Queen Victoria’s reign was a time of great change in the home. Mass production meant more goods were available to buy. The newly emerging middle classes took immense pride in their homes which they saw as a reflection of status
People pored over the new magazines showing the latest household goods and flocked to see them on display at the numerous exhibitions. The Victorian age was the age of imitation and reproduction. Every style from Gothic to rococo was revived. Sometimes more than one style influenced a sole piece.
- eclectic mix of styles
- excessive ornamentation
- plump, heavily upholstered furniture
- flowers, birds, animals are portrayed realistically rather than the stylised versions of art nouveau
- Gothic – masculine preserves such as libraries and billiard rooms were built in the Gothic style
- rococo – the frivolous feminine style was popular for ladies’ bedrooms
- travel to places like Japan and India brought back an Oriental influence on design
- the industrial revolution meant that new techniques such as lamination and electroplating were introduced
- world trade opened up
- William Morris – leader of the arts and crafts movement
- Horace Walpole – author of first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, who rebuilt his house, Strawberry Hill, in Gothic style
- William de Morgan – tiles
Victorian House Interiors
There’s a lot to love about Victorian house interiors. With their ornate architecture, elegant proportions and intricate detailing, they were built to be admired, and they’ve stood the test of time, too. One third of the houses in Britain were built before the First World War, and most of these are Victorian. Under Queen Victoria’s rule, Britain saw a boom in new builds – in a period of less than 75 years, over 6m houses were built, and the majority still stand today.
Types of Victorian House Interiors
Modern Victorian Decorating
Gothic Revival – The epitome of high Victorian taste, especially popular after Pugin designed the Houses of Parliament in Gothic style in the late 1830s. Look for pointed roofs and arches, stained glass windows, embellishments such as gargoyles and ecclesiastical touches such as turrets.
Jacobethan – In contrast to the architectural excesses of the mid-Victorian period, this style, also known as ‘Tudorbeathan’, revived the style of Tudor or Stuart England. Look for castle-like fortifications, steep roof gables, intricate brickwork, high chimneys and half timbering.
Victorian and Classic Interior
Arts & Crafts – The late 1860s movement that was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, Arts & Crafts valued craftsmanship above all. Look for small cottage-style wooden casement windows, sloping roofs, and bare stone and brick work.
Art Noveau – The most distinctive design style of the turn of the century, some late Victorian homes would feature Art Noveau details such as curving, plant forms, usually in detailing such as stained glass, tiles and fire surrounds.
The List of Victorian House Interiors
Windows and doors can recreate period detail from the word go. Poorly insulated sash windows are a common occurrence. Storm Windows (01384 636365), are specialists in fitting bespoke secondary glazing without hiding original period features. If you need to replace windows entirely, go to a specialist, such as Bygone Collection (0800 591854). Their windows could cut heat loss by 75 per cent and they have a huge range of authentic styles to choose from. Try The Original Box Sash Window Company (01735 858196) for single- and double-glazed sash windows, fully draft-proofed and made in timber that has been treated to last.
Victorian House Interior
Doors for Victorian house in essential parts. You can visit these places to get wonderful doors for your Victorian dram house. London Door Company – 020 7801 0877 – offers period and contemporary doors made in solid hardwood. If your doors are beyond repair, try a reclaimed door from The Original Choice in Birmingham (0121 778 3821). For finishing touches, The Victorian Ironmonger (01588 660157) has original letterboxes, door knobs, eschutcheons and latches.
Skirting/picture rail is stylish ways to enhance and display wall hangings. Skirting boards Victorians used deep and shapely skirting boards throughout their homes. Most original designs can still be bought from stores, such as B&Q.
Picture rails should be placed 1ft to 1ft 8in below the ceiling cornice to form a frieze. Wickes do a pine picture rail, £11.89, which best resembles the Victorian style, or try ukhomeinteriors.co.uk for more elaborate styles.
Victorian Interior House Decorating
Fireplaces are the focal point of every Victorian room; a period fireplace is a must for your home. Every room in a Victorian house would have had a fireplace when built, but these have often been covered or removed by later occupants. If you wish to reinstate a fireplace for decorative purposes only, the absence of a chimney is no problem. If you wish to reinstate a working fireplace, it is best to call in a builder to carry out any structural work. Some specialist firms, such as Acquisitions (0845 094 1644), can design you a repro fireplace and fit it for you.
You should choose the best flooring for completing your Victorian house. Carpet-free is the only way to be. Victorian houses generally combine pine floorboards throughout the house with tiles in hallways. Both carpets and linoleum were introduced around the 1850s, but floorboards are key for an authentic feel. Stripping back to the originals is an inexpensive way of recreating your home’s Victorian looks, although they would have been stained to resemble mahogany rather than today’s trend for lighter woods.
Hard flooring experts Quickstep has a ‘Linesse’ range of laminate tiles in dark wood tones, which would work well in a living room. Manufacturers of all types of hardwood flooring, Heritage Woodcraft (01455 890800) has a large stock of reclaimed flooring, strip flooring and planking, ideal if you are repairing sections of a wooden floor. Criterion Tiles (020 7736 9610) is an invaluable resource for wall and floor tiles from the Victorian period, including discontinued tiles.
Victorian Style Interior Decor
A beautiful Victorian house will be nothing without appropriate choices of Victorian house interiors. The brief was a subtle and calm interiors scheme. Soft linens and herringbones, checks and stripes and gentle shades of stones and greens blend seamlessly with the commissioned furniture. The hand-made glass lamps with satin shades and period furniture is perfect for Victorian house.