This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Of hangings - and our remarks are almost equally applicable to the general tone of a room - we may say that in consequence of an apartment never being too light, since we can dimmish the day-light by means of blinds and curtains, it is best that the hangings be of a light and not of a dark color, so that they may reflect light rather than absorb it Dark hangings, therefore, are proscribed, whatever be their color. Red curtains are to be met with very frequently in this country; yet it must be said that red and violet, even in their light tones, ought to be proscribed, because they are exceedingly unfavorable to the color of the skin. Orange can never be much employed, it fatigues the eye so much by its intensity; and indeed, among the simple colors there is scarcely any which are advantageous, except yellow, and the light tones of green and blue. Yellow is lively, and combines well with mahogany furniture, but not generally with gilding. Light-green is favorable, both to gilding and to mahogany, and also to complexions, whether pale or rosy. Light-blue is less favorable than green to rosy complexions, especially in day-light; it is particularly favorable to gilding, associates better than green with yellow or orange-colpred woods, and does not injure mahogany.
White hangings, or hangings of a light gray, either normal, or tinged with green, blue, or yellow, uniform, or with velvet patterns, similar in color to the ground, are also good for use.
In regard to the draping of floors, it must be borne in mind, that for a carpet to produce the best possible effect, it is not enough that it is of the best manufacture and of excellent colors and pattern; it is also requisite that its pattern be in harmony with the size, and its colors with the decorations of the room. It is important for manufacturers to know how to produce carpets which will suit well with many different styles of room furniture; and in our opinion, the best mode of attaining this end is, to make the light and bright coloring commence from the center of the carpet; for it is there (that is to say, in the part most distant from the chairs, hangings, etc.) that we can employ vivid and strongly-contrasted colors without inconvenience. And if we surround this bright central portion with an interval of subdued coloring, we shall be able to give to the framing colors (those around the margin of the carpet) a great appearance of brilliance, without injuring the color of the chairs and hangings.
With respect to the carpets of small or moderately-sized rooms, we may lay down the rule, that the more numerous and vivid the colors of the furniture, the more simple should be the carpet alike in color and pattern - an assortment of green and black having, in very many cases, a good effect On the other hand, if the furniture is of a single color, or if its contrasts consist only of different tones of the same color, we may, without detriment, employ a carpet of brilliant colors, in such a way as to establish a harmony of contrast between them and the dominant hue of the furniture. But if the furniture is of mahogany, and we wish to bring out its peculiar color, then we must not have either red, orange, or scarlet, as a dominant color in the covering of the floor.
The covering of chairs may present either a harmony of contrast or a harmony of analogy with the hangings, according as the room is large or small; and a good effect may be produced by bordering the stuff at the parts contiguous to the wood with the same color as the hangings, but of a higher tone. Nothing, we may add, contributes so much to enhance the beauty of a stuff intended for chairs, sofas, etc, as the selection of the wood to which it is attached; and, reciprocally,nothing contributes so much to augment the beauty of the wood, as the color of the stuff in juxtaposition with it In accordance with the principles of coloring which we laid down in a preceding part of this article, it is evident that we must assort rose or red-colored woods, such as mahogany, with green stuffs; yellow woods, such as citron, ash-root, maple, satin-wood, etc, with violet or blue stuffs; while red woods likewise do well with blue-grays, and yellow woods with green grays. But in all these assortments, if we would obtain the best possible effects, it is necessary to take into consideration the contrast resulting from height of tone; for a dark blue or violet stuff will not accord so well with a yellow wood as a light tone of these colors does; and hence, also, yellow does not assort so well with mahogany as with a wood of the same color, but lighter.
There is no wood more generally used by us than mahogany, and no covering for sofas and chairs more common than a crimson woolen stuff; and in this we are influenced not so much by any idea of harmony, as by the two-fold motive of the stability of the crimson color and the beauty of the mahogany. In assorting these, we will often do well to separate the stuff from the wood by a cord or narrow galloon of yellow, or of golden-yellow, with gilt nails; or better still, a narrow galloon of green or black, according as we wish the border to be more or less prominent The red woods always lose a portion of their beauty when in juxtaposition with red stuffs. And hence it is that we can never ally mahogany to vivid reds, such as cherry-color; and more particularly to orange reds, such as scarlet, nacarat, and aurora; for these colors are so bright that, in taking away from this wood its peculiar tint, it becomes no better than oak or walnut. Ebony and walnut can be allied with brown tones, also with certain shades of green and violet.