Tips for adding a touch of Edwardian chic to your home

Friday, 3 February 2012 11:34 AM

Can you not get enough of Downton Abbey? Well, you may be pleased to hear that the ITV drama is not only influencing people's viewing habits, but also their homes - and you can kit out your property in the Edwardian style right down to the black antique door handles.

The award-winning series, written by Julian Fellowes, tells the story of the Crawley family who live in a stately Yorkshire home, along with their servants. The first episode opens with the characters hearing the news of the sinking of the Titanic, establishing the year as 1912.

This was right at the tail end of the Edwardian era and many of the fashions - both in clothing and home furnishings - were still quite Victorian in style, although this would change as the UK entered World War I and then the Roaring Twenties. While King Edward had a relatively short reign, ending in 1910, Edwardian is often used to describe the period between Queen Victoria's death right up to the first world war and beyond.

As a result, you will find it is simple to recreate the look using design ideas from several different eras, from Victorian scroll door handles to art nouveau tiles.

During the time of Queen Victoria, the popular style for homes meant that it was virtually impossible to have too much clutter. As possessions were a way of demonstrating wealth, households had ornaments aplenty, rich flock wallpaper and an assortment of furniture, often in luxurious fabrics like deep velvet.

However, the following era was about quality not quantity and many homeowners preferred to make a feature of their favourite or most expensive possessions.

Another big change in home interiors was the advent of electricity. During this time, large houses like Downton Abbey began to invest in electric lights, meaning that candlesticks and oil lamps were no longer a necessity.

Instead, people could illuminate their homes at the flick of a switch, so you may wish to invest in antique light switches to add to your theme.

If you have an open plan home and are worried it does not fit in with the aesthetics of an Edwardian dwelling, fear not. Victorian properties tended to have many small rooms - which were easier to heat - but the Edwardians branched out into having larger spaces and an open plan flow to their properties.

Features including archways created a sense of separation as you walked from one room to the next, and you could make something similar by hanging some plush curtains to cordon off different areas.

To add to the sense of space, you should stay away from heavy curtains at the windows and instead opt for something simple that lets the light in, while it is also time to say goodbye to thick patterned carpets in favour of hardwood floors and statement rugs.

Indeed, much about Edwardian decor was light and airy, with pale coloured walls replacing dark wallpaper and woodwork being painted white.

In terms of furniture, everything was a lot more informal than in the era before, so hard-backed chairs were replaced with wicker seating.

Finally, to really give your home that Downton Abbey look, invest in some art nouveau-style vases and fill them with fresh flowers. The Countess of Grantham - played by Dame Maggie Smith - would be proud!

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