Iron Beds in Victorian Decor

         Todays interior designers have a keen sense of what components go into effectively acheiving a Victorian decor.

         Clearly the furniture and items in a room go a considerable way in attaining the look and feel you’re going for. One of the more well-liked and sought after original antiques to acheive such a look, are the old antique iron beds. Despite the fact that many furniture items shout Victorian…….few were manufactured only during the Victorian Era.

         There are a range of elements that go into a well rounded Victorian decor. But there are four primary things that will help insure your success in achieving the look you’re going for.

         The first consideration in achieving a rich Victorian setting is “Romanticism”. It should involve nearly every aspect of your design plan. When looking at old vintage photo’s of Victorian rooms, a fixed theme always emerges…….. luxurious fabrics, opulence, sensuously carved furnishings, an abundance of overstuffed pillows with elaborately detailed fringe,………….. a cozy warmth. The eye is continuously discovering, in a true Victorian room. Modern observers sometimes see the abundance of “stuff”, in Victorian rooms as “clutter”. But in the 1800’s abundance and “clutter” were a sign of prosperity and comfort.

        The second item consider with regard to each element of Victorian design has to be “Color”. In considering ideal colors , there is a term you should learn….. Tertiary. A Tertiary color is one that is developed by mixing equal amounts of primary and secondary colors. This leads to rich warm tones that tend to give more value to walls, material, rugs, window treatments etc. There are no Primary Colors used in Victorian decor. It would have been thought of tacky and in poor taste. Surprisigly enough, the rich warm dark tones most homes of the Victorian Period had, had a more deep seeded practical side to them………At that period in our history the major manner with which to heat a house was coal. No matter what strides were taken to restrict the “soot” and coal dust from invading a homes interiors, it was a constant effort to minimize the effects. Warm rich colors helped “maskmask” the effects of the coal. Another issue that was minimized by employing warm colors were the stains from oil and gas lamps that supplied most of the light in Victorian homes. Few people know there was a sensible side to the attractive colors employed throughout the Victorian Period.

        A third thing to work with for an all round Victorian feel, was “Opulence”.  The dictionary defines Opulence as ostentatiously rich and luxurious or lavish, a garish display of wealth. The saying of “more is better” was coined in this era. The strategy for the middle class, was to attain the same look, yet devoid of the same expense. This was done by using less pricey components and by companies that produced the items to produce them more in mass than individual hand made items, that the affluent class were drawn to. “Abundance” seemed to be the catch phrase for this school of thought.

        The fourth and final thing to take into account, which many people ignor, to round out a Victorian setting are your option of “Patterns”. Every little thing from th wallpaper to the curtains and window treatments to the carpets and bed dressings and to the furniture…….had distinctive patterns. There were no straight Geometric lines to anything. Furniture was carved and “fluted”, iron beds were scrolled and lacy looking with curved patterns. Serious hard angles and straight lines would not turn out to be popular until the Industrial Age ushered in a new more smooth way to design.

         So there you have it………follow these four elements that make up Victorian style and you’ll not only be historically appropriate……..but also Romantically ready.


Your Spouses Opinion of An Antique Iron Bed


When you think about iron beds, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Well if your a women, it’s almost certainly something like “sophisticated” , “attractive”, “romantic”, …………if you’re a man, it’s probably “girlie”, “feminine”. It’s a preconceived belief the majority of people have of those gorgeous old antique iron beds that graced the bedrooms of Victorian homes and estates alike, throughout the 1800’s.

The thing that certainly helps ascertain a persons initial opinion of one of these old metal beds, is it’s “finish” or “color”……. even more so than the shape and the design. I’ve had beds that were incredibly ornate and scrolled, yet had old black iron finishes on them and they appealed to men without a question. Yet when the same beds had been “finished” in a white or some delicate pastel with a crackle finish, most men would then considered them to be too feminine.

Conversely, I’ve had beds that were incredibly straight and geometric with a very large tube masculine look, that we refinished in white or pastels……..and then took on a very feminine look.

When a man thinks about the use of antique iron beds as being too feminine, they’re not realizing that the bulk of our population, back in the 1800′s, were sleeping in them. Families were raised in them.

The “visual” has often been our initial way of judging anything. It’s not till you get to know the inner workings of how something is created, can it really be appreciated and understood. So is the case with iron beds. You would think a big brawnie coal miner from Pennsylvania would by no means sleep in a thin gauge ordinary bed with small corner brass finials. But that, quite often was the case. Why?……. Because back in the 1800′s there were two things that came into play that would have made such a pairing very common. The first was that iron beds, rather often were not seen as a ornamental piece of furniture as they are these days. Back at that period they were seen simply as a utilitarian item to elevate and support the mattress. The second thing that came into play was the manner in which the design of a home, and particularly that of the bedroom was never ever a concern of the man. That was strictly delegated to the wife or woman of the family. In the 1800′s such things as interior design were deemed something a woman knew more about and were chauvinistically considered  to be the women’s “work” in a household. So it wasn’t uncommon for the romantic nature of what would be considered quite feminine to pervade a home with men. It wouldn’t be until the 1900′s that men would start becoming involved in such things, quite often the domain of their wives. The phrase “getting in touch with his feminine side” was not something heard back in the 1800′s. Such a school of thought and belief would not readilty be accepted until the 1900′s.