© Stuart Stark, Heritage Consultant
Gothic Revival was a fairly pure style. It – unlike the Queen Anne style for example – was uncompromising. It could not adapt well, and elements of other styles could not usually be applied to buildings in the style. So furnishings and interior decoration was usually in keeping with the architecture. Wallpapers, fabrics and furniture all leaned towards the Gothic, keeping the distinctive “pointed-arch’ shape throughout.
- A Drawing Room in the Gothic style – 1850. Both the furniture and the architecture featured Gothic’s ‘pointed’ arch. The rich colours and textures used in the style are not visible when seen in black and white.
- The restored Drawing Room of an 1865 modest Gothic Revival house in Victoria Canada. The wallpaper and border are exact reproductions of the originals. The curtains are hung in the original location in front of the bay window. The corner whatnot and piano are on the original inventory.
Some mid 19th century tastemakers thought that too-literal translations of Gothic designs with lots of spiky points were unsuitable for dwellings, preferring that they be kept for appropriate ecclesiastical settings. So, recommendations were for toned-down examples of the style, with muted pointed arches – sometimes referred to as “Tudor” arches – on furniture.
Examples for furniture recommended for Gothic Revival interiors c1850:
A sideboard with “Tudor” arches;
A Bookcase with “Gothic “ arches on top, “Tudor” arches below.
Bookcase c. 1865 in Gothic Revival style. The picture frames are hanging from wires connected to a ‘picture spike’ at the cornice level. The frames with the crossed corners are ‘Oxford frames’, a style particularly popular in the 1860’s.
The curtains were originally hung to protect the leather bindings from sunlight. The wallpaper is an exact reproduction of the original first installed in 1865. See detail of the wallpaper further below in this article.