Monday, 23 September 2013

Which 'Downton' century do you prefer?

With viewing figures of almost 10 million every week, there's no doubting the popularity of ITV's charming period drama Downton Abbey. And it appears that we are so fixated with the upstairs/downstairs lives of the 1920s characters that we are even starting to copy how they dress themselves and their homes.

Downton Series 4 shows how the deprivation of WWI and its aftermath has introduced a hedonistic approach to life, particularly for the younger generation who are embracing the new freedom offered by the 20th century. And as we watch this latest series of Downton, we ask: do you prefer the more traditional d├ęcor or it’s more up to date look?
19th century Downton
Homes in the Victorian era were characterised by imitation and reproduction. This eclectic mix of styles was complemented by excessive ornamentation, heavily upholstered furniture, flock, damask or water silk wallpapers, highly patterned fabrics, ornate fireplaces and detailed mouldings including large ceiling roses.

Popular colours were rich and dark such as ruby reds and forest greens and these could also be found in rugs and carpets.  The Victorians would often lay patterned carpets on the floor but leave a border of polished floorboard. Traditional Indian or Persian rug patterns were popular especially if they had faded grandeur.  You can often see examples of these rugs in the formal rooms of Downton and at the real Highclere Castle.  Don’t forget your hall runners - which would be found on the Victorian stairs and in their hallways.   Look for ones in  plain colours such as red or green or in a similar traditional pattern.  
We think there is a lot to be said for the timeless elegance of this particular look which really seems to epitomise what we think a British stately home or grand house should look like and Lord Grantham and his generation would approve of these familiar trappings.

20th century Downton

However, with George V on the throne and the horrors of the war behind them a new generation is ringing the changes. It’s out with the stuffy and in with the sophisticated.  No longer is every surface covered in ornaments, instead we can expect to see sleek minimalism with any objet d’art in a geometric or angular shape and often chrome or glass.  Fireplaces are rectangular and bold with a stepped profile, walls are plain without a ceiling rose in sight. Colours are bold with silver, black and white particularly popular.

The floor will be plain polished parquet or linoleum in abstract designs and overlaid with a large rug in geometric patterns, or you may see a circular rug as the centrepiece to the room.
This is the look preferred by Lady Mary and her generation – but what about you?  Would you dress your home in the more traditional styles so popular of the 19th century or would you be looking to modernise with the designs of the 1920s?  Whatever your style, has plenty of design choices to suit your style.



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