A Guide to Victorian Interior Design

The Victorian era, spanning roughly from the 1830s to the early 1900s, was a time of opulence, innovation, and a fascination with the past. This influence extends to the world of interior design, where Victorian homes boasted rich colors, layered textures, and an abundance of detail. But can this grand style translate to our modern lives? Absolutely! With a touch of adaptation, Victorian decor can add a touch of timeless elegance and sophisticated charm to your contemporary space.

Embracing the Victorian Spirit

The key to capturing the essence of Victorian design lies in understanding its core principles. Here are some hallmarks to consider:

  • Rich Color Palettes: Victorians weren’t afraid of bold colors. Deep jewel tones like emerald green, burgundy, and sapphire blue were popular choices, often paired with contrasting accents like gold or cream. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but remember to maintain a sense of balance.
  • Layering and Pattern: Victorians loved layering textures and patterns. Walls were adorned with ornate wallpapers, furniture boasted plush upholstery, and floors were covered with layered rugs. To achieve this effect in a modern setting, use a mix of patterns and textures with a cohesive color scheme.
  • Architectural Details: Crown moldings, wainscoting, and decorative trim were prominent features in Victorian homes. If your home lacks these elements, consider adding them strategically. Faux finishes can also create a similar effect.
  • Lighting: Chandeliers and gaslights were the main sources of illumination in Victorian times. While modern safety regulations may preclude real gaslights, a statement chandelier or strategically placed sconces can evoke a similar atmosphere.
  • Antiques and Collectables: Victorians valued heirlooms and curated collections. While you don’t need to fill your home with antiques, incorporating a few well-chosen pieces – a vintage clock, a decorative mirror, or a piece of antique furniture – can add a touch of history and character.

Victorian for Today: Modern Interpretations

The beauty of Victorian design lies in its adaptability. Here’s how to create a Victorian-inspired space that feels fresh and functional for modern living:

  • Balance the Opulence: The Victorians embraced maximalism, but in a modern space, too much clutter can be overwhelming. Opt for statement pieces and curated collections rather than overwhelming every surface.
  • Embrace Natural Light: While Victorians loved dramatic lighting, natural light is essential for a modern space. Sheer curtains or blinds paired with strategically placed lamps can achieve a balance of ambiance and functionality.
  • Mix and Match: Don’t be afraid to combine Victorian elements with modern furniture and clean lines. A sleek sofa can look stunning paired with a patterned rug and a vintage armchair.
  • Comfort is Key: Victorians may have prioritized aesthetics, but modern living demands comfort. Ensure your furniture is comfortable and inviting, even if it boasts a classic design.
  • Sustainable Choices: When incorporating antiques, consider restoration or upcycling existing pieces. Look for sustainably sourced furniture and eco-friendly materials for a touch of Victorian elegance with a modern conscience.

Victorian Inspiration: Room by Room

Now that you have a foundation for Victorian-inspired design, let’s explore how to translate these ideas into specific rooms:

  • Living Room: A plush velvet sofa, a patterned rug, and a statement fireplace are all elements that evoke the Victorian era. Add a modern coffee table with clean lines and a mix of throw pillows for a touch of contemporary comfort.
  • Dining Room: A grand dining table with high-backed chairs and a crystal chandelier creates a sense of occasion. Opt for a deep jewel tone for the walls and balance it with lighter elements like cream tableware.
  • Bedroom: A four-poster bed or a tufted headboard adds a touch of Victorian grandeur. Layer on patterned bedding and textured throws for a luxurious feel. Don’t forget an antique nightstand or a vintage lamp for a touch of history.
  • Bathroom: While modern fixtures are essential, consider a clawfoot bathtub or a pedestal sink for a Victorian touch. Black and white patterned tiles and vintage bathroom hardware can elevate the space further.

The Final Touches

The finishing touches are what truly personalize your Victorian-inspired space. Here are some ideas:

  • Artwork: Opt for Victorian-era portraits, botanical prints, or landscape paintings.
  • Greenery: Houseplants were a popular Victorian accessory. Lush ferns, trailing ivy, or a statement palm tree can add a touch of life and color.
  • Books: A well-stocked bookshelf adds a touch of intellectualism and can showcase interesting antique books or decorative bookends.
  • Accessories: Don’t forget the details
  • Accessories: Don’t forget the details! Ornate picture frames, decorative clocks, vintage globes, and porcelain figurines can add personality and a touch of the past.

Beyond the Basics

While the tips above provide a great foundation, here are some additional considerations to elevate your Victorian-inspired space:

  • Embrace the Unexpected: Don’t be afraid to break the rules! A modern art piece juxtaposed with a Victorian mirror can create a conversation-starting focal point.
  • Consider the Period: Within the Victorian era, there were distinct design sub-styles like Gothic Revival, Rococo Revival, and Arts and Crafts. Researching a specific period can help you curate a more focused and cohesive look.
  • Think Globally: Victorian design wasn’t limited to England. Explore influences from the Far East or the Middle East to add a touch of exoticism to your space.
  • Embrace Technology: While the look may be Victorian, your home should still function for modern life. Hidden outlets, strategically placed charging stations, and cleverly concealed tech can ensure a seamless blend of old and new.


Victorian interior design offers a rich tapestry of colors, textures, and details. By incorporating key elements and adapting them to a modern context, you can create a space that is both stylish and inviting. So, unleash your inner interior designer, embrace the Victorian spirit, and create a home that reflects your unique personality and appreciation for timeless elegance.

Remember: The key to a successful Victorian-inspired space lies in striking a balance between historical charm and modern functionality. Don’t be afraid to experiment, have fun, and let your creativity flow!