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17 September 2014
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Classic Edwardian dining room

Edwardian (1901 to 1910)

Queen Victoria had reigned for the best part of a century, and it was the beginning of a new century with a new king, King Edward VII, on the throne. But his reign was to be brief, lasting a mere nine years.

Christopher Dresser textiles

After the heaviness, clutter and dark colours of Victorian interiors, people wanted something new and cheerful. Edwardian style was a breath of fresh air.


  • fresh and light
  • informal, feminine
  • bamboo and wicker furniture
  • flowers and floral patterns
  • pastel colours


The names

  • Thomas Sheraton - furniture
  • René Lalique - glassware
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany - lighting

At the time

  • 1900 blood groups discovered
  • 1902 The Wings of a Dove is written by Henry James
  • 1903 the Wright Brothers made first sustained aeroplane flight
  • 1908 first Model T Ford car produced in US

Edwardian wall design, Spelter figures, chair and ewer

Get the look

  • Furniture - Edwardian furniture would have been reproduction furniture to them so you can choose from a range of styles including baroque, rococo and empire. The wing chair is a typical shape. Choose upholstery in chintz, and damasks in pale colours.
  • Wicker - bamboo and wicker furniture were also introduced in these period. You can still buy good quality wicker furniture today in a range of colours. If you find some in a junk shop and it's worse for wear, give it a new lease of life by spraying the paint on with a spray gun or aerosol. Don't brush it on as you'll clog up the weave.
  • Floors - highly polished wood block floors, with oriental rugs, look fantastic in a living room. If you already have wooden floorboards, make sure they're not yellowy pine as this will jar. Stain them with an oak-coloured varnish instead. For areas with more wear and tear, go for bricks in a herringbone pattern or red quarry tiles.
  • Wallpaper - choose wallpapers with a fresh, cheerful feel such as florals of roses, lilac, wisteria, and sweet peas, with trellises, ribbons and bows. Stripes are also typical - go for something simple but rich for dining rooms such as a gold damask and white, and candy stripes for bedrooms. It was considered too much to have both a dado rail and a frieze: most people papered up to the dado rail and then papered or painted the wall above that with plain paper or distemper.
  • Lincrusta - put up some lincrusta - embossed wallpaper - introduced in 1877. It has an almost rubber-like texture and comes in beautiful art nouveau designs. It is still being made today. It can be painted any colour although cream is probably best.
  • Fireplaces - fireplaces are smaller than Victorian ones. They had splayed sides with projecting iron or copper hoods and decorative tiles. Smaller versions are usually found in the bedrooms.
  • Colour schemes - choose pastel colour schemes in the colours of flowers - primrose yellows, leaf greens, the lilac of wisteria, and grey. Living rooms can take darker colours such as dark green for fabrics and cream walls.
  • Lighting - electric lighting was just beginning to be introduced to the grander homes. Buy fabric lampshades in soft colours with frills and tassels. Use them on wall lights, table lights and even standard lamps. For a central light, look for a pendant fitting in smoked glass. Ceiling roses disguised the wiring for light fittings. Tiffany lamps or reclining female bronze figures are also in keeping.
  • Windows - hang pieces of lace at the windows and then add plain or floral curtains to co-ordinate with the walls. Alternatively put up a simple striped roller blind.
  • Cushions - take up embroidery and needlepoint and make some cushions with floral motifs in an art nouveau style.
  • Pictures - hang pictures on hooks but place them halfway down the wall.
  • Accessories - add Edwardian-style accessories such as early gramophones (the ones with the conical shells), tiered silver cake stands, and pretty silver photograph frames.
  • Flowers - echo the wallpaper with your choice of flowers. Try loosely arranged bunches of sweet peas, roses, and lilac. House palms are also typically Edwardian.

What to invest in

  • Royal Worcester china
  • furniture by Maples, Waring and Gillow of the period

Where to see it

  • The Argory, Moy, Dungannon, Northern Ireland. Tel: 028 8778 4753
  • Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, Surrey - National Trust stately home
  • Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Herts - Edwardian home to playwright George Bernard Shaw with virtually unchanged interiors
  • Le Meridien Waldorf Hotel, London - tea dances in the Palm Court
  • Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Middlesex
  • Geffrye Museum, London

Further reading

  • The Edwardian House by Helen Long (Manchester University Press)
  • Edwardian House Style by Hilary Hockman (David & Charles)
  • Care & Repair of Period Houses by Albert Jackson & David Day (Collins)

© Image copyright:
Christopher Dresser textile image courtesy of The Fine Art Society, London.
Spelter figures image courtesy of the Antiques Roadshow finds database.
Royal Worcester ewer courtesy of the Antiques Roadshow finds database.

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