Recreate a Victorian sunroom in your home–no matter its era or style.
A sign of wealth in the Victorian era, sunrooms are gaining popularity today—and, fortunately, you can give any sunny corner of your home the feel of a Victorian conservatory with a few key pieces.
The sunroom grew out of the municipal conservatory, which appeared in America’s colder regions in the early to mid-1800s. Inside these ornate glass structures, the Victorians hosted social functions, such as tea parties and ladies’ luncheons. Conservatories were the result not only of the Victorians’ love for gardening, but also of the budding technologies of glass construction and heating methods. Many magnificent public conservatories built of iron and glass are the result of this era ingenious design era. Kew Gardens in London is just one example of a large greenhouse used for growing rare and exotic plants.
As the popularity of conservatories grew, the upper classes adapted the splendor of these public spaces into their private homes, and so solariums and sunrooms became a part of Victorian residential architecture.
Get the Look
With a few key elements of the Victorian sunroom, you can take a sunny spot in your home—even if it’s a suburban ranch style house, like this one—back to a gentler era. Select a sun-drenched area for your conservatory; then, begin to build the décor’s layers from the windows inward. Line the sunny sills with Victorian plant stands, then construct your seating area. Look for pieces and shapes that appeal to your Victorian sensibilities and maintain comfort and function. A fainting couch, for example, is a perfect statement piece. Antique wicker is also a substantial yet delicate option. Tables are a must for hosting afternoon tea parties and displaying treasured plant specimens.
Next, blur the lines between indoor and outdoor décor. Add soft textures with beautiful crochet pillows, lace tablecloths and linen embroidered napkins. Bring in garden elements, such as painted concrete statuary, potting urns or a jewel-toned birdcage; fill the plant stands with exotic flora, which will mesh with the exotic textiles and play on the Victorians’ love of Eastern cultures. When creating this final layer, accessorize with the whimsical spirit of a true Victorian.
Once the design is complete, consider hosting a traditional Victorian tea, complete with silver or porcelain tea sets and silver pedestals layered with delicate cakes. Rejoice in the sun and take time to celebrate the finer things in life.
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Written, styled and photographed by Melinda Graham of Surroundings by Melinda