Wallpapers, if used, should be quiet in design and colouring, so that the walls are a mere background. Striking patterns and bright colours, by drawing attention to the walls, tend to bring them forward, and so make the room seem smaller than it is. Remember, too, that the pattern continually repeats itself, and that a motive which is interesting when seen in a single piece may become very wearisome by repetition.
Wallpapers which are too pictorial distract attention from the pictures.
There are several ways of spacing the wall according to the effect it is desired to produce. Thus there may be a dado and. above that the "field" (as the main part of the wall is called), carried straight up to the ceiling; or the "field" may be carried from the skirting to a picture-rail with a frieze above. As a rule, it is not satisfactory to have both a dado and a frieze. If the former method be chosen, the paper up to the dado height may have a pattern, and the wall above be either distempered or hung with a plain paper of a light tint. Or the dado may be of simple wood panelling painted white, and the remainder of the wall be papered. This method has a particularly happy effect with mahogany furniture.
If a picture-rail be used, the frieze may be whitened, a very good way when the paper below it has a pattern. An ornamental frieze looks well above a plain wall, but the design must be restrained in character or the wall will look top-heavy.
One of the most important rules in decoration is to arrange so that the "ornament" predominates in one place instead of being scattered about everywhere. A beautiful and interesting frieze will appear the richer for being combined with severe furniture. Fine, carved, or inlaid furniture shows up better against a subdued wall decoration. If the whole room be plain and simple, an exceedingly rich effect can be obtained by one or two pieces of beautiful pottery - things not necessarily expensive or antique - or by having a gay pattern on the draperies.
A well-laid floor is perfectly flat, and this flatness should be accentuated rather than disguised. A carpet, of which the pattern is shaded so that it appears to stand out in relief, gives the idea of obstacles to be stepped over and is most irritating. Except in the case of stair-carpets the pattern should not lead the eye in any particular direction, nor should any of the details in it appear upside down from whatever point it is looked at.
When choosing a carpet do not lose sight of the way in which the furniture will be arranged on it; for example, a plain carpet with a single panel of decoration in the centre is very effective in a drawing-room, where, as a rule, the greater part of the floor is visible, but in a dining-room this decoration would be hidden under the table.
A chair which fulfils every requirement of utility and good taste
A parquet floor can be made the most of by using rugs instead of a carpet. An ordinary deal floor, if well laid, may be stained and waxed to form a substitute for parquet; but uneven floor-boards, with open joints between them, look very bad when so exposed. If rugs are to be used on such a floor, cover the boards first with a plain carpet or felt of neutral Colour, plain linoleum, or Chinese matting.
The colours of the floor-covering must not clash with those of the walls, hangings, etc.
A beautiful and interesting wallpaper or frieze will appear the richer for being combined with severely simple furniture. A few pieces of good pottery will complete the effect; pictures in such a room as that illustrated would be out of place
For carpets, greys, blues, and greens of subdued tones are safe in most surroundings; reds are sometimes very effective, but they must not be at all vivid. The designs and colouring of the old Persian examples are the best for rugs.
The ceiling should be whitened, and it is best to keep it plain unless one can afford to employ an artist to decorate it with appropriate plaster modelling, in which case the ceiling will be an important feature in the general scheme. Embossed ceiling-papers imitate plaster-work, but have none of its charm, and most rooms can be decorated quite completely without them.
Paintwork, Draperies, etc.
Paintwork should be kept perfectly plain, and on no account be "grained" to imitate natural woods, for shams of all kinds ought rigidly to be avoided. A cast-iron mantelpiece that looks a cast-iron mantelpiece may be effective and pleasant, but one that tends to be made of oak is an abomination.
Where it is desired to keep the paintwork in tone with old furniture, a plain, deep brown paint is useful. Other colours, as a rule, are most satisfactory in paler tints, carefully blended with the prevailing colours of the room, but when there is any doubt the easiest way out of the difficulty is to use white paint.
Unvarnished paintwork is very difficult to keep clean, but, on the other hand, a brightly enamelled surface is not so pleasant as a duller one; for most purposes the best finish is a "flat," or dull, varnish.
Curtains should fall in straight folds; these give a restful and dignified effect, and the pattern, if there is one, is shown to advantage. They must harmonise in colour with the upholsteries and carpet, and also with the walls against which they are to hang.
In deciding upon a colour scheme, take into consideration the aspect of the room. If it be on the north side of the house, a good arrangement is to have the walls yellow or cream-coloured to reflect as much light as possible; the paintwork and furniture may be dark by way of contrast.
Red curtains will give a warm and cheerful tone, and the carpet may also be of red, but somewhat less pronounced.
For sunny rooms a cooler range of colours is preferable; greens, grey-greens, and some shades of blue have a refreshing effect, particularly in hot weather.
The different purposes of the rooms should each have their influence on the schemes of decoration.
The dining-room should be pleasant and obviously comfortable. The depressing dining-rooms of mid-victorian times, with their gloomy wallpapers, stiff and heavy draperies, and cumbrous furniture, are object-lessons as to what to avoid.
In the drawing-room the aim should be for daintiness and refinement; pale colours, delicate draperies, and carefully shaded lights help to produce this effect. No room ought to contain more furniture than is actually required for use, and there should be no chairs on which a full-grown man will feel afraid to sit down. Drawing-rooms have too often been regarded as places in which to put anything "pretty" that has no obvious use elsewhere. Superfluous ornaments have a tendency to accumulate, but their presence is fatal to an already harmonious arrangement, and it is worth while to mortify the desire to crowd them in at all costs.
Everything in a bedroom should conduce to a feeling of restfulness. Let the walls be distempered or hung with a plain paper. In times of wakefulness, and, still more, of sickness, wallpaper patterns have an irritating habit of forming themselves into faces and other grotesques undreamt of by the designer.
The furniture should be simple and well proportioned. The four-post bedstead, which has recently been revived, gives great scope for decorative effect, and when constructed with an iron frame and spring mattress there are no objections to this style of bed. Hangings and bedspreads of light chintz help to give a cheerful and homely air.
A solid table is essential to comfort and use. This feature of stability can be combined with harmonious proportions and a charming quality of wood, such as oak. walnut, or mahogany, as explained at the beginning of this article
The aim of those responsible for the drawing room should be an effect of refinement and daintiness. There should not be, however unnecessary or flimsy furniture nor should the room be overcrowded with nicknacks E. Brantwood Maufe, architect