The Decoration of Houses

Read by LibriVox Volunteers

(4.5 stars; 13 reviews)

The Decoration of Houses, a manual of interior design written by Edith Wharton with architect Ogden Codman, was first published in 1897. In the book, the authors denounced Victorian-style interior decoration and interior design, especially those rooms that were decorated with heavy window curtains, Victorian bric-a-brac and overstuffed furniture. They argued that such rooms emphasized upholstery at the expense of proper space planning and architectural design and were, therefore, uncomfortable and rarely used. Wharton and Codman advocated the creation of houses with rooms decorated with strong architectural wall and ceiling treatments, accentuated by well-suited furniture, rooms based on simple, classical design principles such as symmetry and proportion and a sense of architectural balance. The Decoration of Houses is considered a seminal work and its success led to the emergence of professional decorators working in the manner advocated by its authors. (Summary by Wikipedia) (6 hr 22 min)


Introduction 7:47 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter I: The Historical Tradition 27:42 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter II: Rooms in General 24:20 Read by timothyFR
Chapter III: Walls 45:39 Read by Lucretia B.
Chapter IV: Doors 36:57 Read by Sue Anderson
Chapter V: Windows 15:51 Read by Jennifer Dorr
Chapter VI: Fireplaces 23:35 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter VII: Ceilings and Floors 24:09 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter VIII: Entrance and Vestibule 6:46 Read by Lyn Silva
Chapter IX: Hall and Stairs 26:58 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter X: The Drawing-Room, Boudoir, and Morning-Room 19:13 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter XI: Gala Rooms: Ball-Room, Saloon, Music-Room, and Gallery 19:03 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter XII: The Library, Smoking-Room, and "Den" 15:47 Read by Mudlark
Chapter XIII: The Dining-Room 12:46 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter XIV: Bedrooms 20:04 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Chapter XV: The School-Room and Nurseries 27:24 Read by Lucretia B.
Chapter XVI: Bric-a-Brac 20:34 Read by Elizabeth Klett
Conclusion 5:35 Read by Elizabeth Klett


A Gem

(5 stars)

This book I picked up not knowing What a gem it was. It opened my eyes to what actually constitutes good taste. Beautifully read by a number of volunteers, I thank them all for their time.

(4 stars)

Well done, and even for those not particularly interested in interior design or architecture, I think it would be interesting. I only wish Elizabeth Clett could have narrated the whole book.