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.
Normal grey is a fusion of equal powers of the three primary colours, yellow, red and blue. But if there is an excess of any one or two of these the tone would naturally lean toward the colour or colours in excess, so that there are really numerous hues of grey. The warm greys are naturally therefore those which have a yellowish or pinkish tone, while those of bluish or greenish cast are cool.
Greys are preeminently useful as backgrounds, i.e., for walls and ceilings, and of great value in the mingling of various colours in cretonnes and other fabrics; with green and blue, it prevents the hotness which would result from too much red or yellow.
Occasionally it is employed for the coverings of settees and chairs, and certain shades go well with ivory or gold furniture, the combination being of great refinement and elegance. In such cases, however, grey like blue requires the presence of rose or yellow to give relief.
The cream-grey of linen furniture-covering is cool and refreshing in the heat of summer, but not everyone realises how much the effect will be improved if a few coloured objects, such as couch pillows, etc., are left out to give relief. It would hardly seem needful to point out what a bowl of flowers will do in this respect and yet how often do we see country houses with abundant blooms without and ne'er a flower within.
"While probably, if pressed for a close statement, such a theory would be disclaimed, some writers who philosophise upon the subject of colour seem to convey the impression in portions of their text that the qualities of colours are due to their association - that green and blue, for instance, are quiet and refreshing because we associate them with vegetation and the sky. Such a theory would be a distinct errour. Doubtless these associations may have caused a quicker apprehension and heightening of those qualities in the human mind; but, as indubitably, every true colourist realises that, apart from any association whatever, the qualities we have mentioned are inherently possessed by the colours.
The distinction is of much importance, because we must realise that in dealing with colour we are not employing mere symbolism but are handling media whose character is fixed and known.
It is perhaps because of such cloudiness of statement as we have noted that "practical people" who know the actualities of steel, for instance, and respect the builder of the bridge or the skyscraper for its use, often feel that the man who insists upon employing colour in a way fully as appropriate for his purposes is but "fanciful and foolish."
The simple fact is that no branch of human endeavour is more firmly based upon principles of eternal truth than is Art.