If you have made no study of decoration, you should have confidence in your architect. To hamper him with your little insistences, demanding that he use certain possessions for which you may have a sentiment, but which do not belong to the period, is to handicap him at every turn. But if you have made a study of the subject and your tastes and sympathies are thoroughly established, then you and your architect can work together. Upon you in such cases depends the ultimate selection of designs, the details of cornice and ceiling, of materials and colors, which he submits for your approval. To you, too, may fall the choice of the various stuffs and hangings. When such a responsibility is yours, try first to secure the genuine articles; failing these, select designs copied from the best examples of the proper period, but never rest content with a search through modern shops and a purchase of those imitations of particular periods with which the manufacturers have filled the market. Books giving complete, carefully illustrated descriptions of the architectural details of the decorations and furniture of each different period are to be had. You should study these, even if you have travelled and observed extensively. For if the privilege of following your own taste be yours, in the building of a house possessing architectural excellence your obligation is great. The work should be undertaken seriously; intrusted to hands not only capable of carrying your ideas to a satisfactory conclusion, but of guiding you to a perception of still better things. Yours is not a privilege to be regarded lightly. If your house be beautiful, you have made a contribution to the world.

Most of us must inhabit houses already modelled on prescribed lines, until we have in town a dreary monotony of brown stone fronts and unbroken wall surfaces, and in country districts the hopelessness of narrow halls and stairs, front and back parlors exactly alike, and bedrooms above, with mantel shelves over hot-air registers.

The simplest form of wall-surface, the one often suggested as a problem in decoration, is that left by the builder as a plain surface of plaster or cement filling the places between the doors, windows, and fireplace. It can be treated exactly as the judgment of the owner dictates. It can be painted, whitewashed, calcimined, covered with paper or with a textile, - burlaps, silks, cretonnes, or tapestry. It can be panelled in wood, covered with leather or marble, or hung with silks and embroideries. Each individual decides these questions according to her means and the use for which she wishes the room. In one intended for pictures she wants no distractions on the wall in the way of flowers, strong colors, or obtrusive designs. If a picture is worthy at all of a place on the walls, it should be spared the affront of discordant surroundings. The owner of "A Dutch Tulip Garden" would be guilty of an unpardonable crime were she to hang it over paper already covered with tulips, good as that tulip paper might be; or to hang a Venetian sketch with its delicacy and transparency of tone - or a picture of Bermuda with pale colored skies and whitewashed houses - on vivid crimson or blue papers. Yet the same sort of folly is being committed every day by people who cover their walls with flowered papers and sketches in water-colors.

In any room intended for reading and study, walls covered with blossoms, or intricate, over-accentuated designs, are distracting and unsatisfactory. Books are in themselves a decoration. The colors of their bindings, - reds, greens, blues, and gold, - broken by the tawny hue of old calf, have richness of tone. In those libraries in which the shelves do not run to the ceiling, a plain background above the shelves is a necessity, primarily on account of the books, but also as a background for the busts, pictures, or casts which you may also introduce. In living-rooms and parlors, where pictures, brasses, and pottery are introduced, an unobtrusive wall color is a necessity.

In dining-rooms the question of a background for the objects on the walls need not be so carefully considered. A dining-room may be well appointed with nothing displayed in it but the glass and silver. In bedrooms, light-flowered or striped papers, with colors suggesting brightness, repose, and daintiness, are of paramount importance.

The Method Of Procedure 15

In a room that is long and narrow, a large-figured or flowered paper only accentuates the length, until the room is made to look like the inside of a cable-car. Treat it with vertical stripes of two tones softly merging into each other. A flowered or figured material over the windows at the end will shorten the room, bringing the most distant point nearer to you. If you are committed to a large-flowered paper, plain hangings of quiet tone should be put over the windows at the end. When the end of the room is occupied by a blank wall-space, a mirror, with plants arranged as a foreground, answers a good purpose, provided the reflections in the mirror are studied and the end of the room brought nearer, the eye not being enticed to a greater distance.

The wood-work of a room - the door and window casings, the base, even the picture-moulding - must be considered in relation to the covering to be chosen for the walls. If on moving into a house you are committed to one kind of wood-work (some landlords will permit none of theirs to be changed), select your paper with reference to it. Red, for instance, may do very well if the wood be white, but it is out of the question with, light oak. On the other hand, white wood-work may be an impossibility with red, or any dark paper, because its lines may be bad. A dark paper would throw it into too strong relief, making a series of broken and distracting streaks distributed without grace or symmetry.

If so situated, your business should be to subdue the unfortunate conditions, so that they may be forgotten. If the house were yours, you might do this by painting the wood-work to match the walls, or a shade darker. You cannot do this if the paper be red. Red wood-work and paper combined would be heavy. When a red paper is desired, the trim, of course, might be scraped and stained, - so expensive an operation that perhaps a wiser course would be to choose a different color. Always bear in mind, however, that the wood-work frames the wall-covering, and that its color must never be ignored. It often happens, unfortunately, that the wall-space is divided by a series of doors and windows distributed without regard to symmetry of proportion. Thus, there may be at times many doors and a single window in a room, these openings having been managed awkwardly when additions were made to the house. Doors and windows in a room are often an advantage in breaking up the lines of a long bare wall, if the composition of the sides of the room is well studied. An ingenious treatment of superfluous doors in an apartment - doors which mean nothing because unused - will be found in illustration on page 31, where old India shawls have been hung as backgrounds for plaster casts or brasses and coppers. A mirror is always effective. Mirrors have been almost universally adopted as a means of improving rooms of small size, where the need of suggesting at least greater breathing space is imperative. Palms may be grouped in front of them, and sofas so arranged that no one thinks of them, but is unconsciously satisfied with the feeling of space.