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.
In large houses of appropriate architectural character the walls of halls, stairways and some of the other more public portions may be of cut stone, as may also be specially designed studios, living-rooms, etc. (Plate 67 B). Palatial rooms and halls are also sometimes lined with marble, white, flecked or of colour. Sometimes these and the following but partially cover the walls with a high dado, the upper portion being tinted (such as a white marble with pale green-grey plaster) or decorated. A certain amount of roughness and texture is allowable in stone walls of entirely informal nature, but to the writers the cobblestone wall usually adjacent to a fireplace is hideous even for a "camp." It should also be mentioned that plaster imitation of stonework is a piece of architectural dishonesty and a thing to be abhorred.
Concrete blocks with mortar afford such an admirable wall of less elaborate and expensive character that an example is illustrated (Plate 67 A). No better foil for the fine Italian furniture could be imagined, and the cross-beamed ceiling with rosettes at the crossings carries out an effect of unusual and sanely architectural character. In such an instance the polychrome painting of the rosettes would give additional decorative quality.
Brick walls are useful for solaria and other informal purposes, and in their place a combination of brick with rough-cast plaster above it would be very attractive.
Tile, when appropriately chosen, is another desirable finish, either alone or with plaster.
With plaster walls we arrive at one of the most practical surfaces at our disposal and one susceptible of a variety of treatments. Sand-finished plaster, either in its natural tone or tinted, is most desirable, especially for spacious rooms such as the dining-room illustrated (Plate 68). While on first thought such a wall might seem to possess no great handsomeness it is found to make one of the most admirable finishes as background to richly carved furniture of noble proportions and hangings of tapestry or brocade. Its use during the Renaissance period in instances where the walls were not of decorative character, is a sufficient credential of its merit. More smoothly finished plaster was also there, and may now, constantly, be employed. Such a wall finished with a frieze in "compo" as in the Adam room illustrated (Plate 69), likewise affords an excellent background with sufficient decoration above to avoid entire plainness of effect. The treatment of plaster walls as an architectural and decorative feature was a special metier with the Adam Brothers ("The Adelphi") and anyone considering walls of this character should consult the recently published book on their lives and work.* Tinted, painted and decorated plaster may best be treated in subsequent sections.