THE usual theory regarding floors is that they are a portion of the background of the room, the other two portions being walls and ceiling. This is quite true, but floors are more than this - they are the Foundation.

For this reason it is evident that they should be darker than the walls, so as to give the effect of stability, as otherwise we should have the effect of the floor flying up into our faces. An apparent exception to this will be noted later on.

The structural floors nowadays commonly provided are of hard wood, finished in a fairly light shade. If it is desired to refinish them in another or darker tone it is necessary to remove the existing finish, which is a rather "large order" and necessitates the absence of furniture while the work is under way. Furthermore, many new apartment houses forbid in their leases that this be done.

In the circumstances under which most of us live, therefore, there can be little variety from the usual shade except in houses built to the occupant's order. When that is the case there are many desirable materials and colourings, at our service, all of which, as well as the treatment of floors in old houses, will be taken up later in this chapter. It is well for the present to pass on to the subject of floor coverings, not only because the more unusual materials for floors are not available for all readers, but for the special reason that the principles regarding floors are better shown in the discussion of their coverings.

Floor Coverings


Upon the floor being darker than the walls the whole balance of the room depends. And by this is immediately condemned the entire series of light cotton rugs, which in the joyous springtime fill the shop windows to the beguilement and sorrow of the unwary householder, particularly when they are full of pattern: for even though they may be slightly darker than a particularly light wall, they are not sufficiently so in effect to lie down in their place.

One of the advantages of light walls is that the tone of even the usual structural floor will generally be found sufficiently dark and quiet to balance those walls, whereas a dark paper would immediately turn the room upside down. We shall in any event wish some rugs for finish and comfort, and if the floor itself is too light for balance and cannot be changed, no resource is left us but largely to cover it.


We shall soon see that the truer point of view, that the floor is the Foundation, makes for greater truth and beauty in decoration, and emancipates us from some hampering and unnecessary restrictions that are laid down for our use when floors are regarded as backgrounds only. Prom this way of considering them probably arises the theory that in colour floors must be keyed to the walls. We should say that they may be, or may not be - and often preferably not. There is no objection whatever to theory provided that it be based on all the conditions. The difficulty with some particular theorists is that although they may intimate that the house or apartment should be an entity, they do not practically provide for it. In order that it be an entity the thing in general most needful is that those large surfaces, the walls, should be close in their general effect throughout. If, then, the floors are to key with the walls in colour this would necessitate a close agreement in the colour of rugs over the whole house with a monotonous result. We may rightly wish to use several varieties or colourings of rugs in our rooms and we have already found in the chapter on colour (section "Unity and Variety") how this may be done with perfect harmony. Some of our best decorators employ an excellent method which secures both unity and variety. The floor is covered throughout with a perfectly plain rich carpet and then upon this Oriental rugs are laid where required. Among the best colours for this carpet are very deep rose, blues, taupes and tans.