The Victorian era lasted from 1835 to 1900. In America, homes built before the Civil War were simple, Arts & Crafts style Victorians. After the Civil War, because of the development of machinery that could cut wood moldings, houses began to be embellished with wood trim. The advent of this machinery made wood trim available in a variety of shapes, and it became more affordable. Today's homeowner can replicate the Victorian look by paring down the elements but still embodying the Victorian spirit.
Window trim flourished during the Victorian era with fluted boards surrounding a window and the corners embellished with carved rosettes. Another favorite was to add picture framing wainscotting to the walls. Ceilings had boxed beams, or a center medallion, from which hung lighting. Door jambs were made from several layers of trim, creating a series of profiles and ridges. Crown moldings were also created from several layers of trim boards -- the more, the better. Additionally, chair railings and wide baseboards abounded.
Fanciful cut and painted wood trim adorned the exterior of Victorian homes. Wide frieze boards, connecting the roof to the walls of the home, were cut to resemble lace or a pattern, such as ocean waves, shells or a fleur-de-lis. Dormers were favorite places to add details, such as plaques or cornice brackets and were surrounded with a decorative frame. Wide, open porches were a Victorian favorite, and the space between every column was adorned with ornamental valances, often beaded and most definitely intricately carved.
Trim was hung everywhere there was empty space in the Victorian home. Fireplace surrounds became elaborate affairs, often using columns and pilasters. Corbels, pediments or spindles adorned the tops of doorways. Scroll-sawn brackets were used to hold up shelves.
Using Victorian Trim Today
The modern interpretation of a Victorian style is to use only some of the basic design elements. Accentuate the intricate moldings by painting them in rich colors while keeping the main wall areas light and unadorned. The most common colors of the Victorian era were red, green and amber, and combinations of those colors were used on walls, ceilings and fabrics. Today's Victorian style uses colorful patterns sparingly and draws the eye to the wood trim for which the Victorian is so well known.
- Photo Credit cape may victorian home details image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com
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