A textile may be used to cover smooth plastered walls. All sorts of materials that give the desired effect, from the cheapest to the most expensive, have been employed for this purpose. Canvas, burlap, grasscloth, and other weaves of pleasing texture are effective when appropriately used. None of these, however, compares with paper in popularity as a wall covering. Paper is comparatively inexpensive, is easily hung, is made in an immense variety of colorings and pattern and a wide variety of textures. Wall paper has an advantage over paint in that the exact effect may be known before it is purchased, by experimenting with a roll of it in the very room and light in which it is to be used. If there is cause for doubt, a plain paper should be selected for walls. There are many plain papers of good color from which to choose. The oatmeal textures probably offer the most desirable and satisfactory coloring among the inexpensive papers. The silk-fibered papers, while more expensive, compensate in color and quality for the greater investment of money.
Another safe choice in paper is one nearly plain in effect but the surface of which is broken by dots or dashes or splashes or other slight variations that give a little "bloom" or vibration of color. Paper with stripes that are not too wide or of too conspicuous contrast are good, especially in low rooms. A plain paper sometimes shows up too conspicuously the un-evenness in old walls. In such a case a paper with a small conventional figure, or one with a self-toned foliage pattern is better. A paper with a good pattern may be very effective in a hall or corridor or a room with few or no pictures and plain draperies. It helps to furnish the room. A large-figured paper in a small room is out of scale and makes the room look smaller.
A figured wall-paper may be used as a frieze in a large room. Such a frieze is generally more effective than one of the stock border patterns, and is more easily adapted in width to varied requirements. A figured frieze is often a decorative finish above a high paneled wainscot.
A border of unobtrusive pattern and color may serve on occasion to define an edge or emphasize a direction. But the idea that every room must have a border because fashion so decrees is absurd and unreasonable. Festoons of flowers and conspicuous ornament of any sort that tend to draw the eyes upward unpleasantly is out of place. In rooms of ordinary height, borders should generally be omitted. They are the offspring of the traditional cornice whose original office was to make the division between ceiling and side wall. A picture-molding placed at this intersection is an excellent finish in a low room or one of ordinary height. If the room is too high, the ceiling color may be brought down on the side wall and the picture-molding placed at the intersection of ceiling and wall colors.
Hangings are useful to temper the light, to obstruct an un-pleasing view, to preserve privacy, and to furnish a decorative effect. Door draperies are used for the temporary separation of rooms or for decorative effect.
The types of window hangings are shades, curtains, and valances.
The purpose of a shade is to regulate light and to secure privacy; therefore, a shade should always be opaque. A glare of color in a room through a shade of intense hue is sometimes more trying than a flood of sunshine. Shades, being next to the window, affect the exterior color scheme of the house and should be chosen with this in mind. Shades need not on that account be at variance with the interior coloring of the house, for a neutral tone may be chosen that will not violate any color scheme, or double-faced shades may be used. These are only a little more expensive and may, if necessary, be colored to order. In buying for a permanent home, it is economy to select shades of a good quality.
Fig. 19. - A method of hanging two sets of curtains in recessed windows.
Shades should be hung inside the trim as near the glass as possible without interfering with the operation of the window. If this is not possible, the shades should be hung near the inner edge of the casing or window trim. Shades may be hung so as to pull up from the bottom instead of down from the top. There are also fixtures which make it possible to adjust the shade so that it may cover any portion of the window at any time. These adjustable shades are particularly desirable for schoolroom windows exposed to direct sunlight for a large part of the day, for kitchen windows on the south side of the house, and for windows in any sunny workroom.
Besides shades and blinds that shut out the light, the windows of most rooms need draperies to soften the hard lines of glass and wood, to temper the light, to veil a view, to complete the background of the room, and to add a decorative note in color or pattern.
Each room presents an individual problem in curtains. Harmony, simplicity, and suitability are the guiding thoughts in the solution. Taste is more effective than money. With the modern ideas of the home as a place in which lives are to be lived, of rooms rationally furnished for everyday use, windows swathed in festoons of draperies, sweeping the floor, harboring dust, inviting germs, and excluding the air, have no place. The much trimmed, festooned and lambrequined draperies are not now much in use; their return should never be allowed. However rich the material used for draperies may be, they should be simply made and so hung as to fall in straight folds. In a case of doubt, the simplest solution of the problem of window draperies should be accepted.
The choice in material ranges from filmy nets, transparent gauzes, scrim, and muslin through soft silk and cotton fabrics, linens and coarse canvas weaves, brocades, damask, and tapes-try, velvets and velours; in color and design from one unbroken neutral tone to the most complex variation of hues and patterns; in price from a few cents to many dollars a yard. Any fabric may be used, provided it is suitable. Effects in design, color, texture, and pattern that harmonize with the room and its furnishings are the distinguishing characteristics of the most tasteful selections of hangings, rather than rich and costly materials.
Fig. 20. - Four methods of curtaining a double-hung window: A, straight curtains hung within the window trim. B, a half, or sash, curtain often used for privacy. C, an inconsistent way of hanging drapery, which could be remedied by raising the rod, and extending it to the length of the top molding. D, a method of hanging curtains to cover an ugly trim or to widen the window in effect.
Scrim, colored chintzes, cretonnes or any other dainty wash-able material is appropriate for a bedroom. Bright or gaily-figured hangings may be used in rooms devoted to good cheer and occupied for only short periods, su.ch as a dining-room or a porch sitting-room. Patterns and colors that are entertaining in a tea-room might be unbearable in a living-room. For rooms in constant use, or for rooms that should be reposeful in their influence, such as a library, a living-room, or a study, near-neutral colors and unobtrusive patterns are essential.
A city dwelling, close to the street and overshadowed by other buildings, a country house situated on a hilltop, or in a valley, or by the sea, or in a setting of open fields or gardens surrounded by trees and shrubbery, present different problems in window treatment. Velvets, damasks, and handsome linen are appropriate for the city house, and the greater formality and reserve which are its natural characteristics. An effect of freshness is in keeping with the environment of the country home. Cretonnes, chintzes, and printed linen with brighter coloring than would be appropriate in the city home, are in harmony with the birds and flowers and outdoor country. Simple curtains of unbleached cotton for the small-paned cottage window with its ledge of flowering plants suggest the charm of the little house across the sea. For the house used only in summer, curtains should of course be of washable materials.
The lighting of the room is an important consideration in selection of window draperies, If the room is poorly lighted, thin draperies light in value, tending toward yellow - the most luminous color - will be the most effective choice, provided it is consistent with the color of the walls. If the room is too light and sunny, darker and cooler colors and heavier fabrics should be used. Curtain material should never be chosen without hanging a large sample in the window of the room in which it is to be used, because the color effect is frequently quite different under transmitted light. Material with a black thread is likely to look dull and dingy; a fabric woven with blue and yellow threads becomes green when seen against the light. The effect of artificial light on the draperies should also be considered, since colors change surprisingly from their day-time effects.
Fig. 21. - Two methods of curtaining a group of windows.
Valance is the term used for a short drapery hung at the top of the window. It should preferably extend across the entire curtain space, or in emergency cover only that space between the curtains. Valances are decoratively useful in furnishing a continuation in color and line between curtains that hang too far apart, or in emphasizing the shape of the window. They may serve as a decorative connecting link between the outside curtains at a group of windows, making it possible to dispense with other drapery in the group. Valances emphasize the horizontal in a room.
Portieres, or door draperies, sometimes serve in place of doors in the openings between rooms where only a temporary separation is required. They may serve also to soften the lines of the trim, to cover an expanse of objectionable wood in the doors, or to add a decorative note of color or pattern. There is a wide variety of fabrics to choose from. Generally a heavy fabric hangs better and seems more appropriate in a doorway than a light one, and a double-faced material is simpler to make up. Manifestly, skeleton draperies composed of cords and tassels, strings of beads and shells, are an absurd substitute for a useful drapery. Door draperies may continue the color of the walls, or, like the window drapery, may be of a contrasting color. If the rooms connected by the opening require different color treatment, the portiere may be made double. The same considerations regarding pattern that guide the selection of window hangings are applicable to door drapery.