08 September 2010

Details Count: Fillet, Fillet, Who's Got a Fillet?

The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's drawing room at the Old Vicarage, Edensor, Derbyshire, England. Image from Côte de Texas.

I was thumbing through the September 2010 issue of The World of Interiors last night and came across an illuminating comment from the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, who has moved from the family pile, Chatsworth, into an early-nineteenth-century former vicarage on the estate: "One thing I learned from Chatsworth was what a good finish a fillet gives round the cornice, the doorcases, and skirting."

The fillet of which she writes, in case you didn't know, is a narrow strip of fabric, metal, or gilded wood that outlines a room and its architectural features. It is especially useful when one wishes to provide detail without actual bulk, particularly when a room is, well, deficient in architectural charm. In Deborah Devonshire's pale-pink drawing room, show above, the walls and windows are defined by a whisper-thin fillet of plain giltwood, probably three-quarters of an inch in width; its gentle metallic flash adds a touch of animation as well.

One could use grosgrain ribbon to similar effect.