Advice given to the 1930s home owner on Interior Decorating:
Colour will always remain a question of personal preference, and it is advisable to live with the colours that appeal to you most, although not forgetting that in a northern climate such a colour as crimson will tend to darken a room rather than lighten it – for that reason it is best to use light colours whenever possible.
When you are deciding on your colour schemes, bear in mind that there are certain laws that must observed, as there are only a limited number of colours and colour contrasts at your disposal. So many rooms are failures because their owner have neglected to carry this principle into effect. The whole success of your room depends largely on how you use and combine these colours.
Modern decoration is all in favour of sharp contrasts. The sharpest colour contrast is black and white, and one of the reasons for the modern preference for black and white, as well as grey and silver, is the fact that these colours are neutral. For the reason they do not appear in the list of Primary Colours (Red, Blue and Yellow), and they have the advantage of lending themselves to combination with other colours, strongly affected whatever is placed beside it, being used as the principal colour in a room.
Modern interior decorators depend on a good deal upon texture and surface as well as colour for their schemes, and some of the simplest and yet most successful colour schemes have been achieved by taking one colour and building up the decoration of the room around this one colour shade.
Suggestions for the Living Room
Supposing you decide to decorate your living room, using Green as the predominant colour, then your scheme should be carried out in the following manner. The walls and ceiling painted or distempered, light Apple Green (Note: whenever possible it is advisable to have the walls and ceiling the same colour, this unites the whole scheme, and in the case of a small room will create an illusion of space.)
Carrying on the Green motifs, the curtains and covers should be made in the same shade of material, and for this I would suggest one of the new woven fabrics which have a mixture of Green and Grey in them. To complete this Green scheme the carpet should be in Bottle Green, which will introduce yet another shade of restful green.
Another restful colour combination for al living-room would be to paint the walls and the ceiling light yellow, and cover the furniture in Grey and Cream fabric. A note of warmth could be introduced into this scheme by having the curtains made in either Lacquer Red or Chinese Pink. To complete the scheme the floor should be stained dark brown and covered with modern rugs made in shades of Brown and Green, or alternatively, covered entirely with a Dark Brown carpet.
Now we come to lighting, during recent years, in direct lighting has superseded the old fashioned idea of central and direct lighting. The modern desire to diffuse light about a room as softly yet as clearly, as possible. With this end in view reading lamps and standard lamps have taken the place of the old centre hanging light and chandelier.
One of the problems that usually confronts the modern housewife is that she is frequently given a very varied assortment of furniture. Most people are under the delusion that one cannot mix period pieces with modern backgrounds, but some of the most successful interiors to-day have been achieved by blending the old styles with the new.
Old pieces of furniture are frequently enhanced in effect by placing them against a simple modern background, by which I mean plain and sometimes brightly-coloured walls.
Modern fabrics look very well in a period dining room, and will serve to enliven a dull set of period chairs. Moreover, once can often link up assorted pieces of furniture in a room by upholstering them all in the same fabric.
By Derek Patmore, Author & Decorator
Additional photos for inspiration: