The Victorian era (1837 – 1901) paid homage to all things eclectic, with the homeowners of that time not ones to shy away from bold prints and ornamentation.
There is a preconception that Victorian homes are old fashioned, stuffy and dark, however this simply is not the case. The Victorian era was actually the time of diverse and revolutionary looking homes.
Victorian interior design drew influences from a number of styles, from Rococo and Gothic to Renaissance and Romanesque. Victorian properties were characterised by a number of features including ornately patterned tiles, extravagant fireplaces, sash windows, sumptuous detailing, deep skirting boards and William Morris prints.
Here is an overview of the essential ingredients for Victorian design:
Victorians liked patterns. Opt for elaborate flora and fauna, damasks, grand stripes and intricate motifs featuring animals and birds to tip your hat to the past.
It was common for almost every surface to be covered with patterns, so look out for Victorian-inspired fabrics, carpets and wallpapers too if you really want to create an authentic Victorian look. William Morris’s bird and animal print papers proved popular with homeowners in the Victorian era after wallpaper went into mass production in the 1840s.
A quintessential feature of a Victorian home, particularly in heavy wear areas like corridors and kitchens, is tiling.
Mosaic tiles were also used in bathrooms and surrounding the fireplace. In private rooms the tiles would be plain and usually one colour however, in more public places they would be colourful and highly decorative.
Deep jewel reds and forest green were among the favoured colours of the period. A number of shades, like blue and purple, didn’t become available until the middle of the century, so the colour palette was somewhat limited until chemical advancements gave more options. Sticking to reds and greens is an easy way to ensure you achieve an authentic Victorian look.
This means beautifully ornate wooden pieces with intense, dark finishes. Look for items with superfluous details that give a real feel of sophistication. In terms of sofas and other soft furnishings, it’s all about soft curves and indulgent chairs generously stuffed for plumped perfection.
A fireplace was a necessary addition to a Victorian home before the days of central heating and now they’re a prized decorative feature. Either by restoring an existing fireplace to its original condition or installing a genuine/antique-look fireplace into a new building, you can add instant period style.
Victorian Sash windows
No true Victorian property is complete without the traditional sash window. To retain character and really capture the look of the era, don’t be tempted to replace original windows but opt for sash window repairs instead and bring them into the modern day.
If your contemporary build home is without this style feature then you can always add them yourself for a kick of old style quality and charm. Today’s sash windows make use of all the benefits of modern window making so you can get double glazed efficiency in a traditional looking timber frame.
Radiators were something that was not often used during this period and as a result Victorians relied heavily on keeping the warmth in. Heavy curtains were therefore placed in rooms to maintain warmth but also for decoration.
Curtains were one of the only ways a Victorian family could really show off their wealth to friends and family members – they did this by the materials used, colours and pattern. If you would like to bring a Victorian look to your curtains, velvet works really well.
Victorian front doors
A Victorian front door was typically made of hardwood and had four panels, with two smaller glazed panels on the top. The inclusion of stained and etched glass in these panels was also popular later on in the Victorian period.
You may also be interested in:
Victorian Architecture Guide
Replacing Victorian Timber Windows
Creating a Warm and Welcoming Victorian Living Room