How to Incorporate Victorian Interior Design Styles Into Your Home Designs
From about 1860 walls were often divided horizontally into three somewhat after the Georgian fashion, only now there was perhaps a greater coordination in the finish to the three sections, for the Victorians were very aware of the relationship between colors and patterns and their proportions within a room.
The popularity of wallpapers increased as mass production got under way. Flock papers, especially red for dining rooms (they must have harbored food and tobacco smoke odors considerably), were in demand, as were Gothic-inspired patterned papers popularized by Pugin (through his use of them in the Houses of Parliament).
Papers with trailing botanical themes were also common. Paint too was used for walls and ceilings, but frequently this would be brushed on to relief or textured papers, and stenciled patterns were often applied to friezes and dados.
White was rarely used for ceilings, cream and drab colors being the preferred choice. Woodwork (deep skirting/base boards, doors and so on) was most usually stained or grained to give the appearance of mahogany.
Hardwood floors were still popular in Victorian times. While many of these exhibited intricate designs, other, less elaborate ones would be covered either by oriental rugs or by carpets depicting bold floral patterns.
Carpets were often bordered and most frequently laid in a square or rectangle with a margin of floor visible around the room. The floor surrounding the carpet would then either be dark-stained or perhaps covered with felt or oil cloth.
Marble was popular, and tiles (ceramic and earthenware) and linoleum were the preferred choices for more utilitarian areas – encaustic tiles in geometric patterns being especially favored for hallways. Many of these floorings survive today and replacement tiles are still being made to old designs.
Furnishings were characterized by elaborate multi-layered treatments. Curtains, often hung from brass or wooden poles and pelmets, were generally softly draped. Later in the period stiff pelmets became more popular and these sometimes extended down the outside of the frame to form a lambrequin. Lace curtains and roller blinds to give added privacy and to filter dust were often used in conjunction with the main treatment.
Elsewhere, drapery was used at doorways, on upholstery and even over mantel-pieces. In all cases, trimming details were strongly featured. Upholstery tended to be on a grand scale, overstuffed and deeply buttoned. Fabrics were equally plush – velvet, lace, damask, satin and chintz all added to the feeling of lushness. Mahogany was a favourite wood for furniture, which was now often sold in suites.
Lighting And Accessories
Candles and oil lamps were somewhat superseded by gas lamps in the second half of the nineteenth century and electricity was introduced in the 1880s. Glass was a popular material for shades and many reproduction models are still available today.
Crystal fittings, especially suspended from a central ceiling rose, featured in more formal areas, as did brass, bronze and copper fittings.
The Victorians had a mania for collecting and loved nothing more than to cover every surface with memorabilia. Walls were littered with paintings and prints, and cabinets brimmed with figurines, boxes and souvenirs of every description.