The Industrial Revolution led to a rapid increase in prosperity and affluence within society, which was reflected in the design and style of the homes and interiors of the middle class. A degree of uncertainty on how to embark on this new living style gave rise to the introduction of lavish furnishings & architecture previously reserved for the upper class & aristocracy. Irrespective of the recent advances in technology, Victorian interior design remained true to times past, drawing inspiration from years gone by. The style is elaborate and luxurious whilst also proposing a cozy and comfortable atmosphere.
Victorian architectural aspects and detailing such as cornicing, ceilings and coving arches, carvings, moldings and bas-reliefs, often portrayed scenes from nature, and were prevalent. You can easily incorporate any of these features into your design, which will instantly transform your room.
A hard wood flooring, medium or dark in colour, coupled with large Persian rugs are indicative of the Victorian era. If your budget does not allow for a hardwood floor, you could always lay a good quality laminate flooring and select a wide board in a dark stain.
Industrial pollution in the towns and cities led many homeowners to avoid light colours on the walls. Despite this, light coloured rooms were still prominent in the first half of the Victorian era but were rarely seen in dining rooms and libraries. At the time wall colours were determined by the availability of pigments, which was limited. The second half of the era saw the introduction of an expanding palette of vibrant rich deep colours such as red, gold, and dark green. These bold, intense colours served to state the importance of a room, and ultimately, the status of the homeowner. In order to replicate the style and décor of the time, create a contrast between bold, elaborate, formal reception rooms with halls and secondary rooms decorated in neutral shades.
Consider using large printed or patterned wallpapers depicting elements of nature or floral or scroll patterns. Red, green and blue were the main colours with tans and cream patterns superimposed on the wallpaper. Wallpaper designs in the late 1800s featured trellises with Gothic inspiration in earthy shades with leaf and floral work and were used in all rooms. William Morris was influenced by Gothic and Medieval tapestries and became the leading authority on wallpaper and fabric designs.
Chairs were often covered in fabric to match the wallpaper, and enhance the elaborate patterns on the wall. Windows were adorned with a double layer of fabrics. Couple sheer, net and voile materials with heavier fabrics such as damask, velvet and brocade. Light cottons, chintz and muslins were popular, used in conjunction with heavily embroidered fabric.
Victorian furniture consisted of large, imposing pieces made of rich, dark woods such as mahogany, walnut, rosewood and teak as well as oak. Furniture featured elaborate carvings and were particularly prominent in bedposts and head, and footboards. Rather than searching for the perfect antique pieces, which can prove to be a lengthy and costly process, purchase some reproduction furniture which you can tailor to your preferences. Victorian lighting and lamps were elegant and stylish, ornately decorated and extravagant, indicative of the chandelier. The intention was to create a warm ambience to accentuate the vibrant colours on the walls.
Every available surface in a Victorian room seemed to be overflowing with ornaments and bits and bobs, which served to convey the homeowner’s newly discovered cultural interests, status and prosperity. The floor to ceiling was crammed with coves full of books. Fireplaces were overstated and elaborate. Golden gilded mirrors and oil paintings of Victorian scenes of high society adorned the walls. Lamp bases were inspired by the orient, and contrasted perfectly when placed on top of mahogany reproduction furniture pieces. Windows were ladened with excesses of fabrics and folds.
Accessories are paramount in Victorian interior design, and are the simplest way to decorate your room. Choose richly patterned oriental rugs, gold and silver candelabras, wooden wall and grandfather clocks, plush pillows with bold, heavy textured fabric and vibrant material colours on seats and armchairs. Ginger jars, oriental vases, and ornaments and china dishes and plates, will evoke that Victorian style and elegance you are looking to achieve.