This is Celia Thaxter’s parlor! In here, she would do a lot of her writing and painting. Can you find her writing desk? It seems almost hidden amongst all of the lavish decor. And what about the walls? Almost every inch is covered with photographs, paintings, and anything else Celia wanted to display–even works created by her elite New England friends! Can you imagine trying to focus and do work in a room with so much going on around you? I would definitely get distracted. However, it wasn’t just Celia who enjoyed a what we might call “cluttered” work space. In fact, the way her parlor was decorated had a lot to do with the style of the Victorian era.
An article from The Sunday Gazette, September 16, 1996 tells about Victorian Parlors and their popularity during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The article says, “Before the mid-1800s, only the wealthy could afford to display art forms lovely furniture and furnishings, but it changed in the later 1800s, mostly because of America’s industrial revolution. Even the most common folks began to collect ‘fancy furnishings’ being offered at reduced prices by mail order companies or second hand furniture stores. They were much less expensive and there was a surplus of family income. Also, mass-production American made goods were made more easily available through the buildup of carnal and railroad freight systems. Somehow the parlor became the prime collection place for all the bric-a-brac and prideful items that people bought just to ‘show off’. In many instances, householders of the Victorian era deprived themselves of part of their living space in order to maintain a facade of refinement in that one special room.”
What do you think of Celia’s parlor? Would you decorate your house this way?