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1840-1900 — The Eclectic Decades

There were several decorative movements operating at the same time driven by different theories: Aestheticism, (Neo-Classicism, Gothic Revival), Victorian, Art Nouveau and the birth of the Arts & Crafts Movement, to name some.

The entire collection, with the exception of Art Deco, is characterized by the use of metallic or micaceous paints, the most lavish period being the late Victorian.

Mid and Late Victorian Design

WALLS: The entire wall can be decorated with an all-over pattern like wallpaper. Background bands were painted in a medium value, with the overlaying stenciling done in a deeper shade of the same. Popular colors were blue-green, gold and brown. Damask was popular.

Freize designs were 3 or 4 feet deep in dining rooms, especially in the Italianate style, and was achieved by multiple rows of stencils. Picture rails varied in placement from the top of the wall to as much as five feet below.

CEILINGS: At this time ceilings of the Victorian Style were sometimes painted three shades lighter than the walls and then ornamentation was added to create an enriched effect. Gilding with gold and silver paints was frequently employed.

Often an 8" wide solid band of color was applied to the ceiling before the stencils, which were placed within.

On both ceilings and walls were stenciled borders and rectangular fretwork to meet corner patterns. Flowers, cartouches, undulating stripes and arched details were all fashionable.

OTHER SURFACES that can be stenciled

  • Boxes
  • Beams or the spaces (coffers) between the beams on the ceiling, or along side the beams
  • Fabrics — curtains, table runners, pocket books, quilts
  • Fireboards (floral bouquets popular, see our Border Wall Stencil and Wall Stencil Sampler catalogues)
  • Window shades & trifold screens — these can echo other stencils in the room.
  • Window glass and tile
  • Cement floors

Arts & Crafts — 1880-1920

Earlier decades of European style had set the tone for fruition of this movement in America. During this time, Classical, Craftsmen, and Art Nouveau were being used depending on the style of the house and taste of the owners.

Frank Lloyd Wright built his first home in Oak Park, Chicago, in 1889. The house today reflects bits and pieces of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Among them, some Classical detail, a nook and built-in seats, olive green, brown and beige colors, a butterscotch colored room, a tree growing from inside the house, Japanese influence, a wooden lattice screen close to the ceiling in the kitchen, indirect lighting, deep overhanging roof, designer glass in the windows, canvas walls and a ceiling, brick floor, and simple lighting fixtures of his own design, and gold and silver paint. The ceilings all exhibit beams or strips of wood. The materials are all inexpensive and unpretentious. "A style cannot be uncontaminated by those that came before or after," brilliantly demonstrated by the diverse range found within Frank Lloyd Wright's home.