Victorian Decorative Arts: Colorful & Ornamental Interior Decorations During the Late 1800s

During the Victorian era, decorative arts were an essential part of the design and style, which includes a grand excess of ornament.

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A big number of techniques has their beginning in the late Victorian era, such as Art Nouveau style and  Anglo-Japanese style, also Asian influences,  the aesthetic movement and  Arts and Crafts movement.

The Victorian design is widely known by its mixed style, the general revival of historical styles and the middle east influences in interior decoration and furniture.

Victorian building, along with Kandy lake. Photo Credit

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Blue-white colored Victorian door. Photo Credit

The houses were separated into public and private parts, with rooms designed and decorated in orderliness style. A room such as a parlor was the most significant place during this period, and it was carefully decorated with ornamentation.

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The glory and interior decoration of this chamber were crucial for the homeowners because the guests were entertained in the parlor. Second most important room in the house was the dining room, and the sideboard was ornately decorated.

There was no option for space not to be filled with objects that reflected the owner’s interests and decorative arts.

Parlor of Emlen Physick Estate New Jersey (1879), Frank Furness, architect.


Victorian Bedroom exhibition, Scotland.


Living room, designed for Frederick W. Vanderbilt (1856–1938) by McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style, and built between 1896–1899. Photo Credit

About the furniture during the Victorian era, there is no particular style but a mix of many styles. English Rococo and the Gothic style were maybe the most common forms to be used, but also there are details from Neoclassical, Elizabethan, and  Tudor decorations and designs that can be seen in the furniture.

Interior of commandant’s house, drawing room, Port Arthur, Tasmania. Photo Credit

In the Victorian homes, the colors of the walls were very carefully chosen, based on the use of the room. Somber gray was used for hallways and the stair halls, a color which made them different from the other rooms. For the interior colors there was a theory of “harmony by analogy,” and the colors were chosen on the color wheel, and that’s how the nuances were compared to each other.

There was another theory, the “harmony by contrast,” which is the opposite of the first one, meaning that the colors should be different for example dark and light.

Dining room of the Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. House, 6 W. 57th St., New York, NY (demolished).

Frederick Walton is an important figure in this era because of his innovation. He invented the linoleum in 1863 and created the process for embossing semi-liquid linseed oil backed with waterproofed paper, which was applied much like wallpaper. This process was called Lincrusta.

Morris Acanthus Wallpaper 1875.


York Minster Minton Tile Floor – Chapter House, Victorian medieval design motifs, the 1840s. Photo Credit

Wallpaper and Wallcoverings were often made with details in red, blue, and yellow, such as floral patterns. For the backgrounds papers, earth tones were used such as the colors of cream and tan. William Morris used Medieval and Gothic tapestries in his work, and he was one of the most famous designers of wallpaper during the Victorian period. Even in modern times, some artists are inspired by this mixed arts specific style, which made the Victorian era a remarkable decorative period in the history.