• Includes original illustrations • The book has been proof-read and corrected for spelling and grammatical errors • A table of contents with working links to chapters is included • Quality formatting Rooms may be decorated in two ways: by a superficial application of ornament totally independent of structure, or by means of those architectural features which are part of the organism of every house, inside as well as out.
• Includes original illustrations
• The book has been proof-read and corrected for spelling and grammatical errors
• A table of contents with working links to chapters is included
• Quality formatting
Rooms may be decorated in two ways: by a superficial application of ornament totally independent of structure, or by means of those architectural features which are part of the organism of every house, inside as well as out.
In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the conditions of life, and men camped in their castles much as they did in their tents, it was natural that decorations should be portable, and that the naked walls of the mediæval chamber should be hung with arras, while a ciel, or ceiling, of cloth stretched across the open timbers of its roof.
When life became more secure, and when the Italian conquests of the Valois had acquainted men north of the Alps with the spirit of classic tradition, proportion and the relation of voids to masses gradually came to be regarded as the chief decorative values of the interior. Portable hangings were in consequence replaced by architectural ornament: in other words, the architecture of the room became its decoration.
This architectural treatment held its own through every change of taste until the second quarter of the present century; but since then various influences have combined to sever the natural connection between the outside of the modern house and its interior. In the average house the architect's task seems virtually confined xx to the elevations and floor-plan. The designing of what are to-day regarded as insignificant details, such as mouldings, architraves, and cornices, has become a perfunctory work, hurried over and unregarded; and when this work is done, the upholsterer is called in to "decorate" and furnish the rooms.
As the result of this division of labor, house-decoration has ceased to be a branch of architecture. The upholsterer cannot be expected to have the preliminary training necessary for architectural work, and it is inevitable that in his hands form should be sacrificed to color and composition to detail. In his ignorance of the legitimate means of producing certain effects, he is driven to all manner of expedients, the result of which is a piling up of heterogeneous ornament, a multiplication of incongruous effects; and lacking, as he does, a definite first conception, his work becomes so involved that it seems impossible for him to make an end.
The confusion resulting from these unscientific methods has reflected itself in the lay mind, and house-decoration has come to be regarded as a black art by those who have seen their rooms subjected to the manipulations of the modern upholsterer. Now, in the hands of decorators who understand the fundamental principles of their art, the surest effects are produced, not at the expense of simplicity and common sense, but by observing the requirements of both. These requirements are identical with those regulating domestic architecture, the chief end in both cases being the suitable accommodation of the inmates of the house.
The fact that this end has in a measure been lost sight of is perhaps sufficient warrant for the publication of this elementary sketch. No study of house-decoration as a branch of architecture has for at least fifty years been published in England or America; and though France is always producing admirable monographs xxi on isolated branches of this subject, there is no modern French work corresponding with such comprehensive manuals as d'Aviler's Cours d'Architecture or Isaac Ware's Complete Body of Architecture.