Victorian architecture and interior décor came about in part as a result of the technological developments of the industrial revolution, which made decorative hardware and other accessories cheaper. This combined with a growing middle class that had more money to spend. The demand for ornate, decorative products spurred a slew of many different Victorian styles of decorative hardware that reflected the larger aesthetics of Victorian architecture and design.

Pre-Victorian Door Hardware in the U.S.

Queen Victoria's reign began in 1837 and lasted for 80 years. In the U.S., however, Victorian styles did not become predominant until the latter half of the 19th century. Before this, American decorative hardware tended to place a good deal of emphasis on artisanal, hand-crafted designs that were built with function in mind. Door hardware was thus elegant, but simple in its ornamental elements. The designs of handles, knobs and backplates were symmetrical. However, once the industrial revolution made ornate decorative hardware affordable, America adopted Victorian design enthusiastically. There had been highly ornate styles of hardware before, but now they were affordable, mass produced and combining several different elements of past ornate styles.

Victorian Door Hardware

Victorian style, both in architecture and interior design and decorative hardware, was basically an amalgamation of past ornate styles. Victorian style was in a way the first revival style, taking elements of Tudor, Neoclassical, Gothic, Elizabethan and Rococo styles, to name a few, in order to create a highly decorative aesthetic, unified by emphasis on orderly and ornate design that used up as much empty space as possible.

If you look at European door hardware, especially English and decorative French hardware, you can see all of the ideals at work. The way a Victorian door handle and backpanel are designed will, in other words, give you a fair idea as to what the main concerns of the designer were. Elegant lines and flowery designs were admired, and leaving empty spaces in a room and in a design in general was considered poor taste. Homeowners, when decorating a room, were expected to fill all the empty spaces with some kind of object that reflected their interests, wealth, and experience. Victorian door hardware likewise has minimal empty spaces and uses multiple materials for decoration.