Clutter and the Clash of Middle-class Tastes in the Domestic Interior

Kathryn Rachel Ferry


Published Online: 2017-09-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0011

Interior design offered new members of the Victorian middle-class a means to demonstrate their success. Yet the choices they made in decorating domestic spaces could be harshly judged, in particular by self-proclaimed taste-makers who, though middle class themselves, came from a newly professionalised group of critics, artists and architects. The styles most hated by these arbiters were those designed to express wealth and status, often through new manufacturing techniques that promoted effect over craftsmanship. This article seeks to examine middle-class taste on its own terms and reveals how it evolved under the influence of the Aesthetic or “Art” Movement of the 1870s. Though ideas about what constituted “good” taste were more widely disseminated after this period the Victorian love of clutter continued unabated.

Keywords: Victoriandesignhomes

Featured Image Credits: By Underwood & Underwood [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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