Styles come and go in design, just as they do in fashion, life and just about everything else. But as a daily editorial site whose job it is to navigate the new, weird and often obscure trends or styles that are becoming popular in peoples homes and in the design world, today we are taking this time to introduce you to what we are dubbing “Modern Victorian”, which we predict to be a big trend in 2018.
So, what exactly is “Modern Victorian” you ask? It is a style whose name we just came up with that is a spin-off of a very classic vibe, done in a fresh, new, and relevant way. 2017 was the year of minimalism in many ways. The Marie Kondo method of tidying up became something everyone tried (and potentially failed at), California Casual was all anyone could talk about, and whites, washed linens, and neutrals dominated the design world. We aren’t here to say that these styles or methods are out (not at all), but instead that 2018 might be the year of maximalism (to a certain extent) and this style fits in perfectly with a shift from all things simple and plain to something that is more theatrical, detailed, bright and dramatic in your home decor. But, rather than going on and on about what it is exactly, let’s break it down to really SHOW you through pictures this style and then under each section we will talk about how you can get the look in a much more approachable way in your own home.
But to be honest, it was VERY hard to find accurate photos that represent this trend, probably because its risky and not really ‘in’ yet. We just know how we are gravitating towards it and seeing SO much of it in fashion, so its coming … First up….
Velvet, Tufting, and Fringe:
In Victorian design, more is more and this is one of the key anchor points of this style. Specifically when it deals with the details on the furniture in these types of rooms. In this style, you will often see Victorian pieces that are done with an excess of tufting, fringing, pleating, or gathering of fabric on the furniture, BUT in a slightly more modernized and abstract way. Above they used the back of the sofa to really create a moment with that gathering of fabric creating a huge skirt along the back (the rest of the room is trickier). And below, they took a traditional tufting technique but wrapped it around a curved wall to make it feel a bit more modern.
Anywhere and everywhere that you can add fringing or tufting is very much acceptable in this style.
Along the bottom of a little settee like above, or on the sofas below… why not? Here’s how I would do it – use linen upholstery with a more matte fringe. I think that the shiny velvet doesn’t feel as modern, but I love that shape so much.
If fringe isn’t your thing (whats wrong with you), then some sort of special detail can add that extra layer to your piece of furniture which will make it feel more Victorian. Like below, where they used that additional piece of trim along all the seams of the couch.
You can also modernize the Victorian form and style with a more updated color and fabric treatment like they did in the next few examples.
Above they took a very traditional and Victorian club chair profile and then updated it with a very intricate and modern tufting technique.
But it isn’t just for furniture. Fringe can also be added to just about anything in the room like they did with this light fixture – of which I LOVE. The fringe instantly evokes a sense of playfulness which is key in this style, as it is all about layering on the textures and details in a really playful and fun way.
So, how do you get it in your own home in a slightly more toned down, and easy to live with everyday kind of way?
This living room above is a perfect example of how to make it work. By bringing in a few very classic victorian fringed pieces to a rather simple and refined room it instantly brings a sense of drama to the room without it feeling like “ye old speakeasy” in London. A mix of the old with the new is key in making this work in an applicable and livable way. We will have some full roundups coming up on the blog to help you really conquer this style piece by piece, but for now let’s get into the next concept in the Modern Victorian style.
Modern Lighting in a Victorian Styled Space:
The Modern Victorian trend needs you to mix different eras together so it doesn’t go granny. Specifically, this comes into play when you mix old architecture with modern lighting. This is a tricky one as not all modern lighting will work in all “old spaces” but if you adhere to the typical rules of scale and size then you can create a pretty unique looking space. Our tip would be to steer clear of anything that feels TOO contemporary (read: 90’s modern) and instead go for something that feels more inspired by midcentury modern or Scandinavian modern influences and lines – when in doubt anything that is French and from 1930’s – 1960’s will probably look awesome.
Old with new, new with old. It is again about the mixing of styles and eras that you typically wouldn’t place together but again make it such a unique finished product. Could we live with black floors, walls and ceilings every day… probably not. But do we LOVE looking at this room and how rich and dramatic it feels… YES. Modern Victorian is about pushing the envelope both with style and with colors and accessories.
Everything in this room below leans more old and Victorian feeling but then the modern brass standing lamp juxtaposes everything in there in such a nice way.
If you haven’t guessed already this style is a bit more theatrical and “dressed” than a normal livable style but it is all about embracing that sense of a bygone era and modernizing it to today. Crumbling walls might not be the most livable and we are pretty certain that this space might be a set what with that peeling wallpaper but it echoes our point of how bringing in a modern piece of lighting can update the room and bring it to a more modern look.
So how do you make this one work for you? It is pretty self-explanatory but by using a few more modern piece of lighting in a traditional or Victorian space you get the perfect combo of new and old like you see below. The settee, blush-toned walls, and table all lean more victorian while the lighting and chairs bring in that modern element.
Ornate Furniture in a Modern Space/Modern Furniture in an Ornate Space:
We talked about what bringing a modern piece of lighting into the room can do, and the same concept is applied to furniture. Above, the entire room is pretty antique and Victorian feeling but then with the addition of the two modern and contemporary side tables there in front of the settee it brings it to the 21st century. Bonus points to this designer for echoing the rust color of the settee in the side table.
This room has an obviously antique bedframe but then is paired with a more modern wardrobe, an abstract rug and a modern light above it all which makes it feel more fresh and fun.
This kitchen does have a little bit of a Parisian vibe going on, but the combo of the modern flat-front cabinets and then the older piece above it works SO well together and exemplifies this concept in the Modern Victorian style. Not quite sure if they pull out a ladder every time they need a plate from that cabinet so the functionality of it is TBD, but we love the look. All of the above pictures are totally applicable examples of how to make this one work in your own home, keeping in mind that the mix of new and old is key with this one.
If we haven’t pounded already into your heads that Modern Victorian is all about the mixing of two contrasting elements then this one will illustrate it even further. Two-toned furniture, or furniture where they used two different types of fabric is another element of this style. Above the designer used two types of fabrics (green velvet and a ticking stripe and then mixed it up on the different surfaces of the two chairs and the couch, creating a unified collection of modern feeling pieces that still retain the original antique and Victorian lines. I’m not 100% on board with those particular pieces, but the idea is interesting.
This chair, what with its blue velvet tufted back and striped seat fit perfectly into the style. As well as the sofa below that again employs the solid velvet mixed with a stripe to modernize the bones of an old piece.
It can also be taken in a more abstract sense like they did below where they used a tapestry mural fabric and then combined it with a solid color creating a unique statement piece for the room.
So how do you make this one work in your own home? If you are into the look then you can simply find an antique piece (or one that you already own) and give it a new lease on life with an upholstery job similar to what is in the inspiration pictures.
Tone on Tone:
Deep rich color hues are prevalent in Victorian style and design but when you start layering them tone on tone you can make the room feel more modern, which is what our next talking point is: tone on tone color palettes.
This one is about using one or two colors in a room and then using different tones of those colors throughout the entire room.
This room above obviously took its color palette hues from the Moroccan rug on the floor but the repeated tones of orange, purple, and teal throughout give it a monochromatic modern vibe.
Above and below it is all about the layered colors of black, and purple creating a VERY moody end result for these two rooms.
But it can also be done in a warmer palette like you see below where they used reds, oranges, and rusts to fill this room.
Or in a cooler palette of blues like below. The key with this concept is to take the color, slightly vary the tone of it throughout the room, and then keep the patterns to a minimum. You’ll find with all of these examples that the majority of them do not have many patterns in them, or if they do it is only through a few small elements. If you were to do the tone on tone concept and then put in a bunch of patterns in the room, it would end up looking chaotic and fussy. So by refining it to solids, you can make this concept work.
How do you make this one work in your home without making it look like a colorful funhouse? Think about doing this tonally with more neutral colors. The below living room has a tone on tone effect by using whites, creams, beiges, and neutrals mixed in with the other Modern Victorian elements we have already discussed. It has a lot going on in the room but because it is all done in a tonal palette it works together without feeling chaotic.
Large Scale Florals and Botanicals:
Florals are back you guys, and in a very big (literally) way. Victorian design and style employed quite a bit of floral and botanical use and this more Modern Victorian style does the same, just in a bigger and more abstract way. In this style the Victorian floral has been enlarged which makes it feel more modern and abstract. This wallpaper by Ashley Woodson Bailey is a perfect example of how it is done in a modern and applicable way.
This floral stair tread mural is serving up some major Modern Victorian vibes and we love how it still feels modern but in a subtle way as the material is antique but the application of it is modern.
Could you handle a floral mural this large in your living room?
If overscale and bright isn’t your vibe like the pictures above then the concept can be applied to something more neutral and tonal like below where they have a floral mural on the walls outside of the bathroom area and then pulled the deep purple color from the flowers into the ceiling of the bathroom, resulting in a cohesive feeling space while still feeling slightly whimsical which the Victorian style is all about.
These next few examples run in the same vein as florals but is a bit more subtle and easy to apply in your own home. Botanicals are something that will innately feel antique and old as many times they are pages that are pulled from an old botanicals book and then framed. But the look can also be pulled off with pressed leaves or painted silhouette versions like below.
So how do you do it in your own home? You could frame some old botanicals and then hang them on the walls in a collection like above or you could bring in the floral idea like they did below with this oversized floral wallpaper that is done in a more modern color palette.
This one echoes some of the statement walls that we saw above in the floral concept, however with this one it is about one feature wall acting as a statement in the room. Above the statement wall is wall that leads into the dining room where they applied an intricate and Victorian-inspired wallpaper and then tied it in with the rest of the space by painting the other walls in the same sage color.
Above they worked in the tone on tone concept as well by using two tones of blue to create this focal wall.
But if you are going to go for, then take after nonother than the queen of “going for it” Kelly Wearstler, who used this abstract wallpaper in her entryway and took the more antique and victorian feeling space to very modern place.
She also gave this bathroom a statement wall and did what we talked about earlier where she used an antique material (the stone) and then applied it in a modern way (the pattern and the introduction of pink).
How do you do it in your own home? Think about bringing in one accent wall with a pretty wallpaper or color that goes with everything else you have going on. You don’t have to go wild with color or pattern but something that speaks to the room while being a focal point will instantly bring in a bit of the Modern Victorian vibe.
The Victorian look is not about minimalism in any sense of the word and is instead about opulence, over-exaggerated details and the display of items, which is what our next concept is: Curated Collections.
When it comes to displaying your collectibles this doesn’t mean it is time to pull out your collection of Hummel figurines or your favorite family knick-knacks, this is about displaying artistic and one of a kind objects in a more curated way. With collections you can go eclectic and boho very quickly which is why you will want to curate the collection a bit so that it doesn’t feel too thrifted or disjointed. This can be done by selecting similar items to display together like they did above with the boxes on the table. Or below with the collection of items inside glass boxes which helps it to feel cohesive. This allows the collections to feel intentional and curated, almost like a store display.
It can also be done with art like they did below where instead of hanging anything they lent a mix of modern and antique prints against the wall in a tonal and cohesive palette so that it worked as one collection.
But, just as in Victorian design more is more, so you don’t have to be too precious about your collections like they did below. Just be sure to keep it in a fairly tonal color palette, have a few different heights and use a few larger pieces to anchor the collection so that it isn’t all smaller items.
So how do you do this in your home without it feeling or looking like a thrift store? Start small and choose one collection to display like in the photo below. By only having one single type of item displayed the collection feels very cohesive even though there are quite a few different colors going on.
Portraits and Busts:
There is nothing more Victorian than a portrait or a bust, but with this more modern version, it is about the way that you display them. Think oversized collections like in the pictures above or below. Both which feature old antique portraits but in a more modern gallery wall with some modern pieces in the room.
But if you aren’t ready for a wall of antique oils then even one well-placed portrait can instantly give the room a bit of that Victorian vibe, like below in this kitchen area. The antique portrait contrasts with the modern chair in front of it as well as the brighter colors that are found in the windsor chair and books on the shelf.
When it comes to busts think about either displaying them in a modern way like in front of a gallery wall of modern and abstract art like below.
Or in a collection with a few others to give them impact in a thoughtful and curated way.
When pulling this into your own home, like many of the other concepts – start small.
One well-placed portrait can do a lot to bring in that Victorian vibe, and if you bring in some other modern elements into the mix it will again help harmonize the new with the old.
At this point, I am sure you have some questions on the trend, but first off…. we want to know, are you into this trend? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Do you think you could actually make it work in your home or is it not for you? Let us know below in the comments and we will try to get all of your questions answered. And stay tuned for a few more posts about this style where we walk you through specific lighting, furniture, art, and decor pieces to make it work in your own home with suggestions of pieces that you can buy online.