This section is from the book "A Manual Of Home-Making", by Martha Van Rensselaer. Also available from Amazon: A Manual of Home-Making.
Walls and floors are flat solid surfaces. Their effectiveness and comeliness depend on this structural fact and this must be borne in mind in the selection of pattern for them. Any variation of surface would impair the function of wall or floor. Any suggestion by the pattern of such defects is manifestly out of place. Wall patterns of trellises and vines, of realistic flowers or fruit or landscape, of simulated columns, or of panels made of pictured moldings should, therefore, be avoided. For the same reasons, realistic flowers and animals are out of place in pattern. The more realistic these motifs are, the poorer is the design. Because the effect of solidity in walls and floor must be maintained, the pattern should seem very flat.
Since both walls and floor are backgrounds, the pattern should be unobtrusive in color and design. Fantastic ornament, violent color, or strong contrasts of any sort are out of place in a background.
Since walls are upright surfaces, stripes, if inconspicuous, figures in which the vertical dominates or that are so arranged as to give an up-and-down rather than a crosswise or diagonal movement, are good types for wall pattern.
Floors are horizontal surfaces that are viewed from every direction. The pattern on the floor should, therefore, be effective from any angle. Goemetric or very conventional patterns equally good from every point of view are the best choice for floor coverings.