Victorian Home Decorating on a Budget

wicker furniture
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The Victorian era, named for Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. This era was marked by peace and prosperity in England, and inspired a new wave of engineering and design. In fact, the influence was felt far and wide, including the United States. You can still see evidence of Victorian-era architecture in cities like San Francisco, where ornate details and color are key. 

Ornate, rich, and expensive, these are adjectives which usually apply to Victorian home decor.

While it can still be ornate and rich, it doesn't have to be expensive. Shopping at thrift stores, and using things that you already possess, you can decorate a Victorian room for less and I can show you how.

  • Linens. Among the most important "ingredients" in Victorian decor are linens. Use anything with lace, ribbon, embroidery,and ribbons in white or natural. Older or vintage linens can be picked up at thrift stores and yard sales. Discount stores are a good source of inexpensive machine embroidered items as well. Use on pillows, tablecloths, curtains, or upholstery for small occasional chairs. Victorian homes tended to be overly decorated, and this included placing doilies and lace over nearly every surface. This helped reflect the rich status of the homeowner and showed off their style and taste.
  • Jewel tones. Painting walls in deep, jewel tones like emerald green, ruby, or sapphire. These tones add richness to your decor and serve as a vivid backdrop for the linens. There are many resources for painting a Victorian era home (like this one). In the Victorian era there tended to be a lot of pattern on the walls as well, like wallpaper  (especially flocked wallpaper). Advancements in technology allowed for inexpensive decor. Here is a great site to  help discover some good color palettes, patterns and designs for a Victorian home.
  • Wicker. Heavily-carved Victorian antiques can cost more than a budget can bear - unless you inherited Aunt Sadie's parlor set. I suggest using wicker for Victorian designs which are much less expensive. Painted white, these pieces look elegant when accented with those lacy pillows you acquired.
  • Ornate frames. Thrift stores, yard sales and discount stores are a great source of ornate frames to be painted to display reproduction postcards and greeting cards in nostalgic designs. Pressed flowers can also be framed and displayed in groups on your walls or on table tops.
  • Boxes. Small boxes or tins dressed up with fabric and old ribbon and lace remnants look wonderful displayed in your Victorian room. Beads and rhinestones from old broken jewelry are also a great way to add glamour to your room.
  • Rose china. Mismatched china or hand-painted plates from thrift stores grouped to create a wall display will add a romantic touch to your new Victorian decor. The floral themes bring a nostalgic look.
  • Tables. Small distressed tables, even if distressed and downright ugly, can be dressed up with white or floral sheets. Drape the sheets over the table and allow to pool on the floor. It adds a touch of romance and it's cheap

So, as you can see, Victorian doesn't have to break your piggy bank. There are inexpensive ways to design the nostalgic look you want. Thinking creatively about furniture and accessories can bring your room to life with touches of the romance of another century.