CHALLENGE: I have been approached by one of my clients to assist in designing window treatments for an original Victorian home located in Ventura, CA.
The home has been granted historical status. In this case, the home
does have rules and regulations in regards to the exterior of the
home. This particular home is in its original state, and I would
not want to alter the interiors that can be seen from the outside.
There are many windows as you can see from the photograph. Please
offer some window treatment ideas and insight as to the period in
which it originated.
properties are a treasure wherever they are located. In recent years,
our president’s wife, Laura Bush, as been involved in the
securing of historical sites across America. What an excellent cause!
The Victorian Era, historically from about 1837 to 1915, coincides
with Queen Victoria and her reign as queen. The Victorian Era is
characterized by numerous developed styles from the past eras before
1837. What is known as gingerbread, or applied design and decoration,
adorns many exteriors. The famous painted ladies of San Francisco,
CA, are an excellent example of Victorian homes that have been spruced
up on the exterior with colors reminiscent of the period.
The photograph you sent shows a home with many windows. The upper
windows are in need of new treatments and the lower windows should
be changed to show continuity from the outside of the home, as all
the windows are in view at the same time. At least, a color harmony,
while possible using slightly different treatments is acceptable.
Here are a few suggestions:
• The windows must be treated with a clear protective material
first. You do not want the windows to appear darkly tinted from
the outside, as this would alter the appearance of the home. The
windows can be treated with a tinting that will appear clear from
• To authentically reproduce the feel of the Victorian Era,
I would design a window treatment known as a Priscilla curtain.
It would include a ruffle sewn on the leading and bottom edges.
The pair overlaps in the center, with one ruffle continuing on each
side. A valance across the treatment should be included with an
If this is a little much for the décor in the home, a scaled
down version such as a simple pleated tieback drapery also would
work nicely. Possibly keeping the same type of valance. A tieback
treatment including lace and antique satin will work well.
It was also common to include a natural shade of lace for the window
treatments. You and your client can decide whether to do this depending
on existing furniture in the room.
A more subtle design for the windows could be a soft shade treatment
with an over treatment in lace or semi sheer. The valance treatment
would still present the Victorian style to the room. This all depends
on your choice of repeating the authenticity of the period or slightly
veering away from it. You should speak with your client on this
• Keep in mind the strong colors of the Victorian Era. Some
of the common exterior colors such as greens, blues and yellows
were used in their strongest intensity. Crimson and green were strong
in a room’s interior.
Some great resources for you and your client are:
— a picture dictio-nary of house styles available from about.com.
— a great source for colors put together by the Hillside Historic
District of Waterbury, CT.
• Try other Internet searchs for images of Victorian exteriors
Please send photographs of this project when it is finished. Good
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles
written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many
questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings
as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business.
If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please
send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the
residential and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently
a faculty member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has
been featured in numerous books and publications.