The Edwardian period interiors. The turn of the century moved from Victorian richness to simpler lines and lighter, airier rooms.
From the 1880s onwards there was a reaction against the heavy, dark and over furnished interiors of the previous decades. Younger Victorians the Edwardians started to favour a simpler, lighter look for their homes. Paler woods such as oak, walnut, birch or sycamore were popular. Paintwork, too, was lighter cream or white, green, pink or pale yellow.
A key influence on Edwardian design was William Morris, whose Arts and Crafts movement inspired a revolt against the mass produced machine made furniture of the earlier Victorian era. Everything from furniture to ceramics was produced by hand and so had a more individual quality.
Other influences were Ambrose Heal, whose pioneering furniture designs favoured a simple construction that allowed the natural beauty of the wood to show , and liberty, whose famous Art Nouveau prints became one of the most distinctive hallmarks of this period.
Furniture featured curving lines and rounded fronts. Distinctive details include slim, high verticals on chairs and bedheads; hollow hand holes on drawers instead of metal handles; and plenty of decorative carving on wood.
Wallpaper and Fabrics designs were inspired by the country and the garden. Roses rambled everywhere, while stylized elongated tulips and irises echoed the lines of the furniture.
Floors were still mostly stained wooden boards with Oriental or Persian look rugs. Hallways were often tiled, either in chequerboard black and white patterns, or in blues, browns and beiges for more complex designs. In many Edwardians houses tiling beginning on the path outside and continuing along the hallway inside can still be seen. Stained glass provided pattern for the front o the house, and windows and glass doors.
Accessories Plates, bowls and vases were made from embossed pewter or copper. Decorative enamels and new, experimental glazes on pottery provided a wealth of detail and interest.
Bathroom – mellow comfort
Edawrdian bathrooms were often full of books, plants, pictures even chairs. This modern copy features an etched glass screen, brass fittings and mahogany fittings for a true period air.
Dining room – clever mix
This attractive room emulates a typical Edwardian mix of shapes and styles, with dark wood cabinets and airier, mock bamboo, rush seated chairs.
Interesting details are the loop over curtain heading and the use of a papered interior to lighten the dark wood china cabinet. The rise and fall lamp is also very much of the period.
The wooden back of this delicate sofa is carved in elongated lines (including a couple of hearts) until there is more air than wood. Creamy wallpaper covered in pink roses and lacy cushions add a feminine touch.
Sitting room – authentic feel
This is good example of how antique and reproduction elements can work together to create an authentic atmosphere. Fabric and wallpaper are adapted from an original William Morris design and all the woods from the fireplace surround to accessories are picked for their soft, mellow tones.
Bathroom – a lighter look
Light greens were very popular (this was the time when the term ‘greenery yallery’ came into vogue). Festooned lace, bracket lights with glass shades, solid, dark wood furniture, and a warm Persian style rug on the floor are all in keeping with the period mixture of the late Victorian love of mahogany and the Edwardian trend towards a lighter look.
Romantic is undoubtedly the word to describe this pretty, lace filled bedroom. The Edwardians loved the light, delicate look of lace and used it for everything from window panels to tablecloths, as well as to trim bed linen and covers, cushions and lampshades.
Whereas in downstairs rooms practicality and a lack of modern cleaning methods called for heavier and darker fabrics, bedrooms and bathrooms lent themselves to a more self indulgent approach, inviting pleasure lovers to relax in easy comfort. Simpler lines for furniture and lighter floral designs in fabrics gave the Edwardian home an altogether airier, less cluttered feel than immediate Victorian predecessor. Dark wood furniture was backed by paler walls.
Line and shape
Furniture features simple flowing lines and straight, square legs with minimal detailing. Darker woods become simpler in line. More light woods such as oak, birch and sycamore begin to appear. Upholstery becomes less stuffed and buttoned, more slim and ekegant. Distinctive details are elongated uprights on chairs, extending above curved crest rails, and cut out motifs, such as hearts on chair backs and cabinet fronts.
Shades for pendant lights, table lamps and wall lights are often glass, either etched, stained or left plain. Light fittings sometimes echo stylized floral shapes. Painted wooden dado rails are an important feature and brass figures largely for light fitments and door furniture.
Flower symbols appear in all sizes and colours. Elongated shapes for items such as candlesticks and cutlery echo the lines furniture. Lace is everywhere from curtains to table linen.
Colour and pattern
Green, cream and rich red or golds are popular colours for tiles, fabrics and wallcoverings. Rich floral pattern are balanced with plain colours. Dado rails devide plain walls and embossed designs, such as this original Edwardian one in Lincrusta, are still available. Fringing and tassels add interest to plain fabrics, but only in moderation.