The following principles in home decoration should be given in nine or ten lessons scattered throughout the term and correlated with the sewing lessons. Their success or failure depends upon the teacher's power to arouse and interest her pupils.
No other phase of art training can be compared in its far-reaching and immeasurable effects upon the lives and characters of individuals with that of art brought to bear upon the decoration of the home.
From birth to death, every impression made upon one's consciousness, through the senses, has its effect upon that individual's personality. Environment plays a large part in the evolution of the race. Every thought, every act, which makes the sum total of one's life, comes from these impressions. With this psychological principle as a basis it is an indisputable fact that the schools can give no more important training than the taste-cultivation of the girls that they may be the makers of artistic, up-lifting, character-building homes.
Individual problems and tastes must enter largely into the scheme of decoration of the place where one must line, but there are certain well-established, fundamental principles which are outside the personal choice and mark the difference between the artistic home and the junk-shop or the museum.
1. The first question to ask one's self is, To what use is this room to be put? A dining room, a sleeping room, a library, are all different problems. The answer to this question will determine largely the kind of decoration required, because above all else is fitness. Allow nothing to enter into the decorative scheme that is not useful. Its use may be to beautify, but even in this it must aid and not interfere with the family life and activities. Let simplicity be the key note in the decoration of the home. Eliminate everything that is confusing, perplexing, 01 unrestful.
2. A room must be a unit with the ceiling, walls and floor as a back-ground for all other decoration. The floor as a foundation upon which all must rest will be the darkest in tone, the walls midway and the ceiling lightest.
3. The color selected must be determined by the position of the room on the north or south side, the amount of window space, the use to which the room is to be put and individual taste. Select the warm bright colors for dark, cheerless or small rooms, and the cool, subdued colors for the overbright ones. See Exercise No. 34.
4. Much can be done by wall-treatment to change, in effect, rooms out of proportion. Ceilings too high may seemingly be lowered by continuing the ceiling decoration on the side wall. Vertical line designs in wall paper carried to the ceiling will do much toward raising a low ceiling. Select a wall paper with great care, choosing only that which is restful, harmonious and unobtrusive. Prevailing fads, often times trade tricks, may be disastrous.
5. Because it is a large mass of color the floor covering can easily mar an otherwise good room. Harmony in color there must be. Avoid loud, aggressive colors and patterns, as well as all floral designs. If the room is too small a larger effect is obtained by covering or nearly covering the floor space.
6. Curtains and other hangings must be selected first for their use. As the light is to filter through the curtain one must decide whether more light is required, or the windows protected from the glare of the sun. A refinement of taste dictates the proper selection of the textile, the design and the color of the curtains to be used. There can be no rule. The window curtains should be hung inside the casement on slender brass rods, and just escape the window sill. An additional curtain, sometimes used in the decorative scheme, should clear the floor.
7. Volumes might be written on the choice of furniture. Use and fitness, of course, are considered first. A chair may be useful and beautiful and fit into its surroundings; it cannot be decorative alone for its purpose is to be sat upon. Here again, simplicity in structural lines is safest. Avoid anything massive for ordinary living rooms. Great divergence in shapes, lines and quality, is not successful. Buy a thing because it is well made, good in line and proportion, and fits into the scheme of your room, harmonizing with every thing else there, or go without it.
8. A picture is a decoration only when it harmonizes and blends with the wall upon which it is hung. It should never be a spot upon the wall confusing to the eye and unconsciously distracting the mind. Many pictures, or pictures in groups, are perplexing and un-restful. Pictures should be hung with the center of the picture on a level with the eye of the average person. If there are several pictures in the room hang them with the tops on a level instead of the ziz-zag plan usually followed. Frame pictures with the molding to the edge of the picture or if the picture seems to require a larger frame use a mat of the same color, never one of a sharp contrast which gives the effect of a frame within a frame.
9. Use bric-a-brac sparingly and with great caution. Never let your home give the impression that you are displaying a collection. Remember that nothing is decorative unless it is fitting, beautiful in its way, and necessary, no matter how expensive it may be.
10. It is true, there are people gifted with a finely discriminating color-sense and an intuitive balance of arrangement and power of selection who instinctively know the good from the bad. There are others so lacking in these qualities that they cannot see the garish-ness even when it is pointed out to them. The decoration of man's habitation is more than a knack; it is an Art.
Give written tests on the subject matter above:
Have pupils bring samples of wall paper, select the good and the bad and tell why they think so.
Each girl will decide upon a color scheme for a room, select her wall and ceiling paper and write a composition describing this room, illustrating as far as possible.