Temperament in Decoration
Here we have to do with the question of temperament. To some of us it is the intensity of an emotion that counts, not its duration, and life is chiefly precious for its golden hours. To others the ideal state is the one that can be evenly maintained, and a decorative treatment always mildly pleasing is better than one which, however perfect for its hour or season, is less pleasing for a great part of the time.
Present-day practice has worked out a method through which one can both eat his cake and keep it. The character of a red dining room or library may be changed in half an hour by covering the hangings and chairs with slip covers of cretonne, and by this simple and inexpensive device the room may be adapted alternately to summer and winter weather, while each change by contrast gives a new charm.
Yellow can be used as a dominant hue in any room, though it seems most fitting in the drawing room and breakfast room, and least fitting in the bedroom. The peculiar excellence of yellow lies in its cheerful and even joyous animation, its defect in an impersonal quality that makes it difficult to use in any apartment in which an effect of intimacy or camaraderie is aimed at.
Yellow is the most adaptable of all the colors. It is effective in all values, from the palest cream to the darkest yellow-brown, and is equally at home in the cheapest or the most sumptuous surroundings. A drawing room may be done in paneled and painted ivory walls, old Chinese rugs, yellow damask hangings, satin-wood and lacquered furniture and costly bric-a-brac, as a living room may be done in yellow calcimined walls, Sundour or cretonne hangings, fumed oak and willow furniture and inexpensive bric-a-brac-provided, of course, that the things are good in line and color-and the result will in each case be happy. Where yellow is made dominant in any room except the drawing room or breakfast room, the choice is usually determined by some other consideration than the purpose of the room.
Orange is most pleasant as the dominant hue when the yellow element in it is markedly in excess of the red. The browns have orange as a base. The red browns, produced from red-orange, are hot, aggressive and unmanageable colors. The golden browns, on the contrary, have something of the cheerfulness and animation of yellow and something of the warmth and hospitality of red, and are therefore excellent for living room, library and hall. They are too dead for the drawing room, and, in general, too lacking in individuality and force for the dining room.
Where violet-and this is also true of red-violet, or purple-is used as the dominant hue, its choice will always be determined by personal preference rather than by any innate fitness for a particular room. Violet will concur in effects of repose, dignity and elegance, and, in the higher values, of reticence and daintiness. Purple will concur in effects of dignity, sumptuousness and splendor. Its subdued warmth and subtle emotional qualities give it great value and distinction in decorative work, but it must be used only by those who like it.
Green may be made the dominant hue in any room where its quality of restful coolness is desired. Gray-greens and the broken tones of yellow-green are pleasantly suggestive of verdure and of nature in her softer moods. Green is, however, an earthy color, and its calmness has little of the spiritual quality of blue. The greens vary widely in character and emotional value as they pass from somber blue-green to sunny yellow- green, and as they change in value from dark to light. Moreover, they vary surprisingly in pleasantness, not only with purity but also with the texture in which they appear and the light under which they are seen. Some green textiles are hopelessly commonplace and uninteresting. On the other hand, many of the greens to be found in fine velvets and deep-pile rugs possess a distinction and charm not surpassed by any color and approached by few. The normal hue is unpleasant and, far from being restful, has an irritating quality, more potent to exhaust nervous energy than any other hue.