There can’t be too many era’s that can compete with the Victorian period for sheer romantism. Nor can there be too many rooms in the house that take to romantism quite so well as the bedroom. If your idea of heaven is a four-poster bed, a plethora of trims, and more ornamentation and embellishment than should strictly be legal, you’re going to love the Victorian look (although look away now if you’re a fan of stark minimalism and sleek simplicity). But loving something enough to want to re-create it is a far cry from actually doing it. If you want to wind back the years and introduce some Victorian glamour into your bedroom, you’re going to have to get your head (and shopping cart) around a few essential must-haves. In no particular order, here are ten thing every Victorian bedroom has to have.
1. A Splash of Color
Forget your all-white walls and your sea of neutrals. If you want a Victorian-inspired bedroom, you’re going to have to re-embrace the idea of color. Not a lot of color, granted – a neon rainbow is not the look we’re aiming for here. But a rich, deep color palette most certainly is. As happyhomes.world explains, muted, earthy tones may have been the order of the day in the early 19th century, but by the Victorian age, people had found newer and better ways to dye materials than soaking them in a vat of stinging nettles. When commercial dyes started taking over from the natural pigments that have been used previously, it ushered in a new palette of rich, dark tones like gold, black, green, purple, and ruby red. If you want to add a touch of elegance to your room (not to mention just the right hit of nostalgia), get planning your color scheme now.
2. A Trim
If there was one thing the Victorians couldn’t abide, it was the sight of a naked leg – a philosophy that held as true for furniture as it did for people. Or so they say. In fact, Victorians were no more repressed than us. Contrary to urban legend, they felt no more obliged to cover up every piano or table leg in sight than we do. But for all that, they still liked a good trim. And why wouldn’t they? Adding some trimmed pillows and lampshades can go a long way to introducing some Victorian nostalgia, as can a few embroidered pillowcases, some lace doilies, and a gorgeously upholstered armchair.
3. An Oriental Rug
Victorians didn’t buy into the idea of wall-to wall carpeting, but neither did they like the bare floorboard look, either. The compromise? A gorgeously intricate, beautifully colorful oriental rug. Authentic oriental rugs can be expensive, as can reproductions. If you want to get the look without blowing a hole in your budget, scour antique and thrift stores for bargain buys.
4. A Heavy Drape
The Victorians didn’t do simple blinds. Neither did they do inconsequential wafts of voile curtains. When they drew their drapes at night, they wanted to make sure not a scrap of light got in without their permission. In the days before blackout blinds, that meant only one thing – heavy drapes. Preferably made from damask or silk velvet and with enough embroidered flowers, birds of paradise, and other motifs sprawled across them to make them a piece of art in their own right. If you prefer the simple look, feel free to skip the elaborate embroidery. But don’t forget to keep it heavy.
5. A Floral Display
The idea of Victorians covering their table legs might be a myth, but their legendary love of a floral arrangement is anything but. Victorians got as much of a thrill from a flower display as they did from a travelling freak show. Back then, it didn’t matter whether it was real, artificial, or dried – if it looked like a flower, was a flower, or had been a flower in its recent past, it was all good with the Victorians. Aim to introduce at least a couple of plants and flower arrangements into your bedroom. If you want to keep things period, look for Victorian favorites like tulips, carnations, daisies, lilies, and dahlias in particular. Otherwise, just go with your favorite.
6. A Headboard or Canopy Bed
At the center of the Victorian bedroom is the bed. A big, dramatic bed that instantly draws the eye. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a four poster (although if your budget stretches to this, all the better) but it does have to be grand enough to make a statement. The Spruce has some great ideas about how to achieve the look on a shoestring, including upholstering a large piece of fiberboard and adding buttons for a hit of elegance. You could also try attaching lace or sheer curtains to a suspended frame before draping them to the side to resemble a coronet. Whichever way you decide to go, just remember to keep it bold, big, and dramatic.
7. At Least One Piece of Walnut
If you want to keep your bedroom as authentically Victorian as possible, you’re going to need at one piece of walnut furniture. This could be a nightstand, a wardrobe, a bookshelf, or an armoire. Whatever it is, it needs to be walnut and it needs to be there.
8. A Washstand
All good Victorian bedrooms have one thing in common – they all have a washstand. Back in the days before modern plumbing revolutionized our bathing habits, Victorian ladies and gentleman would ‘refresh’ themselves at their bedroom washstand. Traditionally, this would involve a marble topped table, a bowl, and a pitcher. If you want to recreate the Victorian look properly, it’s worth introducing. You don’t have to actually use it, but it’ll do wonder for the vibe (although if you DO want to use it, most can be rigged up to the plumping easily enough).
9. A Screen
Victorian ladies might not have been quite as demure as we like to think, but they did at least like to give an impression of modesty. And what better way to do that than with a screen? Back in the olden days, it was a convenient place to dress behind; these days, it does a much better job of changing the contours of a room. As houzz.com suggests, even a cheap screen can look the business after it’s been re-covered in some Victorian worthy wallpaper or fabric.
10. A Big Wardrobe
A walk-in closet might be convenient, but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘Victorian’. A solid wood wardrobe, on the other hand, most definitely does. The wardrobe was almost as important to the Victorian bedroom as the bed itself – large, almost somber, it was a hulking presence that dominated the entire space. For a modern update on an old classic, look for a less brooding version with a mirror running downs its center and double storage on both sides.