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Linoleum, of course, has been available for a good many years, but not until recently have its patterns and workmanship developed individuality enough to fit it into the com pany of the more completely evolved fabrics and other materials used in the furnishing of a room. These modern floor coverings, deriving their decorative motifs as they do from carpets and tiles, have had to overcome the wellfounded prejudice against the imitation of one medium by another. But they are achieving their end by adapting their borrowed designs so successfully that they are liked in spite of this handicap. The early Greek who first built a temple of stone instead of the usual wood doubtless had a similar prejudice to surmount. He did it successfully, as did also the maker of pewter vessels when he copied the design and decoration of silverware.
The latest patterns in these newer floors-the embossed tile effects as well as the marble designs are made up piece by piece with the color running completely through to the bottom of the material. This method of construction gives tremendous wearing qualities as well as the desired decorative effect.
One may have, for example, a floor of a dining room in square red tiles that show in the separate forms the charming shade variations characteristic of baked clay. Squares in contrasting colors with designs of ships, castles or heraldic insignia are placed among the tiles as accents. Another pattern suitable for an entrance hall or sunroom is made up of rectangular tiles laid in a brick, pavementlike design giving the effect of a well-laid tile floor. Even the picturesque effect of floors laid with irregularly shaped slabs of slate or stone in grays or colors is now obtainable in linoleum.
The marble tiling now found in linoleum may be obtained in combinations of black and white, or black and old ivory, or pink, or green. This attractive checker-board pattern may make an interesting floor for foyer or dining room, the sharply defined squares providing an excellent background for the usual rugs. For certain period effects where an actual marble floor would be impossible this modern material provides an excellent substitute.
These squares of black and white or colored marble in linoleum are often an aid in making a small space appear larger. In a small entrance hall, for example, an effect of greater width may be obtained by the use of six-inch marble squares. The patterns come in different sizes of squares, the smaller ones being best adapted for little rooms. Even in a large room the use of this pattern gives additional perspective and a sense of amplitude that a floor or floor covering of solid color would not impart.
The softer feel of linoleum to the feet compared to other types of floors is an important characteristic of these newer materials. Also, when the linoleum is cemented down with an under layer of builder's deadening felt in the modern way, a remarkably firm and smooth floor is obtained. Just as tile floors must be laid by experienced tile layers, so these modern floors of linoleum are put down by trained men who understand the material. In fact, these new materials really form permanent floors. Properly laid, they will last a generation at least, and in new houses that are to have floors of this type the architect often supervises their installation.
Linoleum also brings to the home decorator today not only bright color but durable color. Modern linoleum has been vastly improved during the last few years, and the inlaid variety which has the color and design running completely through it will retain its original tone for a lifetime. The white and colored marble effects combined with black give a variety of decorative floors, while the colors of the tile patterns present cheerful reds, greens, blues and more delicate lavenders, purples and tans.
Recourse is often being made to these latest patterns in linoleum in the transforming of old houses, where the wooden flooring is worn out or will no longer fit into the schemes of modern decoration.
With these floors of tile or marble effects an interesting setting is achieved at once for interiors. Nothing was more characteristic of Georgian homes of the more stately style, as well as Italian villas, than these marble squares of black and white and color. Red tiles bring back the spacious interiors of Spain, or, in a house suggestive of the early New York Dutch, a tile floor of this color for the dining room is an invaluable aid in providing the proper atmosphere.