THERE have developed in the “new decoration” two distinct types of wall treatment—one, the absolutely plain monotone, which, for the most part, is gained by tinting of stucco, painting of canvas or muslin (known as the “cottoning” process) or
the painting of plaster itself in various effects of shading and stippling. Under this choice, the color, design and general brilliancy of the room must be secured in drape and upholstery.
Of late, however, there has been a direct reversal of this arrangement of the scheme. The wall has ceased to be a background only and has taken on the aspects of design. In self-defence, fabrics have retired to the stripe and one-tone effects. It all seems to be a part of the tendency to provide richness, not in gorgeousness of texture and surface, but in color and line.
An interior decorator complained to me the other day that the heyday of the interior furnisher had departed.
“What is a house now?” he asked querulously. “Nothing but a skimp of woodwork and a bit of fabric—sometimes not even paper! Why, in the old days, when we went into a house we had our work cut out for us for the better part of a year.”
He made a point for me without knowing it. Beauty is such a simple thing nowadays that anyone can secure it, and the houses that are being built for the well-to-do are as simple in thiir interior finishing as the proverbial cottage.
Another interesting point in the coming in of the figured paper, after a long banishment, was propounded by a veteran importer of fine papers—one through whose hands the most conservative designs from England, France and the Orient passed yearly.
“It is only recently,” he remarked, “that people have realized that they could manage figured papers. For so long, the tyro without the knowledge of real color manipulation and combination masqueraded as a ‘decorator’ that the only effect he could handle was the ordinary one of the ‘neutral background.’ He preached it until the public was afraid of a figure on the wall.”
Evidently the public has had’an access of courage of late, for in nine out of ten of the new rooms that are being papered at all, the figured paper has come into its own during the last year.
Nor is the old part of “background” taken from the figured wall. Designs as soft and unobtrusive as a mist are being worked out by the new “offset” processes of printing, and the ‘‘all over” patterns in small florals and tiny leaf conventional are as excellent backgrounds for pictures hung with discrimination as ever the onecolor grays and buffs of the oncesupreme “oatmeals.”
The chintz designs, the big florals and bird designs are a decoration unto themselves, and where they have claimed a wall for their own no further embellishment need enter in. The only complement to the wall so covered is the
mirror, or the wall-hanging of one-color needlework or weave.
The study of wall paper design is a fascinating one, and a little excursion into the ins and outs of it will repay the casual householder on purchasing bent. The finest designers are still to be found in
England and France. Most of the New York designers take their cues from these sources, and the results mingle in Canada. Certain exclusive shops will have control of several designs from a number of the big continental houses; others who go in chiefly for their own manufacture here
will get their designs from individual designers in New York, London or Paris, and will execute them in their own Canadian factories As you go into the buying of _ wall papers, you will be intrigued with the romance of their beginnings and their trends, and your purchasing will be considerably enlightened by a knowledge of the various makers and their specialties. For instance, there are now being shown in Canada the rich floral and bird designs by the leading English designers. The Japanese grass-cloths, outside of the famous standard Tokugawa patterns, are being produced in variation upon variation of the branch and floral and the broken-bamboo and wistaria designs.
In both the French and English papers, and in consequence in the domestic papers which follow their lead, the boldness of treatment is striking. Black backgrounds, black foliage, birds of brilliant plumage— birds have distinctly returned to favorfruit and flower clusters of the most modern conception appear. These papers are finding their places in general panelling with scant woodwork, sun-rooms and halls.
DECORATIONS for the hail seem to be largely of the tapestry type and the clothy effects that are being made show wonderful depth and texture. The designs range from the simple verdure or foliage variety to the most elaborate and beautiful reproductions of the genuine material. An unusual number of reproductions of the quaint old wall papers of one hundred years ago are being made and sold, as well as reproductions of the old fabrics. The Colonial “scenics” in cool color or cream; the flat Jacobean needlework designs so intensely decorative and so rich in restrained color; the swirling conventional^ of the old French tapestries, all appear in their atmosphere of romance and sentiment.
Of course, these are among the more expensive papers and are for the most part, imported. The “scenics” especially run high in price, but how utterly charming they are! Most are copies of the old French or colonial papers, and their coloring is distinguished by their freshness.
Beautiful clear, almost transparent green on cream; green and brown on fawn; Plue, water-green and fawn on pearl gray, are some of the favorite combinations. Some of these reproductions take in a scene that will stretch the length of an entire wall before it is repeated. Some will repeat at intervals of perhaps three from ceiling to floor, the subjects ranging from pastoral scenes and historical incident, to cathedral architecture. These scenics are especially beautiful for dining rooms, either in conjunction with panelling or white woodwork, and greatly enhance old mahogany. They are appropriate with delicate Colonial pieces, their happiest setting.
In the less expensive papers, however, in designs of Cana-
dian manufacture, in staples and in copies of the imported designs, the domestic market has some exquisite wall decoration to offer. In the richer papers, the stipples are prominent in soft blended backgrounds and design, the all-over floral patterns, and oatmeals in soft shades and figures. There are also some extremely gracious tapestry and modern effects which do vast credit to the domestic industry. Design is not a matter of locality in either paper or textile production, of course, for where originals are purchased, new suggestions are being constantly submitted from all big centres, yet the excellent selections obtainable through Canadian houses, reflect not only taste but a thorough grasp of the decorative trend.
So far as prices are concerned, the domestic papers have a range of their own under $1.00 a roll; the imported papers range anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00. However, this high point is the exception. Some of the most beautiful papers are to be had the most reasonably.
What About Borders?
F COURSE when you are discussing figured papers, there is not that terrible consideration of borders—for borders, let us face it, are usually unhappy. The only borders I have ever seen which seem to justify themselves, are the dainty little floral bands, not more than an inch or an inch and a half wide, for use in bedrooms with a plain or selfstriped paper. Borders are one of the things which an enterprising industry has conceived in the successful merchandising of its product, but they have no place in the congregation of good taste. I have seen narrow borders in pure design used in panelling effects which were not offensive —but they were merely a make-shift for wood molding. You will not go amiss if you blue pencil the word “border” in your requirements list when you are looking for and selecting wall paper. And above all never allow yourself to be wheedled into placing a border on a patterned paper!
It is certainly a consideration, when you are papering a room, whether or not you are going to hang pictures. The decision will have to rest with you. If you have fine pictures, you will have to confine yourself to the old-one-tone neutral papers, or the very faint shadowy florals or foliage in monotone, and find your brilliancy in hanging and upholstery alone.
The Canadian Papers
the domestic papers excel in bedroom papers, which, with few exceptions, are of the chintz variety, full of color and life. Hardy florals also appear in good nch yellows, roses and blues. One interesting old staple design revived recently, is the white or cream self stripe. Many will remember this perfectly plain paper in stripes of perhaps an inch, one stripe of which was flat white, the other glossy. It was a beautifully pure paper for bedrooms and perhaps the only one which ever really lent itself to the always doubtful graces of the flowered border.
The papers for bathroom and pantry are fascinating. Some of these represent white tile with the periodic introduction of one large square decorative tile in brilliant color, a sort of Dutch effect. Others have a very faint back design of tiles, and a conventional flower in soft color at intervals. An especcially lovely one of this type is in mauve.
This change of face in the papers has had a widespread effect upon fabrics, of course. Hangings in the room papered in design must take refuge in rich one color effects, either contrasting with or carrying out the leading color of the paper, or they must adopt the stripe. The denims, casement cloths, damasks with
invisible stripe and design in weave only, are prominent in such combinations, as are the figured denims in one-color diapered effect. All the brilliant taffetas, silk nets and marquisettes in every color imaginable as well as softened shades are prominent, with reps and crashes very popular in wicker upholstery.
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