Victorian kitchens are a room where both cupboards and other features can help to declutter and hide modern day gadgets as well as enhancing décor by adding interesting features. For example Victorian style clothes dryers look really authentic and are best placed above an Aga or stove where they will benefit from the warm air rising to dry table linen, tea towels and other linens. The effect is however somewhat ruined by drying underwear and clothes on them.
The early Victorian bathrooms usually had their facilities boxed in in a mahogany or dark wood casing so that they looked more like pieces of furniture rather than their actual use being made obvious. You can replicate that today by having your bathroom sink housed in wooden vanity units such as these ones. These units can be made by a skilled carpenter or cabinetmaker to your exact measurements and specification or alternatively you could adapt an old or antique piece of furniture to your requirements. There are very few off the shelf models in traditional designs available in Europe. If you do find any please let us know!
Kids bedrooms and play rooms can be forgiven for housing lots of clutter – if you are too paranoid about tidiness in your children’s rooms you are denying them part of their childhood. However one way to ensure the rooms are presentable when needed is to use antique pine blanket boxes to hide the clutter. Wooden boxes can range from the inexpensive pine to the sublime 17th century oak coffer. Obviously the former will be better suited to kids toys and can be picked up for between £100 and £300 in bric a brac shops or on Ebay.
However the 17th century oak coffer does have it’s place – in our house we use it to house our record and CD collection!
In adult bedrooms, curtains placed in front of shelves in bedrooms are very Victorian and can hide a wealth of clutter and untidiness. Choose a fabric to match or compliment other soft furnishings. Velvet is a good choice as it also provides good insulation.
Similarly in reception rooms that you wish to keep looking within the period of the house, it works well to try to hide your technology. This can be done attractively by hiding TVs, hifis and other items in antique cupboards. This beautiful example dating from 1820 is available from Martlesham Antiques (01394 386732).
Choosing a smaller pattern for wallpapers and using a lighter colour of paint on your walls will immediately give a sense of a less cluttered and more organized house. Shelves will always attract clutter and therefore, apart from bookshelves, are best avoided unless you have an iron will for keeping the content to a minimum and making sure the content is attractive.
Church pews or benches that open up as a box are a great way to hide clutter in a porch or entrance hall – they are ideal for storing wellingtons, walking boots, waterproof trousers and other winter and wet weather paraphernalia. And they also double as a seat to put on and take off those boots and shoes, keeping mud and dirt out of the rest of the house. Victorian Monks Bench available from Pylle Emporium & Gallery (01749 838 783).
None of this advice precludes a good old-fashioned visit to the rubbish dump or charity shop though. I try to make this a bi-annual event and always feel very virtuous on my return.
The Victorian Emporium sells a vast range of renovation products to delight and insprire the renovator of Victorian houses. For more tips and advice from some of our customers, have a read of our article "Things I wish I'd known before buying my period house".