Country Victorian merges the elegance of Victorian decor with the relaxed ambiance of country style. Inviting interiors are created by blending gracious simplicity with the romance of the country cottage or rural retreat. The Victorians loved their country manors and retreats that took them away from the formalities and demands of city life. In that vein, Victorians decorated their country homes, lodges or “cottages” with comfortable furnishings, inviting color and a scaled-down presentation of the ornate formality of their city homes. Collections, memorabilia of travel excursions, hunting trophies, the love of the outdoors and English gardens are featured in these warm, welcoming interiors. In comparison to general Victorian style, in Country Victorian, colors are light and fresh, architectural embellishments are kept to a minimum and furnishings are often a medley of styles.
Here are some tips for decorating every room of your home with this casual, yet charmingly refined style.
Colorful, Welcoming Entries
Playful Victorian sensibilities are reflected in bright colors for the entry door, such as sunflower yellow or cerulean blue. Plants stands, flower boxes and hanging plants are standard equipment as are bird baths and feeders that invite feathered friends. Once inside, umbrella stands, oak hall trees or free standing wood or iron coat racks, a small bench or even a recycled church pew invite convenience and comfort. A small hall table, lamp and mirror are perfect touches if there is room and wrought iron candle wall sconces are an elegant touch. Be sure to include fresh flowers in the mix. An old crock can hold fresh flowers or a wreath can be hung on the door or entry wall.
Casually Elegant Parlors
Well-to-do Victorians called this the Drawing Room, but those of the middle-class referred to it as the parlor; today we call it the living room. This was the place where the family gathered nightly or to entertain guests. The room draws on a variety of patterns and colors: Think diamond patterned wall paper in pale blue with floral patterns on a pair of wing chairs, check pillows and floral drapes. Casual symmetry is important, with balanced accessories on the fireplace mantle and a pair of comfortable upholstered flanking the hearth. The key is to combine casual – the chairs do not have to match in style or fabric – with formal; two upholstered chairs of the same scale balance the space in front of the fireplace.
This personal retreat will often feature gently used or mismatched boudoir pieces that may have been passed down from the city home. Painted furniture and natural finishes of various woods freely mix with brass, wicker and metal. Piles of pillows are tossed upon the bed, a tray and tea service stands at the ready on a side table, and a vase of fresh flowers is always on a dresser or night stand. Collectibles, family photographs, miniatures and heirlooms, a pair of baby shoes, repeated hues in fabrics of different pattern, wallpaper, floral area rugs and bric-a-brac fill the room with layers of interest and color. The whole intention is to create a very personal, highly detailed space.
Cheery, oak or pine cabinets with moldings and vintage knobs will provide a nod to the past. Painted cabinetry in buttery yellows or soothing greens and blues are also great choices and contrast can be created with classic white subway tiles on backsplashes and countertops. Choose graceful curved faucets in rubbed bronze for vintage appeal. Open shelving, hanging pot racks, fabric valances around the sink and vintage style appliances will bring authenticity. Don’t forget to display collectibles like teapots, vintage tins and canisters, hang plates on the walls and stock shelves with plants, striped nested mixing bowls, spices and antique bottles.