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.
There is no doubt that of recent years, in the revival of interest in good furnishing, great attention has been given to furniture and sometimes expense has been lavished upon it not out of proportion to its deserts but in undue relation to the total sum which the furnisher has to spend; so that other household accessories have suffered. Sometimes, where funds are sufficient for all needs this has taken the form simply of an interest in furniture too exclusive of other decorative features and for its own sake rather than for its fitness in the proposed scheme. In a general reaction against past methods, furniture, therefore, and especially handsome period furniture, has come in for its share of decrial with the new movers and is relegated to a secondary place.
Anyone who has given study to the subject of household decoration will freely admit that in many homes simpler and far less costly pieces would have given a better and more coherent result; this by no means should imply a lessened interest in furniture but rather a larger and more intelligent consideration of it whether simple or handsome. It should, in short, occupy its place adequately but not unduly in the plan of decoration as regards its form, its colour and its arrangement.
The new decoration lies largely in the direction of simplicity and therefore this school advocates simple styles and takes as its models the Peasant furniture of Continental Europe and the Cottage furniture of England. Naturally, those who follow the style of the Vienna Secession also use the furniture accompanying it. Particular attention is also rightly paid to arrangement - in theory if not always in practice - and overcrowding is sedulously avoided.
Not only are old English cottages of the greatest charm (Plate 95 A), but the British architects and decorators of today and some of our best American men have so wonderfully absorbed and carried on the traditions of probably the most homelike civilisation the world has known, that illustrations of their work are given (Plates 78 B and 93). Colour is not with them carried to the extent that it is with these "modern" decorators, but each of these interiors is so well balanced and so simple that all of them would be susceptible of treatment in strong tones if desired.
It should be pointed out that much of the picturesque charm of these rooms is constructional and due to the architectural proportions and features, and, in some cases, to built-in furniture, so that the illustrations serve as models in these respects as well.
Naturally great insistence is laid by the newer school upon the colour values of furniture used, and to accord with the decorative scheme adopted it may be finished in the natural colour of the wood, stained to any hue and dully finished, or painted, or decorated.
Decoration may be quaint in character to aocord with old-time effects, or may be most modern and brilliant. When painted, furniture may be in subdued tones, but is often violent, such as bright blue or emerald green chairs with rush seats in bright yellow. Good tones are ivories, greys and tans, grey-blue and grey-mauve, yellow, rose, apple-green and black, the latter often highly polished (Plate 95 B).
Such furniture is frequently ornamented with lines in a harmonising or strongly contrasting colour. Black is excellent with any of the mentioned tones. The furniture previously mentioned as sold direct to the consumers is excellent for this style of decoration. Messrs. A. L. Diament & Co., of Philadelphia, who are the American agents for the attractive modern French Desfosse and Karth printed linens and cretonnes, are now supplying furniture painted to accord in colour and design with their fabrics.
Mission furniture, so uninviting in its usual colouring, takes on new life and decorative value when painted in attractive colour.
Wicker furniture is of special use in the new decoration. It may either be painted or left in its natural tone, and be supplied with strongly decorative cushions in solid colour, stripes or modern patterns.
Wing chairs are homelike and afford great comfort.