Showing posts with label victorian style. Show all posts
Showing posts with label victorian style. Show all posts

Friday, March 8, 2013

Art and Architecture: America’s Gothic Revival

Descending from medieval Gothic cathedrals and England’s Gothic Revival, “Carpenter Gothic” is a visually playful American architectural style. In her book Storybook Cottages, Gladys Montgomery explores the history, people and technology behind this picturesque style still beloved today.

home cottages
{Credit in caption: Photograph by Brian Vanden Brink, from Storybook Cottages by Gladys Montgomery, © Rizzoli 2011.}

In beautiful photographs, architectural renderings and illustrations from pattern books of the time, Montgomery showcases the style’s hallmarks: steep gables, pointed arches, windows and doors, and elaborate gingerbread trim. From the tiny cottages at Oak Bluff, Massachusetts, that began as a Methodist retreat to the lavish Lyndhurst high-style Gothic Revival residence in Tarrytown, New York, Montgomery offers a lot both to readers who know and love Carpenter Gothic and to those who are learning of it for the first time.

Montgomery includes a section on the Carpenter Gothic garden as well as a few ideas on incorporating the style into your home, such as imitating its architectural elements—for example, make a headboard, door frame, or window with a pointed wooden arch. For more ideas, check out Montgomery’s book: Storybook Cottages: America’s Carpenter Gothic Style, published by Rizzoli New York, © 2011. Visit

By Hillary Black

Source: Victorian Home

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Victorian Home Office

In the 19th century, there was no such thing as a home office. Or at least there was no single room that bore that name. In the humblest households, all the work of running the home was done by the woman, and her workspaces were scattered about, often carved out of spare space. She had separate areas for her main tasks—cooking, cleaning, ironing and sewing—but the nerve center of her operations was the Victorian version of the computer: the chatelaine, that brass or silver ornament that held pencil and paper, penknife and scissors, needle and thread handily at her waist.

victorian home
{Image courtesy of}

Her well-heeled sisters didn’t have it much better. They might have a writing desk or escritoire in the bedroom or—later in the century as posh gentlemen’s clubs reared their vainglorious heads—a place to work in the library while the husband of the house was out on the town.

The Victorian library, which sometimes also functioned as a schoolroom, office or study, tended to be decorated in a somber manner befitting its function. Furniture was simple, colors were dark and the prime focus was on the artful and efficient display of books, whether they be rare and beautifully bound collector’s volumes or the popular tomes penned by novelists like Twain and Dickens.

home collectibles
Photo by Jaimee Itagaki

When designing her home office, Marcia Sola wanted, like the Victorians, to balance the artful and the efficient. Two ways she did were selecting the perfect drapes and desk.

The drapes in Marcia Sola’s home office are high on looks and low in cost. For about $300-$430 for the discount fabric and $130 for rods and tiebacks—she turned two plain windows into elegant and opulent focal points.

The drapes get their good looks from the combination of three fabrics that play off the wall colors: a burgundy undercurtain made of shimmering taffeta, a pink-and-white toile and a brown and blush floral.
“I layered the fabrics to get a fuller effect,” she says. “They do actually close, but I never draw them. I use the shades to provide privacy.”

Gathered gracefully in a pocket rod and looped back over rosette-style tiebacks, the draperies look like vintage ballgowns.

The library table remains one of the better choices for an office desk because it is so versatile. Simple and stylish, it is perfect for a laptop or computer because it has a spacious flat top. When it is not being used for office work, it can be used for other more leisure purposes: It makes a great dining table, baking or food prep table (buy a heavy pad to protect its surface) or a buffet sideboard.

Then again, you may actually want to use it for what it was intended: a place to read a book or two—hardback, paperback or even electronic.

by Nancy A. Ruhling
Photography by Jaimee Itagaki

Monday, February 11, 2013

5 Steampunk Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2013

Discover the fun side of Neo-Victorian design style by checking out these upcoming exhibitions and events.

victorian style clock
Image(Credit in caption: Photo courtesy of

April 26-28, 2013
Cincinnati, Ohio
The Steampunk Empire Symposium will gather musicians, fashion designers and writers to discuss ideas and share their work on the ultimate Steampunk website. Visit

March 8-10, 2013
Tuscon, Arizona
Also produced by The Steampunk Empire, the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention promises more “high adventure and exploration.” Visit and click “Events.”

May 17-19, 2013
Piscataway, New Jersey
Last year, the world’s largest Steampunk festival welcomed more than 4,000 guests. Join in the fun this spring by visiting

July 26-28, 2013
Salt Lake City, Utah
With music, art and expert panels, the Salt City Steamfest is the place to delve deeper into Neo-Victorian ideas and design. Learn more and register for the convention at

October 12-13, 2013
Waltham, Massachusetts
The International Steampunk City will submerge Waltham in a tidal wave of a whimsy: five stages, two city streets, three Victorian mansions, two Industrial Revolution museums, and more than 15 other venues for live music, art galleries, storytellers, scholarly lectures, workshops and theatrical performances. Visit

By Elaine K. Phillips

Friday, January 25, 2013

Halloween Candle

Halloween is a holiday that prompts so many people to decorate their homes, and nothing else provides a spookier glow than candles. Sit Halloween-inspired candles from Root Candles on top of your matnel to complement a roaring fire.

Photo courtesy of

With a fragrance reminiscent of crisp fall evenings, the luxurious IllumiNoir Warm Vanilla Hallow’s Eve candle comes in a black matte glass container and is housed in an elegant black box, perfect to give as a gift to fans of Halloween. Root Candles provide a modern twist to the traditional bottle light candle with their Spooky Tree, Autumn Leaves, Halloween’s Eve and Jack-O-Lantern candles scented with mulled cider fragrance. To find the retailer nearest you, visit

By Jennifer Myers

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Meet the Landmark Trust

The Landmark Trust was founded in 1965 to preserve historic architecture in Great Britain. The most important houses and castles tended to be privately owned or managed by the National Trust. There remained, however, much work to be done for the curious and overlooked buildings. It was these minor structures that the Trust set about rescuing. If they disappeared, argued founder Sir John Smith, the most important buildings would look out of place in a perennially modern landscape. Like “a diamond ring in the spaghetti” was his analogy.

To support the society, the buildings were made available as holiday rentals. Today the Trust has a portfolio of some 200 properties. There is something for every taste form stables to prisons to cottages to bathhouses. Advance reservations are required and many properties are booked months in advance.

For more information, contact the Trust for a handbook. The price in North America is $25, which is refundable on the first booking. Contact the American Landmark Trust USA, 707 Kipling Road, Dummerston, VT 05301; (802) 254-6868 or

Monday, October 22, 2012

Victorian Lifestyle: The Rules of Mourning Fashion

victorian styleIf you’ve seen BBC’s 2001 miniseries Victoria and Albert, their 1975 miniseries Edward the King, or GK Films’ 2009 film The Young Victoria, you have an idea about how ritually complex the business of mourning was in 19th century Britain and America. Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria mourned him for 40 years until her own death—and her own subjects followed suit. The rituals and complexities of mourning dress in England went through all levels of society; widows were expected to adhere tightly to mourning fashion and social constraints.

Mourning clothing of the upper class showed a woman’s wealth and respectability. Though the cost of a mourning wardrobe was of no consequence for the socially elite, women of the middle and lower classes had to struggle to appear fashionable. To adhere to the all-black rule, they would dye their clothing black for the mourning period of twelve months, then bleach them white after the year had ended.

Believe it or not, that mourning period could last even longer, with clearly defined stages that could drag out for more than two years! For the first year, she was in full mourning and as such would wear dull-surface black clothing, such as the dress I have included above. A weeping veil made of black crepe was an essential part of this ensemble. During the first year of mourning, a widow’s activities were also restricted, and she was only to go out of her home to attend religious services.

After the first year, a widow entered second mourning, which lasted another full year. During this time, a veil no longer had to cover the face, and the black clothing could be trimmed in lace and ribbon. The final stage, half mourning, lasted from three to six months. Color was introduced into clothing and jewelry. Acceptable colors included burgundy, gray (hardly a color, right?), lavender, mauve and purple, as seen in the dress above.

In Victorian England, these mourning rituals stayed firmly in place until Queen Victoria’s passing. With the introduction of the Edwardian era, fashion and societal rules about mourning were greatly eased. Then World War I forever changed a woman’s role in British society; ironically, while women across the world grieved together for husbands and sons who died on the front, the social requirement for women to publically display their grief vanished.

Today, the tenants of Victorian mourning are often viewed as harsh and impractical. Once an integral part of life in the 19th century, mourning clothing is now highly sought after by collectors and museums.