During the Victorian era, as it can be expected, several styles of décor went in and out of popularity. The Victorian era is more or less divided into three types early Victorian (Georgian simplicity), Mid Victorian (known for heavier masculine looks), and late Victorian (feminine influence on interior décor).
Late Victorian décor with its resultant excesses, as accorded by its critics, was directly proportional to the new wealth seen throughout the British Empire much of it acquired by exporting products to the colonies. The Industrial Revolution made mass produced articles affordable to almost everyone and as a result, a new wealthier middle class was born.
In the Victorian style, it was preached that bareness in a room was deemed to be in poor taste, so thus every available surface was filled with objects that reflected who the home owners aspired to be. The Parlor was the most important room in the home, for it showcased the owners attributes.
Decoration in the Victorian era provided a way to measure the wealth of the homeowners. This was evidenced by the opulent fabrics and exotic wood furniture seen in the best rooms the parlor and dining room. Expensive porcelains, sterling silver, china and crystal on the family sideboard, beautiful wall coverings, paintings on the walls, and oriental rugs over parquet hardwood floors created this image.
The interest in the new sciences such as Botany and Taxidermy had an influence on the Victorian décor. Plants were used almost everywhere. Ferns and palms were especially favored for sunrooms as they were exotic, and never seen before varieties of blooming plants such as orchids were used. Stuffed animals under glass were put on exhibit.
Sentimentality and Familial love were prominent features of the Victorian décor. Photo albums and paintings of own family members were on display, and commemorative souvenirs of the Royal Family often stood alongside. Prints of little children and their pets were also popular.
A particular love of learning and interesting literature can be seen through the décor of this era. Books and Libraries or at the least bookcases were de rigueur in good homes. Collections of any type were also seen.
Love for Travel and a keen interest in various exotic cultures is seen through the presence of maps and exotic decorative showpieces made of wild animal skins and body parts kept beside selected objects of foreign origins such as Egyptian artefacts, Indian handicrafts, Japanese screens, tapestries from Venice etc.
A sense of comfort with the technology of the time is clear from the use of early electric lights, and indoor plumbing. These are two areas where a persons embrace or adaptability to the future was indicated.
Accomplishments by women were used a lot in Victorian décor. Idle hands were not to be tolerated and a woman’s responsibility was to her family. Her value as an individual was determined by her accomplishments: how well she could embroider, do bead work, string purses, make lace, sing, and play a musical instrument or paint.