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Scale In House Furnishings
( Originally Published 1935 )
Scale imposes general requirements of four different sorts upon house furnishings.
1. Each article must be in scale with the room containing it.
2. Each article must be in scale with the other articles in the room.
3. The various structural parts of each article must be in scale with each other and with the whole.
4. The decoration on the article must be in scale with it.
The size of the room determines the size of the furniture to be used therein. A small room should have small furniture both for utility and for beauty. Small furniture makes a room seem spacious. Large rooms call for larger furniture, but if small furniture must be used in large rooms it can be grouped so that the mind will perceive the group rather than individual pieces. Many people who have moved from larger quarters to apartments find that their furniture is too large. It seems pointless to retain large pieces when there is no intention of returning to large homes. They can often be made usable by cutting them down in size.
Things that are totally unrelated in size can not be a part of the same group. The mind refuses to consider them together. Many errors are made in using together articles that are out of scale. Some of the common mistakes are placing large lamps on small end tables, large bouquets in small vases, large pictures in small rooms, and tiny art objects on large pieces of furniture.
A few examples are given here to explain the application of scale to the parts of one object. Often chairs seem badly proportioned because the understructure is too heavy and comes too close to the floor. A large vase with such a small base that it appears tippy is badly scaled. Pitchers often have handles or spouts that are too small. Examples of violation of scale are so common that the reader can probably see several by looking about.
The size of an object and the size of the pattern applied to it should not be disproportionate. It is better to have no decoration at all than to have a decoration which is too large or too small. Unpleasantly large patterns on dishes, wall paper, and carpets are quite common. In textiles it is very noticeable if the scale of the design does not agree with the scale of the threads in the fabric. Rough textures should have large patterns; smooth textures require small patterns.
Obviously, large people require rooms and furnishings of more generous proportions than small people. A large man on a small chair is capable of ruining the effect of a restful room.