Homes and Décor of the Victorian Upper-Middle Class
“For, in the Veneering establishment, from the hall-chairs with the new coat of arms, to the grand pianoforte with the new action, and upstairs again to the new fire-escape, all things were in a state of high varnish and polish” (Dickens 17).
The homes of upper-middle class Victorians were as extravagant as their money would afford, inside and out. In a home where one hoped to host gatherings, parties, and the like, the outside appearance spoke a bit of prestige, and it was important to make a show of as much ‘stuff’ as possible on the inside. The decorations and furniture served as symbols of status and were a means of showing off—the more expensive everything looked, the better the impression (Margetston 78).
Images and photographs of upper-middle class homes portray distinct likenesses to the fashions of high society dwellings. The upper-middle classes emulated high society, projecting their wealth to the furthest extent possible. Inside Aristocratic homes, parrots in cages were sometimes found, along with magnificent ceilings, vaulted and carved, and walls covered by fantastic paintings and “antlered heads of many a noble stag” (43, 48-49). Beautiful chandeliers hung from the ceilings, and a piano was nearby, along with pleated lampshades relished with bows near shelves of books, ornaments, and souvenirs. Chairs and sofas were found covered in chintz, family photographs were framed in silver and velvet, and there were numerous small tables with “tortured legs” (51). Many of these styles were mimicked on smaller levels in upper-middle class homes as families such as the Veneerings strove to “show off” their status and possessions.
The dinner table was one of the most exquisitely decorated items in the Victorian home. Table decorations included dinnerware of gold and silver and antique serving plates, along with candelabra and statutory of alabaster and ivory surrounding dishes of fruit and flowers (Margetston 75). Victorian flower arrangements were used as beautiful decorations, but they were used for other purposes as well. Vases of flowers and greenery and various statuettes were found in almost any place they could be fit into (78).
The last decade of the Victorian era introduced more in the fashion of marble and “vivid blue tiles,” along with tables “inlaid with mother-of pearl, fretted woodwork, and engraved plaques of silver and gold” (193). In...