The Victorian era was marked by opulence and flamboyance, which marked every walk of human life. It refers to the Nineteenth-century which coincided with the reign of Queen Victoria in England. The Industrial Revolution, which preceded the Victorian Era, played a significant role in bringing richness and abundance to Victorian households. North America was also not untouched by this crucial historical epoch’s cultural, economic, artistic, and architectural influences of old Victorian trends. In terms of window treatments, the rough and harsh styles of the previous era were replaced by elaborate and stupendous styles, which were the hallmark of Victorian style.
What is a Victorian Style Home?
Technically speaking, a Victorian-style home is a building constructed during the Victorian era. In the American context, it refers to building architecture influenced by the Victorian era. One of the prominent features of Victorian-style homes is asymmetrical house design. From floor plans to windows, every aspect of a Victorian home embraced asymmetry. There was no uniformity in the window type, and the houses had windows as varied as bay, transom, and eyebrow. Any attempt to bring uniformity only reduces the artistic appeal of the house.
Characteristics of Victorian Architecture and Window Treatments
Victorian style stood for larger-than-life structures and designs. It corresponded to the economic prosperity that came into the business elite’s lives due to the industrial revolution. The following are some of the critical characteristics of Victorian-style architecture and window treatments:
1. Preference for Darker Shades of Window Treatments:
One of the highlights of home furnishings and décor was the prevalence of shades like navy blue, dark brown, green, and burgundy. The reason for it is that the soot from burning coal and wood could always be found on clothes, furniture, and even window treatments. So, people preferred to have window coverings of darker shades, barring lace under curtains that could be washed and cleaned. The same trend is carried forward while selecting Victorian-style window coverings for modern houses. Thus, these houses have bright and dynamic color combinations and exude positivity and flamboyance.
2. Abundant Use of Lace in Window Treatments:
In Victorian times, owing to the industrial revolution, factory-produced lace was mass-produced. Consequently, Scottish cotton lace was a staple as the first layer of window treatments in upper-class Victorian houses. It was used either as a stationary panel or a more intricate Austrian shade. The latter is widely used today as a romantic setting design in a lot of houses and sets. Victorian-style-inspired window treatments in modern times prefer abundant use of laces.
3. Preference for Layered Window Treatments:
In Victorian times along with the factory-produced laces, there was easy availability of the British woven velvets. In addition, the colonial East supplied silk. Therefore, the upper-class Victorians used these fabrics in layered window treatments to show off their wealth. On the one hand, multiple layers showed the upper class’s opulence, and on the other hand, helped preserve the heat inside the rooms during cold winters. In modern times, the Victorian-style inspired room décor abundantly uses layered treatment to increase the room’s grandeur and provide sunlight protection, privacy, and insulation.
Window Treatment for Houses – Taking Inspiration from Old Victorian Trends
The grandeur of thought and appearance marks Victorian architecture. There is asymmetry yet magnificence at every level. The window treatments have to vary as per the type of the windows. Following are some of the window treatments from the old Victorian trends which might be functionally relevant even today:
1. Victorian Shutters for Elegant and Graceful Look of the House:
Victorian or solid shutters are one of the most time-tested shutters available today. It is so because these shutters are simple in design and easy to operate. These shutters can be folded to let the sunlight in or close to block the sunlight completely. They provide easy access to windows, absorb extra noise, are easy to maintain. They are designed to serve any style of windows and add curb appeal to the house. In addition, these shutters provide extra insulation and sunlight protection, which results in warm winter and cool summers. These shutters replace curtains and enhance the value of the property.
2. Venetian Blinds for Creation of a Stylish Look:
Venetian Blinds have had a rich history ever since they were used for the first time in ancient Egypt. In the earlier days, they were made up of reed taken out of the rivers. Venetians were first of all used around the mid-eighteenth century in North America. In the earlier blinds, the wooden slats, which were usually 1 inch to 3 inches in width, were joined with the help of a long cloth. Further, they were painted in different colors to meet the needs.
During the Victorian period, the use of Venetian blinds declined a bit because the entire focus was on high-flown decoration and frenzied ornamentation in this era. But they gained popularity again because of their simple yet practical design until the 1940s when blinds made out of other materials became popular.
Using Venetian wooden blinds have a lot of advantages. The chief among them is sunlight protection. Since these are made out of wood, it is easier to block out sunlight at will. Wooden Venetian blinds also enhance the beauty and elegance of the room. Since they are carved out of wood, they give a natural yet royal feel to the room. They are easy to install and maintain. Although dust settles on them, they can be cleaned with just a wet cloth and are as good as new.
3. Shades to Create Sleek and Sophisticated Look:
German and Dutch people introduced the initial roller shades in America, who used a spring mechanism to control the shades. They became trendy in America after the war of 1812. To make the initial roller shades thick, cotton or linen was used preferably. The roller shades were a welcome addition to the Victorian homes as they provided sunlight protection and privacy at will. Furthermore, to increase the decorative value of the shades, they were painted with landscape scenes. In the contemporary scenario, roller shades are used in houses because they are incredibly versatile and can block up to 99 percent sunlight. They can also be adjusted to give the owner the complete view of the outside and restrict the outsiders’ prying views. In addition, they require significantly less maintenance and last for a long time.
4. Curtains to create the Royal and Grand Look:
Historically speaking, the earlier curtains in North America were straightforward and plain. Their chief purpose was to protect the owners from fast wind and sunshine. Around the Georgian period, the effect of European style became visible in the homes of well-to-do upper-class people. After the 1750s, textile production in America increased, and consequently, the length of curtains increased. Wooden cornices and tiebacks, tassels, and fringes made their way to the affluent homes along with the curtains.
Under the influence of old Victorian trends, the designs and presentations of the curtains became more detailed and exuberant. A lot of experimentation was done in terms of the fabric of curtains. They were used for various purposes and were tied together with fringed, braided, or even metallic tiebacks. Curtains eventually became one of the most sought-after Victorian indulgences. It explains why in the later years, more options showcasing the windows were in demand.
But the use of decorative Victorian-style curtains is a timeless trend used to give a grand look to the rooms. Through their use, the windows can be made the focal points of the room. It can be especially done by using fabrics like satin and silk, which make the curtains heavy and layered. They remain a popular choice because they give good light control, offer absolute privacy, help create a noise-free room by absorbing the external sound, and are incredibly versatile and flexible window treatment options.
Window treatments have had a significant impact on the creation of specific themes for the rooms. In the Victorian era, home décor with window shades became extravagant, which was in tune with the trends of the time. Therefore, one can take inspiration from the trends of this era to create a royal, majestic, and grand look in rooms in contemporary times.