The Decoration of Houses

First UK edition of Edith Wharton's first published book


Edith Wharton, and Ogden Codman


Batsford, London, 1898
The Decoration of HousesThe Decoration of HousesThe Decoration of Houses

Printing Details

First UK edition, first printing hardback, bound in the original burgundy boards with gilt titling and blindstamped design to spine and upper board. Top edge gilt, outer and lower edges untrimmed. 23.5 × 17cm, xxii + 204pp. The introduction contains a useful bibliography.

The Decoration of Houses was Edith Wharton's first published book. 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, most notably Elsie de Wolfe.


This is a good copy of a scarce title. The burgundy cloth binding is bumped to the corners and suffers sun-fading to the spine, along the rear joint and the top edge of the rear board, but the gilt titling is crisp. Endpapers foxed but the main body of text is generally clean with sporadic spots of light foxing, inner binding secure. Untrimmed edges browned and the book is free from inscription. All plates present.

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The Decoration of HousesThe Decoration of HousesThe Decoration of Houses

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