The Victorian era design is a study in contradictions. It was a period of imitation and revival. The growing merchant middle class saw their dwelling as a symbol of status. To emulate the aristocracy with the assistance of industrial machines, these people demanded excessive ostentation at reasonable costs. For those with a more masculine inclination or for those rooms that were deemed such (as in the Billiard Room and Library) Gothic influences abounded. Dark woods prevailed showing up in flooring and heavy furniture. Gargoyles and medieval macabre inspired were common. Those who favored the Feminine, displayed the lighter more whimsical Rococo influences; shells, scrolls, delicate furniture. While true Rococo was all pastels and white with gilt, the Victorians interpretation was a bit more serious or masculine, if you will.
Design was also affected by the emerging world trade routes with Japan, India, and China. Realism of birds, animals, and parochial scenes (also indicative of Rococo) were incredibly popular with the British of the 19th century. Japanning (lacquer) and Chinoiserie (highly detailed outdoor scene, usually includes birds in high detail) were all the rage for those who taste ran toward the exotic.
The Victorian periods was an era of “anything goes” For the first time in history old merged with new at an alarming pace. The technology of the Industrial revolution created a demand for lamination , electroplating, and high details that were marks of skilled craftsmanship previously reserved for the very wealthy.