cover image Victorian Modern: A Design Bible for the Victorian Home

Victorian Modern: A Design Bible for the Victorian Home

Jo Leevers, photos by Rachael Smith. Thames & Hudson, $40 (240p) ISBN 978-0-500-02404-1

“While the Victorians saw decorating their homes as a way to conform, we are free to... create rooms that invigorate and express our individuality,” according to this elegant volume, which showcases modernized Victorian homes that retain some of their original character. Interior stylist Leevers (Global Style) explores the common architectural features of Victorian houses and how contemporary owners have updated them, explaining that modern open-plan designs that “integrate cooking, eating and entertaining” update partitioned Victorian floor plans that were meant to codify the “rigid gender and class divides of the day.” Leevers notes that entryways of the era were often “skinny room[s] with little natural light” and shows how interior designer Mairead Turner brightened up her entrance hall by painting the staircase light blue. Kitchens used to be secluded but now often function as the hub of family life, as seen in one home that turned what had originally been a conservatory and family room into an expansive kitchen with “a breakout seating area centred around a wood-burning stove.” Photos of the vibrant interiors are a treat, and historical tidbits enliven the proceedings (during the late 19th-century vogue for wallpaper, Queen Victoria had “all of the green wallpaper in Buckingham Palace stripped out” after discovering it was likely toxic). Colorful and informative, this delivers. (July)