Modern Victorian decorating hasn’t been popular for a while now. It’s often considered too frou-frou and too overwhelmingly feminine and dark. However, there are a lot of elements of Victorian decorating that people still gravitate towards, so the look has been updated into something we call “modern Victorian”. It has all the pretty
elements of classic Victorian style but it’s been given a contemporary twist to make it more accessible for today’s homes and homeowners.
Victorian houses ranged from simple workers’ cottages to magnificent homes bursting with displays of wealth and opulence. The first step in planning Victorian decor inside a modern home is to determine how slavishly you want to adhere to the style. You can go all-out to reproduce a Victorian home complete with stuffed toys, hand-crafted antimacassars and an aspidistra in the window, or you might be satisfied with a few key architectural details like a dado/chair rail, and a slate or marble fireplace.
If you want to be authentic in selecting your Victorian decorating colors, you’ll need to explore the historical Victorian palette of colors. Many of the present day Victorian homes offer a brighter and wider selection of colors.
Encaustic tile–small, patterned mosaic tiles–were often laid in hallways, through the front door all the way to the garden gate. Encaustic tile can be obtained today but is expensive. An alternative is to lay black and white checkerboard tile in hallways, kitchens and traffic areas. Victorians loved carpet and also the more highly patterned, the better. Choose floral or oriental designs with a faded look. If you prefer hard floors then have a few rugs scattered over dark, painted floorboards.
Victorian furniture can be quite heavy looking. Antique, carved wood pieces were common and they were frequently covered in silks, velvets and brocades. To update the look opt for furniture with feminine curves but keep them in lighter tones. It’s also important to mix them with slightly more contemporary pieces. For instance, a curvy sofa or chaise can be next to a streamlined coffee table or side table.
A modern Victorian room should really have long curtains (blinds and shutters don’t suit the appearance), but rather than heavy fabrics with many different embellishments stick with soft, elegant fabrics (for example silk) and keep the embellishments low. Avoid extra tassels and fringe.
Ornamental mirrors can be found at virtually any thrift or antique store, and are an inexpensive way to add Victorian flair to your walls. Paint the frames gold for a true Victorian look, or paint them white for a more soft, feminine look. Oval shaped ornamental mirrors will keep your decor simple, while uniquely shaped mirrors will make your decorating stand out.