8 Drawing Rooms for Modern Living

The drawing space, basically the lady’s “withdrawingroom,” was usually the main public room of a Victorian home. These rooms were feminine, comfortable and hospitable. Places for receiving guests, they have been platforms to show off one’s wealth, taste and culture. Things, pictures and decorative items in the Victorians’ newfound love of travel were constantly added to the space, leading to the busy or cluttered style we associate with the era. Colours were powerful and mixed, with graduated tints from walls to ceiling creating a dominant effect.

In modest middle-class houses the drawing room may have been the only reception space, and consequently climbed as the adults’ sitting room, right off the hall beside the dining area. While size could have been commensurate with affluence, for most ordinary folk it was not a room of great proportions.

The usage of this drawing room on your Victorian home will depend on your needs, but here are a few tips for modern adaption.

Ben Herzog

Here we can observe the way the traditional middle-class Victorian layout has been adapted for modern living. A long, thin entrance hall could have opened to the drawing room on the right, and then a separate dining area could have followed closely by the kitchen in the end. This transformation really opens up the space while still having clear sitting, dining and hall areas. The drawing area could have had a fireplace, but this has been removed and replaced using practical wall units; the dining room fireplace has been kept.

Ryland Peters & Small | CICO Books

While modern homeowners frequently favor open plan living, there is a lot to be said for separate rooms for separate activities. This beautiful room has the proportions of a modest Victorian drawing room and has been used as a sitting area. Modern, pale, neutral colors and a big light-reflecting mirror market a sense of space.

Tracy Murdock Allied ASID

Large sash windows have been common in Victorian drawing rooms. Please don’t replace them with modern casement windows just hardwood replicas will do! If you are keeping your drawing room independent, consider mixing drapes with walls, as the Victorians could have done. The lack of contrasts accentuates the sense of space in a little room.

Maurizio Pellizzoni Ltd

Some Victorian houses had bay windows, typically three sided. As the drawing area was frequently at the front of the house, it had the advantage of the extra space given by the bay. As drawing and dining rooms are being opened to a great deal more usable modern spaces, the bay can be put to great use with a circular dining table positioned to follow its contours. Or, as you can see here, a desk from which you can observe the world pass by works superbly also.

Lucienne Carlo

French doors were not a feature of a modest Victorian drawing area, however introducing them where there is access to a terrace or conservatory can give you extra living space plus get more light in your little room.

J. Hirsch Interior Design, LLC

We should cover the more affluent homes also, where the drawing room was bigger and likely not the only reception area. This size gives you more scope to have a family room with comfy sofas, a TV and books while retaining the traditional use of this drawing space as a more formal adult space also.

MG Interior Design

Here we have another grand home, where it looks like the morning room has been opened up into the drawing area. The morning room could have been the larger of the two and traditionally confronted east to make the most of the daylight. Opening up the rooms here has created a wonderful light, dual-purpose area — very practical for modern living.

Avid Design Creative Interiors

In houses with two or more reception rooms, the drawing area is usually a spare, because it is often the smallest. With no significant upheaval of transformation or removing walls, it’s the perfect size for a really comfortable study. I really like the usage of this library wallpaper in the recess here it creates a fantastic sense of depth.

Linda McDougald Design | Postcard from Paris Home

Dark wood trim

MANDARINA STUDIO interior design

Dark wood contrasts with blue

Crisp Architects

Dark wood contrasts with blue

See related