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10 Ways to Bring Victorian Style into Your Small Space



Last weekend, I had the pleasure of touring the lovely Brucemore Mansion in Cedar Rapids. As soon as I stepped foot into the stately, Victorian brick estate, I was transported out of 2014 and back into a much more graceful era. (If only I'd dressed for the occasion!) Our short tour took us through the main three levels of the house, including the library, dining room, reception hall, sewing room, nursery, and several bedrooms. 


Ever since I was a little girl, the Victorian era has bewitched me – especially the fashion, architecture, and interior design of the time. It was fascinating to walk through a house with so much local history and bygone character, lovingly restored back to its turn-of-the-century grandeur – or in some cases, its 1920's and 1930's glory. Occasionally lingered behind the tour group, I took note of some of my favorite accents in Victorian decor. 

Brucemore in all its breathtaking brick beauty.

Turn-of-the-century style has a reputation for being dark, stuffy, and a bit gaudy – but adding a few Victorian embellishments to your small space can lend charm, character, coziness, and a feeling of elegant comfort. Browse antique stores and vintage shops for those pieces that add an 1890's pop:

1. Portraits and paintings.
A beautiful piece of art puts the finishing touch on a room. Take break from the trending typography and contemporary photographs. Add something unexpected to the modern mix with a pretty painting. Showcase it all by itself or hang it amid a wall gallery.

2. Big, gilded mirrors.
What's more glamorous than checking your outfit or putting on your red lipstick while looking into a big mirror with an ornate gold frame? A little bit of gilt goes a long way – complimenting feminine and eclectic decor or adding a bit of contrast to sleek, modern spaces.

3. Floral wallpaper.
The Victorians loved their wallpaper. Despite an all-time low in the eighties, busy printed wallpaper has been making a comeback and the prints are better than ever. Go for a subtle two-toned damask for something softly feminine – or go all all out with an elaborate floral pattern.

4. Decorative screens.
In Brucemore, a brass screen stood in front of the door between the dining room and kitchen so that servants could bring food in and out without opening and shutting the door. In your small space, a screen could hide a cluttered corner or even act as a space divider in a studio.

5. Tufted, velvet furniture.
I swooned over the large, velvet, tufted, midnight blue sofa in Mister Douglas' study. (I nearly called out for smelling salts...) Nothing makes a statement quite like a large, luxurious couch or chair. Could you imagine curling up on a velvet sofa with a good book and cup of tea? 

6. Brass beds.
While some Victorian beds were large, wooden pieces with magnificently carved designs, I prefer the simple elegance of the metal headboard and footboard. Brass, wrought iron, or painted, this style of bed has been revived for that lovely cottage-style look and adds instant vintage charm.

7. Large, ornate rugs.
Victorian homes often had beautiful wood flooring, but turn-of-the-century dwellers loved the soft comfort of a warm rug underfoot. Busy patterns and rich colors abounded atop the hardwood floors. Today's popular "over-dyed" Turkish rugs give the saturated yet aged feel that gives a nod to lovely Victorian carpets.

8. Antique accessories.
Skeleton keys. Hurricane lamps. Cigar tins. Antique stores are overflowing with these treasures. Take a stroll through the shop and you're sure to find everyday Victorian items that will lend their charm, character, and vintage flair to your decor. 

9. Old books.
The library in Brucemore once housed over 3,000 books. (I nearly needed a fainting couch.) Even in a world of e-readers, a library or even just a bookshelf is a much beloved piece of decor that not only adds character, but brings in the personality of the reader. Mingle some antique tomes in with your novels.

10. Dark wood tones.
In a day and age when the Ikea Expedit reigns supreme and Mid-Century Modern is making a massive comeback, white and lightweight pieces take over our smalls paces. But a heavy, dark toned bookcase, dresser, or desk is a handsome change of scenery that highlights historic charm. 

You don't have to go overboard in bringing Victorian style into your small space – but a stack of old books here or a tufted, velvet chair there can really compliment any style: eclectic, bohemian, modern, and more.

Do you incorporate any Victorian elements into your apartment or dorm? Which of these ten is your favorite?


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