Home decorating styles changed dramatically during the middle part of the 1800's, even though design began to refer back to the styles the century had begun with as it came to an end. This difference in popular taste did not just evolve because of the passage of time, however; new technological advancements in furniture production and an increased interest in the arts of Asia influenced home décor. The changing British culture manifested itself in how the middle-class decorated their homes, and how they perceived themselves.
In the earlier part of the 19th century, tastes tended toward lighter looks. According to The Victorian Web online site, "Satinwood was in vogue and a light finish for mahogany was fashionable." Yet with the invention of the coiled spring in 1828 by Samuel Pratt of London, "easy chairs and settees began to put on weight" (Victorian Web). The new cushioned furniture of the 1830's foreshadows the over-the-top richness of the middle part of the century's design.
Soon, the rich, dark colors and fabrics now characteristic of the Victorian era became popular. The middle class embraced the seeming luxury of deep reds and heavy materials covering their homes. Even Jane Eyre is not excluded from the new look of opulence when she redecorates the secluded Moor-House. She thinks the "[dark] handsome new carpets and curtains…looked fresh" (Bronte 490). The crimson color and damask fabrics mentioned frequently in Jane Eyre appealed to the Victorians because of the underlying messages they sent. This "fussy" style signaled "comfort, warmth, and the display of wealth and status" (Victorian Web).
The Industrial Revolution also impacted the way furniture was made, and therefore, the...
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...ste in home décor reflects the underlying social concerns and changing standards of the time.
Arts Council of Great Britain. The Real Thing: An Anthology of British Photographers 1840-1950. Netherlands: Arts Council of Great Britain. 1975.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ontario, Canada: Broadview. 1998.
Schaaf, Larry J. Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot & the Invention of Photography. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 1992.
Schaaf, Larry J. Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins. New York: Aperture Books/Viking Penguin. 1985.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History (Revised Edition). New York: Prentice Hall. 1999.
The Victorian Web. University Scholars Program, National University of Singapore. 9 Feb. 2002
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