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Interior Decoration

  • It was a Victorian parlor maid's nightmare, marked by the kind of decor involving the word 'throw.' Throw pillows, throw covers, throw cloths ... Next to throw, the operative word was 'occasional.' Occasional tables, occasional chairs, occasional lamps; footstools, hassocks, stacked trays, wheeled teacarts, and enough card tables to start a gambling den.


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  • Choose a checked or striped wall paper. People will be halfway home before they are able to focus.

  • If proportion is the good breeding of architecture, symmetry, or the answering of one part to another, may be defined as the sanity of decoration.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • with Ogden Codman, Jr., The Decoration of Houses ()
  • Gnomes always draw curtains where there are views.

  • One of the most basic human instincts is the need to decorate. Nothing is exempt — the body, the objects one uses, from intimate to monumental, and all personal and ceremonial space. It is an instinct that responds ... to some deep inner urge that has been variously described as the horror of a vacuum and the need to put one's imprint on at least one small segment of the world.

  • Embellishment is an irresistible and consuming impulse, going back to the beginnings of human history. ... Probably the strongest motivating force is the simplest: the inability of almost everyone to ever leave well enough alone.

  • The art of decoration requires the most sophisticated and self-indulgent skills. Its aim has always been to sate the senses as gloriously as possible. ... ornament is not only a source of sensuous pleasure; it supplies a necessary kind of magic to people and places that lack it. More than just a dread of empty spaces has led to the urge to decorate; it is the fear of empty selves.

  • Eudora ... was idly speculating upon the blow it must have been to the decorator of the Wagon Wheel when he learned that cash registers were not available in knotty pine ...

  • My wife just finished redecorating in here. As a wedding present I gave her a free hand. Only woman I know who can exceed an unlimited budget.

  • ... don't make each room a different color in a small apartment or you'll make yourself nervous.

  • I believe in plenty of optimism and white paint.

  • You will express yourself in your house whether you want to or not.

  • [On Nancy Reagan:] At one photo op press conference, she toured a crack house and decried how awful it was, yet one suspected that for our Drug Czarina it had something to do with a plaid couch.

  • The previous owner had achieved that paradox, taste without imagination.

  • ... the smallest part is worthy of the whole.

  • Light, air and comfort — these three things I must always have in a room ...

  • ... whatever the uses of a room, they are seriously interfered with if it be not preserved as a world by itself.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • with Ogden Codman, Jr., The Decoration of Houses ()
  • No one chair should be isolated ...

  • You will soon find that your joy in your home is growing, and that you have a source of happiness within yourself that you had not suspected.

  • Decorating is the art of arranging beautiful things comfortably.

    • Ruby Ross Wood,
    • in C. Ray Smith, Interior Design in 20th Century America ()
  • Gift-wrap the framed artwork on your walls and rehang them — what's nicer than a wall of presents to look at?

  • I'll always put in one controversial item, it makes people talk.

    • Dorothy Draper,
    • in Carleton Varney, The Draper Touch: The High Life and High Style of Dorothy Draper ()
  • Birds are so much wiser than we! A robin builds a nest for robins. A seagull builds a nest for seagulls. They don't copy each other — or build themselves nests as described in The Birds' Decorating Magazine.

    • Dorothy Draper,
    • in Carleton Varney and Dan Shaw, In the Pink: Dorothy Draper -- America's Most Fabulous Decorator ()
  • My recent apartment renovation consisted of turning over the sofa cushions, then realizing they looked better the other way.