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kdnorman

furnishing a Victorian house

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Where would I find information for furnishing a Victorian house circa 1890? I want the furniture to be as historically correct as possible. I have searched the internet for floor plans, info on parlors sitting rooms, differences between parlor and sitting room, kitchens and more. Some houses have hallways that look like a sitting room.....even more confusing.

The house I will be building is a replica of a historical home. I haven't been able to find images of what the actual rooms might have looked like, so I have been searching for ideas. The house has two very large first floor rooms with a staircase, and two very large rooms on the second floor.

I was thinking about a kitchen/dining room, and parlor/sitting room, or hallway by staircase and parlor for the first floor. A master bedroom with sitting room, and the largest bedroom for the children on the second floor.

The ideas are rolling around in my head, but I just can't picture it clearly!!!!

Any ideas of where to search?

Kristie

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I really like your thinking. The kitchen/dining and parlor/sitting for the ground floor. The parlor sitting room or master sitting room could do double duty as a library if you like books. The childrens room could be attic like.

I like old movies for inspiration. 30's and 40's movies had a lot of the late 1800's influence because it was like the 60's and 70's are now for many of us. Just yesterday :)

Good luck and don't forget to post pictures :)

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If it's Victorian design generally, an image search on the web will definitely overwhelm you (in a nice way!) with potential ideas. Might even want to narrow it down by a region so it speaks more to what you have in mind... say Victorian design Boston or Victorian design London... or by a room, and gather ideas one at a time... Victorian kitchen design... I'm certain the web is capable of burying you in ideas with the right search terms. :)

Personally, I'd check amazon.com for used books. You can get lots of lovely ones for a penny-plus-shipping or at least under a couple of bucks, and goodness knows the Victorian period is one of the most-written-about subjects in interior design. You should be able to find anything from general style discussions right on up to books that cover the design of only one well-studied house—from there, the choice of how you want to tackle it is yours!

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I have three books that would tell you everything that you want to know, if you can find them.

The Tasteful Interlude (American Interiors Through the Camera's Eye) 1860-1917 by William Seale. Mine is a second edition from 1981. It was first published in 1975. Paperback. Publisher, American Association for State And Local History, Nashville, Tenn.

The Opulent Eye (Late Victorian and Edwardian Taste in Interior Design) by Nicholas Cooper, with photographic plates by H. Bedford Lemere. 1976 hardback. I do know that this was also later published in paperback. Watson-Guptill Publications, New York

Joseph Byron, Photographs of New York Interiors at the turn of the century. From the Byron Collection of the Museum of the City Of New York. Text by Clay Lancaster. This one may still be in publication. It's a Dover book. Paperback. The copy that I have is from 1976.

All three of these are full of black and white photos that were taken during the Victorian era. Completely authentic to the period.

You might try Alibris.com to get copies.

I hope tou can find them. They are great books.

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Guest Sculptor

If it's a historic house then chances are the Library of Congress HABS (Historic American Building Survey) division might have a set of photos, historical data and floor plans. HABS was started way back in 1933 to help support out of work architects and architect students by paying them to do complete surveys of buildings, houses and structures deemed to be historic or unique.

You would need the street address of the house to do the search on the web site;

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/

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Randall, thank you for that website. Fantastic photos!

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Thanks everyone for the wonderful ideas, and yes the website is excellent. I did find the books, and am ordering those today. Can't wait to get started on the house.

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If you have a decent library close by, try looking there for books on Victorian decor. My local library is small, but I have found all sorts of interesting reference materials there. Reference books on interior design, antique furniture, and architecture may all have images that will help. Also, don't forget the "Painted Ladies" Victorian home books. They mainly focus on the exterior paint combos, but they also feature a few interiors as well--the Daughters of Painted Ladies has a couple that feature some beautifully decorated homes with period furniture.

A Google "Images" search of "1890 house interiors" brings up hundreds of photos. They may not all be exactly what you are looking for, but using the suggestions Kelly gives above, you can narrow it down. The nice thing about searching "Images" is that you don't have to click in to each website, they all appear on the screen. You can cut and paste out the ones you like (if you have Word or PowerPoint) and many can be resized (enlarged) to see the detail.

Good luck!

Tappy

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Randall, thank you for that website. Fantastic photos!

Sure thing!

In fact I found a bunch of photos there over the years of buildings I wanted photos of, and I happened to find a building in the records along with photos showing exactly where the 1856 cast-iron pieces I bought on Ebay came from.

It's a treasure trove.

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Thanks to everyone. I order the books you suggested, and found several images online.

I also searched through some of my mother's old magazines and found a Miniature Showcase magazine, Fall 1988. It featured Victorian miniatures including furniture, wall treatments etc. She also had an Oct 1977 Decorating & Craft ideas Magazine, and it featured "build a Victorian House, complete with furnishings" patterns for 1" scale house and furniture.

I had forgotten about Mom's books and magazines. It helped me to remember the great times we had building miniatures together. Such a long time ago!!!!

Thanks again!!!! :D

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