I’m delighted to welcome again to my website, Charlotte Betts, award-winning author of a number of romantic historical novels. In the past, Charlotte has given us a fascinating insight into Victorian and Edwardian bathrooms and bogs. Today, she’s looking at the Edwardian home as a whole. The Victorian and Edwardian periods have been Charlotte’s focus for a while now as these are the years against which she’s set her page-turning trilogy, The Spindrift Trilogy.
And now, over to Charlotte!
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The Edwardian Home
During the Victorian era, there was an explosion of new building, mostly in the form of terraced houses in town centres to provide homes for factory workers. By the early 1900s, improved rail networks and the underground encouraged building in the suburbs where there was more green space. This created the ‘garden suburbs’ as seen in Hampstead, Blackheath, Dulwich and Richmond.
Suburban homes were often wider than the cramped Victorian terraces, with more windows and larger hallways. Frequently, a house would be set back from the road by a front garden contained by a wall or a hedge for privacy. The exterior elevations were typically constructed from red brick with mock-Tudor timber beams to the first floor, set off by contrasting white-painted render.
Architecture and interiors of the Edwardian era, strictly from 1901 to 1910 but often encompassing the period up to WWI, were heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. The public developed an appreciation for the handmade as opposed to the mass produced items of the Victorian era. Art Nouveau style developed from this and the sinuous forms of stylised plants and flowers appeared in plasterwork, textiles, light fittings and decorative objects. Wrought iron and glass lent themselves to curving shapes, seen in balustrades and stained glass panels to windows and doors.
At the end of the 19th century, most Victorians lived in cluttered and heavily draped interiors with bulky mahogany furniture. Rich, dark colours were used because they didn’t show soot and coal dust from the fires. It was difficult to cross a Victorian drawing room for the array of occasional tables, whatnots and knick-knacks.
By the turn of the 20th century, oil and gas lamps were gradually being replaced with electric lighting. This not only made rooms lighter but they appeared more spacious when paler colours were used on the walls. Primrose, leaf green and lilac were typical, with white or cream painted woodwork.
Wallpaper designs were frequently pastel-coloured designs of roses, sweet peas or wisteria, perhaps trailing over a trellis. Curtain designs were usually untrimmed and made from a plain or floral design fabric to match the wallpaper. Floors were highly polished oak or walnut parquet or varnished boards overlaid with oriental rugs. Fireplaces were generally smaller than in the Victorian era, often with splayed sides, a projecting copper hood and decorative tiles.
Furniture was much lighter in both construction and colour than the heavy mahogany used in Victorian times. Sheraton-style pieces in satinwood with delicately tapered legs were fashionable and there were fragile-looking items such as display cabinets, small tables and music cabinets in mahogany, inlaid with pale timber veneers. Wing chairs and overstuffed sofas were popular, and loose covers of chintz or printed linen made the cleaning of pale upholstery much easier. Wicker and bamboo furniture were fashionable, too.
The lifestyle of the Edwardians was different from that of their parents. Electricity meant that fewer servants were required and, even in fashionable circles, people often lived in smaller houses or even apartments. Built-in furniture, such as wardrobes and window seats, took up less space and were painted to give an uncluttered look.
Edwardian houses still make up a significant proportion of Britain’s housing stock and the Edwardians’ decorative style and their ideal of bright and airy rooms remains highly sought after in homes today.
Many thanks, Liz, for hosting me on your website!
And now, back to me. Thank you, Charlotte, for such an interesting overview of the Edwardian period, and of the changes that had taken place since the Victorian era.
To read more posts by Charlotte, written to celebrate the launch of the paperback of The Fading of the Light, which is set at the turn of the 20th century in an artists’ community in Cornwall, see the following dates and locations of Charlotte’s blog tour.
1902. Spindrift House, Cornwall
Edith Fairchild, deserted by her feckless husband Benedict eight years before, has established the thriving Spindrift artists’ community by the sea and found deep and lasting love with Pascal. They have accepted that they cannot marry, but when Benedict returns unexpectedly to Spindrift House, all Edith and Pascal’s secret hopes and dreams of a joyous life together are overturned.
Benedict’s arrival shatters the peaceful and creative atmosphere of the close-knit community. When Edith will not allow him back into her bed, the conflict escalates and he sets in motion a chain of tragic events that reverberate down the years and threatens the happiness of the community forever . . .
Although The Fading of the Light is part of the Spindrift Trilogy, it’s a standalone story, and can be enjoyed enormously even if you haven’t read The Light Within Us, the first in the series.
You can follow Charlotte on Twitter at @CharlotteBetts1 or on Facebook at Charlotte Betts – Author, or on Instagram charlottebetts.author