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Resources: Preservation Library: Decorative Finishes for the Old House

Victorian Interior Decoration: American Interiors 1830-1900, by Gail Winkler and Roger Moss, N.Y.: Henry Holt, 1986.
A book which presents the broad design philosophies of four distinct periods between 1830 and 1900. Sections for each period cover the way walls, ceilings, woodwork, floors, and windows were treated. Well written by people who love their subject, the book has many photos and illustrations, a glossary of Victorian design terms, and a comprehensive index.


Paints for Old Houses, prepared by The Consultant Bureau, Providence Preservation Society, 1980.
A looseleaf binder which provides samples of exterior and interior paint colors of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Each period has its own section, and each section is introduced by a one-page narrative which gives information about where and in what combinations various colors were applied. There are two valuable sections at the back: one is a reprint of an 1812 paper by H. Reynolds on the preparation and mixing of paints to achieve the colors in use at the time. The other is a color index, which provides the Pratt-Lambert or Benjamin Moore numbers for the colors included in the book. An important source for those who want to reproduce authentic colors in a historic house.


The Art of Decorative Stenciling, by Adele Bishop and Cile Lord, N.Y.: Viking Press, 1976.
Lavishly illustrated with color and black and white photographs as well as true-size reproductions of many patterns, this book provides step-by-step instructions for stenciling. It also tells what to stencil and what not to stencil, how to adapt a design, and how to create original designs.


Wallpapers in Historic Preservation, by Catherine L. Frangiamore, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1977.
This report surveys the technology, styles, and uses of wallpaper in America, with suggestions for wallpaper within a restoration project. Extremely useful information, but the poor quality of the printing makes it hard to read and the illustrations difficult to decipher.


Wallpapers for Historic Buildings, by Richard C. Nylander, Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1983.
A presentation of historic wallpaper reproductions that are currently available, arranged chronologically by period. The introduction contains valuable advice about saving, researching, and identifying any evidence of previous wall coverings in a house. Sections on each period provide information about size and quality of paper, design and pattern evidence, and color. Illustrations are in black and white, but color information is provided in the captions.


Floor Coverings for Historic Buildings, by Helene Von Rosenstiel and Gail Winkler, Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1988.
This is a thorough consideration of floor coverings: types, periods, how to authenticate, how to restore. The many lovely illustrations are somewhat flawed by being in black and white rather than color.


Fabrics for Historic Buildings, by Jane C. Nylander, Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1983.
Organized by period and fabric types, this report is intended to help people with limited experience select and order documentary reproduction fabrics suitable for furnishing historic properties. The catalog sections list reproductions of fabrics used in the U.S. between 1650 and 1900.


Lighting for Historic Buildings, by Roger W. Moss, Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1988.
This monograph tells how to recognize good reproductions of all kinds of lighting, from candle holders to electric lights. Useful information, but the many black and white illustrations would be more helpful in color.


Electric Wiring and Lighting in Historic American Buildings, by Maximilian Ferro and Melissa Cook, New Bedford, Ma.: Nortek, 1984.
A history with salient comments on how electricity has been added to historic buildings. Most of the book is a series of pictures with descriptions of lighting fixtures of different periods. The title may be misleading, as this is not a how-to on electric wiring.


Colonial and Early American Lighting, by Arthur Hayward, N.Y.: Dover, 1962.
A reprint of the 1927 second edition of this work. Presents illustrations of candles, chandeliers, lamps, and lanterns of various periods.