Modern Victorian – what is it?

This whole blog stemmed from a couple of articles that introduced the idea of Modern Victorian style…but what exactly is it? Emily Henderson did an overview of key components of the look, Apartment Therapy caught the essence of it last year, and it’s been popping up in shelter mags more and more frequently. To me there’s a couple of aspects to this style:

Modern Victorian: An Aesthetic Approach

This is the idea of borrowing antique styles (or actual antiques!) and using them in new ways in contemporary spaces. This style seems to be a bit of a reaction to the Scandanavian Minimalism and Mid Century Modern styles that have been en vogue of late, and a more refined style than the popular ‘Fixer Upper’ farmhouse trend. It’s a rich, embellished, elegant look. Think statement lighting, luxe detailing, and showstopper antiques on a background of a simpler contemporary interior. There are some traditional aspects, but it’s not quite as maximalist as a New Trad interior.

Modern Victorian: A Real Life Approach

I think there’s also a second component to the Modern Victorian style, something a little less trendy and a little more interesting. Actually owning an antique home, having existing Victorian detailing and architectural embellishments in your home demands a different approach to decorating a space. How do you create a modern home when you have a grand antique stair, or detailed stained glass, or miles of wood moulding and panelling? How do you restore an antique house and create an actual modern home, not a museum? To me this is the really fascinating aspect of this style. How do actual Victorian decorating styles influence or translate into a contemporary interior?

It’s something that I’ve been researching and pondering quite a lot lately as I recently purchased a lovely Victorian home in Connecticut. But my cool NYC midcentury influenced pieces didn’t quite translate from the city into this new space…and I didn’t feel like all of them really should. This grand old dame demands a more thoughtful approach to decorating and I’m slowly learning and sharing as I go.


Let’s do this together shall we? I’d love to share as I delve more into the history of Victorian decorating, actually living within a Victorian space, and discuss how to navigate that in your own decorating. Ask me anything in the comments below!


Main image: Paul Massey via House and Garden UK

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