By Azure Arther
Note: The use of the words "goth" or "gothic" in this article do not refer to Germanic people or the medieval architectural style. We're using the pop culture definition of "goth," meaning people who follow dark fashion elements such as black clothing, dyed black hair, dark eyeliner, black fingernails, and black period-styled clothing.
The fashion, the architecture, and the sheer opulence of the Victorian era have been romanticized by generations in one shape or another since its decline, or rather, its plateau. The period has never gone out of fashion, mainly because of its "goth" revival, referred to as the "neo-gothic" era.
This is the time of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” and Gothic Literature icon Edgar Allen Poe. However, what is most represented and remains in circulation is the neo-gothic era’s furniture and elaborate architectural style. Follow along on a not so spooky adventure into a quick how-to guide to neo-gothic (usually referred to as "Victorian Gothic") interior design.
What was called the “French style’ during the twelfth century has continued to be used hundreds of years later, but after its Victorian revival, lofty ceilings, crown molding, and ornate designs became the definition of class and style. Many people are already living with Victorian style elements, but how do you capitalize on this aspect of your home?
An addition of stained glass or crown molding can be a start, but let’s first take a look at colors.
It’s All in the Color
Certain colors evoke specific feelings. For the Victorians, rich hues and fabrics were their choice of expression — an expression that was usually high drama and high-end in dark but vibrant colors. Shades such as purple, forest green, black, and burgundy conveyed a darker, more serious intonation to any room’s appearance.
These shades inspire a sense of majesty and dignified splendor to any layout and can be found in tapestries, throws, wall paint, and more. Although a genuinely Victorian home is saturated with these hues, a few choice pieces can add the same desired effect on a smaller scale.
Wallpaper and Wall Art
Not to be outdone by the elegant solid-wood furniture of this period, gothic wallpaper and artwork are just as ostentatious. High fashion adores curling, intricate designs, and patterns in damask, brocade or textured velvet that complements the style of the room, and adds to its opulent décor.
For some novice designers, just the addition of this lush accent can create a goth feel without too much expense. Unfortunately, wallpaper application isn’t for the faint of heart, thus the options of paint, decorations, and of course, furniture may be a better choice for some.
Set the Mood
It’s important to remember that the Victorian era was not during the time of lightbulbs and electricity. This was a time of candles and fireplaces, so wrought-iron candlesticks and candelabras with tall or heavy candles in dramatic colors can be just the accessory to set your Victorian atmosphere.
If you don’t like fire, you can always have electronic chandelier or lamps that have a similar effect, particularly if you play with stained glass to accompany your lighting.
It’s All About the Furniture, Baby
If it’s dark, velvet, and wood, it’s most likely Victorian. Thankfully, we have moved away from the darkness for some pieces, such as our bedrooms or kitchens, but we have kept the magnificence of the design. Often, the ornate wood motifs and iron framing stay dark, but the fabric choices are a lavish contrast in lighter colors, such as cream or a lighter red against a black frame.
Since these designs remain popular, finding medieval- or Victorian-style furniture is easy. A surprising amount of it’s located at thrift shops and is snatched up by decorators and designers to be resurfaced and sold for amounts that match the extravagance of the pieces with the cost. Investing time and effort into selecting your own pieces — whether they’re brand new, resurfaced, or thrifty — can ultimately create the appropriate gothic feel for your home.
Whether you just want to add a few touches of Victorian elegance or are looking for a total overhaul of your décor, gothic style, and fashion is the key to a finished appearance for any design layout. So, grab some lamps, pick up a few pieces of furniture, or dust off your paint overalls, and channel your inner designing vampire.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com and www.dreamstime.com