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.
White, not properly a colour, is here mentioned first of all, and for that very reason. It is both a neutral and a universal harmoniser. From the dee-orator's point of view we should consider as "whites" not only pure white but all the varying shades, such as grey, cream, ashes of rose, etc., which are too light to be properly classed under those names.
White is also first taken up because walls and ceilings are first to be considered in any furnishing, and for this purpose light shades are most frequently advisable. Of these shades the whites, alone or in combination, are among the very best. Their own beauty and adaptability are a sufficient recommendation, but they possess the further advantage of relieving too great adherence to a given colour-scheme. There is no reason, for instance, why a blue room should be all blue, and proclaim the instant one enters it: "Yes, I am Blue; indubitably, unmistakably Blue." The use for walls of one of the white or light tones in such a case relieves a scheme which otherwise would be artificial and oppressive. It is quite sufficient that the dominant note of a room should be of the selected colour without that colour running riot.
Walls in "the whites" will be treated in detail under that section. The same tones are of eminent use for wood-work and curtains and will be discussed under those heads.
White in combination with black recently amounted to a fashionable craze. The combination is rather too startling for a room continually occupied but may have its uses. A reception room with black and white striped paper of not too violent a pattern, and black lacquered or painted furniture upholstered in Chinese or other gorgeous fabric would be effective and not unduly outre. Some of the cretonnes with black and white stripes broken by groups of roses in conventional form are very attractive, and black alone makes the best possible background for flowered cretonnes, bringing out the colours with effect and charm, and being exceedingly sensible, as it does not readily soil.
White in juxtaposition with colours heightens their effect and raises their key, while black reduces and lowers them.