Living Space: Borrow some decorating ideas from "Downton Abbey"

By Kathryn Weber
Feb. 14, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:14 p.m.

Give your home a touch of "Downton Abbey" class with a writing desk, Turkish rug and rich draperies.

Give your home a touch of "Downton Abbey" class with a writing desk, Turkish rug and rich draperies.

It's taken the U.S. by storm. In fact, if you weren't watching the Super Bowl recently, chances are you were tuned in to "Downton Abbey." The hugely popular English-period soap opera takes place in a fictional manor house filled with intrigue, scandal and loads of gorgeous rooms. With rich architectural details, luxurious embellishments and Victorian and Gothic opulence, "Downton Abbey" offers plenty of decorating inspiration.

Watch each scene closely for touches of vintage glam you can add in your own home. Here's a short list:

1. Embellish it.

Check out the lamps with fringe, chandeliers dripping with dangling crystals or topped with lace-trimmed shades and plenty of gilding. All these elements can easily be added with a glue gun or items purchased from a decor store. Try adding fringe to a lampshade or drape tassels around lamps, a dresser or door handles.

2. Think thick drapes.

Heavy damask drapes with thick cords and tassel pullbacks create a luxurious look. Add these to room openings, above doors and, of course, on windows.

3. Get a writing desk.

Take a cue from Lord Grantham and Violet, the Dowager Countess, and add a writing desk out in the middle of a room. Top with a candelabra. Writing desks are available online (, or for a vintage writing secretary, check for some stylish options.

4. Add architectural details.

Deeply carved woods and stone mouldings, ceiling treatments - they're all there on "Downton Abbey." Adding details to the ceiling, around doors and on walls - such as upgrading baseboards, adding paneled doors and chair rails - all add depth and detail. Columns can also be added easily, and create division between rooms. Ceiling beams are another nice addition. Draw out details, such as on doors, by painting the interior panels.

5. Display finery and everyday ware.

Tables of china, crystal and gleaming silver are part of the scene for diners upstairs at Downton. Downstairs, even everyday ware is there to see in a cabinet that displays the servant's china. There's also a wonderful standing pot rack that's as useful as it is decorative (

5. Oriental carpets.

Get the "Downton Abbey" look by rolling out some heavy wool carpets in traditional designs and colors. The look is Victorian and elegant.

6. Treat yourself to damask wallpaper.

The walls of "Downton Abbey" are lavishly papered in mint green or deep taupe damask printed wallpaper. For a touch of that, wallpaper an accent wall behind a bed or sofa. Try Sherwin-Williams Traditional Twist wallpaper for a Victorian look with a modern touch (

7. The look of layers.

Whether it's the red velvet sofa in the drawing room dotted with fringed pillows or Cora's bedroom with its celery-colored carpet layered with an aubusson rug; a canopy bed with fringed drapes or a damask-padded headboard, each room in the "Downton Abbey" is layered with decorative touches. Follow this lead by adding extra pillows, throws, rugs and layering drapes.

8. Get literary. In almost every room of Downton Abbey, there's a bookshelf with gold-leafed tomes. You can pick these up online, at swap meets and in flea markets to give your home a studious touch.

9. Palm theory. Large, full palms were a hallmark of almost all Victorian homes and add an opulent green touch to the corner of a room.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her web site,



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