Traditional Victorian terraced house

                                                 PAINT GUIDE PERIOD (1837 – 1901)

When it comes to painting and decorating your Dolls House in a traditional Victorian style it can be quite daunting. So here at Tolbooth Miniatures we have sourced some interesting facts and reference for you to get you on the right path to creating your period master piece!
We will show you how different paint finishes and colours would have been used, in the period when many traditional terraced houses were being built. Covering both Interior and exterior finishes, enabling you to create a realistic period style.

Victorian paint finishes
During the Victorian period paint technology continued to develop, although there was considerably less choice of paint finish than is available today. The finishes were basically oil-based paints and water-based distempers, with the former being used on woodwork and some plaster work, the latter almost totally restricted to plaster surfaces such as ceilings. Resin-based varnishes were often used on timber or as a protective coat over painted imitations of wood grain or marble.
DISTEMPER, or size colour, was made from ground chalk, bound together with a glue size made from animal bones, horns or skin and tinted with suitable pigment.
OIL–BASED PAINTS were made with white lead, linseed oil, turpentine and pigment, with the degree of sheen being achieved with the ratio of oil and turpentine.
Colours for Interiors
In spite of advances in the manufacture of chemical dyes during the second half of the 19th century, the use of paint colours throughout the Victorian period remained closely to that of the late Georgian period. Whilst wallpaper and furnishing fabric manufacturers took on the new mauves and purples, paint colours retained the feel of the Georgian era. Theories of developing colour harmony led to increasingly complex colour schemes, with care being taken to balance light and shade.
By the 1840s the use of restrained, secondary tints such as Buff, Lilac and Salmon were common, paler tints of these and other strong colours were also used; Victorian interiors were not always the dark and gloomy rooms we have come to expect for that period.
                Approximate colour samples for reference                            

1. Buff                                           11. Yellow Ochre
2. Salmon                                    12. Picture Gallery Red
3. Sage Green                            13. Lilac
4. Sea Green                              14. Mid Brunswick Green
5. Drab                                         15. Mid Bronze Green
6. Fawn                                        16. Purple Brown
7. Flesh                                        17. Red
8. French Grey                            18. Crimson
9. Light Brunswick Green         19. Deep Brunswick Green
10. Light Bronze Green             20. Deep Bronze Green

Secondary tints
Approximate colour tint samples for reference


 Victorian Mouldings
The main difference between Georgian and Victorian was the practice of picking out architectural features with different strong colours. The area below the dado rail was often decorated with embossed wallpaper painted in a deep colour, such as Brunswick Green or Purple Brown, which gave the effect of breaking up the sudden contrast between the carpet and the lighter coloured wall above.
The moulding around the top of the wall tended to be a richer colour than the wall, but not as dark as the dado and became increasingly ornate.
Throughout the Victorian period white distempers were used for ceilings, but they were not the modern bleached brilliant whites of today, which should not be used in a period colour scheme. They were always creamy off-whites.   
By the 1850s richly coloured ceilings were becoming more common, with individual elements of plasterwork, embossed paper and paper mache being picked out in strong colours.     

Interior Walls
After the late Georgian decorative style, archaeologically derived colours such as lilac, Picture Gallery Red, Red and Crimson were popular for interior walls. This was particularly used in principal rooms which were considered most suitable backgrounds for paintings and prints.
Greens such as Sage Green and light Brunswick Green were used in drawing rooms, bedrooms and especially in libraries. Blues and bright yellows were not extensively used in Victorian colour schemes.
Woodwork was usually painted in dark colours such as Bronze Greens, Brunswick Greens or Purple Brown. Wood graining was often used to imitate more expensive and expensive exotic woods. The most used timber, Pine was never seen stripped bare in today’s modern style, as it was considered cheap and unfashionable.
The modern approach of painting woodwork white only appeared in the 1880s – 90s with the Queen Anne style of decoration. Windows, skirting, doors and stair balusters were painted white to give a bright and clean effect which was enhanced further with the introduction of electric lighting.

Exterior Decoration   
Exterior woodwork was usually painted in a green colour. One of the Bronze Greens or Brunswick Greens to blend in with foliage and Bronze Greens to resemble weathered bronze. Purple Brown was also used for external woodwork.
Exterior masonry or stucco was generally painted in colours to imitate local stone, like Buff, Yellow Ochre, stone and Dark stone. The stucco was used to hide the cheaper brick beneath.