One of the classic works on interior decoration, Edith Wharton’s The Decoration of Houses offers a comprehensive look at the history and character of turn-of-the-century interior design. Co-written with architect Ogden Codman, Jr., this invaluable reference provides us with numerous keen and practical axioms for house design, such as (1) The better the house, the less need for curtains, and (2) the height of a well-proportioned doorway should be twice its width.
In the words of John Barrington Bayley, President of Classical America, “this book has charm. The Decoration of Houses brings to mind the pictures of Walter Gay: There are the reflections in looking-glasses, and on parquet, and the garnitures of chimney-pieces, boiseriers, the odor of wax; outside the tall glazed doors there is a sunny silent terrace, we are now at Mrs. Wharton’s Pavillon Colombe—a well laid out parterre, a rose garden, and an orchard of Reinette apples and luscious double cherries.”
“The practical advice, with its emphasis on simplicity, still has a wide application. A book with enduring appeal.” (
“Wharton and Codman took a reformist stance, suggesting that clients stop treating the interiors and the exteriors of their houses as separate projects and start seeking more simplicity and less ornament. Wharton had an opportunity to play architect and decorator herself in Lenox, Massachusetts, where (with the help of professionals) she built the Mount, a Georgian mansion with a cascade of beautiful gardens. She wrote to her sometime lover Morton Fullerton, ‘Decidedly, I’m a better landscape gardener than novelist, and this place, every line of which is my own work, far surpasses The House of Mirth.’” ( The New Yorker)
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