The History of a House as a Building and Paneling

The whole of the work in the gallery shows the influence of the Italian renaissance and all its refinement and delicacy of feeling.

Hardwick Hall

For the ideal great chamber or state apartment we must turn to Hardwick Hall. Sixty-five feet long, a width of about 30 feet, exclusive of a large recess in which the chair of state is placed, and a height of about 24 feet, it is worthy of its name.


The decoration of this apartment merely consists of plaster and tapestry with but little panelling. The ceiling itself is plain, but an enriched frieze in “plaster” and “colour,” 11 feet deep, is a unique feature and worthy the attention of the student of English decoration.

After the Georges

After the Georges, English decoration may be said, for a time at least, to be devoid of interest. Its development had been continuous; taste may have ebbed and flowed a little.

Lower Ebb

But it is doubtful if in furniture and decoration it ever reached a lower ebb than in the middle of the 19th century. For what reason it is unnecessary to go into.

Speculative Builder

The “speculative builder,” the “manufacturer of furniture,” and the “drapery store decoration department” may have much to answer for.

Sense of Pleasure

But happily the time has passed when it was considered sufficient to have a knowledge of pictures and sculpture only. The sense of pleasure, which is to be derived from proportion and colour, must also be satisfied by the furniture and interior decoration of a home.

English Taste

With such examples as these noble houses and their contents in our midst, it is indeed surprising how English taste should have sunk so low as we find it in the middle of the last century.

Keener Appreciation in America

And indeed, at the present time; and it may be said that a keener appreciation is shown in America for the best of decoration than is found in England.

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Beautiful Homes in the United States

They are in the hands of an able teacher; and this appreciation finds expression in the many beautiful homes that have been erected in such parts of the United States as Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and California.

Unreserved Confidence

Furthermore, the Americans place their unreserved and unbounded confidence in the one man they chose to do their work and will leave him unfettered and uninterrupted to carry out his efforts far more so than the English of today.

Decorative Artists

Who will not only call in several so-called “decorative artists” to offer suggestions (who in all probability are not even conversant with the elementary rudiments of decoration), but will himself start on curio-hunting expeditions.

Bric-a-Brac Shop

Or (as they should be more rightly termed) “bargain-hunting exploits,” and collect together a mass of the most incongruous and irrelevant objets d’art, with an ultimate result that his house resembles a bric-a-brac shop more than a dwelling.

Refreshing and Inspiring

To feel oneself the possessor of a full and unreserved confidence is both refreshing and inspiring to the artist and encourages him to exert his every effort.

Essence of Brain and Knowledge

With a result that his work represents the very essence of his brain and knowledge, and nowhere is this confidence so freely bestowed as in America.

Proportion, Colour and Simplicity

As we have previously asserted, the most important ingredients of a tastefully treated room are proportion, colour and above all simplicity.

Decoration as Applied to Home

Decoration as applied to the treatment of one’s home is a misnomer. The house should be treated quite distinct from the public building, theatre or place of assembly.

Harmony and Repose

In the former, harmony and repose are essential, but in the latter the aim should be brilliancy and effect. A room should be a suitable background for the people and objects in it and should serve as a frame for the women’s gowns.

Association with Antique

Through an unbroken association with the antique, the slightest incorrect detail is instinctively felt.

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