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Interior Decorating - Decorative Accessories

( Originally Published 1919 )

IT has been observed that in dress a man or woman may be known by shoes, hats and gloves. In the same degree in which this is true, the taste, and to some extent the character, of the occupants of a home are made evident by the decorative accessories to be found therein.

A rare collection of atrocities we find them in some instances to be: in others most of them are satisfactory but unhappily mingled with trifling things that but clutter and destroy repose. The worst of it is that these annoying little things are often objects of association—small remembrances showered upon the owner by dear and well-meaning friends—souvenirs, calendars, fancy pictures, and the host of objects from the Women's Exchanges—that fill a man with amaze that, when there is so much of true use and beauty which might be done, such a waste is made of time and money ! For the sake of the givers and our love for them such objects should be treated with respect, but—put out of sight.

And then, finally, we see other houses in which the accessories at once indicate strong individuality and exquisite taste. In the British bedroom illustrated (Plate 120), for instance, what flowers would so well accompany the mellow tones of the panelling as the chrysanthemums upon the table l These, with the glint of metal in the three-branched candlesticks the books, the few choice porcelains on the narrow mantel-ledge, the interesting fireback and irons, the patterned curtains in relief to the plain wall-surfaces, show the greatest discrimination.

Decorative accessories are of the highest value in adding interest—the beautifully simple hall shown in Plate 121 would not be what it is without the fine porcelains used as accessories. Numerous other instances will be observed among our illustrations, and many of these will be referred to in the subsequent list.


In the direction of colour these accessories may be used in three ways : as supplying strong colour accents where they are required for emphasis and enlivenment; as affording a variety of colour where the furnishing is too much in one hue; or for the carrying of colour through a room, as mentioned in the section on "Unity and Variety." In many instances a beautiful and colourful vase, panel or piece of tapestry has been made the keynote of a decorative scheme.


As it is by such objects that we are known let us avoid hackneyed things to be found in every shop. Decorators' establishments, antique and second-hand shops, Oriental shops and Chinatown are all good places to keep in view—once in a blue moon something unusual will find its way even into a pawnbroker's window.

Expense is not always the measure of merit, and tasteful, observant people will have no difficulty in finding many attractive objects at reasonable figures.

Of course, it is futile to expect to pick up rare and valuable things for little money—artistic treasures demand a long pocket-book and if we have it not we shall scarcely possess museum-pieces, but may have things of beauty nevertheless.


In the examples mentioned early in this chapter it will be seen that just enough has been done. Overcrowding vitiates effect, and a superfluity of even the beautiful is unwise. We all know how tiresome the museum becomes to the casual visitor ; half its beauties are lost, except to one busily studying and comparing. The motto for the decorator therefore is : Select—and again Select. Have but few accessories and choose those most advantageous for their purpose, most appropriate for their environment, and which will best tell in decorative effect.

As a practical aid a list of accessories is given for suggestion and comparison of advantages. To exemplify: we may have thought of purchasing a small, ornamental mirror for a certain space on the wall: looking over the list we find such other things appropriate to that use as wood-carvings, plaques of maiolica and porcelains, painted panels, panels of della Robbia design or those of wood, carven, coloured and gilded or of plaster. Choice may be made from these, or an odd embroidery or other textile may be employed, or perhaps a banjo or sunburst clock. In short, we may look very considerably before we leap, and it is well to do so.

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