The Victorian era – which can be said to have run the course of the great Queen Victoria’s long reign from 1837 to 1901 – was, from a decor point of view a very opulent and dramatic one. Although there were a number of innovations – especially the advent of electric lighting in many homes – that changed the style over the decades Victoria’s reign spanned the style we most associate with the Victorian era is colorful, quite bold and even a little whimsical.
Even today there are homeowners who find modern decor a little too cold and soulless who prefer to live in a home that has some of the warmth and character of those of the Victorian era. The challenge does tend to be though incorporating Victorian style decor elements into the modern home without creating the illusion that the home is a museum! Here are just a few tips then to help you effectively add a little 19th century splendor to your decor.
Color – The Victoria color palette commonly used in home decor was not quite as dark as some people imagine. Although deeper tertiary colors were popular so were lighter shades of sage, olive and rose which when paired with the richer purples, reds, blues and browns tended to have a very striking and ‘rich’ look.
In the modern era of electric light some of the colors used in the Victorian era take on a rather different appearance. For that reason if you are considering adding any element using them to your home – paints, flooring or even furniture – whenever possible try them out in your home before you buy.
Patterns – Patterns are a huge part of Victorian home decor from heavy damasks with rather formal prints to the more playful trompe-l’œil patterns that created 3D style images on everything from walls and ceilings to drapes.
The easiest way to use trompe-l’œil in today’s home is to add it in the form of reproduction artwork, murals like the one above or specialist fabrics like those pictured below. If staging a home for sale you may want to avoid the very striking, but not quiet, murals and add a few fabric touches instead.
Opulence – Restraint was not a word that was really in the average Victorian’s vocabulary when it came to decor. Knick knacks, lamps of all kinds, even after the advent of electric light, huge chandeliers and the most intricately carved and shaped furniture were all common in Victorian homes.
Although you can choose to shop for genuine Victorian antique pieces to add to your home the real thing is expensive and getting harder to find as the years go by and the pieces themselves get older and older. The good news is though that there are a lot of very good – and far more affordable – reproduction pieces of all kinds available to help you recreate the Victorian look in your home.