Get Dramatic Color the Victorian Way

The Victorians combined deep, contrasting colors, often in extravagant patterns. Wallpaper gives homeowners an opportunity to recreate the lush and complex interiors for which the era was known, while paint provides the same dramatic effect the Victorians loved with a few brushstrokes. Read on for some tips on how to achieve that colorful yet dramatic Victorian look in your sitting room.

Traditional Sitting Room

Layers upon layers of color and fabric create a luxurious parlor. In this fully-restored Queen Anne, the reproduction sofa and chairs are accented with pillows made with antique fabrics, while the footstool is covered in a vintage tapestry.

WALLPAPER: If you want to add details like embossing, pattern and texture to your walls, consider wallpaper. Bradbury & Bradbury, J. R. Burrows and Mason & Wolf Wallpaper have reproduced wonderful authentic designs, as well as striking originals inspired by the Victorian era.

The St. James wallpapers in the William Morris line from Bradbury & Bradbury have just what Victorian homeowners want. The St. James damask is a 17-color pattern designed in 1881 for Queen Victoria’s throne room in the St. James Palace. The pattern is available in two colors: ruby and dove.


PAINT: If you’re inspired by the dramatic colors of a Victorian room but want to keep things simple, go with paint. Paint companies such as Behr provide professional advice for choosing period-appropriate colors.

To achieve the Victorians’ high-contrast look, experts from Behr suggest using a color wheel to find hues directly across from each other; this method will help homeowners locate the most vivid opposites. For truly traditional Victorian, Behr suggests ruby red (Bold Brick), forest green (Medieval Forest) and golden amber (Donegal Tweed) for the main rooms. Since Victorians thought bold color brought an importance to a room, they usually painted the hallways in a lighter color. Behr suggests painting entryways and connecting rooms in neutral colors, such as gray or taupe.


TRY IT: Can’t choose between wallpaper and paint? There are ways to get the best of both worlds. Behr suggests trying faux-painting techniques such as sponging and stenciling to get the textured look of wallpaper on a paint-bucket budget. Although time consuming, the final result is both affordable and beautiful.


By Harmony Trevino

Photography by Jaimee Itagaki

Styled by Merrie Destefano

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