Victorian-era homes are known for their ornate details, from intricate woodwork to elaborate wallpaper. While some homeowners choose to decorate these spaces in a traditional Victorian style, others opt for a more modern, eclectic approach. In this room of the day, we’ll explore how one homeowner artfully blended sleek, contemporary elements with the traditional architecture of their Victorian living room. The end result is an elegant, inviting space with timeless appeal.

Overview of the Victorian Architectural Style

To understand this living room design, it helps to first look at some key features of Victorian-style architecture. Homes built during the Victorian era (1837-1901) in the United States and England have some identifiable characteristics:

  • Elaborate woodwork – Intricate wood trim, carved detailing, and paneled wainscoting were hallmarks of Victorian interior design. Woodwork was often painted or gilded for added elegance.
  • Wallpaper – Rich, heavily patterned wallpaper was widely used to decorate walls and ceilings. floral motifs were especially popular.
  • Dark colors – Deep hues like jewel tones, burgundies, and forest greens were preferred over pastels. Dark wood furnishings were also typical.
  • Ornate furnishings – Carved wooden furniture, tufted leather upholstery, and velvet draperies gave Victorian rooms a sense of luxury.
  • Layered textures – Multiple layers of fabrics, trims, wallpapers created visual depth. Common textiles included damask, velvet, lace, silk.
  • Pattern mixing – Busy patterns and multiple prints were combined within one space, sometimes to over-the-top effect. Patterns tended to be nature-inspired.
  • Grand proportions – High ceilings, large windows, expansive interior volumes suited the elaborate furnishings and décor elements.

While not every Victorian home exhibits all these traits, they give a sense of the prevalent design aesthetic. Our eclectic living room incorporates some of these details while giving them a fresh, updated twist.

Blending Old and New: Key Elements of the Eclectic Design

The homeowners behind this living room retained the original architectural details of the Victorian property, while taking the décor in a cleaner, lighter direction. Here are some of the main elements they blended to create their eclectic style:

Original Woodwork

The intact wood trim, wainscoting, and window frames retain the period charm of the home. The wood surfaces have been repainted in a crisp white to lighten up the space.

Pale Color Palette

Rather than rich Victorians hues, this scheme uses a palette of whites and neutrals. The walls and trim are painted in the same pale grey, while the ceiling is bright white. These quiet hues allow the architecture itself to shine.

Patterned Rug

Underfoot, an ornate area rug in muted blues and ivory provides subtle pattern and visual interest. The classic motifs nod to Victorian style without overwhelming the space.

Velvet Upholstery

The sofa, lounge chair, and tufted ottoman are covered in soft, ice-blue velvet, giving a taste of Victorian luxury. The cool gray walls provide a refined backdrop for the velvet’s richness.

Lucite Furniture

See-through Lucite chairs, console table, and coffee table add contemporary contrast to the traditional details. The translucent acrylic feels light and airy against the woodwork.

Metallic Accents

Bits of brass, gold, and chrome in the lighting fixtures, frames, and decorative objects add hints of glamour. These metallic touches feel both vintage and modern.

Linear Silhouettes

Clean-lined, unfussy forms in the sofa, tables, and cabinets balance out the detailed woodwork. Simpler silhouettes mesh with ornate Victoriana.

By thoughtfully blending these elements, the home’s original architecture still shines while the space feels serene and fresh rather than dark and cluttered. Next, we’ll explore specific vignettes within the living room to appreciate how they achieved this effect.

A Closer Look: Key Vignettes and Takeaways

Studying particular furniture groupings and corners within this living room provides helpful insights for designing one’s own eclectic space.


The entryway sets the tone for the refined, airy aesthetic. A console table topped with a vintage-inspired vase sits below a simple round mirror. The subtle blue and white palette is introduced.

Takeaway: Use entry tables and wall mirrors to establish a room’s color palette and style.

Seating Area

The main seating area has an inviting, serene feel. The velvet sofa and chairs provide plush comfort without heaviness. Abstract art brings in hints of color while a stacked stone coffee table adds natural texture.

Takeaway: Ground the seating area with a subtle-patterned rug and anchor with a stone, wood or glass coffee table for timeless, eclectic style.


The fireplace wall artfully mixes modern and traditional. The original wood mantle displays a mix of vintage objects. Above, a geometric brass sunburst mirror adds a contemporary twist. Flanked by simple sconces, the entire wall feels balanced.

Takeaway: Hang a statement mirror above the mantle and keep the accessories edited for an eclectic update to a traditional fireplace wall.

Media Console

The sleek media console boasts open and closed storage. A pair of green glass lamps add an unexpected punch of color while a ceramic horse sculpture nods to history. The result is a fun, polished vignette.

Takeaway: Incorporate colorful lighting and meaningfully curated art objects near storage furniture to liven up these functional areas.

Window Seating

Beneath a set of large windows, a cozy banquette offers a spot to curl up with a cup of tea. Throw pillows and a woven blanket enhance the comfort. The view outside completes the inviting scene.

Takeaway: Use plush benches and banquettes near windows and fill with pillows and blankets to create a comfy reading nook.

By thoughtfully designing each zone while repeating colors, textures and details throughout, the homeowners created a holistic, layered look. Their eclectic living room elegantly blends eras and aesthetics.

Design Ideas and Tips

For creating one’s own eclectic living room that artfully mixes modern and traditional elements, consider these design tips:

  • Retain historic details – If the original woodwork, wallpaper or fireplace in a Victorian home is intact, feature it prominently. The architectural elements add period charm.
  • Lighten it up – Paint the walls, ceiling and trim in light neutral hues like off-whites, pale grays or greige. Dark colors can feel too heavy.
  • Add pops of color – Incorporate colorful artwork, pillows, flowers and accessories. Punches of color enliven the neutral palette.
  • Blending eras – Combine pieces from different eras like a velvet vintage sofa, Lucite coffee table and abstract art. The mix feels fresh.
  • Simplify silhouettes – Choose furnishings with simpler lines to balance ornate details. Wood, metal and stone tables have timeless appeal.
  • Metallics – Brass, gold and chrome finishes in lighting, frames and décor add glam. Metallics pair well with both traditional and modern pieces.
  • Natural textures – Incorporate raw-edge wood tables, woven rugs, linen upholstery and stone objects for organic contrast to ornate woodwork.
  • Edit clutter – Avoid overfilling the space. Allow the beautiful architecture and thoughtfully chosen furnishings to take center stage.

Summing It Up

This living room skillfully blended vintage and contemporary elements for an eclectic, inviting look. The preserved woodwork, pale color scheme, and edited selection of furnishings and accents allowed the original Victorian architecture to shine through while giving the space an updated, serene vibe. For homeowners wishing to take their Victorian living room in a similar aesthetic direction, this room provides abundant inspiration. With its elegant mix of eras and styles, this light-filled space achieves a timeless, welcoming beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions About Designing Eclectic Victorian Living Rooms

What are some key principles of eclectic room design?

The main principles are: blending contemporary and vintage pieces, mixing patterns and rich textures, combining light and dark colors, creating cohesion with repeated elements, contrasting sleek and ornate silhouettes, and overall creating a curated, layered look. A thoughtful eclectic space should feel collected over time rather than haphazard.

What modern furnishings pair well with traditional architecture?

Sleek metals, glass, Lucite and acrylic pair nicely with ornate woodwork. Simple wood furnishings with sculptural or raw edge forms also complement. For upholstery, linen and velvet feel fresh and timeless. Avoid overly embellished modern pieces that could conflict with period details.

How can I make my walls and ceiling feel light and airy?

Paint walls, trim and ceiling in the same pale neutral hue to visually open the space. Whites, greige, and very light grays are great choices. If the room lacks natural light, consider a white with a subtle blue undertone for a brightening effect.

What types of rugs work in an eclectic Victorian space?

Vintage-inspired rugs with ornate patterns, or contemporary rugs with an organic, textured weave both pair well with traditional architecture. Neutral-hued rugs keep the floor light. Layer a textured jute rug underneath for anchoring softness.

How can I incorporate touches of metallic without going overboard?

Use metal accents sparingly. A brass mirror or table lamp, silvery velvet pillows, and glass vases with chrome details are tasteful metallic touches. Or tarnish your metals for an antiqued effect. Overuse of shiny finishes could feel gaudy.

What common mistakes should I avoid?

Don’t over-adorn ornate Victorian architecture with excess accessories. Avoid heavy, dark furnishings that could overwhelm the space. Don’t layer too many competing patterns. Prevent visual clutter. Allow ample breathing room around and between furnishings for an inviting, relaxing vibe.


The thoughtful interplay of textures, eras, colors, and forms in this living room makes it a standout example of gracefully executed eclectic design. By artfully blending sleek modern elements with the traditional architecture of this Victorian home, the designers created a light-filled, welcoming space with timeless character and restrained elegance. For homeowners with ornate Victorian-era living rooms, this room provides abundant inspiration for taking the design in a similar fresh direction. With careful curation, even the most imposing traditional spaces can feel serene and livable. This room’s secrets lie in strategic color choices, sparing but meaningful accessories, and a passion for imaginatively mingling styles both old and new. The result is a comfortable, uncluttered space ready to make new memories while honoring its storied past.