Interior Decorating - Colour and Colour-Schemes
( Originally Published 1919 )
FORM and Colour are the twin foundation stones of art. Form must come first, before the application of colour, but construction is the province of the architect. Wall decoration when extensive may be done by the architect, the decorator, or by both working conjointly. Part I of this book gives a thorough consideration of the treatment of walls in all periods, so that nothing pertaining to form remains here for consideration excepting the arrangement and balance of the furniture and other objects to be introduced into the interior and the matters of design and scale. Consideration of these points will naturally come later.
On the other hand, it is impossible for us even to plan our scheme of decoration without reference to the universally interesting subject of colour.
In this chapter colour will be treated from a simple and practical point of view. It is a subject upon which a vast deal of theory is usually expended, all in itself excellent but usually resulting simply in the obfuscation of the general reader. There is perhaps a better way to communicate it.
As everyone knows, the primary colours are yellow, red and blue, and the binary colours (those composed of two) are orange (yellow and red), violet (red and blue) and green (yellow and blue).
Red, yellow and blue are called primary colours because white light in the solar spectrum separates into these three basic colours. As pure light these colours would fuse back into white. In material pigment they do not quite accomplish this but fuse into grey.
Two simple little diagrams will explain the matter of colour. Yellow, red and blue may be called the "eternal triangle" of colour—let us so arrange them.
As orange is an equal mixture of normal yellow and red, let us place it midway between its two components, also placing the other two binary colours between the components of each. We then have superimposed a second triangle upon the first.
The dotted lines will show at once the opposing or complementary colours. They are opposing because each of these contains none of the other. Orange is a mixture of yellow and red and contains no blue. Blue and orange are therefore opposing. A glance at the diagram will likewise show the other opposing colours. It is simplicity itself.
There is a curious effect which while, of course, experienced by all artists, has not, to the, writers' knowledge, previously been formally pointed out. It is a most important one to be remembered by all who have to handle colour. Let us glance for a moment at our triangle of yellow, red and blue. Yellow and blue, though occupying opposing points of the triangle and thus contrasting, do yet form a harmony of difference, i.e., they are pleasing in combination.
Blue and red also occupy two opposing points of the triangle and while they are less contrasting than blue and yellow are at the same time less pleasing an harmony.
Yellow and red likewise occupy two opposing points of the triangle. Now these, in their pure state, form no harmony, but rather a discord. If we but remember these things, and also that the three colours in the upper left of the diagram (yellow, orange and red) are advancing or aggressive and warm colours and those in the right (green and blue) are retreating or quiet and cool colours, we have already gone far in the understanding of colour for decoration. Violet is neutral. In decorative practice gold also is neutral.
Our useful little diagram shows that normal orange is half way between yellow and red, i.e., it is composed of an equal power of each. It is evident that if more red be added it becomes a reddish orange, and if more yellow it becomes a yellowish orange. It is also plain that if one follows the dotted line from orange across the diagram to its opponent blue and adds blue to orange he will neutralise the orange by the blue he adds until if a sufficient power of blue were added the orange would be totally destroyed and the combination become grey. It is by this adding of a portion of one colour to another, or the adding to them of white or black that tones are made.
The number of hues and tones to be produced by the mixture of colours is necessarily very large. The most prominent are those composed of any one of the six colours on the second diagram with the one next it —thus yellow and orange produce yellow orange. The others in successive order are red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green.
In practice the most generally useful colours are the slightly greyed hues of these twelve colours and those known as the Tertiary and Quartenary Colours and are produced as follows :
Tertiary: The mixture of two Binary (sometimes called Secondary) colours—Slate (violet and green), citrine (green and orange), russet (orange and violet).
Quartenary : the mixture of two Tertiary colours —Sage (citrine and slate), buff (citrine and russet), plum (russet and slate).
As one thinks of such tones as buff, rose, grey, grey blue, etc., it is plain that such tones are more agree-able and subtle than the strident and hard primary yellow, red and blue.
The strong prismatic primaries and binaries are suitable for accents, about which we shall by-and-by have much to say, but in quantity are not agreeable to cultivated tastes.
With but a few words as to the general characteristics of each colour we shall be ready to proceed to their use in decoration. It should be remembered that these characteristics are those of the pure colours and that in their tones they are modified by the amount of departure from this original.
Yellow: Although sunlight is a white light, yellow gives more of an effect of light than does white itself. If a piece of light yellow paper is placed out of doors on a, gloomy day and glanced at through the window it will appear as if the sun were shining upon it. Yellow in its various shades is therefore useful for the lightening of dark rooms.
Red: It is perhaps safe to say that when the colour red is mentioned many understand by it the colour which is represented by vermilion; nor is this strange when even writers on interior decoration give this hue as prismatic red in their colour charts. Nevertheless, the real prismatic red is a quite different colour, strongly inclining toward the crimson shade and more nearly represented by rose madder or carmine.
Anyone at all familiar with the three-colour process of colour-plate making and its present remark-ably faithful reproduction of tones of every description will at once realise the truth of this, as the "Red" ink used in printing these plates is of a quite carmine hue. The distinction is of high importance, a misunderstanding of the definition of a point at issue being often the main cause of dispute.
It is, for instance, usually observed that red is a very exciting colour. This is quite true of the vermilion red, which contains some yellow and is therefore really orange red, and true to a less degree of the true prismatic red. All reds have the quality of warmth.
Orange: Orange, which partakes of the nature of both yellow and red, therefore combines their qualities of light and heat.
Blue: Blue is one of the retiring colours and is quieting in its influence; it is also cool, in some shades cold. These qualities should be borne in mind.
Green: Green, which is the combination of yellow and blue, has the qualities of light, quiet and coolness.
Violet: Violet possesses richness and sumptuousness, which have associated it with royalty. It has also sombreness, which has associated it ecclesiastically with penitential seasons and death, and individually with a lesser mourning than black.
Having briefly gone over the characteristics and relations of colours, their use in decoration can be taken up, and this can perhaps best be done in an easy-going conversational way. Let us begin with an example:
As a well-dressed man might, for instance, with clothes and accessories of quiet tan, wear a tie of an orange shade, or containing it, so if the colouring of a room were of similar character a strong note might be struck by an orange bowl filled with nasturtiums, an orange screen, or other such object. This strong, introduced note would be an Accent. Without such accent a keyed and related room (or a costume), though harmonious is apt to be monotonous and dead.
But, the man with the tan costume might also, and better yet, wear a tie of blue, and so might the room have a bowl or other object of blue, and if the shade is right it will give an accent of more value and variety than the accent of kindred shade. This is because blue is the complementary or opposing colour of yellow and each therefore gives value and quality to the other.
It will thus be seen that there are two kinds of accent-the related and the opposing—and that without the one or the other a room is characterless and with use becomes exceeding tiresome.
The word accent itself shows its purpose of simply adding emphasis, so that it is at once plain that in such a tan room as we are considering we must not have too much orange or blue (either in mass or number of scattered objects) or instead of accent we shall then have disturbance. It is also obvious that in such a room we might have much more of orange as an emphasis than we could rightly have of blue, because the first is related and the second is not, but is opposing.
It is equally plain that our principles still hold if we reverse the combination. One of the prettiest rooms the writers remember was a simple little guest chamber in a country house. It was furnished in old mahogany and at the rather high-set double windows were curtains of blue and white, while on the floor were simple grey-blue rugs, matching in shade the blue of the curtain. Had there been introduced into this room our previously mentioned orange bowl of nasturtiums the result would have. been perfection.
And the citing of this room brings us to another re-source we have in furnishing. It will be noticed that in addition to the blue in the curtain there was white, and we would now also mention that the wall-paper was of a grey-white with a little scattered snowflake pattern in white talc thereon. We have, therefore, in addition to the blue and orange the introduction of a third element—white ; and a fourth in the mahogany tone of the furniture.
White is not a colour, but is the combination of all the colours and therefore neutral, so that it conflicts with no other color and may safely be used with any.
In the present instance the mahogany is closely related to the orange and contrasted pleasantly with the shade of blue employed, so that here again we have no conflict but a safe and beautiful combination of four colour-elements in the one room. Our resources are growing.
Now say that we introduce, besides the above furnishings, a screen covered with cretonne of which the same tone of blue is the dominant note, but which contains green leaves and perhaps a number of other colours, all of which however occupy lesser space than the blue and are pleasantly related or contrasted—so far as colour is concerned we should still be safe.
We therefore arrive at an important point. Many home furnishers and even some professional decorators are apt to limit themselves too closely for life, variety and pleasantness of effect by the laying out of colour schemes or "rhythmic notes" composed exclusively of varying shades of one colour, or adding simply an accent. On the other hand, many women and even women decorators indulge in a riot of colour without a sufficiently large basis of neutral or at least quiet and undisturbed surface. In short, we see that the two errours to be avoided are all "harmony" with-out "relief" and all "relief" without "harmony."
We must, in furnishing, therefore use consideration, and a little thought will usually set us right. Take up, as an example, the question of the introduction of the varied cretonne screen into the blue and white room we have been considering. It might, so far as colour is concerned, be safe, but would it otherwise be advisable'? In this room it would not have been, because the room was small and the only unbroken surfaces of blue were the two small rugs. The cretonne, therefore, might have given the room a crowded, restless effect.
Much better, if a screen were required in this case, would be one of which the covering was a plain related blue. On the other hand, had the room been large, with correspondingly large unbroken surfaces of blue and white, the cretonne would have afforded a pleas-ant relief. Here, then, other questions than those of colour have entered--those of space and quantity. Its placing would also have to be taken into account, so involving the question of balance. We note, therefore, simply by way of warning, that in considering one phase of decoration, colour, we must not forget others of like importance and must not be carried off our feet and purchase goods themselves delightful in their col-our effect but inadvisable in other respects for the use we wish them for.
Bearing in mind these interesting principles we can go over the various possible colour-schemes and combinations and see their suitability in many instances and their inadvisability in others, treating each colour as including all its varying shades and tones.
COLOUR IN DECORATION
WHITE AND BLACK
White, not properly a colour, is here mentioned first of all, and for that very reason. It is both a neutral and a universal harmoniser. From the decorator's point of view we should consider as "whites" not only pure white but all the varying shades, such as grey, cream, ashes of rose, etc., which are too light to be properly classed under those names.
White is also first taken up because walls and ceilings are first to be considered in any furnishing, and for this purpose light shades are most frequently advisable. Of these shades the whites, alone or in combination, are among the very best. Their own beauty and adaptability are a sufficient recommendation, but they possess the further advantage of relieving too great adherence to a given colour-scheme. There is no reason, for instance, why a blue room should be all blue, and proclaim the instant one enters it : "Yes, I am Blue; indubitably, unmistakably Blue." The use for walls of one of the white or light tones in such a case relieves a scheme which otherwise would be artificial and oppressive. It is quite sufficient that the dominant note of a room should be of the selected col-our without that colour running riot.
Walls in "the whites" will be treated in detail under that section. The same tones are of eminent use for wood-work and curtains and will be discussed under those heads.
White in combination with black recently amounted to a fashionable craze. The combination is rather too startling for a room continually occupied but may have its uses. A reception room with black and white striped paper of not too violent a pattern, and black lacquered or painted furniture upholstered in Chinese or other gorgeous fabric would be effective and not unduly outre. Some of the cretonnes with black and white stripes broken by groups of roses in conventional form are very attractive, and black alone makes the best possible background for flowered cretonnes, bringing out the colours with effect and charm, and being exceedingly sensible, as it does not readily soil.
White in juxtaposition with colours heightens their effect and raises their key, while black reduces and lowers them.
YELLOW, ORANGE AND BROWN
As previously seen, yellow stands for light and in its pure shades makes for cheerfulness in rooms which have but moderate sunlight. By the same token, in strongly lighted rooms it makes for glare. If used in such rooms, therefore, the quieter shades of yellow, such as buff and tan, are usually chosen. Quietness need never mean dullness, but in household practice it too frequently does. We have previously :inveighed against the deadness of many American homes; is it from simple inertia or from incapacity for any originality that so many rooms exist with walls of dead and dull mustard-colour oatmeal paper, which absorbs all light as a sponge does moisture; rugs and portieres in perhaps a darker and still duller shade, "relieved" perchance with brown or sickly cream. Frequently added to this is Mission furniture in the dullest of oak, and leather cushions of the same hue, unrelieved by any ray of brightness, a veritable symphony of mud and mustard! If any reader is unfortunately possessed of such a room we trust he will make speed to import into it some notes of strong orange or blue as previously suggested; but in newly furnishing let us point out the better way. If one wishes to use a quiet shade of buff, etc., there is no objection to quietness if it has life, i.e., enough yellow or orange in its composition to avoid the deadness which, all considered, is really a note of the "ordinary" and the "neutral."
But quiet tones in even an highly lighted room are not of absolute necessity. It is to be remembered that there are always such things as awnings, shades, Venetian blinds and curtains rich and heavy enough to modify and diffuse a garish light to a happy glow. With such a light it is therefore possible, if one wishes, to employ tones of orange, buff, gold or Chinese yellow, all making for life and cheerfulness.
These tones go well with golden or dark oak, with mahogany, walnut, ivory or painted furniture, so that the yellows are among the most desirable shades for furnishing. It is well, however, not to let this colour —or any other—"run away" with one. A mingling with other harmonising and pleasantly contrasting col-ours is advisable in some of the draperies or in the various objects of ornament a room contains, so as to obviate the artificial air always given by an apartment too definitely of one colour. This is' notably the case with a strong yellow, for it is unbecoming to some complexions and does not invariably form the best back-ground for the dress of modern women.
The browns are derivatives from yellow mixed with red and some blue. There are many attractive shades, and brown velour for hangings is rich and handsome. The colour should, however, be sparingly used, as it makes for darkness and dullness.
RED AND ITS DERIVATIVES
In its proper shades and proper proportions red is of eminent value in interior decoration. An all red room is too suggestive of the infernal regions for sane and cultured folk. Perhaps the frieze of raw green which so often accompanies such apartments is in-tended as an off-set reference to the Elysian Fields.
The distinction has already been drawn between the true and vermilion reds. Both have. their value, but that of the former is much wider in its application. Indeed, in this prismatic red in its slightly greyed hue of soft crimson, often seen in old silk shawls, and in its lightened tone of rose, we have one of the most useful and one of the loveliest colour resources of the decorator and the home-maker. The deep hues have vitality and warmth, and so are most suitable for city use. Rose has an enlivening and human quality without the heat of the stronger shades, and so in proper quantities may anywhere be used. As red in any shade is an advancing colour its just proportions are naturally much less than of such a retiring shade as soft green and a comparatively small quantity will make it dominant where desirable. Reference to the description of an apartment in the subsequent section on "Unity and Variety" will show a good management of such a scheme.
The soft crimsons above referred to and the soft shades of rose are excellent in solid colours with a stripe or pattern in the weave for upholstering, portieres, and the like. Baby pink is weak and character-less and its use even for the young girl's room cannot be commended. Far better for this purpose would be walls in some one of "the whites'' with cretonnes in a dainty French striped or flowered pattern of rose and blue, with perhaps a trifle of mauve, on a white or cream ground. This with ivory-white or mahogany or painted furniture makes a charming combination. Grey and rose is another attractive and feminine colour-scheme.
In a happy blending with other colours in cretonne and other fabrics, reds have some of their most eminent values. If we are to use colour for beauty, for cheer, for delight—and our lives might be much more enriched by it than at present—it will be found that it is by such happy combinations and blending's rather than in the laying on of colour in masses that our object will be gained.
The vermilion red is most useful for accents for out-of-doors employment. A few porch chairs of this colour, a hammock, or a small quantity of vermilion on a tent gives a festive touch, in relief to the masses of green in grass and foliage.
There are entrancing tones of blue, the employment of which amply justifies the popularity of this colour in decorative use. There are, however, other shades of coldness or hardness of which one can only say : beware.
Furthermore, there is another difficulty in the use of blue to which attention must be called. Both men and women artistically inclined must have noticed in the matter of personal attire how hard it is to secure blue shades which "go together." With yellows there is not this difficulty; yellows which are even quite different in hue often harmonise well; various shades of red do not always dwell happily together; yet neither of these colours present the difficulty of blue, where a very slight difference in tone often is enough to result in discord. The present writers believe that they are the first to point out the extreme sensitiveness of the colour blue in this respect, and they are glad to pass on the warning to their readers.
We may go further—let us take, for instance, one of the loveliest colour schemes which the colour-loving soul of man has yet devised, old blue and old ivory—a room panelled or papered in ivory white, Louis Seize furniture painted in old ivory and upholstered in old blue, with gold picture frames and candlesticks of the period. It is of the greatest beauty ; it is, as the French would say, "of an elegance," but does it not lack humanity ? It is not the elegance which proves the obstacle, for if we painted simple cottage furniture in the same tone of ivory, upholstered it in an inexpensive material of the same old blue, and laid cotton rugs of the same hue on the floor, the result would inevitably be the same; it is the nature of the blue; for if it is cool it is also a trifle cold—unloving. But let one take into either of these rooms a bowl of roses (not the purplish American Beauty but the true rose shade, mingled perhaps with cream) and we have an harmony which not only sings but which makes the room a place in which to live.
The artistically sensitive French knew this, and continually we find them mingling with their blue either rose or its lighter shade of pink, or else old gold, which is not quite so good for the purpose.
With these reservations, blue may be heartily commended, especially in its greyed, medium and peacock shades. It is admirably adapted for country and sea-side use, and as previously noted, in proper combination it possesses refinement and elegance.
If baby pink cannot be recommended neither can baby blue—both seem to indicate a "silliness."
Green is another of the retiring colours. It is also cool in many shades, but naturally not so much so as the blue which enters into its composition and which is partially neutralised by its other component, yellow. If a greater proportion of yellow is introduced it be-comes warmer and more advancing, according to the quantity added. As (we write it reverently) The Great Decorator of the World has used these two col-ours of blue and green in sky and sea and vegetation, we must recognise their appropriateness in larger masses than with the reds, and yellows, and brighter blues in which He paints the flowers.
As will be seen in the section on "Unity and Variety" really bright colours are not advisable for walls and ceilings. A green of considerable strength may, however, so be used and "Chelsea" green was much in vogue for panelled walls in Queen Anne's time.
Green is an eminently suitable colour in its soft tones for rugs and portieres. The violent hues seen in some cheap goods have no place anywhere in decoration. Olive green is rich and handsome; but, like brown, it must be employed in moderation if heaviness is to be avoided. Blue greens are frequently used in painted furniture and when sufficiently relieved with other col-ours are excellent for this purpose. It may be said that green universally needs relief; while a thoroughly wholesome colour as a background and in combination, an all green room would be almost unbearable in its influence, even in the lighter shades. We feel the need of enhancing yellow, orange, or rose.
Soft green, white, and rose is an excellent colour-scheme employed by some British decorators with great success (Plate 64) and too seldom used here.
Blue may also be used with green if the shades of both are right.
Of all colours there are vivid hues which in small quantities may be effectively and beautifully blended with other vivid colours. One of these shades is Paris green. We have seen this combined with vivid rose in a pair of Chinese slippers. But the Chinese are masters of colour: perhaps some day we shall know colour as they do. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Saxon who looks down upon them may sit at their feet and learn.
VIOLET, MAUVE AND MULBERRY
As will later be seen Violet is a heavily worked colour in the "Newer" decoration, elsewhere it is not so greatly employed as others.
We sometimes see rather effective rooms for women in its lighter shade of mauve. There is a dullish, red-dish mauve used in the new French decorations and we have seen wall-paper in this shade striped with greyish white. With textiles of the same shade of mauve much might be done, as it is a firmer and less feminine hue than the usual shade.
Mulberry is a violet so filled with red that perhaps it might better have been included under that colour. It is dark and rich, and if used with a sufficient quantity of lighter colouring is handsome for draperies. Care should be used in selection, for under artificial light some shades of mulberry look brown.
Normal grey is a fusion of equal powers of the three primary colours, yellow, red and blue. But if there is an excess of any one or two of these the tone would naturally lean toward the colour or colours in excess, so that there are really numerous hues of grey. The warm greys are naturally therefore those which have a yellowish or pinkish tone, while those of bluish or greenish cast are cool.
Greys are preeminently useful as backgrounds, i.e., for walls and ceilings, and of great value in the mingling of various colours in cretonnes and other fabrics ; with green and blue, it prevents the hotness which would result from too much red or yellow.
Occasionally it is employed for the coverings of settees and chairs, and certain shades go well with ivory or gold furniture, the combination being of great refinement and elegance. In such cases, however, grey like blue requires the presence of rose or yellow to give relief.
The cream-grey of linen furniture-covering is cool and refreshing in the heat of summer, but not everyone realises how much the effect will be improved if a few coloured objects, such as couch pillows, etc., are left out to give relief. It would hardly seem needful to point out what a bowl of flowers will do in this respect and yet how often do we see country houses with abundant blooms without and ne'er a flower within.
While probably, if pressed for a close statement, such a theory would be disclaimed, some writers who philosophise upon the subject of colour seem to convey the impression in portions of their text that the qualities of colours are due to their association—that green and blue, for instance, are quiet and refreshing because we associate them with vegetation and the sky. Such a theory would be a distinct errour. Doubt-less these associations may have caused a quicker apprehension and heightening of those qualities in the human mind; but, as indubitably, every true colourist realises that, apart from any association whatever, the qualities we have mentioned are inherently possessed by the colours.
The distinction is of much importance, because we must realise' that in dealing with colour we are not employing mere symbolism but are handling media whose character is fixed and known.
It is perhaps because of such cloudiness of statement as we have noted that "practical people" who know the actualities of steel, for instance, and respect the builder of the bridge or the skyscraper for its use, often feel that the man who insists upon employing colour in a way fully as appropriate for his purposes is but "fanciful and foolish."
The simple fact is that no branch of human endeavour is more firmly based upon principles of eternal truth than is Art.
COLOUR AS DICTATED BY PERIODS AND STYLES
It should be remembered that in certain periods certain colours, patterns, and textiles were most used with the interiors and furniture of those periods. These have all been duly treated under those periods in Part I of this book, and if a period furnishing is to be followed, should be thoroughly studied.
These details will not usually be found hampering, as goods in appropriate textures and colours may nearly always be had sufficiently near to the period use to be appropriate.
It should be remembered that with dark-panelled 'Walls full-bodied colour was naturally used as relief.
So far, the term value has not been used, and yet the thing itself has virtually been dealt with in our discussions regarding colour and will necessarily occur again and again throughout this volume. It might conversationally be defined as the lightness or darkness of objects irrespective of their colour. To illustrate, sup-pose we have before us two samples of goods, one a turquoise blue and the other a crimson. Now, putting aside for a moment all question of colour, we at once see that relatively the first is light and the second is dark—these are the " values " of those respective pieces of goods. A study in values is given in Plate 58.
The question of value comes into decoration in the form of contrast. We may think of introducing a certain object into the furnishing of a room; its colour may be perfectly satisfactory, but when we try the effect we may find that the object is so light or so dark that it separates itself from all others and "jumps" at us. Its "value" therefore is too high or too low for the room.
Scale in colour is a proper correspondence in the intensity of the colours used. An absolute correspondence would be either the use of all the colours in their strongest hues or else a greying of them all in a like degree. Such correspondence as this makes for harmony—and also for monotony. A total want of correspondence makes for entire incongruity. Let us exemplify—as to the first, a whole room done in pastel shades, all equally greyed, would be uninteresting to the last degree. As to the second: bring into another room, in which the textiles are precious antiques of quite sufficient but time-softened colour, a new cushion of raw, untamed red-orange or brilliant blue—and you bring disaster. The existing beautiful tones would be "killed" by the new arrival, and of that itself we should immediately exclaim : "Take it away; it is all out of scale!"
Entire correspondence or entire dissonance should therefore be avoided and an harmonising but not equal degree of intensity decided upon. The reason for this is plain. Some accent is needed for relief and contrast, but over accent simply produces disturbance. We have, it is true, the contrast of the colours themselves, but to avail ourselves of the whole gamut of colour we should add a proper degree of contrast in their intensities also.
A quiet or soft colouring is one in which most of the tones are greyed, with a few of somewhat greater strength: a brilliant colouring is one in which most of the colours are high with a few of somewhat lesser in-tensity: and necessarily there is a succession of degrees between. The degree decided upon is the pitch or key.
And not only may a certain key of colour exist in an individual fabric, but throughout a room full of them: and the same plan of accent may there also prevail. Many decorators, for instance, use in general fabrics of soft colouring—because they are naturally harmonious and easy to manage and then "key up the room" with a few notes of more intense but not incongruous colour with perhaps a black satin cushion or two to add to the contrast. But if one has a proper colour-sense it is not necessary to "play safe" to this degree--the Orientals have never found it obligatory to be anaemic in order to be harmonious. We may take the cue from them and from the age of Louis Quinze, when colouring was, exquisite but nevertheless in good strong tones—in tones, however, not in raw and undiluted rainbow hues.
THE PROPORTIONS OF COLOURS
The proportions in which the respective colours in a colour-scheme should be used have been given and we may mention those in a particular harmony:
Sage 1/2, slate and citron 1/2 each, green 1/2 and blue and yellow 1/32 each.
Such examples are useful as indicating the large amount of neutral tone as opposed to stronger hues commonly advisable; especially for amateurs in furnishing and those who have not a strongly developed colour-sense. It would manifestly be absurd, however, to attempt to apply in practice such tables literally or in any "rule of thumb" manner, measuring off so many square feet to be in such a colour, so many in another, and so on. As there is nothing like actual demonstration let us try it and see.
The proportions in each instance are based on the normal colours, and the moment these are departed from the conditions are changed. In the example given the green would (from its quantity) naturally be employed in the textiles-furniture-coverings, curtains and door-hangings. We should hope that no one would use for these the unadulterated prismatic green, yet that is the hue provided for in the above proportion-table. A modified green would, of course, be chosen, and according to the extent of its modification so could a larger proportion of this colour be employed with a consequent reduction of the amount of whichever neutral the modification impinged upon.
Ceilings usually approximate white, and wood-work and sash curtains are very frequently white; in such cases, then, we have the intrusion of another neutral, still further lessening the necessity, at least, for the employment of so great a body of sage, slate and citron.
But more important still is the advisability (not reckoned with in the proportion table.) of introducing other colour. There has been entirely too much of this "keying and relating" of quiet tones, resulting in the reaction of the modernists who in some phases have run riot in the contrary direction. Let us be both scientific and sane. To stick to our example the general effect of a room in this colour-scheme would be greenish, and the relieving strong colours yellow and blue also equal green. Now the complementary of green is red, and the complementary should always be introduced to give relief. There should, therefore, be some touches somewhere of a modified red, such as rose, garnet or the like. Look at the blue and yellow scheme with a touch of rose in Plate 63: now lay a piece of white paper over the rose and see how the scheme immediately "goes dead."
And with all the exemplifications of the past, why in the name of art should we confine ourselves to the poverty-stricken colour-combinations we so often see? We might sometimes think from these that blended colour does not exist. Consider the frescoes and tapestries and banners, the glorious needlework, velvets and brocades from the Renaissance to the days of Louis Seize; visit the museums and observe the wonders of Oriental art: look at the indications of colour evident even through the medium of half-tone reproduction in such an interior as Plate 139 and in such textiles as are shown in Plates 130 A, 143 B, 144, 145 A, B and C, 152 B, 162 A and B. We may then realise what colour has been and may be again !
The secret of the decorative effect of blended colour is an open and very simple one. Let us take, for example, a picture or a piece of textile. The hues of either may be of much variety and even brilliant in themselves, but to a great extent they complement and thus neutralise each other, some one colour,, however, being dominant. If we look at a picture or a fabric, then, we shall see two results—if good it counts as a beautiful piece of blended colour; nevertheless its total effect is not a confusion but is generally neutral, with red, yellow or another hue somewhat in ascendancy over the rest. This explains why we may, if we so wish, use an immense deal of colour provided it is properly balanced.
UNITY AND VARIETY IN HOUSEHOLD DECORATION
The improvement in household decoration is one of the most encouraging signs of American artistic development, but in many instances it is but partial: only in the case of the most widely cultured, or those employing the best decorators, can it be called complete. Most reforms begin in the same manner; the improvement at first is usually one of details, finally sweeping on to their proper end.
Household decoration in this country, then, began with the room as its unit, whereas the proper conception is the house, or apartment, as the unit, each room being merely an integral part of a consistent whole. The faulty point of view so largely obtaining has usually resulted in disunity—greater or less in degree according to the taste of the owner. To the average householder, and equally the average decorator, the thought of complete consistency in decoration has hardly occurred, and when it has the result has been at the expense of the equally desirable and necessary variety. It will be the purpose of the present section to point out, and for the first time, how both may be obtained.
What then is the disunity against which our attention should be directed? Let us at once realise that a home, a club-house or even a hotel is not to be a congeries of rooms of various styles, characters or colourings : it is an entity, and if in the final result we do not feel it to be such then there is disunity.
Happily the day is past when we have such examples as "Harthover," amusingly described in "The Water-Babies," where the third floor was Norman, the seeond cinquecento, the first Elizabethan, the right wing Pure Doric and the back staircase from the Taj Mahal, but unfortunately we may still cite such examples as the following—examples that would be unthinkable at the hands of the best men but which are not beyond the perpetration of some whose establishments bear the sign "Interior Decorators." The hall wall then, say, is of a greenish-gray sand-finish, and the furniture of mahogany. In open view at the left is the library, in Tudor style, with panelled walls and bookcases of dark oak and with upholstery and hangings of a deep crimson red. On the right is the drawing-room, with walls of yellow damask, and Louis Seize furniture in ivory-white, covered in the yellow of the walls. At the rear we discover the hospitable dining-room papered in blue, with its festive board and other furniture in quartered oak of golden hue. Each one of these rooms may be consistent in itself—but fancy the prospect to the visitor entering the hall and from his point of vantage glancing about at the disunity opened before him in these four rooms.
Even if the construction of the house made it possible for us to view but one of these rooms at a time the result would intrinsically be nearly as bad,, because one's optical memory is not so short that the character of one room is forgotten in passing into the hall and on into another room.
We may still say that there are builders; who are not architects, that there are artisans who are not artists.
The most certain method of improvement in any direction is the keeping before us of an ideal; or, to phrase it in our more modern way, the scheme of "what we are after," and that scheme must be firmly based upon the facts and circumstances.
The home, to suit the requirements of modern life, must possess two sets of qualities. On the one hand our aim should be to secure a restful habitation, not a museum or a melange. The watchwords here may be rest, peace, sleep. On the other hand we are living, active human beings, fond of variety and filled with many interests. These may be comprised in the words cheer, action, companionship. Our homes must express both. The first means unity: the second variety. How shall we accomplish the securing of the one without sacrificing the other?
Unity must exist in many directions but one of the most important of these is colour—and it is one of those most frequently violated. Unity in its other relations will be considered in other chapters.
As shown in the chapter on "Walls: as Decoration and ,as Background," neutral backgrounds are by no means a necessity; they are, however, largely employed by all good decorators and certainly much simplify the work of the person superintending his own furnishing. Indeed, when we consider the following line of thought regarding backgrounds, it will be plain that treating the walls of a series of rooms in other than a rather, neutral manner will land the amateur among problems which while susceptible of solution he might find beyond his management.
I. If we preserve unity in the background (walls and ceilings) we shall then have a basis throughout the house which will act as a balance to the various other colours that we may and should introduce in attractively furnishing it. Naturally this unity does not need to be actual identity; it will suffice where rooms are but singly visible if a general impression be kept. Where rooms communicate it is certainly better that the likeness should be very close: if, for instance, one is panelled it would be better that both should be, and that the tones should be the same in each. If the walls are painted or papered the general tone of wall-surface should be kept, but identity is not necessary, especially if the purpose of the rooms be different.
II. A moment's practical thought will show us that if we keep this unity throughout and choose any strong colouring for our walls, we should have a definitely yellow, red, blue, green or purple house—a condition which would be intolerable. We are therefore guided to the selection of a more neutral colouring.
III. Neutrality means to many—drabness. To the lover of beauty it means some of the most beautiful tones in a beautiful world. Among these are the ivories, champagne, dull gold, creams, buffs and certain tans; pinkish grey or ashes of rose, bluish grey, greenish grey and mauve grey, or the combinations of these.
Some good decorators also extensively use rugs of the same character, or at least general colouring, throughout the house, considering the floors as a portion of the background and likewise choosing neutral shades such as grey and taupe. This is usually unnecessary and involves too great a sacrifice of decorative opportunity.
The securing of unity by harmonious and closely related backgrounds is much, but suppose we should now proceed to fill this beautiful shell of the house, apartment or club-house with objects of many incongruous hues ! Should we not at once destroy the unity we had taken such pains to secure? And yet, speaking by and large, there is usually too little colour in American and British homes rather than too much--and the too little is often badly used.
The truth is that the western nations have greatly lost their colour-sense, either through materialism, drabness of life, or what other defect it behooves us not to argue here.
The principles of colour harmony which have been mentioned are true of all intensities of colour and are therefore perfectly adapted to any of the three tendencies in decoration—as has been mentioned some decorators use in general quiet, attenuated shades of colour and then "key up" with a few more vivid spots: others use tones such as those shown in the colour-charts, of sufficient vitality and yet of a harmonising quality: the so-called "Modern" school, considered in the next section, uses strong and positive colour. The plan which will be suggested is of equal use whichever degree of intensity may be decided upon.
THE USE OF COLOUR IN DECORATION
Blue and the greens which contain but the normal proportion of yellow are retiring and are cool.
All shades of yellow and of red, except those largely neutralised by the admixture of other colours or o black or of white, are advancing and are warm in tone.
Suppose, then, we place in a room with neutral back-ground rugs of a soft green and hang portieres of the same in the doorway. So far, we shall have a room which is quiet, cool and restful. We shall also find that it lacks life, and in continual occupancy would prove somewhat depressing in its influence over mind and body.
If the reader will refer to Plate 59 he will find a room in which the rugs and portieres are of just this character, but into which have been imported a few touches of rose. The depression has gone; the quiet remains; the room is now livable and "human." These few touches of rose have done the work.
Furthermore, although these touches are few and although rose is but a modified red, it will be found that the rose is more noticeable than the green.
If yellow and blue had been used instead of rose and green the result in these respects would have been much the same. In other words yellow, orange and red are dominant over green and blue and such quiet shades as tans, brown and greys.
Shades of yellow and of red, and their combination orange being dominant, if we choose any one of these shades and carry it by the use of various objects and furnishings throughout the various rooms we shall have unity.
We may use then, with the above, other and quieter colours alone or in combination in the different rooms and we shall have variety.
Let us take a concrete example.
The illustration (Plate 59) was painted directly from an actual bedroom in an apartment. How shall unity and variety be carried through the remaining rooms? Let us take up each in detail.
Reception Room. Such a room may well be characterised by greater elegance than a bedroom and yet should preserve an inviting and companionable atmosphere rather than the formal frigidity often experienced. Rose having been selected as the dominant (though one of, the others might have been chosen as well) it must also be used here, and as it possesses both the qualities of elegance and humanity it may be used in considerable quantity. We shall need ample relieving surface, so that it would be well to employ a panelling in ivory-white or else a handsome paper of the same general tone, striped or brocaded in the surfacing and not in another colour. The bedroom shown in the illustration was afterward papered in this tone and two rooms so carried out would thus harmonise as to the wall effect.
We should also have ample relieving space in plain or approximately plain colour. Indeed, in choosing for an example the apartment, or the equivalent house with small rooms, the writers have consciously chosen the most difficult subject with which to deal. The difficulty lies in the fact that one of our most beautiful decorative resources is the rug and fabric of blended colouring, but as these cut up and crowd in effect the small room we must forbid ourselves the, use of these in such instances or choose them with great discretion. As we shall have much colour in this room before we have finished, it would be wise to choose one rug, largely covering the floor, of plain warm grey, or in two tones of that colour closely approaching each other and in small and simple pattern, or plain with a deeper border. The portieres had also better be of rather solid color—a rose velvet, a brocade of unobtrusive pattern or the less expensive rep of irregular weave. On the chair-coverings we may let ourselves go considerably. For these we may select preferably perhaps some such material as the stripe shown in the chart or a blend of various colourings in which rose shall be dominant. This fabric might be of cream, rose and blue stripe, not too wide in pattern, or of tapestry, or petit point, again not so large in design as to be out of scale with the room or the surfaces covered. If there is a sofa or settee it would naturally have the same covering as the chairs, but if there is a large couch instead it would be better to use a plain material such as Burgundy rose velour and again let ourselves go with an abundance of varied but harmonious cushions. A chart of this colour-scheme is given in Plate 60, but it must be remembered that in all these charts the samples of textiles are necessarily much out of proportion to the large surfaces of walls and floors.
The lamp had better be of vase shape in grey pottery, or mottled rose, or solid black with a reflecting surface, or of Chinese porcelain, and the shade in rose silk. The black bowl is exceedingly effective and the rose of the shade reflects in its upper curves.
In any room relief may be secured, where necessary, in the smaller objects, and this relief may be either in the direction of greater neutrality or more colour. Such an article as a vase of ivory-white or grey porcelain or pottery would give the former, a handsomely tooled binding in blue, a colourful brocade or Chinese textile or embroidery under the lamp would aid in supplying the latter. The gold or silver tones of candlesticks, etc., add richness and variety.
It will have been understood from the above description that there is not only no intention of confining the readers to the materials shown in the charts but that they may go far afield in choice provided the general colour-scheme and proportions be kept. And this is true of tone as well as of fabric, for it may be considerably altered so that harmony is preserved, and the shade of one fabric may well be lighter or darker than that of another. The same effect may also be carried out in very inexpensive materials.
Second Bedroom. If this room communicates with the first (a portion of which is shown in Plate 59) it should by all means be in the same colouring of green, rose and white. This does not presuppose monotony but harmony, and variety may be gained in numerous other ways: in the disposition of the furniture, in the treatment of the bed and the windows and in the smaller objects, for instance. Other small variations may be made, such as using plain or self-figured rose for the chairs, instead of cretonne. Indeed, cretonne has been so greatly employed of late years that restraint in this respect is advisable. If the two rooms do not communicate we may use blue as the secondary colour, and of this scheme a colour chart is given (Plate 61). The paper might be of the narrow stripe in cream and grey : and we might add that this colour-combination in any form is excellent for either a warm or cold exposure. The rugs should be mainly or entirely of blue. The chair-coverings may be in any material (perhaps tapestry) giving approximately the shades and proportions of the sample—the blues not too bright and greater in quantity than the rose. Or these coverings may be in rose and an additional supply of blue be introduced elsewhere so as to carry it through. A room is a picture painted with materials of various sorts instead of with pigment, and the principles in both arts are the same—the prominent colours should not be in one spot of each only but be judiciously distributed in smaller quantities elsewhere as well. A screen might be in blue, or better still in blue and grey, the grey harmonising with that in the walls.
So far we have four colours—the blue, the rose, the grey of the walls and the colour of the furniture—perhaps mahogany. We may extend our palette still further. In the sample given in the chart of a possible chair-covering, tans and greens appear with harmony. Into a room furnished much in this general key was recently introduced a canary in a tan Chinese bird-cage with emerald green tassels. It proved an inspiration in the direction of varied colouring.
The blue rugs above referred to should be kept simple. The border or design could be of rose or of quiet tan if there is some quantity of this elsewhere in the room. The shade for the lamp or electric lights had better perhaps be plain rose silk.
It is to be noted that while this colour-scheme has been assigned to a bedroom it is equally available for rooms of other character, and that most of the colour-schemes are interchangeable. They have been thus as-signed only to give concreteness, such examples being much more helpful than much loose generality.
Sitting- and Sewing-room. It is with such rooms as these that we may secure charming results at little expense. Let us take as an example the sensible shades of tan or wood-brown, with rose again dominant to carry through the unity of the, apartment. The room chosen for such a purpose should naturally have a good light. If it be sunny and warm in tone choose the cooler shades : if it has a north light warmer ones should be selected. The choice of goods is wide and one may readily secure decorative materials from quiet greyish wood-browns to rich and warm tans.
In the chart (Plate 62) is exemplified a rather warm combination, but with cooler paper of a linen shade. It could run into ashes of rose, cream or light buff, if not too strong, and still not essentially depart from the general key of wall surface we are employing throughout, because it will look cooler in combination with the colouring of the other surfaces in the room than it really is.
The assortment of inexpensive rugs at our command is perhaps greater in tans and browns than in other colours, so that we may easily make a choice.
Good general tones for a bordered rug are given in the chart, but it would be well to have some small pattern in the central portion, because every thread dropped in sewing shows upon a solid colour. Any pleasing and harmonious design may be chosen, but it should be quiet if one follows the writers' suggestion that here if anywhere is the place to use cretonnes. Two samples are given in the chart, one a little brighter and cooler than the other. There are many others as good as either, and they run all the way from 75 cents to $4 a yard, or more. Neither of those shown is expensive.
Dining-room. A dining-room should always be most attractive, and we have reserved for it one of the most charming of colour-schemes—pinkish rose and silver grey. As it is not possible to give additional charts, this is omitted, as the general plan has been so fully dealt with that a few observations will be all that are necessary. As usual the quantity of the neutral shade should be larger than of the dominant, pink-rose. The rug had better therefore be of grey, though it may contain rose or have a rose border. If the sideboard is of the Sheraton type with brass rail for a curtain this latter may be of one of the beautiful pink-rose and silver-grey stripes, in which the satin of the grey lights up with a silvery sheen. The screen before the serving table may be of the same, as this material possesses both quiet style and elegance. The lights may be shaded with rose, casting a warm glow over the room. It would be much better with this combination to have the side-lights and candlesticks of silver finish rather than of brass.
While we have taken rose as the dominant note throughout there are other shades of red which might be chosen; such as Burgundy or a soft crimson. These are darker and less luminous than rose and would require more discrimination to blend happily.
When we have said that either yellow or orange may be used as the dominant over blue, green, grey, or tan, and in combination therewith, we have covered the whole gamut of colour, for the shades of any of these may be infinitely varied provided that harmony is pre-served. If one prefers the still more softened and greyish tones to those given they may as readily be used, but in the proper proportions of the colours in the actual atmosphere of a room all of the schemes will be mellow and harmonious.
Violet has not specifically been mentioned, though it may well take its place among the blending of col-ours in cretonnes, tapestries, etc. In its pure tones it is a difficult colour to carry through a series of rooms. When used its natural relief is gold or cream colour or both. Grey mauve is a delicate and beautiful colour for a boudoir but inappropriate for more robust rooms.
It may here again be said that as the materials used in the colour charts and mentioned in this section are variable in many directions, the same idea may be carried out irrespective of the employment of costly or inexpensive goods. It is naturally difficult to suit all circumstances, as one reader may be able to use antique furniture, rare fabrics, Ming vases and costly rugs, and another, who deserves equal attention, may be limited in means but mightily interested in the improvement of his home.
Though such immense variety has already been provided for, this plan extends still further in its scope. One dominant may rule two quieter shades of approximately equal quantity as, for instance, rose or yellow over green and tan. Nor have we as yet considered the correlative idea.
THE CORRELATIVE PLAN
As, has been said, yellow, orange and red are dominant and advancing colours except when attenuated by the admixture of other colours or of black or white. Suppose, therefore, we attenuate them. Yellow and orange when so reduced become tints and tones—creams, champagnes, buffs, tans, browns and olives. Attenuated red, except in the shades we have mentioned of rose, Burgundy and mulberry, are not so useful in decoration. Pink alone is rather jejune, though in blending with other colors it is very happy and enlivening—a pink and apple-green sprigged pattern on a cream-white ground is a good example. Brickish red has its uses, as in floor tiles and fireplaces, but is vigorous, owing to its still retaining a great strength of red. The pinkish grey known as ashes of rose, is of great delicacy and refinement and so one would hardly care to carry it through more than two rooms, unless in a woman's apartment.
Let us therefore consider the derivations of yellow; for here we have great scope. In these tones it has lost its dominant qualities and may so be carried through a series of rooms 'in quantity, to produce unity, other colours being used in various rooms as relief. This, it will be seen, is the correlative or reverse of the former plan. In that the dominant, was carried through; in this the neutral will be.
In order to illustrate as fully as possible within limits we give a colour chart embracing two rooms (Plate 63). To begin with the walls—where we should always begin—those in the drawing-room may be papered in a rich stripe or brocade of champagne. Better still would be panelling, enamelled in the same shade.
Either the beautiful blue and gold brocade or the yellow and grey stripe, or something approaching either, might be used for the chair-coverings in this room, the unused one being employed in another. The rug could be a plain or small-figured one of the tone shown, or of the lighter shades seen in Chinese rugs. It had certainly better be plain or plain with a plain border if used with the delicately patterned blue and gold fabric. If a Chinese rug of unobtrusive pattern, and with the usual blue designs, very quiet in tone, could be secured this might be used with the stripe. If the blue and gold is employed a few touches of rose would be required in small objects to give warmth and life. An entirely blue shade for the lamp should be avoided—it would give too cold a light. It should be of a deeper champagne or yellow, either plain or with only a little blue. Any picture frames used should be of gold (dull) and lighting fixtures of brass, also dull. Candlesticks should be of brass, not silver.
In carrying these modified yellows through a series of rooms the tones used may vary considerably where the rooms do not communicate. Instead of champagne we may go off to creams and buffs and tans with some use in the rugs of even browns or olives. Yellow, mauve, and grey; yellow, blue, and grey; and buff, grey, and rose are all exquisite combinations. A very happy colour-arrangement recently seen was this : panelled walls painted deep cream, softly polished black Sheraton furniture, a Chinese rug of a beautiful grey-blue with design in buff and rose, and draperies in striped tan and grey-blue. Transitions should nowhere be sudden and startling but should be gradual and harmonious. And with these many varying shades we may and should employ other varying colours as relief. Nothing so gives an apartment a "decorated," arranged, and artificial look as the too great prominence of a colour carried throughout : whether it be the dominant or the base which is so carried we should simply feel its presence ; it should not jump at us at every step.
In the colour charts it must be remembered that it is possible to show only enough of the wall material to suffice for colour. In the actual work there would be a far greater proportion. Not only must there be large surfaces of these more neutral shades, but also a sufficiency of plain or nearly plain more strongly coloured area to balance the ornamental fabrics used. In general, ornament demands the relief of plain surfaces, plain surfaces demand the relief of ornament. The. writers especially wish to impress these two points, regarding a not too great prominence of any one colour and a not overloading with ornament; as, if the method given were otherwise carried out, the intention would be parodied and a sincere attempt at helpfulness quite destroyed.
THE LARGER SCOPE
A consideration of unity and variety would not be complete without thought directed toward the decoration of larger premises than those so far discussed. Their treatment is at once easier and more difficult; easier because the large room gives more scope to the play of decorative facilities; more difficult only because there are more rooms.
Their very spaciousness, if not cluttered with objects of all descriptions, has the effect of minimising pattern and harmonising colour. The smallness of a floor debars us from cutting it up with design, lest it look smaller than ever: and if we did use quiet Oriental rugs we should have to exercise our wits and our energies to find two or three sufficiently akin in tone and figure. Upon a spacious floor we may, however, by the use of due discrimination distribute several pieces even of differing characters. The few chairs which may find place in a small room must usually, for the avoiding of distraction, be covered with the same material: in the large living-room we may use one covering for most of the seating facilities and then indulge in a burst of varied colour with the big easy upholstered chairs. Chests, large cabinets, consoles and large luxurious couches are mostly forbidden by smallness of space but are the very things we need where there is abundance of room.
The opportunities for variety provided by the system here outlined are almost infinite. In a house of thirty rooms half a dozen of them might be in one general scheme and yet each be individual. If in so many the combination of rose and blue were used, for example, the rooms themselves would be on different floors and for different purposes—perhaps a drawing-room, nursery, man's room and boudoir with accompanying bedrooms. The furniture and furnishings of these various classes would naturally make a decided difference in the employment of the colouring and give very different effects. Then in one room the rose would be used in one place and in another in a different place; the shades may vary considerably; the additional col-ours used for relief need not be all alike; plain goods would be used in one situation and blended or patterned in another and the character and designs of the textiles would naturally not be the same. In a boudoir and adjoining bedrooms the furnishings of the former would be the more luxurious—to mention one particular alone the curtains of the boudoir would be silken, perhaps with such an applique as: is suggested in the chapter on Windows ; those of the bedrooms might appropriately be a beautiful white net. An indication of the varying treatment of communicating bed-rooms has already been given. In a man's room the colouring might well be deeper and more masculine—mulberry or Burgundy and plum-blue; in a young girl's the lighter French flowered stripes of rose and blue on cream; thus totally varying the tone and character, yet preserving the adopted hues and the unity thus gained.
THE USE OF COLOUR IN THE "MODERN" DECORATION
The employment of colour is probably the most outstanding feature of this method of decoration, de-scribed in the last chapter of Part I, and the more extreme examples of its use are apt to irritate persons neutral by temperament or training, precisely as does "noise" in modern music. The use of positive colour in the days of William and Mary in England and Louis Quatorze in France was as great as it is among the modern men and women, and yet it is safe to believe that interiors of those periods would not affect the quieter-minded as do some examples of modern work. This is but to say that in these specially mentioned cases the use of colour is not happy and that their harmonies (?) need revision or use in a different manner. Turquoise and blue-green have run a maddening course: one might sometimes think that blue-green, strong violet and red-orange, and green, golden-yellow and blue-violet were the only colour combinations known, were it not for such others as red-orange walls with bright blue woodwork and furniture, and a typically German ugly green, red and tan "relieved" by mauve. The unentrancing terra-cotta also has its innings. Now these hues may be, or were, more unusual than the beautiful rose-reds, yellow buffs and tans, grey-blues and apple-greens—and the fact that they were not employed in such quantities and prominence by the master colourists of the past shows us there was a reason.
There is also occasionally a tendency to use but two well-harmonising colours in a room : such as ivory and blue. grey and green, yellow and cream, yellow and blue—every one of which combinations needs for re-lief touches of rose-red or orange.
Absolute white and black has been greatly employed, to which there is no objection except that it is much more apt to stand apart from colour than would ivory and black.
With the object of seeing just why these combinations have been so greatly exploited the writers have gone over a large body of Peasant Art, which, as has been said in Part I, is one of the inspirations of the movement. They found red-orange walls and ceilings stripped with blue-green, and the primitive yellow and vermilion red with black and white, but in the overwhelming majority of cases tones were used and in beautiful combinations. Many of these tones were bright and cheerful and others quiet. So useful are these combinations as suggestions for colour-schemes that it will be far more valuable to mention some of them than to recite for adaptation what has already been done by modern decorators. The manner in which these schemes may actually be used is indicated in the section on "Unity and Variety" just preceding. These colour-memoranda are given just as transcribed, mostly from costumes and textiles, as these notes sometimes show the general proportions in which the tones are used. Doubtless some of these combinations have been employed by modern decorators.
Cream white, plum, brown, pale rose red, with touches of buff and pale blue.
Cream, buff and indigo, relieved with touches of soft red.
Background of gun-metal grey, design in pale buff and a tone of light red.
A tone of cranberry red, tone of bluish-green, tone of indigo, all relieved with pale-buff.
Reddish buff with relief of maroon, white and dark green (nearly black).
Cream and strong orange, light indigo and black. Burgundy rose, medium green, light yellow, black and white.
A very odd one was cream, light plum and salmon, relieved with light yellow and black.
And a very beautiful one from an Italian costume, cream white, Burgundy rose, quiet apple-green and plum, with a spot of red (which would better have been bright rose) and small touches of indigo and bright orange.
Tan, yellow, dull blue and dull green.
Firecracker red, dark blue, green and black.
Regarding colour and colour-combinations, it should be remembered that even among artists and experts there is a certain amount of divergence of view as to what is attractive and harmonious, due probably either to the individual eye or temperament, and so it is unwise to indulge in too much dogmatism upon the subject. This applies also to intensity of colour, strength being a delight to some and a positive disturbance to others. As a general rule it may, however, safely be said that the prismatic colours in their purity should be employed only in small portions, but that tones, and good strong tones, too, such as those shown in the colour-plates of this chapter, will blend well when properly used and in proper proportions.
Colour in the home is productive of joyousness and cheer, and in its right use is in no way hostile to rest-fulness and peace.
Suggestions for the practical use of colour in this newer decoration naturally appear in their respective departments—the chapters on Walls, Floors and Textiles.