Contemporary style in interior decor isn’t all about the newest designs. Great design often harks back to centuries gone by. Versatile classic styles just keep on giving and traditional designs given a modern makeover combine the best of old and new. Victorian furniture and decor is right up there in the classic style stakes. It is still popular and it’s a good bet it will still be around a century from now.
In the strict sense, the Victorian age dates to the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901, an era of huge change as industrialization re-ordered the world. The home had a special place in the Victorian hearts and minds, and consumption of domestic products – and design -surged. Victorian style was itself a mix of classic older styles, from the Elizabethan to the Gothic, and an infusion of new ideas. New influences included Japanese style. Arts and crafts furniture and art nouveau were all part of the fabulous eclecticism of the nineteenth century.
Think Victorian and you may think clutter and fussiness. It’s true that the Victorians were the opposite of minimalists and had a taste for fancy design and the elaborate wonders that skilled craftsmen could create. You may also think of depressingly dingy formal rooms, with dark wood furniture, dark drapes and an overall gloomy atmosphere.
That love of very busy decor and dark, plush interiors has gone, along with the Victorian love of formality. But though we prefer bright and airy decor, some of the core elements of Victorian style (or styles, since there was never only just one) are still appealing today. We still like the eclectic look and we still like quality items in our decor. Vintage home products had that in spades.
Heritage furniture of all kinds still has a place in our homes, and sometimes a highly ornamental piece with interesting and complex lines is just what is needed to add visual interest in an otherwise plain and simple room. The minimalist decor that is the hallmark of the twenty-first century can be cold and we respond to a little bit of flamboyancy – as long as it’s not overdone. The workmanship that went into elaborate Victorian pieces is remarkable, and still the sign of quality and style.
Vintage-style furniture never was all formal, and pieces that echo this era also go perfectly with a rustic look. That’s because cottagey interiors always make some appeal to the past and to tradition. Think of a Victorian-style rocker, for example, or the ottoman, another classic of the Victorian parlour. Victorian wicker furniture, in cool white finishes rather than dull brown, but with the fabulous decorative flourishes of yesteryear, are still very much in vogue.