Reccuring Lines, Shapes and Echoed Colors
The use of recurring lines and shapes and echoed colors lies at the basis of all fine work in interior decoration, as in architecture and the other visual arts. The constant repetition of similar combinations in both outline and ornament constitutes a large part of the charm of what we call the period styles. In the nature of things it must constitute a large part of the charm of any beautiful room, since, as we have seen, it provides one of the conditions in the absence of which beauty cannot be made to appear. Thus the repetition of similar straight lines, as in the architecture and decoration of Craftsman houses, makes for unity; and so, far more subtly, does the repetition of identical or similar curves.
For example, the cabriole legs found in Louis XV, Dutch, and Queen Anne furniture, and in many fine Chippendale pieces, and illustrated in Figure 10, are based on the cyma recta, or line of beauty curve, and in a room in which important pieces of furniture of this type are used a subtle effect of unity in variety can be produced by repeating variations of this same curve in the outline or ornamental details of lambrequins, mirror tops, lighting fixtures, lamps, candle-sticks, vases, mantel clocks, andirons and firescreens; in the legs and finials of bookcase, desk or cabinet; in the border stripes of rugs, the seats and backs of chairs, the molding of cornice, trim and picture frames. Of course this does not mean that this curve must appear in all these situations. In fact, as will be developed in the chapter on Contrast, overemphasis of any type of line, however pleasing in itself, results in monotony and the loss of decorative charm. What it does mean is that the curve must be repeated a good many times and in various situations in order to yield a marked yet subtle effect of unity, and that, within reasonable limits, every such repetition will add to the mind's pleasure.
In the same way the elliptical medallion of a rug may be repeated in an elliptical table, in a mirror, in chair-backs, vases, lamps, candlesticks, small easel pictures, ferneries or tea tables; and suggested more or less definitely by such features as the arc of a half-elliptical wall table, the tops of book-blocks, or the defining curves of valances or tied-back draperies. The oval of many Hepplewhite chair-backs may be echoed in bowls, lamps, Italian candlesticks, andirons, bellows, in a lamp surmounted by a mushroom shade, in the echinus or egg and dart molding. A round dining table may be related to an oblong dining room by means of an oblong rug with a rounded elliptical medallion, by hangings or a frieze having a pattern based on the circle or hexagon, by a round bowl of flowers, a round Sheffield tray, a Lazy Susan, or by the wheels of a tea wagon. Similar triangles may appear in pediments, lamp shades or mantel clocks, as well as in groupings of furniture and small decorative objects; and similar oblongs in ceilings, wall spaces, windows, doors, rugs, table tops, pictures or books.