Vi­brant Vic­to­rian

Un­con­ven­tional bo­hemian style mixes with clas­sic Vic­to­rian an­tiques for a bold and col­or­ful fu­sion.

Victorian Homes - - Contents - BY KRISTIN DOWDING

Un­con­ven­tional bo­hemian style mixes with clas­sic Vic­to­rian an­tiques for a bold and col­or­ful fu­sion.

De­signer Lor­raine Kirke im­parts her wis­dom and shares ex­am­ples of how to achieve a bo­hemian look with Vic­to­rian qual­i­ties in her new book, Would You Like to See the House? With pe­riod pieces and an­tiques as her fur­ni­ture, along with art and ac­ces­sories, Kirke uses the fear­less col­ors and tex­tures of a bo­hemian to con­struct a com­fort­able and liv­able home for her fam­ily.


Bold pat­terns and col­ors are a sta­ple to bo­hemian style and yield the vis­ual stim­u­la­tion that co­in­cides with the look. Deep, dark col­ors are a must, as they cre­ate a calm­ing and com­fort­ing at­mos­phere. “The dark Bordeaux color of wine has long been a fa­vorite,” writes Kirke. “When in doubt, that was the color of choice.” Use them spar­ingly or in ev­ery room to al­low for myr­iad pat­terns to match with it, ac­com­mo­dat­ing a va­ri­ety of fab­rics and ac­ces­sories.

Some­times, a color pal­ette can be­come too over­whelm­ing or sim­ply loses its ap­peal. When this hap­pens, Kirke of­fers a way to cover your home in different fab­rics on a whim. “I don’t like up­hol­ster­ing, it’s too per­ma­nent,” she writes. “Find­ing beau­ti­ful fab­rics and be­ing able to change them out when the mood touches you is what I do.” This kind of ca­sual dec­o­rat­ing is per­fect for keep­ing your dé­cor in­trigu­ing and makes it easy for sea­sonal dé­cor changes. Be wary of your de­ci­sions, how­ever, as mul­ti­ple color pat­terns can eas­ily be­come a mess. Make sure they com­ple­ment one an­other and are pleas­ing to look at. “Some­times it’s just a jig­saw puz­zle,” Kirke writes. Keep switch­ing out fab­ric swatches un­til some­thing catches your eye and you en­joy what you’ve cre­ated.

Fol­low­ing Vic­to­rian style doesn’t mean you have to forego color and cre­ativ­ity.


It’s of­ten help­ful to im­ple­ment a fo­cal point in a seem­ingly chaotic style such as bo­hemian. “A great por­trait be­comes your muse,” Kirke writes. She uses por­traits as her in­spi­ra­tion for en­tire rooms, and views the col­ors in the paint­ings as a jump­ing off point for the rest of the dé­cor.

Kirke of­ten uses mir­rors to ac­ces­sorize a space. An­tique mir­rors from the Vic­to­rian Era are of­ten dis­tressed due to their age, so they make a per­fect dec­o­ra­tion. Kirke sug­gests hang­ing pic­tures over one such mir­ror, so the mir­ror be­comes an im­promptu frame. How­ever, if the mir­ror is too far gone, you can still use its frame. Of course, leave some mir­rors in work­ing or­der un­touched to en­large the space and for their orig­i­nal pur­pose. “You can never have enough mir­rors,” Kirke writes.


“An­tiques are like peo­ple,” Kirke writes. “If they are in your home, it’s be­cause you en­joy their com­pany.” An­tiques are won­der­ful fea­tures in any home, adding both char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity. They have a re­mark­able way of mak­ing a home look natural and feel as if it has ex­isted for a long time. You can also up­date them, if need be, to fit a more spe­cific idea or space. “The dining room chan­de­lier was just an old thing I found at a flea mar­ket and I never had it wired, just added can­dles,” writes Kirke. Make your pieces your own and don’t be afraid to change

a fea­ture or color un­til it works. “The chan­de­lier used to an­noy me, then I found my can of black spray paint,” writes Kirke. Don’t waste time shop­ping for the per­fect piece when you can make it per­fect for you.

This also pre­vents waste in avail­able ma­te­rial. For ex­am­ple, Kirke ren­o­vated one of her mag­nif­i­cent homes and started by tear­ing out all the doors to open up the space. “I was left with a pile of beau­ti­ful doors and I was not throw­ing them out,” Kirke writes. “So I chopped them up and pan­eled the ceil­ing.” Great ma­te­rial can come from any­where, and if you use it wisely and coura­geously, can be­come a won­der­ful asset in your home.

“Per­fec­tion was my mother’s thing. Im­per­fec­tion’s mine,” Kirke writes. That’s the beauty of this style—im­per­fec­tion is ad­vis­able. “Ok, you ran out of fab­ric, so you use what you have—and that makes it orig­i­nal to you and some­times it ac­tu­ally works,” writes Kirke. If you’re mak­ing a cur­tain and the fab­ric runs out, mix in other pat­terns that would work with it and cre­ate a piece unique to you.

And it’s not just dé­cor pieces that you’ll en­counter. Kirke en­cour­ages read­ers not to fear any awk­ward spa­ces in the home. There’s al­ways a way to dec­o­rate even the most chal­leng­ing cor­ner or curved wall. “I wasn’t sure what to do with this awk­ward space,” Kirke writes. “Noth­ing would fit—and then we de­cided to cut the sofa in half. It kind of worked!” Break the rules and find a way to make it work.

By Lor­raine Kirke, pub­lished by Riz­zoli In­ter­na­tional Pub­li­ca­tions, Inc., © 2016; riz­

Would You Like to See the House?

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