The way to view your houseSee your house as a building in which to hold items you love. The building itself can and should remain true to its era whilst the decoration can definitely be allowed to stray with more alternative touches. It really would be a mistake to remove the period features such as plaster coving, ceiling roses, original tiled floors, sash windows but more frivolous and unexpected items in terms of wallpaper, paint colours, light fittings, curtain fabric and furniture can be accommodated with some careful thought.The golden rule is to err on the side of caution. If you are doubtful as to whether a modern piece of furniture will fit, or if a really vibrant colour will work – tone it down. Choose the subtle route and respect the history of your house. That’s the key to mixing the old with the new.
Colours: The faithful approachThe Victorian colour palette was dark and often gloomy and consisted of browns, maroons, deep reds, burgundy, chestnut, dark green and blue. But this mixed in with lighter shades can still be very appealing, as seen in the room above. Elsewhere in the house, for example, a tiled porch in shades of deep blue, green and buttermilk makes a fantastic entrance. And you may wish to paint your Lincrusta (traditional textured wallpaper) below your dado line in a deep, authentic colour – but if you lighten this up several shades above the dado, with a patterned paper or a lighter paint colour, the room will be warm and welcoming.Don’t forget we benefit from rather better lighting than the Victorians so even with darker colours on walls, rooms can be lit in such a way that the room does not appear gloomy, simply vibrant and interesting.
Colours: Give it a twistIf you stick to some rules and keep it subtle, most colour schemes can work in a Victorian house. Avoid shades of brown, pink and pastels [PLEASE IN A COUPLE OF WORDS EXPLAIN WHY]. Grey is not in the Victorian colour palette but can look fabulous on wood paneling and walls. Generally a room should use varying shades of one colour. Your darkest shade (this can be really deep) should be below the dado, a few shades lighter above it and your woodwork should be lighter still. Victorians favoured oak floorboards and stained cheaper pine floorboards darker to replicate oak; it’s up to you whether you go for the full dark stain or keep the floorboard colour somewhere between the two.
Fireplaces: The faithful approachWhile bathrooms were traditionally tiled plainly, ornate mosaic tiles were used on floors in the public areas of the Victorian house, for example, pathways leading to the front door, porches, halls and drawing rooms. In the public areas the tiles would be highly decorative.And the fireplace is somewhere the Victorians really went to town with their tiles using ornate painted and patterned tiles – so if you can’t stretch to recreating an original tiled hallway or entrance, focus on your fireplace: most fireplaces would only need 6 or 12 tiles – why not splash out? [can we add ‘on some originals or good quality reproductions’ here? When people click through to your profile they’ll see this is something you sell…]