Interiors: How to decorate your Victorian property
- Credit: Copyright Geffrye Museum, London
North London abounds in Victorian properties, some rife with period features, some whose façade is the only nineteenth century item remaining, tacked on to a modern box.
Most properties rest somewhere between the two: they may boast a spanking new plate glass extension alongside decorative dado rails and original skirting boards.
If you want to inject a little Victoriana into your home there are several interiors companies offering nineteenth-century inspired ranges.
You probably do only want a touch though: modern eyes used to the tasteful greys and mid-century furniture may baulk at the abundant clashing pattern and layered soft furnishings beloved of their bourgeois Victorian counterparts.
A Welsh dresser is the ultimate accessory for the traditional kitchen.
Providing useful storage and a comforting bulk, Holders Pine Furniture in Kentish Town make made to measure dressers using reclaimed pine from old buildings.
Store owner Derek Holder says that demand for these more traditional pieces has increased hugely over the past couple of years as people favour handmade, durable products over IKEA.
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If you lack the financial or spatial resources for a dresser, then a set of copper pans gleaming on the stove will provide a less drastic nod to the nineteenth-century kitchen.
Copper is an excellent heat conductor and a highly durable material, which nowadays is favoured by professional chefs.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for home cooks though and this set from The French House in Lamb’s Conduit Street should last almost as long as your house.
There’s no need to be limited to reproduction products. North London is crammed with vintage and antiques shops for a weekend browse and you can pick up some unusual original pieces to complement the architecture of your home.
No living room mantelpiece is complete without a decorative mirror sitting above it to reflect light and give the illusion of more space.
This mirror from Floral Hall Antiques in Crouch End is a nineteenth-century French gem which still has the original glass.
None of your friends will have a games table but this specimen, from James Worrall in Marylebone will add a point of interest to your living room.The table top opens out to reveal a marquetry chess board while a small compartmented drawer stores playing pieces safely and the intricately curled pattern is pure Victoriana.
Industrialisation in the nineteenth century meant that there was a greater choice in materials, colours and patterns to decorate homes with than ever before. As a consequence, the Victorians were pattern mad.
The Geffrye Museum of the Home describes how different patterns and styles would be combined on walls, floors and curtains creating a “busy” look.
The brave decorator could go the whole hog, or take a less authentic approach and incorporate elements of pattern with either fabric or wallpaper.
The Paisley design on the ‘Araminta’ linen from Borderline Fabrics is based on a nineteenth-century quilt pattern and comes in china blue, garnet or ivory.
Wallpaper brand Cole & Son started out in 1875 in Islington, which was famous for having 190 hand block printing companies based there in the nineteenth century.
The company has a vast archive of patterns, which it draws on for its archive collection.
The Alma paper is named after the popular Victorian girls’ name and is pretty and intricate but graphic enough for twenty-first century tastes.
If you want a really authentic look but don’t have time to trawl antiques shops and salvage yards, mail order site The Victorian Emporium provides items based on historic products, as well as exact replicas made from the same materials as the originals.
This is the site to visit for details like ceiling mouldings, dado rails, curtain pole finials, iron railings and patterned tiles.
They also have a huge array of interior and outdoor lighting, ironmongery and even radiators.