Decorating victorian style means to furnish your home according to the ideas of the Victorians, and how they would have done it.
The period is loosely based on the reign of Queen Victoria of England, who was queen from 1837 to 1901.
The interior styles of the Victorians were much the same worldwide. Exterior styles varied in different countries. Whereas in England brick construction for a home was normal, other countries used their abundant natural resources such as wood.
What makes the Victorian style?
The Victorians liked to impress, and status was important to them. So their houses reflected this, and so did the ways they decorated the interiors.
Decorating victorian style means comfort, luxury, lots of fabrics and accessories, rich color - in other words, luxurious and lavish. Contrary to popular belief the Victorians enjoyed themselves, and their home reflected this.
Warm, relaxed and comfortable. That's what you should aim for.
Decorating Victorian style means using color. There are a number of reasons why the Victorians used color as much as they did.
- Increasing trade produced wealth, and more people were able to afford to decorate their homes to a higher standard.
- Advances in chemistry and industrial processes resulted in paint becoming widely available and at affordable prices.
The Victorians used colors which were deep and rich, but were also warm. Bright, brash colors were not used, so modern paint colors won't give you a genuine effect. The colors were muted and restful, but not boring or dull as is often thought.
Deep reds and dark greens were among their favorites. They also used gold in varying degrees, normally for accent color on picture frames, or tassel fringes.
Grays and other neutral colors were often used in passageways, halls, and stairs. The more definite colors were reserved for rooms where the family would spend time.
Today you can buy specialist paints which are based on Victorian colors. You can also buy wallpapers which faithfully reproduce the colors and designs of that era.
The Victorians loved both complementary and contrasting colors, so don't be afraid to use them. (Go to this page for more information on color.)
Some colors seem to work better than others in home decorating. You can find out more with a product called Paint Color Cheat Sheets. (Only for residents of the USA and Canada.)
The Shortcut to Perfect Paint Colors - Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Other features of decorating Victorian style
Wood floors were now in common use, and were often covered in carpets, especially in more affluent homes.
The preferred method of bringing color and pattern onto the floor was to use oriental hand made rugs, especially Persian. Because of industrial advances these rug designs were often imitated in machine made rugs.
Decorating Victorian style doesn't leave you much choice when it comes to window treatments! They loved their fabrics, especially thick, rich ones. They used embroidered fabrics, as well as brocades, damasks and velvets.
Then there's the amount they used. Lots of fabric in curtains and drapes. Lots of folds. And big, thick wood poles. Or heavy swags and jabots. If you're ever in any doubt as to how much fabric to use when decorating Victorian style, put more in, and you won't go far wrong!
If they could afford it, they would have a heavy set of curtains for the winter, and lighter ones in cotton for the summer.
Using the right sort of furniture will instantly define a Victorian room. They used well made, solid furniture. It was usually finished with carved decorations.
The woods used were mainly oak, teak, mahogany and walnut. Furniture such as tables, dressers and wardrobes were quite heavy by today's standards.
You can buy reproduction Victorian furniture from a number of sources. Also, keep you eye open for house sales and antique shops. Genuine Victorian items may not be cheap, but buying an original piece of furniture will not only enhance your room, but may also be a good investment.
Upholstered furniture used sprung seats, and deep buttoned backs. Wood frames were left visible, and provided a natural contrast to the fabric. Buttons were not just for decoration, but held the horse-hair padding in place.
You probably can't put too much into a room when decorating Victorian style! If you look at old pictures or visit a Victorian museum, you'll quickly notice that they loved accessories.
- Use a round table with a heavy cloth on it, and place family photos on it.
- Hang ornate glass crystal chandeliers from the ceiling, or use brass ones.
- Decorative table lamps can help. In early Victorian times candles or oil lamps were used, so replicas of these fit well.
- The Victorians loved pictures, so use as many as you can. Go for large, heavy frames in gold or silver. Use pictures of your family, especially old photos. Oil paintings or watercolors of serene views of nature, innocent maidens, and healthy children were all popular.
- Ornaments can be placed everywhere, especially on tables, shelves and mantle pieces. China plates and dishes, porcelain figures, small bottles and boxes - you can easily buy such items from flea markets, shops and car boot sales.
- Don't forget plants. The Victorians loved indoor plants, especially tall, wispy ones.
Decorating Victorian style allows you so much scope. But remember, the finished effect must be one of comfort, where families can spend time and relax together.