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.
The interiors during early Stuart or Jacobean times were substantially the same in their principal features as the Elizabethan rooms already described. Certain motifs of carved decoration, such as Eomayne work or heads carved on roundels or medallions, fell out of fashion while other motifs came into vogue. The differences, however, were not sufficient to require minute elucidation here and may be satisfactorily explained in a subsequent paragraph. During the Commonwealth there was little architectural or decorative activity and it is not until we come to the Restoration that we find another fully distinct interior type of a widely increasing prevalence.
Beginning with the immediate Restoration period and thence onward to the end of the century, two separate and well-defined types of interiors must be taken into consideration. The one was the type with which we are already familiar, substantially the same as the Elizabethan or Stuart interior, which came down as an heritage from the past with only a few minor evolutionary modifications; the other was a type for which we are indebted to the agency of Inigo Jones, followed, after the Restoration, by the work of Sir Christopher Wren and his contemporaries, who designed in a vein of mnch purer Renaissance inspiration than was apparent in the Elizabethan houses, the creations of Wren, however, being perceptibly tinged by a strong French influence, while the earlier designs by Jones were based directly upon Italian precedents. An infusion of Baroque interpretation entered into the composition of this style as well as the basis of Renaissance precedent.
The most signal points of difference between the old Elizabethan and early Stuart type of interior and that of the newer mode were that in the houses of more recent fashion the ceilings were higher: there was a more general regard for symmetry in the dimensions of rooms which, as a rule, were now broader in proportion to their length than formerly and designed to be approximately square rather than oblong: the window openings were taller and not so wide, double hung sashes instead of leaded casements appeared, and pajies of glass considerably larger than the old quarries and lozenges, that had been held in place by strips of lead, were now set in substantial wooden muntins: the panelling of the walls - and this was one of the most momentous changes - was made with far larger divisions (Plate 6) and the mouldings surrounding the panels were of wholly different contour and far bolder: finally, in the treatment of both the plaster ceilings and the wooden floors, the spaces involved were regarded as opportunities for coherent and finished composition in decorative design rather than as bare surfaces to be covered with a relieving pattern.
While oak was still used extensively for panelling, pine, deal or Scottish fir, and even cedar were coming rapidly into fashion for the same purpose. This was the age of Grinling Gibbon, when the art of decorative wood carving reached the acme of perfection. For the new style of carving with all its realism, delicacy and undercutting, oak was too hard and open-grained a medium to be worked with the same ease or with the same dexterity of finish as the other woods just mentioned. Delicate carving in low relief was often employed freely on the mouldings of cornices and the surrounds of panels (Plate 6), while for overdoor ornamentation and still more for the enrichment of the chimney piece swags and drops of flowers, fruit and foliage, with human figures, cmorini, baskets, urns, birds and other devices in a free and flowing style, with high relief and much undercutting, all together constituted one of the most characteristic aspects of the new mode. These finely wrought carvings were often executed in lime or basswood, which admitted of even more ingenious manipulation than pine, deal or cedar. While the beauty of the woods just mentioned, in their natural state, was fully appreciated, it was also a common practice to paint all the woodwork, carving and all, white or some colour such as grey, greenish grey or blue green and occasionally to apply gilding to mouldings and portions of carving. This practice was especially common towards the end of the century.
Doorways, and very often window casings, were made the objects of decorative wood carving: fluted pilasters with carved capitals, heavy cornices with carved mouldings, overdoor embellishments of an architectural character or panels with carved drops and swags were much used. The overmantel or chimney piece was even to. a greater degree the object of careful decorative elaboration. The fireplace surround, with bold bolection mouldings, was sometimes of wood, sometimes of stone or marble. There was no mantel shelf and the chimney piece, reaching all the way to the ceiling, consisted either of a distinctly architectural treatment in classic and Renaissance motifs, sometimes with Baroque features also, or else of a large panel surrounded with heavy mouldings and flanked and surmounted with carved flower, fruit and foliage swags and drops in the characteristic Grinling Gibbon manner. In many instances either a portrait or else a decorative still life painting would be framed in the panel. This empanelling of portraits was not confined to the chimney piece, but was likewise practised to some extent for the walls. Toward the end of the century painted panels for overdoor adornment, too, came into favour and now and again decorative niches with coved or shell tops, for urns, vases or sculpture, were introduced into the panelled walls when there was a good opportunity for such symmetrical composition. Another feature of fixed wall decoration also frequently resorted to towards the end of the century was the setting of mirrors into wall and door panels, a device now made readily possible in England, as well as the employment of larger panes for glazing windows, by the establishment of glass works at Lambeth under the patronage of the Duke of Buckingham.
Just as the panelling of the walls had been proportioned and varied in size, according to the space to be filled (Plates 6, 7 and 8), so also was the ceiling space treated with one consistent and sufficient design (Plates 6 and 137) calculated to satisfy the whole area. Cornice, corner and centre ornaments were conceived in one mode and proportioned to the scale of the room. The devices used were ropes and garlands of laurel, flowers and fruit in bold relief cast in plaster as distinguished from the old stucco-duro work and the parge work that succeeded it, in which latter the relief or ribbing and flower pats were comparatively low (Plate 3), the designs being worked in the raw parge or plaster in situ. Colour and gilding were in many instances added to this cast plaster decoration. Decorative paintings also often occurred in the flat surfaces.
While most of the floors were of well-joined boards without ornamental device, the practice was not uncommon, in the more elegant houses, of inlaying or parquetting the floors in patterns wrought in different coloured woods. In her diary, Celia Fiennes alludes to the floor in a cedar room, of the Restoration period, "inlayed with cyphers and the coronet." Geometrical patterns in divers coloured woods were likewise used, "often radiating from a star in the centre of the room." To some such design Evelyn evidently refers in his Diary in an entry anent the Duke of Norfolk's "new palace at Weybridge" when he notes that "the roomes were wainscotted and some of them parquetted with cedar, yew, cypresse, etc." He also notes of another house that "one of the closets is parquetted with plain deal set in diamond exceeding staunch and pretty."