Victorian inspired design

What a horrible welcome back to Alberta! I tried to get the pilot to take me back to Victoria but apparently he doesn’t like to take off or land in blizzards. Talk about culture shock, in so many ways. I was so charmed in Victoria, as I always am by the genteel design and the centuries of history. I love visiting places with long stories where you can see the years on the elegant stone faces of their buildings as they gaze out onto the harbour.

We took a romantic horse drawn carriage tour around Victoria where I snapped hundreds of pictures of heritage homes, castles and hotels — colour was abundant! The gardens were in bloom and the fresh palette of nature was of course breathtaking. Where else will you see vibrant yellows, peach, purple and hot lipstick pink all together in a riot of colour? The gardens were beautiful and inspirational and so were the houses. While many are made of stone and brick, there were endless displays of gingerbread trim, turrets, pillars and posts which were all painted a kaleidoscope of colours – much like the beautiful gardens we encountered.

If you think you have seen your fill of beige vinyl siding and stucco, make a foray into Victoria where the heritage homes are bursting with colour. Our cheery carriage driver told us that people used to invite strangers in for food and drink by painting their front door and their steps red. In opposition, if a door was painted blue you could enter to satisfy other appetites.

The Victorian homeowners used to announce their status to the world in bold, bright colours. The more colours that appeared on your house the more the neighbourhood knew that you were prosperous. The drab uninviting homes spoke of families who were not affluent and could not afford such a luxury as coloured paint. Those colours are as vibrant today as current homeowners are keeping up this tradition. It is not uncommon to see yellow, burgundy, purple and blue all on the same house. Imagine seeing a home like that in Inglewood, what would the neighbours say!?

Another interesting thing I have noticed about Victorian design is that pattern matching is boundless. The same is true for high-end commercial design. Take a look the next time you are in an upscale restaurant or hotel – notice how many patterns are together in one room. The Victorians were mad about pattern, the carpets and drapes and furniture all had competing and clashing patterns. Once that madness was finished they threw down patterned area carpets and wallpaper. If that wasn’t enough, they often added murals to the ceiling and enormous scaled paintings on each wall. Still not enough? Ornate lighting, intricate wood paneling and carving and stained glass windows. It all sounds exhausting doesn’t it? Yet, there is a feeling of decorum and formality which is incredibly inviting and beautiful.

Now I know your house may not have a turret, or a gazing tower or even a Juliet balcony off the master bath — I know mine doesn’t. You can still add some old world charm to your home if that cozy, off kilter design appeals to you. Many fabrics are rich with design and pattern and can add a look of opulence to any interior. Happy spring everyone, I hope the snow stops soon.

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Contact her at 403-343-7711 ext 227 or email her at