This page provides an introduction to Victorian interior design and home decorating.

This page provides an introduction to Victorian interior design and home decorating. This easy-to-follow guide is organized into the four essential design basics of Victorian interior décor: Color, Pattern, Opulence and, of course, Romance – the quintessential hallmark of the Victorian era.
Learn how to incorporate these four principles of Victorian décor with ease and confidence to create the room or entire home of your dreams.
You’ll also find some specially selected resources to help you achieve a historically sensitive Victorian interior decorating style that suits your home’s architecture as well as your own lifestyle and taste preferences.
Victorian Interior from 1886 Source
What is Victorian Style?
Victorian stye is a broad term that generally is used to refer to characteristics of design (architectural, fashion, home décor, etc.) from the latter period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1837 until her death in 1901.
This style draws inspiration from nature, geometry, theory, and many other resources. It also encompasses a wide range of sub-styles including
Eastlake, named after Charles Eastlake
Aesthetic or Anglo-Japanese, reflecting the influence of Japanese design
Gothic Revival , which harkens back to a romanticized notion of the Medieval era
Renaissance Revival, inspired by c. 15th century Florence and the palazzi of such wealthy families as the Medici
Greek Revival (Neo-classical) , takes the symmetrical forms and columns of ancient Greek temples as its inspiration
Egyptian Revival features the imagery of ancient Egypt
“Exotica” includes other styles based on Turkish and Persian design
The Classic Book on Victorian Decor
The Victorian Color Palette
The picture above shows a basic Victorian color palette. However, since computer monitors do not accurately and consistently depict color, the photo should be considered an approximation. Source
The Four Design Basics of Victorian Home Decor
From “Victorian Interior Decoration: American Interiors, 1830-1900” Source
The Victorian Home Decorating palette was actually quite sophisticated, with a particular emphasis on tertiary colors.
Tertiary colors are those created by mixing equal amounts of primary and secondary colors. (See Choosing and Using Color in Your Home for more details.)
The dark colors that are usually associated with Victorian décor are more the result of poor lighting than of color choice.
Early Victorian homes featured lighter colored walls with richer colors in the dining room and library. Later Victorians turned to deeper tones, which were used to emphasize the importance of a room. In more urban areas, colors like gray, darker green, and a grayer blue were often chosen to minimize the effect of grime and soot from coal dust and stains from gas and oil lamps.
Victorian colors are warm and subdued, and included soft colors on gray or cream backgrounds, deep rich walnut and mahogany browns, black, and shades of teal, plum, aubergine, mustardy yellows and golds, burgundy, rust, blue, green (think sage and olive, not mint and kelly) and “dusty” hues like “ashes of roses” and a subdued shade of lavender.
Victorian Home Decorating Fabrics to Inspire Your Color Palette
Choose from a wide variety of sumptuous period reproduction and vintage fabrics & trims from printed floral chintzes and toiles to silk damasks and velvets from the Victorian Decor Specialists, Restoration Fabrics & Trims Source
Period illustration of a corner of an 1880 Victorian parlor with its plethora of patterns Source
Complex patterns covered every surface of the Victorian home. From multiple wallpapers that covered walls and ceilings to luxurious fabrics trimmed with silk tassels and embroideries as well as intricately woven Oriental and Persian rugs, Victorians loved pattern and used it lavishly throughout their homes.
Although it may look excessive to the modern eye (as it did to some toward the end of the 1800s), Victorian style is nonetheless a very comfortable decorating style, with plush fabrics for layered window treatments and upholstered furniture, elaborately designed rugs, and a warm and welcoming ambience that is cozy and romantic.
Favorite patterns ranged from flora and fauna to geometric designs, stripes, damasks, and intricate combinations of those.
Depending on the tastes and talents of the residents, results ranged from a mish-mash bordering on horrendous or a skillfully created, balanced and pleasing environment.
A Typical Victorian Interior
A period photo of a Victorian interior. Note the numerous framed pictures on the wall and the decorative objects on every available surface. Scroll down to see more room settings in our gallery of Victorian interiors. Source
More Victorian Style Wallcoverings
Shown above are just two of the Victorian style designer Wallpapers available from Source
The custom of elaborately decorated Christmas trees was popularized in the U.S. by the Victorians and epitomizes the exhuberant Victorian love of opulence. Source
Excessive can often be considered synonymous with Victorian. The upper class flaunted their wealth and those who aspired to their status found ways to mimic it.
If one could not afford fine woods to panel walls and marble fireplaces for “public” rooms like the dining room and parlor, less expensive materials would be painted to imitate them.
Mass production helped make “the look” available to the middle class via heavy textured wallcoverings like lincrusta and anaglypta and trompe l’oeil (“fool-the-eye”) wallpapers.
Furniture and accessories were elaborate and ranged from delicate to massive. Extravagantly ornate decorations, china, lace, stained glass, flowers, knick-knacks, busts, souvenirs, framed paintings or prints, multi-layered window treatments, richly patterned fabrics, and accessories galore were used liberally throughout the house. Restraint was not part of Victorian interior decorating. The results varied, as one can imagine, from a cluttered and stiffling space to, in the hands of the more skillful, a refined, sophisticated, complex, and warmly romantic room.
The custom of elaborately decorated Christmas trees was popularized in the United States by the Victorians and epitomizes the exhuberant Victorian love of opulence. This illlustration is in the Public Domain.
Shop for Authentic Victorian Antiques
Add a unique Victorian touch to your home décor with period antique furnishings and decorative accents.
From original Victorian furniture and lighting (electrified or not) to the perfect accessories for your desk, mantel, or dresser, many period Victorian antiques are still available and affordable.
In addition to eBay, you may also want to check the shops on Bonanza for more great items and prices.
Romanticism is perhaps the strongest reason for the persistent popularity of Victorian décor. Victorian style evokes now, as it did then, the imagery of European fairy tales with its turrets and gargoyles.
Lush layers of luxurious fabrics begging to be touched, sensuously carved furnishings, and exotic trimmings added to the seductive appeal belied by Victorian mores and rules of etiquette.
Simply put, Victorian décor without the romance is simply fussiness and clutter.
Victorian Interiors
Engraving of a Victorian Parlour, 1854
Victorian tea. Engraving by Cyril Hallward.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti reading proofs of Sonnets and Ballads to Theodore Watts Dunton in the drawing room at 16 Cheyne Walk, London, 1882.
Late Victorian Interior
Late Victorian Parlor
The Proposal by Knut Ekwall, early 1880’s
Victorian Sitting Room.
Formal Victorian Parlour.
This Page is A Victorian Era Lovers Top Site!
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Glad you found it helpful.
wonderful website! Helped me with my history project so much
Thank you!
Ellen Gregory
What a wealth of information. So very thorough and informative.
20 months ago from New York
Thank you Po Ku, Jane, Donna, Peter, and VioletteRose. Appreciate your taking the time to let us know you found this article helpful.
Po Ku
22 months ago from Toronto
Wow, this a great guide to Victorian style making. We have many beautiful red brick Victorian houses in Toronto. I hope the renovators and custom builders will read your blog before gutting the interiors.
23 months ago
This information on the Victorian Style home was very insightful in my research of this era for an assignment in school.
Thank you
VioletteRose LM
Wow this is so nice, thanks so much for sharing 🙂
@marie-churchman: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it!
4 years ago
I grew up in old houses and loved them so! Victorian décor is lovely!! Very nice article
4 years ago from New York
@Designery: For what purpose and what room? There are great antique gas fixtures that have been wired for electricity available as well as reproduction Victorian style lighting. If you can be more specific I’d be happy to give you a more specific answer.
Ellen Gregory
4 years ago from Connecticut, USA
There is a lot about Victorian decorating that I like. So many intricately designed things.
@dellgirl: thank you
@Mary_Hart: Me too. Glad you enjoyed it.
@Colin323: Hope I get to see them in person someday.
4 years ago
This is exactly the type of stuff I joined squidoo for. Thanks!
4 years ago
Always facinating to see an original Victorian house – the Bronte house at Haworth near to my home, and the Red House at Dewsbury, Yorkshire – are wonderfully preseved or restored examples.
4 years ago
Thanks for sharing this information and these ideas, its really helpful! I learned something new.
Such an elegant portrayal of Victorian décor.
5 years ago
I could use your lens for my computer desktop wallpaper! Very awesome lens! 😀
Alessandro Zamboni
5 years ago from Italy
After checking some of your lens, I must confess you are an expert of interior design and home decoration. But this Victorian style is the best one I’ve ever saw, for my humble opinion. Thanks so much and see you soon!
Chazz, you definitely have these period decorating techniques down! Great lens… 🙂
5 years ago
I love the Victorian style: the homes, furniture, fashions, movies filmed during that era. I love it all! I think I was born in that era, just got here late.
Mary Norton
5 years ago from Ontario, Canada
I love the Victorian style and you have presented it really well.
5 years ago
Love your lens! I have been looking everywhere for good tips on this décor style. Thanks!
5 years ago
Merry Christmas, happy holiday and have a wonderful day. Thanks a lot for taking your time and squid liking my lens.
5 years ago
Merry Christmas, happy holiday and have a wonderful day. Thanks a lot for taking your time and squid liking my lens.
5 years ago from Bloomington, IN
I like Victorian style and the influence it has on the Steampunk movement!
Judith Nazarewicz
Wonderful lens!
5 years ago
This is a beautiful lens. It is very informative. I love the Victorian era. Thanks for sharing.
5 years ago from US
Just came over here from another design page of your’s. One of my rooms is going to be this theme…somewhat a Victorian Romantic feel. Bookmarking this page too. Thanks so much for these décor help and tips pages.
5 years ago
what a splendid Lens. I dind’t know much about Victorian Interior Design before but now I know a lot more 🙂
5 years ago from New York
@Entrance Mats: Hi. Thank you for your kind comments. This lens uses the Purple People Eater theme. Hope that helps.
Entrance Mats
Fabulous Lens. Everything, from the historical information to the typeface / coloring of the design, is fantastic. May I ask what theme you are using?
Essentially Ind
5 years ago
Love this lens – nice photos, great information! I will add it to my home décor themed lens called “Vintage Glass and China – Green Décor”, to provide everyone with interesting decorating ideas. Thanks
5 years ago
This lens is absolutely wonderful. I just love the victorian era.
5 years ago
Absolutely lovely lens – definitely looks the part! Some handy tips there too 🙂
Very nicely done. I enjoyed your lens.
5 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom
Gorgeous…just love this and all things Victorian! I remember my Grandma’s rooms when I was a tiny person…all the walls had “picture rails” and they were absolutely covered in paintings and photographs and what we’d now call “knick-knacks” on every surface – it must have been a nightmare to dust!
6 years ago
Homes are decorated through interior design ideas thus turned into a place that invites and helps relaxing. Such ideas assist you on your way to designing a modern interior.
6 years ago
Nice sharing for home decoration. Every one has its own experience and work regarding Interior
6 years ago
@anonymous: Ten years ago we were at the same place as you are now. We purchased a grand old Victorian that was in deplorable condition with the same idea to bring her back to life! She is now the Queen of the city and talk of the town, but it took 8 of the 10 years to fully bring her back to life as she originally was.
I would do it again but must admit that there were times I honestly thought we had lost our minds for taking on such a task. My only advice is to be prepared for long hours, many years of work, and lots of disagreements.
6 years ago
Home Décor are good think and i like to decorate the hone and it is good idea
6 years ago
I like a lot of the Victorian décor, particulary the patterns and paint colors. Don’t think I could live in a totally Victorian environment though. Great article. Blessed!
6 years ago
I was letting you know that I have featured this page on my: The Victorian Era lens. This is a beautifully done page so of course I had to drop off a sprinkle of “Victorian Angel Dust”.
6 years ago
My husband and I are looking at purchasing a run down Victorian period house and trying to restoreit to its former glory, Some great information to start, Thank you.
6 years ago
Another of your well done highly informative lenses. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs
smarthomes lm
6 years ago
great information. Totally agree. the historic wallpaper on bid is gorgeous, hard to resist lol
goo2eyes lm
6 years ago
victorian houses and gardens bring nostalgia with them. lots of stories and histories behind them. as much as i admire the houses, i would not want to own one. first of all, very expensive and secondly, i am afraid of big rooms with big doors. angelblessings.
6 years ago
I love the Victorian period! Gathered some new ideas and information here! Thanks for sharing!
Margaret Schindel
6 years ago from Massachusetts
Thank you for making this romantic style so accessible and easy to understand!
6 years ago
Your lenses are so inviting and give so much pleasure to read I am sure I will be back soon, maybe I put some ideas into action in my home. Very inspirational
It certainly as a pleasure visiting this lens.
6 years ago
I never thought about the fact that older paint would have to use organic pigments. I don’t know why this never occurred to me! Nice informative lens!
Bob Zau
6 years ago
Excellent lens and @ oxfordian The wife and I are hooked on “Downton Abbey”.
6 years ago from New York
@oxfordian: Don’t watch much tv but I recently discovered Downton Abbey and have been watching the earlier episodes to catch up.
6 years ago
P.S. Have you seen the British tv series “Downton Abbey”? Absolutely oppulent. I highly recommend!
6 years ago
As always, so very beautiful and I can always count on learning something very useful. I’m restoring a Greek Revival plantation home in Georgia and I always get wonderful ideas from your lenses.
6 years ago
I like the later victorian style better when it was becoming arts and crafts, but you do such a great job on all of your pages I really enjoy the ideas and pictures.
6 years ago
Victorian and Vintage go well together! and i love them both. Beautiful Victorian home décor ideas!
6 years ago
Victorian art and sculptures are timeless. They tend to get lost in today’s styles. Thanks for your lens,
6 years ago
I love the Victorian period & its dress & décor. Thanks for the treat!
Toni Grundstrom
6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN
Victorian decorating is innocent and romantic. Thanks for all the information.
Showpup LM
Ann Hinds
6 years ago from So Cal
This is truly wonderful. Our other house was decorated in the Victorian Style that moved into the backyard with an opulent garden and 40 or more rose bushes. Unfortunately, we moved and have not recaptured the style. Makes me want to bring out all that stuff and start over. Must have lived in the Victorian times in a past life. Great lens, Angel blessed.
6 years ago from New York
@Heatherseesthel: Hi Heather – Yes. We will be adding more about many styles of historic interior decorating. Follow us on twitter (see link below) for the latest updates.
6 years ago
Thanks for your beginners’ guide to Victorian home décor. I am curious about your future posts. Will you give more detail about the subcategory, Edwardian style? I write for a blog that includes some Victorian home decor -lights….
Christine Hulme
A great resource and beautifully presented!
6 years ago
Victorian style has at least become something I can appreciate today. In the past, I couldn’t get beyond what I saw as clutter…Good work here.
6 years ago
Very nice. Having owned a Victorian house, and living in a modernised Victorian cottage currently, I know about all the decorating decisions that need to be made (can you say ‘money pit’?). However, I love how Victorian style can meld so well with modern décor.
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