|N a measure, the materials for hangings and furniture-coverings are determined more or less by the amount one wishes to spend in this direction. For choice, one would say silk or velvet for formal rooms; velvets, corduroys or chintz for living rooms; leather and corduroy with rep hangings for a man’s study or smoking-room; thin silks and chintz for bedrooms; chintz for nurseries, breakfast-rooms and porches.
In England, slipcovers of chintz (glazed cretonne) appear, also, in formal rooms; but are removed when the owner is entertaining. If the permanent upholstery is of chintz, then at once your room becomes informal. If you are planning the living-room for a small house or apartment, which must serve as reception-room during the winter months, far more dignity, and some elegance can be obtained for the same expenditure, by using plain velveteen, modern silk brocades in one color, or some of the modern reps to be had in very smart shades of all colors.
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If your furniture is choice, rarely beautiful in quality, line and color, hangings and covers must accord. Genuine antiques demand antique silks for hangings and table covers; but no decorator, if at all practical, will cover a chair or sofa in the frail old silks, for they go to pieces almost in the mounting. Waive sentiment in this case, for the modern reproductions are satisfactory to the eye and improve in tone with age.
If you own only a small piece of antique silk, make a square of it for the centre of the table, or cleverly combine several small bits, if these are all you have, into an interesting cover or cushion. Nothing in the world gives such a note of distinction to a room as the use of rare, old silks, properly placed.
The fashion for cretonne and chintz has led to their indiscriminate use by professionals as well as amateurs, and this craze has caused a prejudice against them. Chintz used with judgment can be most attractive. In America the term chintz includes cretonne and stamped linen. If you are planning for them, put together, for consideration, all your bright colored chintz, and in quite another part of your room, or decorator’s shop, the chintz of dull, faded colors, as they require different treatment. A general rule for this material bright or dull is that if you would have your chintz decorate, be careful not to use it too lavishly. If it is intended for curtains, then cover only one chair with it and cover the rest in a solid color. If you want chintz for all of your chairs and sofa, make your curtains, sofa cushions and lampshades of a solid color, and be sure that you take one of the leading colors in the chintz. Next indicate your intention at harmony, by “bringing together” the plain curtains or chairs, and your chintz, with a narrow fringe or border of still another color, which figures in the chintz. Let us suppose chintz to be black with a design in greens, mulberry and buff.
Make your curtains plain mulberry, edged with narrow pale green fringe with black and buff in it, or should your chintz be grey with a design in faded blues and violets and a touch of black, make curtains of the chintz, and cover one large chair, keeping the sofa and the remaining chairs grey, with the bordering fringe, or gimp, in one or two of the other shades, sofa cushions and the lamp shades in blues and violets (lining lamp shades with thin pink silk), and use a little black in the bordering fringe.
If you decide upon very brilliant chintz use it only in one chair, a screen, or in a valance over plain curtains with straps to hold them back, or perhaps a sofa cushion. Whether chintz is bright or dull, its pattern is important. As with silks, brocaded in different colors, therefore never use chintz where a chair or sofa calls for tufting. A tufted piece of furniture always looks best done in plain materials.
In using chintz in which both color and design are indefinite, the kind that gives more or less an impression of faded tapestry, you will find that the very indefiniteness of the pattern makes it possible to use the chintz with more freedom, being always sure of a harmonious background. The one thing to guard against is that on entering a room you must not be conscious either of several colors, or of any set design.
The story of the evolution of textiles (any woven material) is fascinating, and like the history of every art, runs parallel with the history of culture and progress in the art of living, physical, mental and spiritual.