Vic­to­rian Voy­age Peek into these in­cred­i­ble French homes that ex­plore the clas­sics of Vic­to­rian style.


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Carly Evans

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.

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