How a 19th Century Author Changed Modern Home Decor
Not all of us are blessed with that innate ability to know how to decorate a home. In fact, home decor advice has probably be around as long as their have been modern homes to decorate. One of the earliest serious book on the subject is The Decoration of Houses, by Edith Wharton. Even she, who was quite familiar with the art of home decor and owned mansions in both the posh places of New York City and Gilded Age Newport, required the assistance of coauthor architect Ogden Codman.
The book was a seminal work that changed home decor and brought it into the modern age. It also gave birth to the profession of the modern decorator. Wharton and Codman denounced the usual way doing things, the overstuffed rooms, the heavy curtains and the excess of accessories the Victorians so favored. Instead, they emphasized the need for space planning and architectural design. Believe it or not, symmetry and proportion, and a sense of balance in a home, was not even considered, previously. A well decorated room, at that time, was one which contained many expensive things, especially upholstery, with no overall plan as to how they all fit together.
Image Source: Edithwharton.org
Wharton and Codman
Wharton and Codman urged their readers to embrace simplicity and order in home decor, with less detail, good space and pieces that work together in a room. These are the principals that govern most professional home decorators today.
In addition, this work, this book, gave readers to know what specific rooms should be for, the type of decoration that both is and is not appropriate for such rooms, and the specific relationship among floor, ceiling and walls.
In short, by producing The Decoration of Houses, the authors were ushering nothing less or more than an American Renaissance in interior design.