, the one on the left is for a nursery
ART AND ECONOMY IN HOME DECORATION,