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.
To anyone looking through the illustrations of this volume the decorative value of wall-hangings must be apparent. Tapestries and rich brocades, needlework and embroidered silks and velvets, Oriental and Batik hangings - all are of the greatest use under appropriate conditions. Hangings were employed in all periods down to the revival of Classicism in the latter half of the eighteenth century. In England, where panelling was the accepted wall treatment, they were hung over the panels as in Plate 80 B.
Those are indeed fortunate who can afford the purchase of antique tapestries and embroideries, but many of the former have been really well reproduced In the use of either originals or reproductions care should, of course, be taken to have them appropriate in period, colour and scale. Reproductions which are evidently "cheap" should be avoided Handsome brocades in modern weaves and period character are always available at a not too prohibitive price, and frequently these may be given a border of tapestry or velvet for enrichment or contrast.
A hanging over a console or table with a mirror hung upon it makes an interesting grouping, as is shown in Plate 80 A, while in Plate 99 will be seen a fine Italian mirror disposed in a similar manner.
Oriental hangings might be more largely employed than they are. Japanese draperies usually are of free and flowing design and would be appropriate with the "Modern" method. The Chinese are more conventional and controlled in pattern and so are much better for most purposes. Persian, East Indian and Javanese textiles and embroideries and Portuguese prints are often very beautiful but are not largely in the market. One of the writers owns a small but effective Egyptian applique, brought from Cairo, which invariably commands the attention of visitors.
Those who are always observant and on the watch for good and unusual tilings fere pretty sure soon or late to be rewarded. It is probably the lack of such individuality and observation that has been responsible for the bringing home of merely conventional things - which might easily have been purchased in any large American city - on the part of those who have extensively travelled. Apart from richer examples, Peasant draperies might often have been obtained which would have given life and interest to halls and bedrooms or to living- or sitting-rooms in "Modern" or informal vein.
Once again reference must be made to the subject of scale, for nowhere is it more important than in decorative fabrics. The design or stripe chosen must not only be of appropriate character but in due relation as to size with the furniture, other surfaces and objects, and the room itself. While, as has been said, the master designers of the Renaissance and other periods proved to us the possibility of ornamenting every surface without producing confusion, in all but very elaborate modern decoration we shall not have such problems to deal with and the ornamented surfaces will likely be few. By trying draperies in actual position, as suggested in a following section, it will not be found difficult to decide upon a satisfying result in respect of scale. It need only be observed that contrast and texture have much effect - a large pattern may be permissible or advisable when blended with the background, whereas it would be intolerable if it stood boldly apart from it.
Frequently the purchase of new upholstery may be made to solve already existing difficulties. Such an instance would be where the design of a wall-hanging were felt to overpower a small and neat-patterned rug or carpet; the introduction of an upholstery design of medium size and strength might be found to unite them into a satisfying combination.
An example of bad scale is shown in Plate 96 6.