A style of decorative arts, interior design, architecture that emerged in the United Kingdom during the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 through 1901, the Victorian aesthetic is characterized by both ornamentation and orderliness. Encompassing a broad selection of designs that surfaced during the Victorian era, the style combines elegant, feminine, and formal details with an eclectic revival of other historic styles such as Medieval and Gothic. The information that follows explores a brief overview of the origins and elements of the Victorian Style.
Overview and Origins
The Victorian era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period in the United Kingdom. The influence of the style spread to the United States where it flourished from the middle of nineteenth century through the turn of the twentieth century. The style was also influenced by the expansion of railroads that took place during the time period, which allowed for easier access to prefabricated items such as window glass, tiles, and granite.
Often described as dollhouse-like, Victorian style architecture prevalently features curlicue trims and asymmetrical designs in vivid colorways, and the majority of buildings from this period were made with brick. Victorian residences are often divided into public and private spaces, with parlors positioned towards the front of the home to act as the primary entertaining spaces. Essential elements of Victorian interiors include sizable staircases, large windows, balconies, fireplaces, and porches.
Generally small in scale, carved wooden furnishings made of dark, glossy woods such as walnut, rosewood, and mahogany were typical of this design aesthetic. Lending character to Victorian interiors, personal objects reflecting the owner’s unique interests were often on display. The color palette that was common to the Victorian consisted of teals, yellows, lavenders, and reds.
Elaborately patterned floral wallcoverings were commonly used to cloak walls with primary colors, while embossed paper was used on ceilings and friezes. Creating wallpaper and fabrics inspired by Medieval and Gothic tapestries, William Morris emerged as an influential designer during the Victorian period. Other decorative details include oriental carpets underfoot, romantic touches of lace and velvet, embroidered textiles, carved floral designs, and ornate ceilings with gilded trim details.