Decorating Traditions Handed Down from the Kings

Decorating Traditions Handed Down from the Kings

Decoration is an art that always works downward-from the king, through the aristocracy, to the bourgeoisie; from the rich, through the well-to-do, to the poor. Period decoration in America took the usual course. Those who could afford to buy and transport European interiors did so. Those who could not afford it bought European rugs, furniture and fabrics. Those who couldn't afford these things contented themselves with cheaper reproductions of European originals. Those who couldn't afford reproductions bought cheaper adaptations of reproductions. Once period practice of any historic period is quite as absurd as to copy its clothes, its schools or its methods of transportation.

PLATE XVI - a fire-screen

PLATE XVI.- The fire-screen is a very useful piece of furniture, can be so designed as to reveal any desired combination of outline, texture, hue, tone and texture, and is therefore valuable in creating effects of parallelism in the composition of the fire-place group.

It must be admitted, however, that it is one thing to recognize the absurdity of an action, and another thing to refrain from the action, provided we think it to be the correct or the smart thing to do. Just at present no one thinks it the smart thing to have the floors of his rooms strewn with rushes, though this was the usual method of treating the floors of the great houses of Tudor England, even in the time of Elizabeth. On the other hand, it is now considered by many decorators, both professional and laymen, to be the smart thing to furnish a dining room with a refectory table and benches. Thus we find otherwise sensible people sitting on long, narrow and uncomfortable benches, and crowded at either side of a very narrow table which, as used historically, had diners on one side only-the side very near a wall, which offered protection against a surprise attack or a sudden knife-thrust from behind-while the other side was kept free for the movements of the servitors.

There is one safe way, and one only, to use in the homes of today the rich inheritance of the past. That way is to break things down into their essentials; to look to the meanings of things, and not to the time and place of their origin. What is a Louis XV chair? Essentially, a composition of curved lines of a peculiar type. Will it look well in a given drawing room? Assuredly, if the room contains in its architectural treatment and its other furniture and ornament enough lines of the same characteristic type to ensure an easily perceptible degree of likeness, and if the proportions of the chair accord with those of the room; but not otherwise. What is a miquecento damask? Essentially a composition of outline, color and texture, and as such it is well or ill adapted to our use in the degree that it accords with the other outlines, colors and textures dominant in the room to be decorated. The esthetic significance of a chair, a table or a cabinet depends in part upon its ornament, but chiefly upon its proportions and dominant lines; and whenever the proportions and dominant lines of chairs or tables or cabinets belonging to different historic styles are markedly similar, and their ornamental detail not so dissimilar as to destroy the necessary unity of the treatment, such pieces can be used together in a modern room quite as effectively as if they were the product of the same style.

Peculiar Styles and Decorations of Different Periods>>>>



Interior Decorating Course Interior Decorating Course
1. The Nature and Method of the Art | The Nature of Interior Decoration | The Method of Interior Decoration | 2. Fitness to Purpose | Interior Decoration Factors | Interior Decorator | Decorative Materials | 3. The Grammar of Decoration | Grammar of Decoration | Form and Color | 4. Line and Form | Line and Form | Curved Lines | Broken Vertical Lines | Diagonal Lines | Three Dimensions | 5. Color | The Nature of Color | The Study of Color | Complementary Colors | Color Constants | Color and Emotion | Color Binaries | 6. The Significance of Texture | The Significance of Texture | Harmonious Textures | 7. The Elements of Beauty | Elements of Beauty | The Human Mind | The Human Mind II | The Dominant Element | The Dominant Element 2nd Method | Reccuring Lines, Shapes and Echoed Colors | Repetition of Color | Perception of Beauty | Variety in Decoration | 8. The Law of Contrast | The Law of Contrast | Contrast and Comparison | Tone Contrast | Tranquility | Individual Feeling | 9. Proportion | Proportion | The Laws of Proportion | Proportions-Creation of a room | Proportions-Creation of a room II | Increasing & Diminishing The Apparent Size of a Room | The Arrangement of Furniture | Proportion-Individual Decorative Units | Instinctive Insistance of a Dominant Element | Basic Importance of Structure | Walls of a Room - Decoration and Proportion | 10. Balance | Balance | Decorative Weight or Power of Attraction | Fixed Decorations, Furniture & Small Unimportant Pieces | Bisymmetric and Formal Balance | Balanced Distribution of Pictures and Rugs | Structural Emphasis and Repose of Background Surfaces 11. Light and Shade | Light and Shade | Quantity and Intensity of Illumination | The Nature and Distribution of Light | Secondary Contracts between Background and Ornamental Objects | 12. The Dominant Hue | The Dominant Hue | Temperament in Decoration | Color to Supplement or Correct Nature | Choice of the Dominant Hue | Background Color | 13. Color Harmony | Color Harmony I | Color Harmony II | Diversity and Animation of Harmonies | Complementary of a Room | Triads in Decoration | Distribution and Intensity of Colors | Contrast - A Principle of Composition | Connecting Rooms Using Harmonious Color | 14. Ornament | Ornament | Naturalistic Ornament | Knowledge of Historic Ornament | 15. Excellence in Design | Excellence in Design - 1st Test of Excellence | Proper Use of Decorative Materials - 2nd & 3rd Tests of Excellence | Beauty in Design - 4th Test of Excellence | Designs with Walls and Wall Paper | Designs with Floor Coverings | Designs with Hangings | 16. Period Decoration Period Decoration | Different Styles in Different Periods | Decorating Traditions Handed Down from the Kings | Peculiar Styles and Decorations of Different Periods | 17. Conclusion | Conclusion


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