There are few eras that are more easily recognizable than the Victorian era. A combination of Italian Renaissance and Queen Anne inspired design, the Victorian era was characterized by feminine and romantic architecture.
Victorian houses are commonly referred to as the Victorian Style but this “style” is really a period in history. The Victorian era roughly corresponds to the time when Queen Victoria ruled Britain (1837 to 1901). During this time, industrialization brought many innovations in architecture.
There is a wide variety of Victorian styles, each with its own distinctive features. Types of Victorian style include Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick, Shingle, and Richardsonian Romanesque.
Victorian houses are commonly identified by a steeply pitched roof of irregular shape (usually with dominant front-facing gable), textured shingles, partial or full-width asymmetrical porch, and an asymmetrical facade.
During the Industrial Revolution the middle-class was experiencing wealth unlike ever before. Unsure of how to begin this new style of living, this class chose architecture and furnishings that had previously been only for the aristocracy and the upper class.
An abundance of furniture, fabrics and knickknacks filled each room in original Victorians, as empty rooms reflected empty wallets.
During the first half of the Victorian era, walls were usually painted lighter colors, but the second half gave way to much more vibrant, rich colors such as vivid greens and mahogany browns. During this period, the general feeling was that deep, rich colors enhanced the importance of a room.
In the early and mid-Victorian period, elaborate scrolled floral wallpaper patterns were very popular. Later in the 19th century, Gothic inspired trellises painted in rich earth tones with stylized leaf and floral work were frequently used in all rooms of the house. Embossed paper was used on ceilings to counterbalance the intricately patterned and colored papers. In many cases the chairs were covered in fabric to match the wallpaper.
Today’s Victorian home should maintain the same principles of the era. Rich, dark paint colors and detailed wallpaper make for an authentic backdrop to a room. Layered window treatments in luxurious fabrics and interesting artwork give bare walls a rich, Victorian look.