For all the complexity of his career and the intricacy of his designs, the decorating philosophy of William Morris can probably be summarized in one word: simplicity. The older he got, the more enamored he became of whitewashed walls and bare floors (“If we really care about art we shall … choose honest whitewash … on which sun and shadow play so pleasantly.”)
While most decorating trends have come and gone, William Morris’ lyrical vines have quietly and sinuously crept into our contemporary notions of the beautiful. Morris loved all that was unpretentious and natural. He felt beauty played an important function in the house, as a spur to the creativity of those who lived there.
“I have never been in any rich man’s house which would not have looked the better for having a bonfire made outside it of nine-tenth of all it held,” he once said. His mission was, quite simply, “to restore the dignity of art to ordinary household decoration.”