Orderly, ornamentation and over the top are the three best words to describe a Victorian styled home. With white or cream walls followed by dark flooring and big windows, Victorian is a classic, smart and elegant look for any house.
The era was known as “more of everything” and although it is mostly compared to the Colonial design, has similarities to the Hamptons style as well.
So how do you get a modern version of this look in your home? Let’s take a look at the key aspects that make a Victorian style.
The Victorian architecture style began in the mid 19th century, with Victorian referring to the reign of Queen Victoria. Affordable and mass produced household items were available and became accessible to those who previously could not afford them.
During the Industrial Revolution, the middle classes were able to increase their wealth and began investing in the design and styling of their homes. This new found wealth and accessibility led many middle class to emulate aristocracy and the ‘craze’ that became interior design at the time led people to overfill their homes with accessories, furnishings and fabrics, as a showcase of their new found wealth and financial status.
At the time, a bare, uncluttered room was frowned upon as tasteless and a reflection of being lower class.
Now, the Victorian style remains a classic and is suited to many home interiors because of the elegant elements in its design. Being quite popular even today, we see some fabulous modern twists and takes on the style.
To really pull off the Victorian interior design, you need to understand the key elements of the style.
Victorian is known for being high quality and has classical features with rich colours and tones.
Each room of a Victorian house could all be styled to different colours. However, they all compliment each other to form a beautifully designed home.
When thinking about the inside of a Victorian home, you want to be inspired by the different elements, including loads of decor, texture, patterns and colour.
Architecture & Key Design Features
A Traditional Victorian home features decorative cast iron, lacework, terrace housing, chimney stacks and multicoloured or red brickwork on the outside of the house. Curved verandahs and tall stain glass windows are also a vital feature of a Victorian home.
On the inside of the home, traditionally the rooms are big, the ceilings are high and the skirting boards are tall.
Walls and Mouldings
Full and partly wall papered walls were popular, and many times applied on half the wall; from skirting board to dado rail, or dado rail to ceiling. Ornate and tall skirting boards are a key of the era (the higher they are, the more wealthy you were) and many could only afford to add them in rooms of the home where they would host guests, to keep the façade of being wealthy.
Classic wall paneling was a key feature, as well as the use of dado railing to help divide the large rooms and add architectural interest and detail.
Parquet flooring or medium darkness polished floorboards were common to see and will assist create a Victorian inspired home. Cover the floors with some big pertain style rugs, usually featuring bold patterns and colours.
When it comes to designing a Victorian home, it is all about the colour scheme to really set off the room, aim to add colours and patterns to bring out key features in the room as well as a level of depth.
Victorian colour schemes were generally soft, subdued tones including red-brown tones, grey, rose pinks, lavender, sage, mustard, burgundy or teal. Pops of rich greens and blues are typical of Victorian styling too.
If you are unsure, it is always safe to go with off-white or cream walls and decorate with an array of colours to suit your taste. Or if you want to add a bit of a kick to any room, wallpaper with a subtle texture and pattern is also a great addition.
When it comes to styling the home, don’t be afraid to add colour to the furniture and decor to really make the rooms stand out and give it a wow factor.
As you choose the tones you want in your home, go for dusty in nature instead of bold modern colours. Sticking to the more traditional colour palette will help you better achieve the heritage look.
Patterns, Texture and Fabrics
Once you have your colours, you can start choosing the patterns and textures you want to feed throughout the home. This is where you can have some fun with each room and set a theme.
Two fabrics were favoured in a Victorian style home which are heavy silk damask and velvet. These are perfect fabrics for curtains, cushions and seat covers.
Patterns were used everywhere! From curtains, cushions, rugs and all in between. The key to pulling off many patterns is to keep them in the same colour palate.
Wall dressings were key as part of the whole decoration of the room. If you choose to go with wallpaper, consider stripes, floral or if you want to go bold, try a subtle animal or bird print. Now days, the wall patterns are kept a little more low key with the addition of patterns in the soft furnishings.
Dare to add as much or as little patterns to your Victorian home as you like. Even spark some inspiration from the Gothic style that some Victorian designs showcase. Just make sure you add your own modern twist to keep it looking crisp but also classic.
In a Victorian style home, it is all about the pieces of ‘clutter’ you add. When we refer to clutter, we do however mean neat and elegant clutter with ornaments, flowers and classic wooden furniture, especially crafted in mahogany timbers. Many modern Victorian homes choose a few key pieces to display and draw from other elements of the style to create it.
When it comes to the style of a Victorian home in the modern era, it is always a better option to mix the old with the new. Most people styling a Victorian home still want a modern design but the quality and character of the past.
As you decide to mix the two, the key is to mix them subtly without making it messy. So we have some tips on how to do this:
- Use an old antique wooden dining table and match it was modern chairs (clear acrylic or steel chairs).
- Take an old Victorian style couch and team it with modern chevron fabrics, like a floral pattern.
- Paint old cupboards or bookshelves in a dusty colour or a crisp white.
When styling the home, think traditional elements. The addition of the traditional fireplace (if you don’t already have one) is a great Victorian feature and gives the old and cosy feel to the home. Try an electric style that looks like an old wooden one, then team it up with a beautiful oversized mantel mirror, knick-knacks and some greenery on either side.
Other classic furnishings you want to consider are giant bookshelves, one-off feature antiques, Eames chairs and loads of lamps (particularly a “Tiffany” style) for glowing light.
When it comes to picking your furniture in a Victorian home, go for pieces with carved wood and marble pieces, whether it is a hallway table or side table. Victorian style furniture was very ornate but ranged from solid to more dainty.
Button back chairs, chaise or daybeds and carved mirrors in rich timbers were all styles of era and are easy and stylish to incorporate into the modern Victorian styled home.
Add some oil paintings to plain white walls and some small finishing touches with fresh flowers and heavy draped drop style curtains around the windows.
Keep it your Style
The Victorian style is very unique and can often be a little dark and intense. Water down the style to your taste by adding fresh lighting, some softer tones on the walls and quirky patterned feature pieces. Try a few different patterns and colours if you’re a little more daring, or start slow by reupholstering antique furniture with modern fabrics. Adding Victorian patterned wall paper with wainscoting or panelling is another simple addition.
A modern Victorian style provides a fresh look to any home, to see some more design options and for inspiration, please click here.