The Art of Restoration
Get a peek at this unique twist on Victorian style.
“Initially, I went through the restoration process almost like a sculptor.”
A UNIQUE TWIST ON TRADITIONAL VICTORIAN STYLE
In order to play off of the natural color of the floor, Vivian added several types of wood to create intricate patterns, unique to each room.
VICTORIAN design is all about lavish ornamentation, and under this umbrella, an eclectic revival of historic styles thrives. The style is a reflection of various cultures and a celebration of decorating a space to its fullest potential. Artist Vivian Reiss stayed true to this fundamental idea of Victorian aesthetics when she restored her beautiful historic home in Canada. But she didn’t just restore: she added her unique style and artistic background. The resulting blending of art and history is a masterpiece.
Vivian sees the world through the eyes of an artist, and that was a major influence when it came to designing her home. As a child growing up in New York City, Vivian explored many different facets of art, including dance, cooking, gardening and decorating. “I was interested in making anything that I could,” Vivian says, “and I’ve continued that throughout my entire life.” As a painter, Vivian’s work is color driven, intellectual and has a presence that touches viewers emotionally. With her artistic style honed in, it’s no wonder she transformed her home into a maximalist space as exuberant as her paintings.
FEELING A ROOM
Home trends today lean toward minimalist, monochrome design, but this was not the vision Vivian saw when she bought her 1883 Victorian. “There were 20 unrelated people living there when I first purchased the house,” Vivian says. “The doors were covered in steel to stay up to fire code, and the whole place was very decrepit.” Vivian, who has always loved old houses, was eager to breathe new life into a space that was long overdue for a makeover. “Initially, I went through the restoration process almost like a sculptor,” she says. “I began on the top floor and started taking down walls, making my way down.” Vivian moved through the house one room at a time, feeling out each space and using her attention to detail to determine what each room needed. “It was a creative challenge for me, and the process was not formulaic,” she says. Her dance background is a large influence, both for her paintings and for directing movement and emotion throughout her home. “A good example is the hallway,” Vivian says. “The wall color is a brownish color, which I usually wouldn’t choose for myself.” Because the room was originally very dark and had an inherent Victorian vibe, Vivian decided to emphasize that feeling with dark colors paired with bright accents, as well as a restoration of the original stained glass window to bring in natural light. By using her intuition as an artist, Vivian was able to design each room to have its own distinct voice and ambience.
By using her intuition as an artist, Vivian was able to design each room to have its own distinct voice and ambience.