This section is from the book "The Practical Book Of Interior Decoration", by Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Abbot Mcclure, Edward Stratton Holloway. See also: The Victorian House Book: A Practical Guide to Home Repair and Decoration.
IT has been observed that in dress a man or woman may be known by shoes, hats and gloves. In the same degree in which this is true, the taste, and to some extent the character, of the occupants of a home are made evident by the decorative accessories to be found therein.
A rare collection of atrocities we find them in some instances to be: in others most of them are satisfactory but unhappily mingled with trifling things that but clutter and destroy repose. The worst of it is that these annoying little things are often objects of association - small remembrances showered upon the owner by dear and well-meaning friends - souvenirs, calendars, fancy pictures, and the host of objects from the Women's Exchanges - that fill a man with amaze that, when there is so much of true use and beauty which might be done, such a waste is made of time and money! For the sake of the givers and our love for them such objects should be treated with respect, but - put out of sight.
And then, finally, we see other houses in which the accessories at once indicate strong individuality and exquisite taste. In the British bedroom illustrated (Plate 120), for instance, what flowers would so well accompany the mellow tones of the panelling as the chrysanthemums upon the table? These, with the glint of metal in the three-branched candlesticks the books, the few choice porcelains on the narrow mantel-ledge, the interesting fireback and irons, the patterned cur-ta'ns in relief to the plain wall-surfaces, show the greatest discrimination.
Decorative accessories are of the highest value in adding interest - the beautifully simple hall shown in Plate 121 would not be what it is without the fine porcelains used as accessories. Numerous other instances will be observed among our illustrations, and many of these will be referred to in the subsequent list.
In the direction of colour these accessories may be used in three ways: as supplying strong colour accents where they are required for emphasis and enlivenment; as affording a variety of colour where the furnishing is too much in one hue; or for the carrying of colour through a room, as mentioned in the section on "Unity and Variety." In many instances a beautiful and. colourful vase, panel or piece of tapestry has been made the keynote of a decorative scheme.
As it is by such objects that we are known let us avoid hackneyed things to be found in every shop. Decorators1 establishments, antique and second-hand shops, Oriental shops and Chinatown are all good places to keep in view - once in a blue moon something unusual will find its way even into a pawnbroker's window.
Expense is not always the measure of merit, and tasteful, observant people will have no difficulty in finding many attractive objects at reasonable figures.
Of course, it is futile to expect to pick up rare and valuable things for little money - artistic treasures demand a long pocket-book and if we have it not we shall scarcely possess museum-pieces, but may have things of beauty nevertheless.
In the examples mentioned early in this chapter it will be seen that just enough has been done. Overcrowding vitiates effect, and a superfluity of even the beautiful is unwise. We all know how tiresome the museum becomes to the casual visitor; half its beauties are lost, except to one busily studying and comparing. The motto for the decorator therefore is: Select - and again Select. Have but few accessories and choose those most advantageous for their purpose, most appropri ate for their environment, and which will best tell in decorative effect.
As a practical aid a list of accessories is given for suggestion and comparison of advantages. To exemplify: we may have thought of purchasing a small, ornamental mirror for a certain space on the wall: looking over the list we find such other things appropriate to that use as wood-carvings, plaques of mai-olica and porcelains, painted panels, panels of della Robbia design or those of wood, carven, coloured and gilded or of plaster. Choice may be made from these, or an odd embroidery or other textile may be employed, or perhaps a banjo or sunburst clock. In short, we may look very considerably before we leap, and it is well to do so.
This list is merely for suggestion and reminder and makes no pretense to completeness. A few observations and plate references are added.
Baskets, Decorative, for flowers. The odd shapes are very engaging* Baskets, Waste. Avoid beribboned and other millinery and confectionery effects. Real baskets (such as the Chinese) stained or painted are among the best. Metal ones decorated in the same way as painted furniture are attractive. Bird-cages. The best forms are shown in plates 126 and 93 A. Boxes and Caskets. Carved wood, ivory, metal, Chinese, bon-bon, jewel, etc. Busts and Statuettes. Appropriate in formal and period rooms. Candlesticks. Of great usefulness and in endless variety. Good examples shown in plates 9,25, 77 A, 102,119,120,129,144,161. Candelabra and Standard Lights. Plates 15,19,34,39, 70 B, 89 B, 93 A, 100 B, 135,150. Chinese Dogs, Lions, Cockatoos and the like. Clocks. Plates 65 A, 96,161. Crystal Balls. Decorative and occultly interesting (those of glass are good and not so expensive). Ecclesiastical Vestments. Unless these can be used in a religious connexion with a shrine or crucifix it is better not to use at all.
It is surely poor taste if not irreverent to employ them as table covers, piano "throws," and the like. Fire Screens. Plate 137. Flowers and Plants. Plates 59, 65 B, 114,120. Globes, Maps and Plans. Apparently of unlikely decorative use, but see plates 100 B, 19 and 113, respectively. Hangings, small, of needlework, tapestry or Oriental work. Heads of Animals. Appropriate in plate 135 or a camp, but in the usual modern home are best conspicuous by their absence. Lights, Hanging, and Lanthorns. Plates 89 B, 93 A, 100 B, 119 A, 135. Mirrors. Of great decorative usefulness. Plates 25, 73, 92 A, 99, 100 B, 133,156,158 C.
Panels of many sorts. Plate 122 B.
Pillows for couches, settees and chairs. Plate 114.
Plaques, Plaster, etc. Plate 70 B.
Pottery, Porcelain, Metal and Glass. Vases, jars, jardinieres, mantel and table ornaments, etc., etc. Plates 19, 23, 39, 50, 55, 97 A, 100 B, 120,121,136 B, 160.
Samplers. Old needlework pictures and the like.
Screens. Very decorative and of much use in preventing drafts and as backgrounds. Plates 55,114,122 A, 122 B-Smoking Accessories. Beware commercial atrocities, horribly designed humidors and the like. With so many unusual carved and other boxes, Oriental jars and such receptacles which could be employed for cigare and cigarettes, such a wealth of beautiful ash trays in Benares brass, Oriental porcelain and metals of various sorts, such necessaries may be made a decorative asset instead of the too usual abomination.
Table Covers and Runners.
Tiles. Single Persian and other highly decorative tiles are excellent as small ornaments.
Umbrella Holders. Use great discretion in their choice. A really good Chinese jar makes one of the best holders.
Wall Ornaments. Carved wood, often painted and gilded. Plaques and panels of maiolica, della Robbia porcelains, plaster in the white or tinted. Plates 23,127,129.
Wall Pockets, Chinese, for small growing plants.
Window Transparencies of leaded glass.