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Queen Victoria painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (Source: Pixabay)
There can be no mistaking the grandeur of the Victorian era and the global sway on architecture, fashion and interior design this quintessentially British export continues to exert today. If you’re balking at the idea of modern Victorian fashion, look no further than ruffled, high-collared blouses and the return of the ornate sleeve. In stark contrast to the cramped but beautiful Victorian style of a bygone era, the minimalism of the Nordic countries and many modern interiors seems to have lived past its peak in the popularity stakes. There is a return, domestically and elsewhere, to a modern take on Victorian opulence. The style is distinctly reminiscent of the grand reign of Queen Victoria and the period between 1837 and 1901, which is when this design influence had its origins.
The Industrial Revolution brought with it two things: namely, mass production of household items that before had been the preserve of only the aristocracy, and increased prosperity for the middle classes. For the first time, people could afford to lavish attention on their interiors and fill it with fanciful, decorative wants rather than purely functional decor pieces and equipment. As a result, rooms and surfaces, devoid of beautiful if impractical goods, now became frowned upon as the new symbol of poverty and even as going counter to national sentiment.
Victorian vintage piano (Source: Pixabay)
The New Victorian look is original Victorian maximalism as filtered through the lens of modern sleekness. It is neither garish nor over-the-top or fussy but goes further than mere warm minimalism. There is still the same moodiness of space with neutral or darker colours rather than airy, bright interiors. Light is manipulated with clever lighting such as the utilisation of a lantern ceiling light which invokes the industrial lamp lantern era, with a modern aesthetic. Correct lighting acquisition in this era is easier, where light specialist sites, which include the aptly named lights.co.uk, provide more than just led light bulbs. The idea is to make finding a suitable chandelier, pendant light, or even consultation for your interior lighting idea seamless and affordable. Naturally, as lighting requirements extend beyond the interior design applications, also, expand to outdoor and even furniture lighting. Better lighting allows for simplistic drapery which is not quite as heavy, while modern mirror fittings add to the illusion of space in a room, and one or two beautiful (or even ornate) furniture pieces dominate the room rather than overwhelm it.
Leather or pleather could be used as the upholstery, for example, and so could any textured fabric without replicating to the same extent the buttoned-up or gilded brocades or damasks of nineteenth-century glamour. While the original wallpapered look is discretionary, and certainly not to be used all over, New Victorian trends also draw on new neutrals such as dove-grey, blush pink and sage.
As for your floors, the look in the nineteenth century demanded heavily polished true wood floors. For a modern twist, imitation wood or any warm flooring will work, with an ornate rug underfoot here and there. The devil is in the detail though so what really matters is a touch of decorative edging, skirting and cornices.
Far from being banished to the design annals of a best-forgotten design period, New-look Victorian homes are charming, sophisticated, and enviably beautiful and sought after. Queen Victoria reigns, after all.