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Sep 27, 2017

The Classic Contemporary: How to Introduce Victorian Style into Modern Home Decor

Queen Victoria, after whom the ‘Victorian Era’ was named, reigned between 1837 to 1901.  It was a time of prosperity for many, leading to opulence as a key ingredient in home designs and decor.

In an era where fashions come and go, the beauty and majesty of Victorian decor has survived and flourished, and justifiably so.  Both formal and elegant, the Victorian era evokes the charm of old England.  It can evince gasps of delight from visitors and guests, due to its array of character-filled features, such as:

  • Ornate architectural styling found in finer details of architraves, cornices, corbels and sconces
  • Floral wallpaper
  • Feature panelling
  • Rich, sumptuous fabrics
  • Decorative gilded mirrors
  • Stately artwork
  • French inspired lighting including chandelier style lamps and pendants

Whilst Victorian styling can enhance almost any home, the traditional use of heavy fabrics, dark wood and busy wallpaper patterns mean it is best applied with a modern twist. This allows it to bring a lighter, airier feel to contemporary house interiors.

The secret is to incorporate the best features of both modern and Victorian styling to create a seamless marriage of convenience.


Living Large

For practical reasons, as they were the only reliable heat source, open fireplaces were found in most rooms within the Victorian home. Most were considered serviceable but those placed in areas where guests were received, took on greater symbolism. The proportions, quality and elegance of the fire surround and mantel were a reflection on the opulence of the home and the family’s status.

At Richard Ellis Design, we are of course dedicated fans of the luxurious beauty of Victorian-era decor.  A single feature wall incorporating the magnificent styling of an ornate fireplace surround can transform the aura and essence of a room faster than any other single addition.  

We all love the charm, smell and ambience of an authentic wood burning fireplace, but modern homes rarely include them.  For this reason, at Richard Ellis Design, we also specialise in custom size fire surrounds to suit gas log fireplaces.


Furnishing Finesse

Victorian homes were all about sumptuous luxury, with the furniture and soft furnishings both reflecting this.  When introducing sofas, think intricate detail with deep buttoned seats and high backs.  Experiment with an eclectic mix of old and new pieces to keep with a more contemporary theme.

Lighting and lamps may be kept to feature pieces.  Think low-hung chandeliers highlighting a dining table, or stunning standard lamps reflected against ornate, gilt mirrors, to give the impression of space and depth to a room.


The Beauty of the Boudoir

Traditional Victorian bedrooms were more spartan than the modern homeowner would expect, as they were lower profile than those in a 21st century home. The essence of the era can, however, be introduced through the use of:

  • Accessories, such as an antique pitcher combined with a basin bowl
  • Four poster beds or canopies with soft flowing fabric rather than the use of the traditional heavy tapestries
  • Crackling fireplace with cosy chair at the hearth
  • Buttoned chaise lounge


Kitchen Kitch

Like bedrooms, kitchens were rarely seen in the Victorian home and were the prime domain of domestic servants.  Many features which were considered ‘serviceable’ in a Victorian setting can now bring a touch of luxury to a kitchen.  Details such as:

  • An Aga stove
  • Butler or Belfast sink set with classic tapware and fixtures
  • Suspended pots and pans rack
  • Feature pieces such as Victorian era dressers or canisters


Bathing Beauty

One of the most enduring images of the Victorian home is the heavy, freestanding claw foot bath.  Contemporary versions of these are lighter and can be found in a range of colours, sizes and finishes.  This makes them easier to adapt to the modern bathroom.

Floor and wall tiling in the bathroom, unlike high traffic areas of the home, were commonly plain. Simple white porcelain brick tiles were used on walls whilst floors were often black and white octagonal, diamond or rectangle tiles.  

The Victorian era was focused on the creation of romantic interiors and exhibiting the finer things in life.  At Richard Ellis, our range of Victorian fireplaces are designed to preserve this bygone beauty.  Through strategic design choices, Victorian-era charm can live on in your home, bestowing it with the graceful elegance of yesteryear.


So, contact us today, or explore our gallery of completed projects to discover how simple it can be to bring a touch of classic styling to your home.