Victorian Voyage Peek into these incredible French homes that explore the classics of Victorian style.
PEEK INTO THESE INCREDIBLE FRENCH HOMES THAT EXPLORE THE CLASSICS OF VICTORIAN STYLE.
scouting the French countryside with a photographer at his side, ROS Byam shaw takes a look at 13 unique homes nestled within this Beautiful landscape. In his new book Perfect French Country, Shaw explores the stories of those who abandoned city life and took to the hills. Their homes vary in size and style, from restored castles and restaurants to barns and farmhouses. Despite their differences, they all emulate a wonderfully universal Victorian theme.
A classic Victorian staple is pattern. Whether the designs are subtle and sparse or loud and proud, patterns in any home emulate Victorian style. Many of the homes in Perfect French Country use a multitude of patterns to convey a historic theme in their homes. As Shaw approaches one such home, he writes, “No sign of anything that might be described as ‘grand,’ no heavy wheel driving giant cogs, just the reflection of trees in still water, and a plume of wood smoke rising from a chimney.”
A humble home passed down through four generations gets a restoration and new décor. From patterned curtains to separate rooms and a patterned canopy over the bed, the multitude of different designs creates a cozy and homey feel to the home.
Another pair of homeowners decorates their living room with deep red geometric patterns on the sofas, a draped maroon paisley tablecloth over the coffee table and a soft amber-patterned curtain. “The interior includes the antique and second-hand fabrics, from silk damasks and glazed chintzes, to Indian embroideries, which hang as curtains, or on the walls, serve as tablecloths and bedspreads, cover cushions and screens, and are draped thickly over chairs and sofas,” Shaw writes. These clashing but extravagant patterns can transform a humble living room into an elegant period sitting room.
“She comes to a small, quiet village with two streets of old houses built in stone the color of set honey, and a sturdy church under a steep roof of dark brown clay tiles,” Shaw writes. The colors available to those living in the Victorian age would not have been bright and vivid, but cool and subdued. This homeowner’s house has subtle oranges and soft yellows that are almost green. The range of brown starts from deep mahogany to light oak and is present throughout the home. Colors such as walnut, mahogany, gold, sage and olive would fit right into the Victorian time period. Muted tones are reminiscent of the time when paint was only available in earthy colors.
A couple in Lagrasse, France, displays this soft range of muted colors in their home as well. Most of the interior walls have a soft white or cream paint, while a few walls feature stone.
This grand salon is the perfect combination of rustic and Victorian styles. Patterned 18th century chairs, combined with a 17th century chaise lounge chair, elegantly display the classic use of pattern. Meanwhile, paneling above the mantel and exposed beams add a rustic feel to the room. Deep browns and muted blues make up the color of their furniture, creating a Victorian-like contrast. Another homeowner who restored an old barn decorated with earthy tones of red and brown with a few green pieces of furniture here and there. These muted and earthy colors greatly enhance the historic theme, even when the homeowners incorporate other styles into their décor as well.
Nothing says Gilded Age like over-the-top decorations and designs. Victorians flaunted their wealth with ornately decorated pieces of furniture and frames. They displayed china and busts as well as complicated stained glass windows. Many of the homeowners Shaw encountered displayed a sense of opulence in their homes that was also tasteful. One such home in Camargue displays many ornate metal furnishings. A red bed sits in the homeowner’s salon, framed with twirling metal rods. The kitchen contains unique metal designs hanging on the walls all around the room. Chandeliers and lights continue this theme throughout the home.
Even a particularly rustic home displays classic Victorian themes. Large vases and mismatched picture frames decorate a library, making it more Victorian. “One of their most impressive additions is the handsome stone fireplace that dignifies the cowshed with its simple grandeur,” Shaw writes. The occasional bust can be found in this home as well. Extra designs and decorations define what it is to replicate the Victorian style.
Romantic pieces of the home may be hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it. “And here is that same mix of antiques and newer pieces, linen upholstery in shades of pearl and silvery gray, and Astier de Villatte candlesticks lined up on the mantelpiece,” Shaw writes. The simple yet beautiful furnishings of these homes shine alongside ornate and busy pieces. Shades of pearl and silvery gray are certainly romantic colors.
One homeowner knows the responsibility at hand when taking over a Victorian home. “He writes beautifully and poetically about the responsibility of becoming the caretakers of a place with 600 years of history behind it,” Shaw writes. Even the attitudes of these homeowners can be described as romantic. One home displays a front door that looks like you’re walking into an old French château. While romantic may be simple, its elegance and subtle beauty defines Victorian style.
The soft hues of blue and yellow add color to this dining room without overdoing it. Vintage and ornately designed dining chairs display the lavishness that was the Victorian era.
Right. Previously a stable, this dining room looks out through antique French doors to the old coach house. Lovely brocade curtains frame the doors, creating a classic Victorian feel that allows the crystal chandelier to fit right in. Opposite. This open
Framed pictures and the patterns on the chairs and tablecloth tie in a subtle Victorian style in this home. The unique mantelpiece shows off antiques and knick-knacks that give a sense of historic splendor.