Inviting “Downton Abbey” Into Your Home
Whether you’re strict like Mr. Carson or free spirited like Sybil Crawley, the show Downton Abbey will send you on an enticing and dramatic thrill ride. The British Masterpiece Classic takes place in early 20th century England, starting the day after the Titanic sinks. Downton Abbey sends you on a roller coaster by following the stories of a wealthy family and their staff as they enter a clash between traditions and modern movements. While the show follows many story lines, the base conflict is the Grantham Family’s concern to keep their gorgeous estate named Downton Abbey. We here at Littman try not to drool when we see the luxurious castle that is Downton, filmed in Highclere Castle. Highclere Castle was established in 1838; one year after the coronation of Queen Victoria. Since its establishment, the estate has retained its rich Victorian interior.
The castle maintains its Victorian theme by retaining characteristics and décor from the era itself, throughout the entire estate. We follow the Crawley’s, the maids and the butlers throughout the entire interior of Downton, where we commonly see heavy drapes, family portraits and heirlooms, chandeliers, heavy wooden furniture and color schemes commonly seen in Victorian fashion. The show also presents us with a historically accurate contrast between the luxuries of the family’s rooms versus the staff designated area. Staff is given bare, smaller rooms for working, socializing and residing. The effort in transcending a lux Victorian design resides almost entirely in the family’s state rooms, libraries and bedrooms.
Each room is gifted with extremely high ceilings, creating an illusion of space, allowing for the semi-cluttered look we commonly see in Victorian designs. Walls are stacked with portraits and antique molding to add a dimension and class to the estate. We also see extremely busy wallpaper throughout the house, another common characteristic of the theme. Each room is packed with furniture and décor which feature a mix of neutrals and bold or jewel tones, most commonly beige, pale green and peacock blue. Floors are very rarely left bare and instead are covered in Turkish and Persian rugs. Naturally, all décor are antiques, containing common characteristics such as Wedgwood, heavy floral, drapery and filigree.
Applying a Victorian theme into your home requires creativity, commitment and research. Unlike modern fashion which treats an entire room as its focal point, Victorian fashion breaks rooms up into zones and then applies layers to convey the look. A Victorian interior will designate zones such as reading, entertaining and relaxation zones all within one room.
While more modern designs use a more minimalist fashion, Victorian fashion can be labeled as “coordinated clutter.” Achieving the luxurious yet heavy Victorian theme requires a great deal of strategy. One of the first steps to consider is adding a few décor pieces and common colors to the room. Adding portraits to your wall is an easy way to achieve an antique Victorian feel, kick it up a notch by finishing your frames in gold, a common characteristic in Victorian décor. Place some embroidered floral throw pillows on your couch or paint a shelf in a jewel tone to continue conveying the feel. Arrange your furniture into zones by adding a lounge chair in its own corner near a shelf or arrange your furniture to create smaller socializing circles, allowing for diverse and intimate conversation. Achieving a Victorian feel today doesn’t require you to flood your room with furniture and décor, nor to stack your walls with portraits and heavy drapes. By adding a few characteristics, the heavy antique theme will shine through, without compromising your space. Soon you will have a home fit for a tea party with the Dowager Countess herself.