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The Decoration of Houses

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  146 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Edith Wharton's The Decoration of Houses is an invaluable reference, one of the classic works on interior decoration, and a testament to the enduring style of one of America's greatest writers. Written in collaboration with celebrated American architect Ogden Codman, Jr., Wharton's first book is a comprehensive look at the history and character of turn-of-the-century inter ...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Rizzoli (first published 1897)
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Manik Sukoco
Jan 06, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
I didn't realize that Edith Wharton was well-versed in architecture and decoration until visiting her home, The Mount, and learning that it was mostly all her own design. I was prompted out of curiosity to read her book. I was prepared for it to be dull, but found it to be anything but. She brings up many key decorating points that really make you think; right down to her definition of decorating, which is somewhat different than what we know it to be today. You do have to sort of translate her ...more
May 09, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: interior-design
This is worth reading just for the scathing chapter on bric-a-brac.
Sean Farmer
Aug 27, 2010 Sean Farmer rated it it was amazing
Mrs. Wharton along with Mr. Codman changed the way we look at our homes and espoused a philosphy that is as current today, as it was at the turn of the century. Out the door flew faux "old French" (Machine made furniture in the "French" style), Velvet poiteres, lurid colours, as oppressive as the Victorian period itself, and potted palms in garish cache pots. In the door came a revival of the 18th century taste. Colours became lighter, Louis XVI fauteuils replaced overstuffed club chairs covere ...more
Jul 22, 2015 LauraT rated it really liked it
Oh my Perugia ...

In the hands of a great race of artistic _virtuosi_ like the Italians,
stucco has produced effects of beauty which in any other substance
would have lost something of their freshness, their plastic
spontaneity. From the delicate traceries of the Roman baths and the
loveliness of Agostino da Duccio's chapel-front at Perugia, to the
improvised bravura treatment of the Farnese theatre at Parma, it has
served, through every phase of Italian art, to embody the most refined
and studied, as w
Aug 16, 2012 Vivencio rated it liked it
the house is a mess but what the heck .... we have this to read :D
Jan 28, 2011 Jenifer rated it liked it
I skimmed this over pretty quickly. I'm getting ready to read me some Edith Wharton and was surprised to find this self-confident book on architecture and decorating by Wharton in our local library. Apparently, she really knew what she was talking about. Although it has been called "the first interior design book by the first interior designer" and I'm really interested to see how she translates her knowledge and opinions to her fictional novels, it didn't have too much of practical value for me ...more
Jan 14, 2008 Eric marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
One of the things I like about Wharton's fiction is the attention to interiors. Her people often come with characteristic backgrounds: the expanses of walnut in stuffy Mrs. Peniston's home in 'The House of Mirth'; in the 'The Age of Innocence,' maverick Mrs. Mingott planted amid "the frivolous upholstery of the Second Empire," and the Van der Luydens hearing the Archers plea for intersession in the Olenska matter in the chilly, shrouded, unused drawing room of their Madison Avenue townhouse--a r ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Dale rated it it was amazing
Wharton is one of my favorite writers, and my admiration for her and the way she chose to live had already made me a huge fan of her self-confidence. This and Italian Villas and their Gardens are beautiful, detailed, beautifully written and drawn precursors to coffee table books. Was there nothing this woman couldn't do? She was the architect of her beloved home The Mount, and in these books she displays the insight and skill for technical assessments for homes and gardens. She could have worked ...more
John Hellman
Mar 23, 2014 John Hellman rated it really liked it
" The Decoration of Houses" compliments Bill Bryson's "At Home". The book focuses on the gilded age of decoration. Many of the ideas shared in the book still apply today .
Apr 10, 2012 Salvatore rated it liked it
I now can decorate according to Gilded Age styles. Makes a whole lot of sense. Wharton and Codman are endearing and unwavering. They're ready to call you cheapsakes out. Now, if only I could find those millions I too could make one hell of a house.
No longer a particularly relevant treatise, though some of the analysis of room-type development is interesting. Unsurprisingly a distinct predilection for French types, with some consideration of Italian models.
Jun 10, 2008 Rhonda rated it liked it
Very interesting to read this book after a May visit to The Mount, Wharton's summer home of 10 years in Lenox, MA. Too bad all our homes don't conform to her ideals ... being an heiress would help.
Not that I have a villa or mansion to decorate but there is still some good basic suggestions and it's a lot of fun reading Edith Wharton's thoughts on houses and their proper decoration and uses.
May 05, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it
Fascinating! And wow, author Wharton was opinionated - it was fun to take a step back in time. Her chapter on nurseries and school rooms is right on, even for today's lifestyle.
Mar 30, 2007 V P rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in decorating
Shelves: readalready
This is a great book. It is the 1st interior design book written by the 1st interior designer. A must read for anyone who likes interior designing or would like to learn more.
Megan Mills
Apr 24, 2012 Megan Mills rated it liked it
For a book about architecture of the nineteenth century, it made me giggle. That's good writing.
Shannon Cate
Feb 21, 2011 Shannon Cate rated it it was amazing
What a relief to know that stucco, in and of itself, is not immoral.
Jan 09, 2008 Ashton rated it it was amazing
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Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a ...more
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