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Interior design lessons from the Victorians

Do you own a Victorian home or love Victorian interior design? Residential property built during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) is full of character and wonderfully unique, open to a world of interior design possibilities. Along with Georgian and Tudor styles, Victorian homes are among the most desirable property styles there is..

Typically well constructed, with generously proportioned rooms and high ceilings, period buildings from the Victorian era are the dream home for many. But how do you square a historic building from around 150 years ago with the modern demands of the 21st century? Worse still, what if a previous owner had a go at modernising the Victorian interiors and, ahem, got it spectacularly wrong?

If you’re lucky enough to own a Victorian terrace, semi or detached house, the trick is to retain the original features that made you fall in love with the property in the first place, while sympathetically bringing the interior up to date.

Let’s take a look at how you can update your Victorian home décor to make sure so it’s fresh and modern while paying tribute to its historical roots.

Windows and how to dress them

lessons-from-the-Victorians1Source: Artichoke

Victorian homes are known for their beautiful sash windows. It’s one of their biggest design features and will add instant kerb appeal to the property. Original box sash windows need careful maintenance and repair to keep them in good condition, but the good news is that they can be fully refurbished and restored by an expert craftsman, which is excellent news if you live in a Conservation Area or in a listed building. You may wish to fit double glazed sashes for better energy efficiency, but whatever you do don’t ruin a beautiful Victorian building by choosing modern uPVC replacement windows.

Victorian window treatments will take a bit of thought, largely because the high ceilings combined with large windows tend to draw the eye, making window dressing a key interior design feature. Wooden shutters are a popular choice – you may even have original ones – and they can look very dramatic teamed with opulent floor length curtains.

Combine full length curtains with a traditional pelmet to frame your sash windows and maintain the traditional feel of the house. Alternatively, floaty voile curtains are a great way to create a light and airy feel, letting in natural light while preserving privacy and still showing off the elegance of the woodwork.

Don’t be afraid of patterns

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Source: i News

The Victorian era was an exciting time for interior design and fashion styles, incorporating many exotic influences from as far away as India and Japan. As a result, colours and patterns in a wealth of beautiful designs were embraced everywhere in the home. Traditional Victorian interiors were dark and ornate, so go for rich inky shades in cool navy, plush plum or forest green and use them liberally as accent colours, for feature walls or entire rooms.

Wallpaper was a big Victorian interior trend. Morris & Co were one of the most prolific designers and producers of wallpapers and textiles. They used an array of imaginative designs with natural, floral motifs that struck the zeitgeist. For the first time, ordinary households were able to introduce colours and patterns into interiors schemes.

Many of William Morris’ iconic designs are still available today and their popularity on wallpaper, upholstery fabrics, ceramics and more shows no sign of ending any time soon. How about creating a wallpapered accent wall, keeping the rest of the room painted in rose pinks, soft greens or greys – colours that were particularly popular during the period.

You could also add a touch of Victoriana to your modern furniture with a Morris inspired scatter cushion or rug. An original button backed armchair re-upholstered in a jewel-like colour or elaborate patterned fabric will make an eye-catching feature piece for any room.

Choose handcrafted furniture

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Source: Real Homes

It is no exaggeration to say that the Victorians were in love with ornately carved wood furniture and home accessories, preferably made of mahogany, oak or walnut. Pieces were hand made and well crafted, and used in abundance all around the home.

These days, our aesthetic is probably slightly more pared down, so you may wish to be a little more discerning in your choice of furniture. Rather than overloading the senses, a single, carefully chosen piece of furniture with a Victorian influence – say a bookcase, armoire or dressing table that’s been lovingly restored to its former period glory – can make a stunning statement in an otherwise plain room.

Adorn the walls with carved mirrors and picture frames, place lamps on side tables and complete the opulent ambience of the room with plump armchairs and a sofa, a re-upholstered original chaise longue and a couple ottomans.

Let there be light

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Source: Yale Appliance

High ceilings in hallways, reception rooms and bedrooms means you can be much more creative than in a modern home with standard height ceilings. Chandeliers, lanterns and wall sconces were popular when gas was the only available energy source for lighting, but nowadays there are electric versions that look arguably even more stunning.

Statement lighting can take the form of a single pendant or multi-light features, but make sure the size is in the right proportion to the scale of the room. And why not strategically position directional lighting such as uplighters to highlight some of the beautiful period cornicing and architectural detailing on walls and ceilings?

Victorian style rooms also require ambient lighting, and that means plenty of decorative lamps, either floor standing or on tables. A Tiffany lamp would be the perfect addition, providing soft lighting through vibrant stained glass shades in colours that are typical of the period.

Finally, for all the benefits of modern electricity including the latest in LED technology, sometimes it’s best to go back to the tried and tested. Complement the ambience in your home with the welcoming glow of candlelight and enhance the beauty and features of your period home just as the Victorians might have done.

Now ~ Let us help you find your best style!

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