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The Decoration of Houses

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  26 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
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Savasandir
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Squisito nella sua vetustà

La Bibbia americana dell’interior design di fine Ottocento, pensata per educare all'estetica del bello l'alta borghesia americana (che a quanto pare già allora era dotata di pessimo gusto), scritta da Edith Wharton, sapientemente coadiuvata dall'architetto Ogden Codman Jr., non è solo un vecchio catalogo di regole e consigli pratici per decorare la propria magione, ma è soprattutto una vera e propria storia dell'abitare, che illustra con molta precisione l'evolversi deg
...more
Jessica
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: interior-design
This is worth reading just for the scathing chapter on bric-a-brac.
Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 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
Sean Farmer
Aug 27, 2010 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
Vivencio
Aug 13, 2012 rated it liked it
the house is a mess but what the heck .... we have this to read :D
Ryan Vera
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not much of an aesthete, so oftentimes the dialogue and "theory" - as it were - of furnishing homes was often lost on me. Reading this was more of out historical interest in Wharton's oeuvre. It was intriguing to try and decipher who was responsible for the passages I was reading - Wharton or Codman? This is a co-authored text, so it makes its material value all the more interesting. However, this text isn't as widely available as Wharton's other texts and most editions often solely credit W ...more
Harperac
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never thought I would enjoy a hundred-and-twenty-year-old book on decoration as much as I have. I only gave it a try because I was running out of Edith Wharton books available on Librivox (a free audiobook community), but how satisfied I've been!

Wharton and her hilariously named co-author Ogden Codman take you on a whirlwind ride through the turn-of-the-century American home, or perhaps mansion would be the better phrase. I don't know how they can make the history of the fireplace sound so imp
...more
Eileen
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars (liked it)

I enjoyed this surprisingly advanced instruction about, and critical assessment of, the then-current 19th-century interpretation of the ultimate in interior design in America. The book is structured with several chapters detailing design recommendations for various aspects of a room (doors, walls, etc.) followed by some chapters on how to design entire rooms (libraries, ballrooms, etc.) The book includes brief and interesting historical points of reference on how interior des
...more
De
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting to see old ways of decor. Many of those still stand the test of time.
Bailee
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amazing how on point this book on interior design is 125 years later. Edith Wharton would HATE Live Laugh Love signs and that’s why we love her 😂
Chase
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Practicing too
LauraT
Jul 15, 2015 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
...more
Jenifer
Jan 28, 2011 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
Dale
Sep 26, 2008 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
Eric
Dec 28, 2007 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
Salvatore
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it
(2018) Seriously, Edith, Ogden, give me the capital and I will build according to your style. Though I may disagree with you on wallpaper. Should should should...!

===
(2012) 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.
...more
Andrew
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.
Amanda
May 05, 2009 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.
Jennifer
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.
V P
Mar 29, 2007 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.
Ashton
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
lovely
Megan Mills
Apr 24, 2012 rated it liked it
For a book about architecture of the nineteenth century, it made me giggle. That's good writing.
Rhonda
Jun 09, 2008 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.
John Hellman
Feb 22, 2014 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 .
Shannon Cate
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a relief to know that stucco, in and of itself, is not immoral.
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David A Cottrill
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Emily Meeks
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Jul 04, 2019
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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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