A Brief History of Victorian Interior Design

The Victorian era, which spanned from 1837 to 1901, saw a number of changes and innovations in British society. Largely, Victorian Britain, which was headed by Queen Victoria, was a prosperous and forward thinking place. Strides were being made in all areas of society: from politics to sex and religion. One area which flourished dramatically in the Victorian age was interior design. Today we are going to take a brief look at Victorian interior design and some of the trends that characterised the age.

Victorian Interior Design: An Overview

The Victorian age can be characterised as one of innovation and creativity. Areas of society benefited from an abundance of wealth and resources, which was in part fuelled by the expansion of the British Empire. Interior designers of the age were keen to reflect this, which led to an increase in flamboyant and ornate designs. Architects and designers were keen to demonstrate the prosperity of the age, as well as taking influences from all areas of the Empire. Limited production stunted interior design in eras before, and meant interior and exterior design was reserved for the mega wealthy. With a new focus on mass production, interior design now had a wider scope and was able to be enjoyed by the middle classes too.

To reflect the growth that was seen in society, furnishings and design schemes were full and ornamental. Though modern design schemes often opt for a minimalist approach, this would have been frowned upon during the Victorian era: disregarded as distasteful. Rooms were often filled with elaborate ornaments, tapestries, rich furnishings, patterned wallpapers and rich colours. Moreover, style was often prioritised over substance. Furniture, rather than being purely practical, was highly decorative: featuring intricate details such as carefully carved chair legs.

Key Elements of Victorian Interior Design

There are some key elements in the Victorian interior design palette that differentiate it from other eras. Generally, design choices of the period are known for being bold and lavish. Some key elements of Victorian interior design include:


The palette available at the early stages of the Victorian age was reliant on pigments that were sourced locally. Thus, colours and paints widely used in the first half of the era were more muted and earthy. This may have had some practical use however, as earthy and muted colours effectively hid the damage caused by smoke and coal from indoor fires. Brighter hues, pastel colours and experimentation was seen in the latter half of the era however.

Patterned Wallpaper

The Victorians made use of elaborate wallpapers that were now being mass produced. This complimented the mentality of the era that saw visual decadence as fashionable. It was said that fewer than several colours in a room was unfashionable. With the expansion of the Empire, design was being influenced and shaped by far away cultures. Wallpapers with intricate patterns, featuring a broad range of colours, were being used throughout the home to create a sense of abundance and access.

Heavy Ornamentation

Furniture especially benefited from heavy ornamentation. As previously mentioned, furniture’s practical qualities were put on the back burner. Designers of the age were focused on creating highly decorative statement pieces that reflected the prosperity of the age.


Think wrought-iron chandeliers, fireplaces, lots of candle light, lamps. Developments were made throughout the era and lighting, like other elements, was used in excess. Tiffany lamps (glass lampshade) were hugely popular throughout the era, and featured colourful stained glass.

Amongst many of the design trends adhered to during the Victorian era, designers integrated rooflights into homes. Not only did this create more opportunities for natural light, as it does today, but it improved the aesthetic value of homes exponentially. If you are looking for a company to install modern rooflights, look no further than Lonsdale Metal. With experience installing rooflights for domestic and commercial clients, the team at Lonsdale have a wealth of expertise.

News Reporter