Antique Victorian Furniture
The style we refer to as Victorian today came about during the 1800’s. Instead of the typical high class status being reserved for royalty, a new generation of successful industrialists also gained the recognition of being wealthy. A steady flow of money was created by the introduction of new factories paved the way for these industrialists to build themselves large homes and, with this rise of what had been the middle classes, the demand for furniture increased. The tastes of this new, wealthy class became the most influential during Victorian times and the change in furniture styles accompanied this rapidly growing new world.
Victorian furniture is unique in that it has no true defined style of its own. Instead, it is rich in influences from earlier styles such as Tudor and Neo-Classicism as well as Rococo and Elizabethian. Gothic designs remained the largest influence in Victorian times in both furniture and architectural design. Furniture pieces created in the style of Gothic art were made from oak in order to maintain an English feel.
Victorians believed that success was in excess and this can be seen in all forms of the period’s art including fashion, jewelry, décor and furniture. The styles are often viewed as eccentric and rooms in a home were filled with furniture and other forms of décor to the point of appearing crowded. Victorian pieces were very ornate in design and furniture such as chairs, ottomans and love seats were densely stuffed and plump.
Even with the lavish patterns that are often associated with Victorian art and furniture, colors were limited in the earlier days of this revolutionary period until the process of chemical dying was mastered. They started with dark, heavy colors such as forest green, navy blues and maroons before progressing into more vibrant selections. After the introduction of chemical dying, more flamboyant shades including pinks, light blues and greens and tones of purple took over. Gold was used in the upholstery to create the ambiance of a luxurious feel and appearance.
Save for a child’s room which would contain furniture of a more simple nature, a Victorian home would be densely filled with the heavy and overstuffed pieces the period is known for. Living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms would all feature this type of furniture although each piece would be designed for its chosen location. For example, a dining room would contain more of a traditional Tudor feel where as the parlor or sitting room would contain more of the plumper pieces such as a chair or couch.
English oak remained a favorite, although wood types such as mahogany and walnut were also held in high regards. Fabrics were heavily patterned and furniture would often be draped in materials such as velvet. Varnishes and lacquers were developed as sealants during the Victorian era. Pieces before 1860 were often sealed with shellac, milk paint or wax.
When looking to purchase a true piece of Victorian furniture, it is important to pay attention to the details of the piece in order to be sure that you are looking at an original. A simple search online can explain what to look for with regards to design, carvings, finishing and trimmings in order to make sure that what you are investing in is authentic.
If you are more so attracted to the design of Victorian furniture and not the heavy price of owning an original piece, many stores offer reproductions of this period. Stores such as Laurel Crown offer reproductions of Victorian furniture and, although not authentic, these pieces mimicking the former style can still add certain elegance to any room of your home.