5 tips for decorating a contemporary Victorian home

1/08/2016 06:00:00 am Unknown 1 Comments

We just love a period home in this country don't we? Flick through the pages of any interiors magazine and you'll find image after image of Victorian terraced houses, Edwardian semis and period flat conversions. But if you own a period property AND love contemporary style, it can be difficult to know where to start. So I thought I'd share my top 5 tips for decorating a contemporary Victorian home without creating a confused disaster!
Having owned and renovated both a flat in a Victorian townhouse and a lovely Victorian terrace (not to mention a couple of current Victorian/Edwardian projects on the go) I understand the design dilemmas. Whether you have a house full of lovely features or one butchered in the 70s, it's still possible to create a fabulously contemporary Victorian home that honours its past but caters to the way we live now. Clearly there are major considerations if you're talking about knocking down walls, building extensions or digging out cellars, but that's not what we're focusing on here. When it comes to decorating, here are my top 5 tips for contemporary style in a Victorian setting: 

1) Choose bold lighting. Something modern or from a different era can look great, but make it large or statement enough to contrast against its architectural surroundings. Large industrial pendants work well; mid-century designs by Poulsen or Mouille contrast nicely or Murano glass chandeliers are beautiful. Anything bold and confident will look far more at home than a sad little lampshade dangling from the ceiling. See these images for inspiration...

A fabulous murano glass chandelier (1950s?) looks right at home in this living room, as does the mid century style giant anglepoise lamp. (Love that black ceiling too).

Source: www.47parkavenue.co.uk/blog/ 

This Serge Mouille ceiling light (in the bedroom of J Crew's Jenna Lyons) also works brilliantly alongside the coving and ceiling rose. 

This Moooi light makes a real statement against the white paneling and plasterwork, and would work well in a large Victorian room.

Image source: www.her-indoors.com

2) Paint woodwork, plaster and walls the same colour. Any coving, plasterwork, picture rails and especially dado rails will look far more contemporary (and less fussy) when painted out in the same colour. Whether you favour bright white or stronger colours (like the lovely grey-brown of artist Tessa MacGregor's living room, above), just use it on everything for a far more sleek and unified look, without you having to remove anything original.

3) Keep/replace as many key features as you can. Encaustic tiled hallways look fab with anything. Fireplaces, cornicing, coving and panelling can all work brilliantly in a contemporary scheme. Just obey rule 2 above.

4) Avoid fussy window dressings. It can be tempting when dealing with bay windows and wooden garden doors to dress them with lots of fabric and pattern. Personally I would stick with simple fabrics – natural linens or silks, in a plain or geometric pattern. Or velvet – you can never go wrong with velvet in my book! As for colour, either blend in with the walls so that the windows themselves are the feature, as Ilse Crawford has done at Ett Hem, below (technically Arts and Crafts rather than Victorian, but you get the idea).  Or go for a stand out contrast – citrine against white walls, or jade green against grey for example. Simple roman blinds or shutters are another great option. And if you have plastic windows, then simple muslin drapes hung behind the curtains will hide them. I've been assured that you can paint uPVC to at least mask the plasticyness (think I've just invented a new word there), and swap out the hardware for gold or silver – although not having tried it myself I can't vouch for the finish.

5) There's no need to have a 'Victorian bathroom.' A beautiful claw-footed bath can be given a contemporary twist with cool lighting, artwork, mirrors and more. But equally, if you want modern, go modern. Bathrooms only came into existence in the Victorian era, and were usually very small, functional rooms. I wouldn't feel obliged to install period sanitaryware and taps when you're probably going to install a very non-Victorian power shower anyway! And of course, those ever-popular metro tiles look very contemporary.

image source: www.47parkavenue.co.uk/blog/

I could go on...but I'm trying not to write epic posts, so hopefully that's food for thought if you are lucky enough to be decorating a Victorian home. Happy Friday!

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome tips you have here! I'm sure this'll be very helpful for everyone. I think this'll be perfect for my home in Arton. Thanks for sharing!