6820fair20oaksWhat comes to mind when you think about Victorian homes? It’s likely that you think of clutter, of overly decorated homes with mirrors, photograph frames and trinkets taking up every available surface. Or maybe you’re thinking of dark furniture, gloomy interiors and, in short, a dated look? You wouldn’t be alone. There is no need to shy away from Victoriana altogether though, Nell Darby knows how to add a Victorian touch to your home without giving it a cluttered feel.

Adding a touch of Victoriana to your home can make it feel cosy rather than cluttered as long you don’t go overboard. Here’s how to get the balance right.

Affluent Victorian women wanted to be comfortable in their homes. To achieve this they used furniture with plump cushions and brought in rugs and thick, lined curtains to help keep them warm in winter. They also used lamps at different levels to make their parlours and bedrooms warm, bathed in soft light.

223-rococo_revival_chaises_loungeThere were several popular styles throughout the nineteenth century, many of which took their inspiration from earlier fashions, appropriately enough. Rococo was one, originally an eighteenth century style popularised in France. It incorporated ornate furniture and accessories and was seen as somewhat frivolous by some. In the mid-nineteenth century it enjoyed a renaissance with many women appreciating its extravagant style and incorporating it into their bedrooms.

Rococo furniture was seen as having a social function, and so Victorians would gather several easy chairs and sofas and move them around according to their needs. Comfort was important to the rococo designers, so chairs would have cushioned backs and loose seat cushions.

In Victorian times velvet cushions would be added, probably in the popular colours of dark red or green. Rococo upholstery and cushions sometimes had motifs or patterns of feathers, birds, animals, shells or scrolls.

washington-inn-6-f04-fbIf you have a Victorian or Edwardian home, whether it be a converted flat or a terraced house, adding a bit of Victoriana is ideal. It doesn’t have to be rococo, in fact, some aspects of nineteenth-century style are both contemporary in feel and quite plain. One example would be the fashion for having a large patterned rug over sanded and polished floorboards.

However, the Victorians are better remembered for their flamboyance and opulence. They loved wallpaper, massed produced examples had been around since the 1840s, particularly with floral patterns, such as those popularised by William Morris. To avoid cluttering your rooms, try using wallpaper on one wall as a focal point, or, if you have a period home, just wallpaper from your skirting boards up to a dado rail, with painted or plain papered walls above that point.

The Victorian look can and should be adapted. Use Victorian accessories, such as the mantelpiece carriage clock, or ornate picture frames, but don’t overdo it. Middle-class Victorians would have had servants to dust their knick-knacks, but today we have to do it ourselves, so just add a touch of Victoriana and enjoy the comfort without the workload.