What did Victorians hang on their walls? Discover their taste in decor.

During the Victorian era, homes were adorned with a variety of artwork, which were often displayed on picture rails running along the top of the walls. Here are some common items that Victorians hung on their walls:
  • Prints and paintings of various sizes – Victorians were fond of displaying artwork that depicted landscapes, portraits, and other scenes that reflected their interests and values.
  • Photographs – Photography became increasingly popular during the Victorian era, and many people hung family portraits and other photographs on their walls.
  • Tapestry – Richly woven tapestries were also a popular choice for wall decor, adding texture and detail to Victorian interiors.
  • Wallpaper – Printed wallpaper was used to decorate many Victorian homes, with patterns ranging from intricate floral designs to bold stripes and geometric shapes.
  • Mounted animal heads – Although a controversial practice today, it was common for wealthy Victorians to mount animal heads on their walls as a sign of wealth and status.
  • In addition to picture rails, many Victorian interiors also featured dado rails that ran through the middle of the wall. These rails were designed to protect the walls from damage caused by furniture and foot traffic, and they were often painted or decorated with wallpaper to add visual interest to the room. Overall, Victorian homes were full of decorative touches that reflected the tastes and values of the era.

    Hanging Prints and Paintings

    During the Victorian era, it was very popular to hang a variety of prints and paintings on the walls. These pieces would be selected based on their size, style, and color scheme, and were often grouped together to create a cohesive display. One of the most iconic elements of Victorian interior design was the use of picture rails, which were a simple yet effective way to hang and display artwork.
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    The picture rails were typically installed around the perimeter of the room, about one third of the way down from the ceiling. This created a ledge on which to hang the artwork, allowing it to be easily moved and rearranged as desired. The rails were also an efficient way of displaying a large number of pieces without having to create a lot of holes in the walls.

    Creating a Wall of Photographs

    Another popular feature of Victorian interiors was the creation of an entire wall of photographs. This could include portraits of family members, landscapes, or other scenes of interest. The photographs were usually arranged in a grid pattern, with each one framed and hung on the picture rail. To create a visually appealing wall of photographs, it was important to select images that were cohesive in terms of style and color scheme. This could be achieved by selecting photographs that were all black and white, or all sepia-toned. Alternatively, a colorful wall of photographs might feature images that all contained a common element, such as flowers or animals.

    Victorian Interior Design

    Victorian interior design was characterized by lavish, opulent furnishings, elaborate wallpaper, and rich fabrics. The style was also notable for its use of colors, with deep blues, greens, and reds being particularly popular. Victorian homes were often decorated with a variety of patterns, including stripes, florals, and paisleys. When it came to hanging art on the walls, the Victorians were not afraid to mix and match different styles and mediums. It was not uncommon to find oil paintings hanging next to watercolors, or charcoal sketches displayed alongside pen and ink drawings. The key was to create a sense of balance and harmony by grouping similar pieces together.
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    Features of Picture Rails

    Picture rails were an important aspect of Victorian interior design, and had a number of key features that made them so popular. Some of these features included:
    • Picture rails were easy to install and did not require making a lot of holes in the walls.
    • Artwork could be easily rearranged or replaced without damaging the walls.
    • The rails allowed for a large number of pieces to be displayed without overcrowding the walls.
    • Picture rails provided a simple yet elegant way of displaying art, without the need for elaborate frames or mounting hardware.

    Dado Rails in Victorian Interiors

    Another feature that was commonly found in Victorian interiors was the dado rail. This was a horizontal molding that ran along the wall, typically around waist height. The purpose of the dado rail was to protect the walls from furniture and other objects that might be pushed up against them. The dado rail was often painted a different color than the rest of the walls, creating a visual break between the upper and lower sections of the room. This also made it easy to hang art on the picture rail above the dado rail, without having to worry about it blending in too much with the surrounding wallpaper.

    Tips for Hanging Art on Picture Rails

    If you are interested in incorporating picture rails into your own home décor, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
    • When selecting artwork, consider the size and scale of the piece in relation to the room. Large pieces can be hung on their own, while smaller pieces should be grouped together to create a more dynamic display.
    • Mix and match different styles and mediums of art to create a visually interesting display. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations until you find the right mix.
    • Use frames that complement the style and color scheme of your room. Simple frames in neutral colors work well for modern décor, while ornate frames in gold or silver are more suited to traditional interiors.
    • Hang artwork at eye level for maximum impact. This will create a sense of balance and symmetry that is pleasing to the eye.
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    Mixing Sizes and Styles of Artwork

    One of the most appealing aspects of hanging art on picture rails is the ability to mix and match different sizes and styles of artwork. This creates a dynamic display that is both visually interesting and engaging. To achieve this effect, try hanging a large, statement piece on its own, and then grouping together smaller pieces around it. You can also experiment with different frames and matting options to create a more eclectic look. Ultimately, the key is to have fun and be creative with your display, and to use the picture rail as a versatile tool for displaying art in your home.

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