In a perfect Victorian world we would have hired a noted architect to design our 20 room Mansion, we would have travelled to Europe and the finest furniture showrooms New York to buy a few "things" for our new home and we would have hired Tiffany Studios in to handle the stained glass, stencilling and interior design.
In the REAL world we have spent the last several years restoring our modest Victorian home, have gone way over our budget and well probably have only a 'dime' left over for decorating! As much as we love working for that rare client who comes to us with a 75-100K budget, who wants us to find the best Victorian furniture, period wallpapers, inlaid hardwood floors and such, those clients are few and far between. Our usual client, is of modest means, has some Victorian pieces, needs more, and needs our help to 'pull it all together' and they are usually on a tight budget.
But you do not have to "Break the Bank" to get that Victorian look and today we will talk about the "art" of Victorian tablescaping and how to get "that look". Victorians loved to display things and even if they were not wealthy they were always trying to improve their "social status" and the parlor was their "advertisement" of how refined and worldly they were. This is a typical Victorian tablescape we created for today's blog and it look just like what you would expect to see. This isn't "Country Victorian kitchy" but rather is refined, somewhat formal and it says "We are refined people, and appearance is important to us".
So how did we get this look without breaking the bank? Our Victorian table is really from the 1920 has nice legs but a ruined veneer top. We picked it up in the "rough room" of an antique shop for 25.00. We brought it home, cleaned it up and threw a tablecloth over it that we picked up after Christmas at a discount store for 5 bucks. So lets analyze the decorative items.
The Artwork is actually an antique lithograph circa 1884 , we sell antique Lithos and gravures online in our e-store unframed 20-75.00 depending on size http://victorianantiquities.ecrater.com/. This print was matted out to fit in stock frame that we sell for 18.00, so this original litho with mat and frame about 65.00 complete. The small metal easel we retail for 15.00-20.00 depending on size.
Old photo albums are great on a table even if they are not filled with your family photos. Nice albums like this will run 20-30 on Ebay but you can find them at antique stores and "junk stores' for as little as 5.00. Fill them up with old postcards or old vintage photos that you can often find in antique malls for a buck each.
The vase is an import piece and new. There is nothing wrong with taking antique items and pairing them with new accessories. Vase (15.00 retail) We always stock a variety of vases in different styles and colors. The vase is placed on 4 tiles that make up a medallion. The tiles are also new, tiles like these can be used as part of a fireplace surround , hearth, or as an accent in a Kitchen backsplash. On the table here they can also double as a drink coaster (our typical retail cost 2-6.00 each depending on style) Note the shiny paisley fabric. Tip: bought at a local fabric store, this was in their closeout room and was selling for 1.00 a yard. Anytime you find "victorian looking fabric on sale Buy it. You can use it for tablecloths, drapes or just as an accent. FYI the walls in this room are upholstered with fabric, not wallpaper, and the cost was 3.00 a yard!
Boxes: We buy boxes whenever and where ever we find them and I have "boxes of boxes. This one is tin, antique, has a great design. Boxes like these we retail for 10-15.00. Also consider new paper mache "import" boxes which can be bought at "import shops ' for 2-6.00 each.
Old Photos make great 'sitabouts' and you can pick them up in antique malls for a buck or two. the small postcard? .50 cents. Note the Peacock feathers in the background we sell these for 10.00 per dozen.
If you are doing the math this entire tablescape? Less than 175.00! Look for future posts in this series. And remember Victorian Antiquities and Design offers a variety of services from restoration buildout to total period interior design services.