Have you been watching Downton Abbey, my new favorite show? I have come late to the party. I watched the whole first season of the series last weekend when I was sick. Now I have to find the second season and start watching. I love everything about it. The story lines are great, the acting is superb. A soap opera set in the Edwardian era! Of course, what makes it even better is the beautiful wardrobe and set design. I love the attention to detail, such as coordinating the color of the women's dresses to the room in which the scene takes place. I was watching a scene that was in a peachy/orangey room that had small accents of lavender, and didn't the characters have on the same colors, only reversed! Brilliant! The colors flowed so effortlessly, creating a moving watercolor. I love all the subtle color too. Varying shades of white with just a touch of light blue or red in the clothing. Lots of wicker accessories, tea sets, paintings on all the walls. Oh, and the library! Love it.
The Edwardian era was an interesting one for design. The country was moving away from the dark colors and excessive ornamentation of the Victorian Era, and toward a lighter, cleaner style of design. Pastel colors dominated the walls, which were beginning to be painted instead of papered. The papered walls were sometimes varnished, to make it easier to clean. King Edward VII ruled only a short period of time, from 1901-1910, but the era in terms of style ran until WWI. There was an obsession with cleanliness, probably in response to the epidemics that swept the country at the turn of the century. The woodwork was painted white and the walls white or pastel because it was easier to see the dirt. Wall to wall carpet was replaced with hardwood flooring and area rugs, that could be taken outside and beaten clean. This era also ushered in electricity, telephones, furnaces, and plumbing. I like how all these changes are reflected in the life of the Downton Abbey. The use of wicker furniture and baskets were also prominent during this era, as was the use of plants as decor. Rooms that were used by the women tended to be full of light, bright colors and flowers. Chintz fabric, lace curtains, and embroidered pillows filled the rooms. Men's rooms tended to use darker colors. Libraries, the man-cave of the Edwardian Era, were often done in deep rich red, greens and blues, and the woodwork was usually varnished, not painted.
Downton Abbey is filmed at Highclere Castle, which has a rich history. It has been in the Herbert family since the 1600s and is the country seat for the Earl of Carnarvon. Between 1839-42 the 5th Earl remodelled the castle in the Jacobethan style and is faced in Bath stone. During the 20th century, the Castle fell into disrepair and it was uncertain if the family could raise the money needed to fix it. In 2009, the Daily Mail wrote an article about the castle and printed pictures some of the rooms. The castle is open to the public and several state rooms can be toured.