Proportions-Creation of a room II
When on the other hand the ceiling is too low to accord well with the other dimensions of the room, or when the ceiling of a room of normal proportions is to be raised in appearance in order to decrease the tranquillity and increase the animation, buoyancy and gayety of the room, nearly all of these processes must be reversed. Here the ceiling will normally be made very light in tone, relatively smooth in texture, and well illuminated both by day and by night. No heavy cornice can be used, and the ceiling must be kept free from cross-beams and even from ornamental plaster in deep relief. Horizontal divisions of the wall spaces will as far as possible be eliminated, while verticals will be emphasized in the background surfaces as far as practicable, providing always that they stop short of the point where stiffness begins. In practice this means that while vertical paneling or fairly pronounced stripes, which tend to push up the ceiling and pull in the walls, can be used happily in large rooms, the treatment of small rooms must be limited to relatively narrow and indistinct stripes. As far as is consistent with their proper function, the principal pieces of furniture will be relatively tall and narrow, and these proportions should be repeated and accented in the selection of pictures, vases, lamps and other accessories. The hangings will normally be made to increase the apparent height of the room by falling straight or almost straight. Where their texture is not too light or the distance from floor to sill too great they should be run to the floor, except in the case of markedly informal rooms, and it is very often desirable still further to emphasize the verticality of the hangings by the use of a valance, cut or pleated so that its bottom line describes a concave curve, and hung above the casing at a point just high enough to cover with its lower edge the top of the glass.
When the length of a room is too great to accord well with its width, means must be adopted which tend to restore the apparent proportions to what the mind regards as normal and therefore as pleasing. The first step is to arrange the long axes of the rugs and the large pieces of furniture, as far as possible, to run in the short axis of the room, since it is a principle of design that straight lines enclosed within a space increase the apparent dimension of the space in the direction of the lines. Two rugs of the same size and shape may be used, or three rugs, one approximately square in the center and one relatively long and narrow at either end. Orientals, or patterned rugs with many border lines, are better than plain rugs for this purpose. Choice between the use of two or three rugs will of course depend largely upon whether the furniture is to be arranged in two principal groups or kept more closely together in one. It often happens that a long and narrow room has a fireplace at one side, with the hearth projecting two or three feet or even farther into the room. To use a single long and narrow rug in such a situation would not only require a rug of unpleasing shape, unsymmetrically placed, and so different in proportions from the floor as to arouse a disagreeable consciousness of lack of harmony; but it would also further accentuate the length of the room as opposed to its width. Where for any reason the use of two or three rugs in such a situation is not considered desirable it is in general best to have a large plain or self-toned rug specially made to lie within fifteen or twenty inches of the walls, and either woven or cut to fit snugly around the hearth. A single big rug will give repose and balance to the room, and if large enough it will not affect the apparent proportions adversely, though it will of course do nothing to correct them. When this treatment is adopted for the floor it will therefore be even more necessary to emphasize the lines running across the room by proper choice and arrangement of the furniture.
The proportions of a long and narrow room can sometimes be helped by the use of large architectural mirrors, which when placed on the side walls appear to double the apparent width of the room; and also by placing the larger pieces of furniture farthest from the principal entrance-a method which, through the effect of linear perspective and the inveterate disposition of the mind to regard large things as near and small things as remote, causes the room as seen from the principal entrance to seem shorter. Finally, the walls may be covered with a paper in a light, neutral, and if possible a cool color and a shadowy or indistinct design, while a picture, cabinet or chair having a sharply defined outline and fairly bright coloring is placed in a conspicuous position at the remote end of the room, since the mind, through processes of association, always conceives of things with sharp outlines and bright coloring as being near at hand, and those with indistinct outline and neutral coloring as being far away.
FIGURE 26.- the most satisfactory method of treating with a single large rug a long and narrow room having a deeply projecting hearth on one side.