The decor passed through three significant stages during the 19th century. In the years of Queen Victorias reign, the Georgian legacy of restrained, dignified decoration was popular. During the middle of the century the heavier, more masculine style of, for instance, Francois Premier and Renaissance Revival was more in vogue. Finally, by the 1880s the style had changed once more to a lighter, brighter and in some respects more feminine style of decoration.
The walls were generally dark paneled with mahogany, walnut or stained oak, up to the dado rail. Above the dado patterned papers by William Morris was popular. Designs included mazes of tangled lilies, brambles and vines. Tapestries and fabric, for example damask, were also used as Wallcoverings.
The ceiling could have discreet stenciling in the corners or, in grander homes, wood paneling. The drapes were usually heavy velvets and often looped back with gold tassels.
Chandeliers and wall sconces provided lighting. Even after the introduction of electricity, candles were still used. They provided an atmospheric light which the Victorians considered the most suitable for dining. The furniture was fairly substantial and generally masculine in appearance. Empire, Gothic and Renaissance Revival styles in mahogany, walnut and rosewood were popular.
Other than the table and chairs, the most important piece of furniture was the sideboard.
It was fitted with a mirror, shelves, drawers and cabinets. The woodwork was often embellished with carved decorations. At dinner parties most dishes were placed on the sideboard and served from there by servants. This left the center of the table free for elaborate floral arrangements.