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Victorian Living Room: A Guide to Modern Victorian Interior Design

Victorian-style living room with yellow wall and chandelier


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The Victorian era, spanning the 18th century, conjures images of plush interiors, rich colours, and an emphasis on comfort. But recreating a full-blown Victorian look in a modern home can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, the "Modern Victorian" aesthetic embraces the elegance of the period with a contemporary twist. In our article you’ll discover how to achieve a Victorian living room look, seamlessly blending the charm of the past with the functionality of the present.

Victorian Living Room: Finding the Perfect Furniture

While Chesterfield sofas are iconic Victorian pieces, there's more to explore when furnishing your modern Victorian living room. Consider the overall layout and functionality you desire. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Seating arrangements: For a more formal space, arrange a pair of armchairs facing each other  across from a three-seater sofa. Create a conversational area with a love seat flanked by club chairs. Ottomans and footstools upholstered in complementary fabrics add comfort and visual interest.

  • Material Marvels: Go beyond traditional wood and explore luxurious options like velvet or plush chenille for a truly decadent feel. Don't be afraid to mix and match textures — a velvet sofa paired with a leather wingback chair adds depth and visual intrigue. For a touch of the unexpected, consider a modern take on a classic. A sleek chesterfield with clean lines and tapered legs offers a nod to tradition without feeling dated.

  • Vintage Finds: Breathe new life into vintage pieces by reupholstering them in rich fabrics or painting them in a modern colour. An ornately carved armchair with a fresh coat of emerald green paint adds a touch of history with a pop of personality. 

Wall Decor Fit: Beyond Botanical Prints

While botanical prints and landscapes are evergreen choices, explore other avenues to create a curated and captivating gallery wall in your modern Victorian living room:

  • Family Heirlooms: Display cherished family portraits or antique maps for a personal touch that speaks to your heritage. 

  • Geometric Flair: Balance the organic forms of floral prints with the sharp lines of geometric artwork. A minimalist abstract piece in a jewel tone adds a touch of modern sophistication.

  • Textile Art: Woven tapestries or embroidered wall hangings introduce texture and a touch of the exotic. 

  • Scientific Curiosities: For a unique conversation starter, consider framed vintage scientific illustrations or botanical diagrams. 

  • Symmetry and Balance: Arrange your artwork in a symmetrical grid for a formal feel, or create a more relaxed atmosphere with an asymmetrical layout. 

Victorian-style living room withwall prints and coloured armchairs


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A Colour Palette Steeped in History: Modern Interpretations

Rich jewel tones like emerald green, burgundy, and navy blue are hallmarks of the Victorian era. However, a modern Victorian space can benefit from a lighter touch. Here's how to create a colour palette that strikes the perfect balance:

  • Muted Elegance: Consider a sophisticated colour scheme of soft greys, taupes, and creams for your walls. This creates a calming backdrop that allows bolder elements like furniture and artwork to take centre stage. 

  • Accent Walls: Embrace a touch of Victorian grandeur with a statement accent wall. Paint a single wall in a deep jewel tone like emerald green or sapphire blue for a dramatic effect. Balance the bold colour with lighter furniture and artwork.

  • Metallic Touches: Incorporate metallic accents like gold, silver, or bronze to add a touch of luxury. This can be achieved through picture frames, decorative objects, or even metallic wallpaper on a small section of the wall. 

Don't Forget the Ceiling: Beyond Crown Molding

High ceilings are a common feature in Victorian homes. If you're lucky enough to have them, accentuate them with architectural details and create a sense of grandeur:

  • Coffered Ceilings: For a truly impressive look, consider installing a coffered ceiling. This involves dividing the ceiling into sections with recessed panels, adding depth and visual interest to the space. Paint the coffers in a contrasting colour to make them pop.

  • Exposed Beams: If your ceiling has exposed beams, highlight them with a fresh coat of paint or a light stain. Exposed beams add a touch of rustic charm and architectural interest.

  • Medallion Magic: A decorative ceiling medallion placed in the centre of the ceiling adds a touch of elegance and draws the eye upwards. Choose a medallion with intricate details that complement the overall style of your living room.

In love with the Victorian era? Discover our Victorian bathroom ideas.  

Window Treatments: Modern Functionality

Floor-to-ceiling drapes in a heavy fabric like velvet or damask add drama and grandeur.  However, there's more to consider when choosing window treatments for your modern Victorian living room:

  • Light Control: Opt for blackout curtains or blinds for bedrooms, while sheer curtains allow for natural light to filter through living spaces. Consider layering sheer and blackout curtains for ultimate control over light and privacy.

  • Modern Fabrics: While velvet and damask are classic choices, explore modern takes on these fabrics. Opt for a lighter velvet with a subtle sheen or a damask with a geometric pattern for a fresh take on a traditional look.

  • Roman Shades: Roman shades offer a clean and tailored look that complements the structured lines of Victorian furniture. Choose a fabric that compliments your drapes or opt for a contrasting colour for added visual interest.

  • Hardware Matters: The right hardware can elevate your window treatments from functional to fabulous.  For a touch of Victorian grandeur, choose finials with intricate details or curtain rods with a decorative design. 

Victorian-style living room with big window, colourful pilloes and fireplace


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Introduce Multi-Layered Lighting: Setting the Mood

Create a warm and inviting atmosphere with a combination of lighting options that cater to both functionality and ambiance:

  • The Statement Chandelier: A quintessential Victorian piece, a chandelier with crystals or intricate metalwork adds a touch of grandeur and serves as a focal point for the room. Choose a size that's proportionate to your space – a  smaller chandelier  might be more suitable for a living room with a lower ceiling.

  • Ambient Lighting: Floor lamps with fabric shades provide warm, diffused light that creates a cosy atmosphere. Opt for lamps with a sculptural base or a tripod design for added visual interest.

  • Task Lighting: Strategically placed sconces on the walls or table lamps on side tables offer task lighting for reading or working. Consider sconces with flickering candle-style bulbs for a touch of Victorian charm.

  • Dimmer Switches: Install dimmer switches on your lighting circuits to allow you to control the ambiance. Dimming the lights in the evening creates a more intimate and relaxing atmosphere.

The Fireplace: A Focal Point Reimagined

Fireplaces were the heart of Victorian homes. If you have one, highlight it with a grand mantelpiece in wood or marble. Here are some ways to make your fireplace a standout feature:

  • Mantelpiece Magic: For a truly Victorian look, choose a grand mantelpiece with intricate carvings or corbels. If your fireplace has a more modest mantel, consider adding decorative millwork to elevate its appearance.

  • Fireplace Surround: Surround your fireplace with tiles in a classic pattern like herringbone or subway tile. For a bolder statement, consider patterned tiles with floral motifs or geometric designs.

  • Fireplace Accessories: Don't forget the finishing touches!  Place decorative objects like clocks, figurines, or framed photographs on the mantel for a personal touch. A set of antique fire tools adds a touch of tradition and functionality.

  • The Modern Approach: For a more contemporary take on the fireplace, consider a sleek wood burner with clean lines. This option offers a minimalist aesthetic while still providing warmth and ambiance.

Victorian-style fireplace with gold sofa and coloured wall decor


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Extra Touches for a Modern Fairytale: The Finishing Flourishes

The details are what truly set a space apart. Here are some finishing touches that will elevate your modern Victorian living room:

  • Coffee and Side Tables: Choose coffee and side tables with elegant lines and ornate details. Marble or wood with cabriole legs are classic Victorian choices. For a touch of the unexpected, incorporate a vintage trunk as a coffee table for a unique conversation piece.

  • Area Rugs: A plush rug with a subtle pattern or a geometric design anchors the space and defines the conversation area. Oriental rugs with rich colours and intricate patterns add a touch of Victorian grandeur. Consider layering a smaller rug on top of a larger one for added visual interest and texture.

  • Greenery Abounds: Houseplants in decorative ceramic pots add a touch of life and Victorian charm. Climbing vines trailing up a trellis or a large Fiddle Leaf Fig in a corner add a touch of the exotic and help purify the air.

  • The Power of Pattern: Incorporate patterned textiles like throw pillows or ottomans to add visual interest and pops of colour. Opt for floral patterns, damask stripes, or geometric designs that complement your overall colour scheme.

  • Antiques and Curiosities: Display a collection of antique books, globes, or travel trinkets on a bookshelf or console table. These conversation starters add a touch of personality and history to your space. 

Our Final Thoughts

A modern Victorian living room is a testament to timeless elegance and sophisticated comfort. By incorporating these elements, you can create a space that reflects your unique personality and appreciation for the past, all while embracing the functionality and style of modern living. Remember, the key lies in striking a balance between the grandeur of the Victorian era and the clean lines of contemporary design. With a little creativity and attention to detail, you can transform your living room into a haven that's both stylish and inviting. 

Need help designing your living room? Book one of our Interior Design Gurus for a 30-minute video call. Transforming your home into a space you love shouldn't be a daunting task. With HiiGuru you can save time, avoid costly mistakes and bring your goals to life with experts by your side.


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