Blog posts of '2019' 'May'

Interior Design Tips for a Victorian Style Home

The Victorian era was a time of restoration and prosperity for England. Peace brought great leaps forward in education, science, medicine, transport, communications, and social structure. In particular, the extremity of the social divide was reduced, and while the poor still had a hard time of things – this was the era of Dickens, after all – far more people were able to improve their lot in life than ever before.

The big change in design was the emphasis on luxury and decoration. Furnishings were built to be ornate, and to include maximum comfort or usefulness. Designers were influenced to imitate the styles seen in paintings of Continental nobility from earlier times. This was made possible by improvements in technology allowing larger scale production.


Neutral tones favoured for painted walls

The use of neutral tones was all the rage in Victorian times where paint was concerned. This may have had more to do with the difficulty of obtaining the materials for tinting and the difficulty of getting a consistent tint than for aesthetic reasons, however.


For wallpaper, it's quite the opposite

It's very interesting that wallpaper during the Victorian era was typically vivid and bright, with floral designs being highly popular. This may have been a decisive factor in the Art Nouveau movement that would follow.

If you decide to use wallpaper, it's good to go for the very intricate and bright floral designs.  The wallpaper designs of William Morris, are among the very best examples of Victorian era wallpaper.


Go for ornate rugs and carpets

During this indulgent age, it was definitely a case of "more is more". There was very little attempt at restraint or understatement, possibly because in just about every other area of life there was quite a lot of repression necessary if one did not wish to be ostracised.

In paintings from the time it can often be seen that the householders would place carpets under tables. This custom was probably started as a way of showing off that the householder was so wealthy that they had no concern for stains caused by spilled drinks.

Another iconic carpeting custom of the era was the "hall runner", a long and narrow carpet that was used in long and narrow hallways. It is important that the hall runner should be not the precise width of the hall, or it will cease to be a hall runner and will simply be a carpeted hallway – not at all the Victorian era look you are aiming for.

Hall runners are also sometimes used for the carpeting of stairs. Again care must be taken that the carpet does not extend the full width of the stairs, as part of the intent (for the Victorians) was to place emphasis on the existence of the carpet, to show off the wealth of the homeowner.


Kitchen Furniture

The kitchen had once been the exclusive domain of servants, and where this was the case, kitchen furnishings tended to be very basic. In Victorian times there was a cultural shift, with more people having the means to furnish their homes but not to keep servants, and so the concept of creating more indulgent kitchen furnishings was born.

The main changes in design can be seen in the more generous use of carving, as well as the inclusion of opulent door and drawer handles.


Dining Room Furniture

The dining room had far greater importance in the average household during Victorian times than it does today. Chair designs of the era typically called for generous padding which was neither too soft nor too hard (Goldilocks should have lived during Victorian times). The chairs, as you may expect, also would typically feature extensive use of ornate carving and a tendency to have bowed legs. There are many examples from the Christopher Wray collection include the Clanfield, Elenore, Farlick, Kescott, Louis, Mag, Preston, and the Stanford.


Rectangular or oval tables were favoured over round, as Victorian era families tended to be large, and dinner parties were also popular. Typically the desire was to have very solid tables, usually with carving, and often with bowed legs, imitating the styles seen in homes of the Continental nobility. Examples from Christopher Wray include the Clementine and the Rocco.


Lighting Designs

For lighting, it's best to choose very ornate chandelier such as the Abbots, Achille, Anne, Barnstable, Bideford, Cannington, Daddon, Elora, Flauto, Lorraine, Oakenfall, Spruzzo, Thornton, Trident, and Yanine.

Bathroom Furniture

The most distinguishing feature of a Victorian era bathroom is the ornate claw-foot bathtub, and apart from this, it is difficult to go wrong with the furnishing in this room. Just think "ornate" when it comes to fixtures and fittings. For lighting, over-stated wall lights such as the Ashgrove are the best way to go.

Living Room

The living room generally should use the same concepts for furnishing and lighting that are used in the dining room, although here there can be call for armchairs, chaise lounges, and other designs. You could also use carefully chosen table lamps to fill out your lighting and provide a more cosy atmosphere.

Bed Room

In the bedroom, opulent furnishings are just as important as in the rest of the house. Any kind of classic styled bed will generally do, though those with carved legs and elaborately carved headboards are most fitting to the era. A four-poster would be more regal, though perhaps not quite as authentic.

For bedside tables and chests of drawers, again bowed legs or elaborate carving is what you should seek out. For lighting, a mix of classic styled wall lights, table lamps, and possibly a pendant or chandelier will provide plenty of choice to match the lighting to the mood.

Lighting Choices to Suit a Modern Décor

The modern era tends toward minimalism and simplicity. In earlier times, people favoured sophisticated designs that were highly decorative and complex. Both styles have their respective merits, but one thing that can be said in favour of the modern design style is that cleaning and maintenance are usually much easier tasks to accomplish.

In this article we'll look at some of the choices from the Christopher Wray collection that will help you achieve better lighting results to complement a modern décor.

"Aglio" Chandelier Pendant

This modern chandelier pendant design combines all-round light diffusion with soft downlighting to create a nice comfortable atmosphere.

It's ideal for work or study areas, and could also be good for the living room or even the dining room.

The clear crystal glass features soft ribs or ridges around the exterior, which helps to more effectively diffuse the light without scattering it or casting ugly shadows.

For a simple light that doesn't sacrifice anything in the way of elegance, Aglio fits the bill. 

"Alderbury" Hanging Light Strip

Some of the best modern designs are influenced by the classic styles, and Alderbury is no exception.

Designed as a row of three downlights supported by a cleverly engineered suspension system, this light strip is as ideal in the workplace as it is in the home.

Use it in any place where you need effective, focused downlighting. With good lighting you can be more productive and will be less likely to make errors.

As shown in the picture above, the lights are fantastic to use over an office desk, but are equally at home in the kitchen, or at a workbench.

The central arch that supports the main bar is the key to the strength of this design. The downward force is distributed evenly, allowing a wide base to be supported from a smaller central mounting area.

"Alumino" Hanging Light Strip

 Here is another very simple light strip that would be excellent to use in a home office. This design could also be effective in a shop such as a jewellers, an art gallery, or even a museum. Anywhere, in fact, that you'd like to show off whatever is placed under it as an exhibit.

For the office setting, Alumino provides simple direct focused task lighting with protection against glare. There is ample light emission at full power, and you can also add a dimmer switch to adjust the output according to your needs at any given time.


"Asteroid" Chandelier Pendant

Make your artistic statement with the Asteroid chandelier design from Christopher Wray.

Perhaps it's a bit ironic that this would also be a great choice for a retro 70s style café. Add a Galaga machine in the background, and it will take you right back to those dreams of the 21st century.

Well, not everyone owns a flying car or a personal jet pack yet, but fortunately you can buy yourself an Asteroid chandelier just by visiting Christopher Wray Lighting in London. At least one of those dreams of a better future can be fulfilled today.

"Bellatrix" Hanging Light Strip

Owning something like the Hope Diamond is not a realistic goal for most people, but the Bellatrix hanging light strip with the beautiful "diamond cut" Swarovski crystal can help satisfy your craving for a sophisticated modern lighting scheme.

It makes an especially strong statement in the Board Room, with its suggestion of class.


"Cabildo" Suspension Lamp

A simple eye-shaped lamp made from painted die-cast aluminium, the Cabildo suspension lamp will look great in such a wide range of different settings. It's ideal for home use, but could easily also be used for lighting a commercial exhibit or artistic display.

"Chevreaux" Suspension Lamp

One of the more stunning pieces in the Christopher Wray collection – and that's really saying something – is the Chevreaux suspension lamp. This one is very different from the typical hanging lamp design. If you like modern design with a futuristic twist, look no further than Chevreaux.

This design is inspired by the famous Möbius band, discovered by German mathematicians in 1858.

The properties of this band make it something of a physical conundrum. Every object that exists in our three dimensional universe should have at least two sides, but with the Möbius band it is practically impossible to determine one side from the other, even though we know logically both sides must exist.

"Connesso" Suspension Lamp

The Connesso lamp has similarities in design to the Chevreaux, but it is much larger and a bit less "illusiony".

This is another design that would be a great addition to the Board Room, as it conveys a certain aura of strength and power. It would be perfect in the Board Room of a bank or investment house, for example.

It looks far heavier than it actually is, so you need have no fears of it falling if it is installed properly.

"Denzey" Chandelier Pendant

The charm of the Denzey design is in the way it gives off such a warm and cosy look, which is unusual for a modern lighting design.

This makes it ideal for use in living room or bedroom, though it's also suited to large open shared spaces in commercial environments such as bookshops, cafés, or communal areas in schools and colleges. The picture makes it look almost like it is made from paper, but actually it is a solid wood construction with a pyrex glass core, so it is very strong and safe.

You can complement this light with some matching table lamps that are also available from our London shop.

This concludes the first instalment in our series on modern lighting design innovations. As always, we hope it was an illuminating read, and thank you for joining us on our journey through some of the standouts among more than 1200 lighting choices provided at Christopher Wray Lighting.


A Study of Art Nouveau Lighting Designs

People often confuse Art Deco with Art Nouveau, believing in many cases that the terms are interchangeable. If you want a truly integral design theme for your home or office interior, it's important to understand the key difference in styles. Whereas the Art Deco style was purely concerned with decorative geometry, Art Nouveau attempted to capture the elegance and beauty of nature and express this in the design.

In the section below, we'll look at some examples of Art Nouveau style lighting designs from the Christopher Wray collection and examine some of the points that make this style able to transcend the bounds of time and fashion.

 "Ampula" Chandelier

The natural inspiration for Ampula is much more obvious. Having a strong resemblance to hanging flowers such as fuchsia, the tendril-like flutes and floral light shades are as beautiful as they are bold.

Making a design as intricate and large in scale as the Ampula chandelier requires expertise in many skills, and focused attention to the finer details.

If too much pressure is applied to any one component during the crafting process, the delicate glass could shatter and ruin the whole piece.

Because each piece must be made by hand, there are numerous options here that can be customised, from the number of flutes to the colours and materials used in the fabrication. Ampula is different from the typical chandelier design, and beautifully so.

"Aria" Chandelier

 A more contemporary style of Art Nouveau that evokes thoughts of the mysteries of the deep sea. Scientific knowledge of this area has only expanded during the later half of the twentieth century, so earlier lighting design artists did not have access to the information required t make these kinds of designs.

The beautiful organic simplicity is cleverly offset by the straight edged geometric lines, making Aria a unique conversation piece.

"Azure" Chandelier

The intense yet sparse colouring and intricate glasswork of the Azure design make it a striking addition to any room.

The detail, when you look closely, is impressive. This is made from hand blown Murano glass, and everything must be done quickly and precisely.

The glass must be worked while it is at exactly the right temperature, and care must be taken not only in the handling but also in management of temperature. If the glass cools too quickly, there is a risk it will shatter. If it cools too slowly, it may warp or lose some of the precious detail.

The colouring is also important. Colour must be applied in exactly the right place, in the right way, at the right time.

Beautiful and functional, Azure is a fine example of classic Art Nouveau design.

"Corbet" Chandelier

The design of the Corbet chandelier is reminiscent of the Spring season, with its cheerful colours, finely crafted floral motifs, and breezy hanging bell-like tassels.

The apparent simplicity is deceptive. Take a closer look and you'll notice the careful twists and turns that appear to defy gravity. Surely such delicate glass should not be able to hold its shape, and yet indeed it does. The flowers are available in a range of colours, as well as multicoloured flowers.

As in many of nature's wonders, the chandelier is constructed in a series of tiers. At the very bottom is an assortment of hanging decorations. Above this is a succession of sculpted layers. Overall the effect of conveying an aspect of nature in the springtime is achieved successfully by the Corbet design.

"Daffy" Chandelier

For those who like to make a big statement, there's no bigger way to do it in the interior decoration context than with Daffy. This is a positively huge multi-layered chandelier with enough individual light points it will actually help to warm the room on a cold winter night.

As the name implies, the design is inspired by daffodils, and all the necessary colours and shapes are there to create the right impression.

The colossal size and bold colouring mean this chandelier will command attention, and it will dominate the overall décor scheme unless strategically placed. Large cavernous rooms such as hotel lobbies, ball rooms, or libraries would probably be the most suitable places for Daffy to be featured.


"Farington" Chandelier Pendant

Farington pays homage to the classic Tiffany style that started off the whole Art Nouveau movement in lighting design.

Elegant, yet minimalist, the design is comfortable to look at and will give a room a more cheerful and cosy aspect.

This is also a very simple hanging light to install because it has so few parts. It's certainly much easier to clean and maintain than the typical chandelier design.


"Florello" Chandelier

The name says it all with Florello. A distinctive floral design is dominant here, with bright reds and greens that will catch attention even when the light is unlit. Switch it on, and the real elegance shines through. You can experience the way the light plays delicately through the carefully folded leaves and petals of the design.

This is a very distinctive Art Nouveau piece, and the exquisite detail is simply a joy to behold. There are no exposed light points, which makes this more suggestive of the Edwardian era than most of the other chandeliers which tend to allude to earlier times.


"Garthurst" Chandelier Pendant

Another design that will remind the viewer of the Tiffany style, Garthurst is similar in concept to Farington, except that by opening at the bottom it combines the elegance of a chandelier with the focus of a downlight, so it's good for areas that need more than average illumination.

The larger surface area provided by the "pyramid" walls allows for more detail to be added in the floral part of the design. Hanging three or four of these over a kitchen counter would provide plenty of light for food preparation tasks.

This concludes the first instalment in our series on Art Nouveau lighting designs. We hope you found it illuminating and inspiring.