6 Tips for Dramatic Victorian Decor

Get inspired to revamp your vision of your Victorian decor with Patty Bieglow’s 6 tips for dramatic style.

When the guests have left, Patty retreats to the upstairs sitting room, where one finds both stylish and soulful touches. Two chaise lounges sit across from each other. Beside one stands an antique secretary desk, open for daily use (see below); as a family heirloom, handed down from Bigelow’s father-in-law, the desk is a cherished piece in the home. Beside the other, a low table from the late 1800s is topped with a woven basket and pink carnations—in classic “Chez Patty” style, injecting into the casually traditional atmosphere a welcome bit of drama. (Photo: Eric Striffler).

1. “Do your research and have fun with it!” Patty encourages. If you’re not enjoying the process of discovering your home’s style, may it’s time to step back and reconnect with your passions.

2. “People shouldn’t be too afraid to mix and match styles,” Patty advises. “I mean, don’t go too crazy, but people shouldn’t be too afraid to mix old with new. If you keep them subtle, you can successfully include modern fabrics in an historic home, especially if they are tone-on-tone earth tones.”

Photo: Eric Striffler

3. Don’t throw out your own modern sensibilities to make way for Victorian decor. Through subtle color schemes, you can peacefully join two styles into one without one upstaging the other. For example, as a design motif, Patty tries to include Victorian-style chinoiserie and the color black in every room; for instance, the living room’s dark element—the two-tiered tray—sits on top of the bamboo table, hinting at her mischievous love of surprise.

4. Find inspiration through research, and don’t limit yourself to just interior decorating. The costumes and the culture of the 1800s can inspire a new interpretation of old styles.

victorian decor

When considering Victorian history, why not add your own family history—the secretary desk belonged to Bigelow’s father-in-law and stands as a loving memorial (Photo: Eric Striffler).

5. “Take a tour of Newport,” Patty says. “Newport, Rhode Island, has tons of fantastic Victorian homes.” Seeing what people like Patty do with their homes can give you that extra encouragement to go ahead and try something new with Victorian decor.

6. No matter what home you find yourself in, Victorian or other, always buy classic furniture. It adapts easily to other rooms or even other homes.

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Written by Sarah Yoon

Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel

Photographed by Eric Striffler

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