The Basic Elements Of Victorian Style Furniture

Victorian style furniture can be tricky to spot, because the period overlaps the Gothic and Art Nouveau periods and shares elements with both styles.

Bedroom Victorian Style Furniture

Bedroom Victorian Style Furniture

If you want to use Victorian style furniture to create an authentic experience in your newly renovated Victorian home but aren’t sure how to recognize authentic pieces, here are some information about the elements of Victorian style that can help you to choose the best furniture for your Victorian theme.

Capitone Living Room Victorian Style Furniture

Capitone Living Room Victorian Style Furniture

Heavy Proportions – The large sideboards, heavy pedestals and bulkier proportions of the Victorian style are held over from the Gothic style of furniture that was popular among the wealthy. This influence added weight and substance to an otherwise elegant and extravagant style, providing balance. There is some overlap between the Victorian, Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, which were all popular at the time. It can be a challenge to separate these styles unless you have an experienced eye and knowledge of who was creating pieces in the different styles. Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with having Gothic or Art Nouveau furniture mixed with Victorian pieces. In the early 1900s, all three styles would commonly be seen together in homes. If you’re hoping to achieve period purity, however, there are some things to avoid. If you see bowed legs, arms, backs or floral motifs on furniture, you’re likely looking at an Art Nouveau piece. If you see strong, solid lines with cut-out arches or cross motifs, it’s a Gothic piece.

Classy Victorian Style Dining Furniture

Classy Victorian Style Dining Furniture

Dark Finish – Dark, rich colors were predominant in this formal time. Most furniture was made from walnut, mahogany or rosewood. Replicas are stained deep brown or cherry to replicate the deep colors of the woods of the time. Similar dark woods were used in Gothic furniture.

Elaborate Carving – The intricate carving found on most furniture in this era is mostly of curving lines or natural images such as floral patterns, leafy patterns or game animals. Machine carving was new, and it made wonderfully carved pieces available at mass-market prices. Everyone could have an elegant table and chair set, not just the wealthiest segment of society. Similar patterns and decorations can be found in Art Nouveau furniture, so you’ll need to study a piece carefully to be sure it’s Victorian. Look for angular lines and shapes and carvings that are added on to the furniture, rather than carved into it.

Metal Garden Long Table Victorian Style

Metal Garden Long Table Victorian Style

Marble – Many tabletops, mantels and extra furnishings were made with earth-toned slabs of marble. Marble-topped side tables and sideboards were quite common. Large marble tabletops should be inspected very carefully, as this stone will crack if it is not handled with care.

Ornamentation – The Victorians loved embellishments, embossing, tassels, layers of expensive material and any other kind of ornamentation possible. You will recognize Victorian furniture because of the attention to detail, texture and extra decorations. These frills aren’t found in Art Nouveau pieces, so if you see a lot of tassels or fancy carving, it’s a good bet that you’ve got a Victorian piece.

Traditional Painted Wood Kitchen with Victorian Style Furniture

Traditional Painted Wood Kitchen with Victorian Style Furniture

Plush Upholstery – The upholstery of the time was mostly done in luxuriously textured materials such as velvet. The colors used were also rich, dark and lush. Patterns typically used a different shade of the same color, although you will find some elaborate floral patterns on white backgrounds. Many upholstered items also sported fringe, tassels or embellishments.

Curves – Another advantage of machine carving was the ability to add curves to furniture. Again, this invites comparison with Art Nouveau. In a typical Nouveau piece, a chair or table leg will be a graceful arc. In a Victorian piece, the basic shape of a chair or table leg is straight, with curves added at the top and bottom. Curved moldings and decorative friezes can be found on many Victorian pieces, and sitting chairs will often have curved backs.

Victorian Style Bathroom Furniture

Victorian Style Bathroom Furniture

In sum, the characteristics of Victorian style furniture are furniture that is large, with heavy proportions that fill a room. The furniture will be elaborately carved, curvy and will have a lot of ornamentation. The carved designs for this era are curved lines, floral patterns, leaves and animals.

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