When we think of Victorian decor we often associate with that images of gingerbread ornament, turrets, exotic window treatments etc. These are typical of the late Victorian period which peaked in the 1890s. However, often overlooked are the early and middle Victorian periods which sstarted phasing in around 1837 or so, which was the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, the beginning of Victorian decorating. The earlier houses were generally more modest than the later period houses, in which stylistic elements were often taken to an extreme, as seen in the exuberant ornamentation.
There are certain Victorian decor elements that are common to most of these houses and aid in their identification. House from 1900 forward are typically fairly low and horizontal. For example, think about ranch style houses and craftsman bungalows. In contrast, Victorian houses were very vertical in appearance. Patterned bricks could be used on the exterior, but if wood was used instead it often featured not only lap siding, but also a combination of different shaped shingles such as diamond, fish scale, and rectangle. Bay windows, often extending two stories were very common. Later Queen Anne houses often featured cameo windows, palladian windows, and oriel windows.
porcelain hexagon tile, Victorian light fixtures, vent covers, Victorian stencils, Victorian cabinet hardware
On the interior Victorian decorating included a fair amount of tile including porcelain hexagon tile in the bathroom. Wood floors were often inlaid with contrasting color woods or parquet patterns and accented with a Victorian rug. During the period indoor plumbing went from nonexistent to common and it is not unusual to still see an original clawfoot tub, probably the most comfortable tub ever invented. Light fixtures began as gas operated supplied by pipes, then became combination gas and electric, followed by full electrification. Air returns were often large wood eggcrate grilles in the floor whereas the heat registers were usually located where the wall and floor meet. Victorian cabinet hardware, doorknobs, mailboxes, and stencils were another simple way to add aesthetic enhancements. A bronze address plaque with Victorian lettering is also appealing.Ultimately, the Victorian era waned as the arts and crafts era dawned in first Europe then the United States with it's much more restrained craftsman decor.