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.
As has been said, yellow, orange and red are dominant and advancing colours except when attenuated by the admixture of other colours or of black or white. Suppose, therefore, we attenuate them. Yellow and orange when so reduced become tints and tones - creams, champagnes, buffs, tans, browns and olives. Attenuated red, except in the shades we have mentioned of rose, Burgundy and mulberry, are not so useful in decoration. Pink alone is rather jejune, though in blending with other colors it is very happy and enlivening - a pink and apple-green sprigged pattern on a cream-white ground is a good example. Brickish red has its uses, as in floor tiles and fireplaces, but is vigorous, owing to its still retaining a great strength of red. The pinkish grey known as ashes of rose, is of great delicacy and refinement and so one would hardly care to carry it through more than two rooms, unless in a woman's apartment.
Let us therefore consider the derivations of yellow; for here we have great scope. In these tones it has lost its dominant qualities and may so be carried through a series of rooms in quantity, to produce unity, other colours being used in various rooms as relief. This, it will be seen, is the correlative or reverse of the former plan. In that the dominant was carried through; in this the neutral will be.
In order to illustrate as fully as possible within limits we give a colour chart embracing two rooms (Plate 63). To begin with the walls - where we should always begin - those in the drawing-room may be papered in a rich stripe or brocade of champagne. Better still would be panelling, enamelled in the same shade.
Either the beautiful blue and gold brocade or the yellow and grey stripe, or something approaching either, might be used for the chair-coverings in this room, the unused one being employed in another. The rug could be a plain or small-figured one of the tone shown, or of the lighter shades seen in Chinese rugs. It had certainly better be plain or* plain with a plain border if usded with the delicately patterned blue and gold fabric. If a Chinese rug of unobtrusive pattern, and with the usual blue designs, very quiet in tone, could be secured this might be used with the stripe. If the blue and gold is employed a few touches of rose would be required in small objects to give warmth and life. An entirely blue shade for the lamp should be avoided - it would give too cold a light. It should be of a deeper champagne or yellow, either plain or with only a little blue. Any picture frames used should be of gold (dull) and lighting fixtures of brass, also dull. Candlesticks should be of brass, not silver.
In carrying these modified yellows through a series of rooms the tones used may vary considerably where the rooms do not communicate. Instead of champagne we may go off to creams and buffs and tans with some use in the rugs of even browns or olives. Yellow, mauve, and grey; yellow, blue, and grey; and buff, grey, and rose are all exquisite combinations. A very happy colour-arrangement recently seen was this: panelled walls painted deep cream, softly polished black Sheraton furniture, a Chinese rug of a beautiful grey-blue with design in buff and rose, and draperies in striped tan and grey-blue. Transitions should nowhere be sudden and startling but should be gradual and harmonious. And with these many varying shades we may and should employ other varying colours as relief. Nothing so gives an apartment a "decorated," arranged, and artificial look as the too great prominence of a colour carried throughout: whether it be the dominant or the base which is so carried we should simply feel its presence; it should not jump at us at every step. In the colour charts it must be remembered that it is possible to show only enough of the wall material to suffice for colour. In the actual work there would be a far greater proportion. Not only must there be large surfaces of these more neutral shades, but also a sufficiency of plain or nearly plain more strongly coloured area to balance the ornamental fabrics used. In gen-eral, ornament demands the relief of plain surfaces, plain surfaces demand the relief of ornament. The writers especially wish to impress these two points, regarding a not too great prominence of any one colour and a not overloading with ornament; as, if the method given were otherwise carried out, the intention would be parodied and a sincere attempt at helpfulness quite destroyed.