Think about Victorian decor, one of the mainstays of the “new vintage” trend, and what comes to mind? Rich-looking, ornate styles, with big price tags attached, right? It doesn’t to be expensive if you know how to make the most of what you already have, along with fabulous finds from other sources.
As always with decorating on a budget, start by thinking about paint, one of the most economical yet striking changes you can make in a room. Vintage decor of the Victorian era is lush with deep, jewel tones such as emerald green, sapphire or ruby. It isn’t necessary to paint all the walls in these colors; in fact, it’s not a good idea to do so if it’s a smaller room you’re decorating in vivid vintage. If that’s the case, pick one wall as an accent, then paint the other walls in a light, but complementary tone. You’ll be surprised at how much an accent wall like this can convey.
Next, think as the Victorians did and get a brilliant Oriental area rug for the floor. Not only were the Vics fond of its ornate patterns, the vivid colors added more depth to the overall intensity of the room’s colors.
With a good rug on the floor, it’s time to think furniture. One way to keep to the budget is to get distressed tables and drape them with single-size white or floral sheets. You can tie them up here and there with ribbons (another Victorian touch) or let them pool onto the floor or area rug and top them with lace doilies.
For the larger furniture, wicker makes an economical and stylish option to the heavy carved (and expensive) walnut furniture common to Victorian decor. The trick with wicker is that it requires frequent maintenance to remove dust and dirt that collects in the curves of its woven pattern. Because of this, it’s essential to know what kind of wicker you have.
Wicker comes in three types: paper, reed and resin. Paper wicker is made by twisting paper into strips that are then woven. Reed comes from natural fibers that are soaked until pliable and then woven into the familiar crisscross pattern. Resin wicker is actually made from molded plastic, and is the most durable of the three types. All three types can be cleaned gently with a damp, but not dripping, cloth. Reed and resin wicker also can be hosed down if they get extremely dirty, but don’t hose paper wicker. As you might guess, paper wicker will soak up the water and rot.
With wicker you’ll also want plenty of cushions and pillows in floral patterns, as well as linens with embroidery, ribbons and lace in white or natural. Thrift stores, yard sales, even flea markets can be good sources for vintage linens with handmade embroidery. Linens with less expensive machine-embroidered patterns can be found at discount stores. Embroidered linens and fabrics are used on tablecloths, curtains and even upholstery in Victorian decor.
Speaking of fabrics, Victorians were big on brocade, velvets and toiles. Any one of these can break a decorating budget, so keep watch for accent pieces in these more expensive fabrics that will add a touch more vintage.
Now for the finishing touches. While you’re shopping in thrift stores, look for ornate frames to display sepia-toned photographs or nostalgic reproduction postcards or greeting cards. Remember that Victorians loved groupings, so look for china pieces in rose or floral patterns. You can even press flowers and frame them for group displays on wall or table.
The romance of a previous century is all yours with a room done in Victorian decor.