Victorian interior design is so named because it reached its peak of popularity during Queen Victoria’s reign over the British Empire. Her reign began in 1837 and ended with her death in 1901. The architecture during this epoch featured elaborate exteriors characterized by gingerbread scrollwork on eaves and complemented by ornately embellished interiors. Victorian style furniture carries out this theme and includes several characteristics to look for.
Carvings and Curves – Victorian furniture typically has intricate carving with curving lines and natural images such as leafy patterns, floral patterns, or animals. The Art Nouveau style, which came later, has similar patterns and decorations, making it trickier to determine if a piece of furniture is Victorian. However, unlike Art Nouveau furniture, Victorian pieces will have angular lines and shapes along with carvings added onto the furniture. The basic shape of a Victorian chair or table is straight but with curves along the seat back, the bottom or legs of the chair, or at the bottom below the cushions on a sofa. Decorative friezes and curved moldings are common in Victorian pieces.
5 Photos Gallery of: Victorian Style Furniture Characteristics
Ornamentation – Victorians adored embellishments in the form of tassels, embossing, and layering of expensive materials. Victorian style furniture pays special attention to detail and texture. Art Nouveau furniture does not have these frills. So if you spot a piece of furniture that has a lot of fancy carving and tassels, you’ve probably found a Victorian piece.
Plush Upholstery – The upholstery during the Victorian era featured luxurious and textured materials such as velvet. Typical colors were very rich, lush and dark. Usual patterns involved using different shades of a color or elaborate floral patterns that accented plain white backgrounds. Most upholstered furniture also sported embellishments such as tassels and fringes.
Heavy Proportions – Victorian furniture was characterized by heavy pedestals, large sideboards, and other pieces in bulkier proportions. This design influence added substantial weight to the elegant style, providing character and balance to the decorations and adornments of the piece.
Dark Woods – Most Victorian furniture was made from mahogany, rosewood, or walnut. Replicas of these pieces are stained with deep brown and cherry hues to resemble the deep and rich colors of the wood during the Victorian era. Similar dark-colored woods also were used in Gothic furniture pieces.
Victorian style furniture encompasses many different styles, with later movements in rebellion against characteristics of the earlier ones. Because of the range of design quality and the showiness that often characterizes the style, furnishing a home in Victorian style requires careful research and selection.