Wall Decor & Wall Decorating Ideas
A consideration by Gustav Stickley of the benefits of using wood for wall decor and decorating with tips and ideas for unique country wall decor and decorating. Wall decor ideas suitable for those with cottage style or rustic homes.
¶ So much of the success of any scheme of interior decoration or furnishing depends upon the right treatment of the wall spaces that we deem it best to take up this subject more in detail than it has been possible to do in the general descriptions of the houses or even of the separate rooms.
¶ It goes without saying that we like the friendly presence of much wood and are very sensible of the charm of beams, wainscots and built in furnishings which are a part of the house itself and so serve to link it closer to the needs of daily life. Bare wall spaces, or those covered with pictures and draperies which are put there merely for the purpose of covering them, are very hard to live with. But wall spaces that provide bookcases, cupboards, built in seats for windows, fireside and other nooks are used in a way that not only gives to them the kind of beauty and interest which is theirs by right, but makes them of practical value in the life of the household, as such furnishings mean great convenience, economy of space and the doing away with many pieces of furniture which might otherwise be really needed, but which might give the appearance of crowding that is so disturbing to the restfulness of a room.
¶ When the walls are rightly treated, it is amazing how little furniture and how few ornaments and pictures are required to make a room seem comfortable and homelike. The treatment of wall spaces in itself may seem but a detail, yet it is the keynote not only of the whole character of the house but of the people who live in it. We hear much criticism of the changing and remodeling which is deemed necessary every year or two because a house must be "brought up to date" or because the owners "grow so tired of seeing one thing all the time". Yet both of these reasons are absolutely valid so far as they go, for the majority of houses are in themselves so uninteresting that it is little wonder that the people who live in them have always a sense of restlessness and discontent, and that they are always doing something different in the hope that eventually they may find the thing which satisfies them.
¶ We believe that the time to put thought into the decoration of a home is when we first begin to draw up the plans, and that the first consideration in each room should be the adjustment of the wall spaces so that there is not a foot of barren or ill proportioned space in the entire room. It is true that utility and the limitations of the plan are necessarily the first considerations; that the ceilings of all the rooms on one story must be of uniform height in a house where the expense of construction is a thing to be considered; that windows must be placed where they will admit the most light and that doors are meant to serve as means of communication between rooms or with the outer world. Yet working strictly within these limitations, it is quite possible to adjust the height of each room so that, no matter what may be its floor space, to all appearances its proportions are entirely harmonious; to place doors and windows so that, instead of being mere holes in the wall, they become a part of the whole structural scheme, and to see that in shape and proportions as well as in position they come into entire harmony with the rest of the room.
¶ Naturally, in considering the treatment of the wall decor spaces, the most important feature is the woodwork, especially if the room is to be wainscoted. ( See wainscot paneling.) Where this is possible, we would always recommend it, particularly for the living rooms of a house, as no other treatment of the walls gives such a sense of friendliness, mellowness and permanence as does a generous quantity of woodwork. The larger illustrations reproduced here give some idea of what we mean and of what may be done with wall spaces when it is possible to use much wood in the shape of wainscot and beams. It will be noted that in each case the wall is of the same height; yet owing to the treatment of the spaces, each one appears to be different. Also note the way in which windows, doors and fireplace form an integral part of the structural scheme and how they are balanced by the wall spaces around them so that the whole effect is rather that of a well planned scheme of structural decoration than of the introduction of a purely utilitarian feature.
¶ When we speak of the friendliness of woodwork, however, we mean woodwork that is so finished that the friendly quality is apparent, which is never the case when it is painted or stained in some solid color that is foreign to the wood itself, or is given a smooth glassy polish that reflects the light. When this is done the peculiar quality of woodiness, upon which all the charm of interior woodwork depends, is entirely destroyed and any other material might as well be used in the place of it. In a later chapter we purpose to deal more fully with the question of finishing interior woodwork so that all its natural qualities of color, texture and grain are brought out by a process which ripens and mellows the wood as if by age without changing its character at all. Here it is sufficient to say that any of our native woods that have open texture, strong grain and decided figure, such as oak, chestnut, cypress, ash, elm or the redwood so much used on the Pacific coast, are entirely suitable for the woodwork of rooms in general use, and that each one of them may be so finished that its inherent color quality is brought out and its surface made pleasantly smooth without sacrificing the woody quality that comes from frankly revealing its natural texture.
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