Victorian building with art deco interior or modern interior

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The aim of this essay is to examine the interior spaces of the Westerfeld mansion. Because of the rich heritage associated with this legendary architectural masterpiece, I decided to study it. Another intriguing aspect that makes writing about the mansion worthwhile is the fact that it has undergone a series of repairs over the years. In 1889, the Westerfeld house was built for a German confectioner named William Westerfeld. At the time of the 1906 earthquake, the mansion was able to survive the earth. Mahoney, who was the second owner of the house, transformed the rose gardens into rooms to meet the skyrocketing housing demands (Rybczynski 5). Russians bought the house in 1928 and changed the ground floor into a discotheque, a move that altered the mansion into a social hub. Nonetheless, upper rooms were used for private sessions. As of 1948, the mansion went through another architectural transformation. It was modeled into a 14-unit apartment, leased by Jazz musicians (Rybczynski 7). A few years later, in 1970, the building went through another modification under new ownership. At that moment, the fourth floor would be modernized beyond imaginations. It is, therefore, the ever-changing architectural shifts of an iconic architectural edifice of the Victorian epoch and how it stood the test of time amidst the far-reaching demolitions of thousands of buildings that makes it worth writing about. In particular, the paper will concentrate on the public and private spaces. The family library was, for instance, symbolic to represent the space for relaxation, where social norms were put on the periphery. On other hand, family members had private spaces upstairs.


The design movement

The designer for the 28-room Westerfeld mansion was known as Henry Geilfuss. The design movement for Westerfeld mansion is Eastlake. This is because the Eastlake fits with this building because it entailed the use of wood on wall surfaces; large glass windows; wood canopy entrance; and wooden floors. Moreover, the design is associated with heavy silk damask and velvet curtains.

How people use material

Like the Victorian age, the modern day buildings still use same materials to achieve a Victorian home interior. For instance, cornices, wainscoting, and dado rails are complex to attain, however, they bring a new thing to achieve the theme. The use of wallpaper was also common for Victorian design and in the modern day floral prints; flat-painted wallpapers are used to achieve a simple Victorian interior decor. With respect to flooring, the building adopted floorboards and soft colors. This has not changed, currently, people are using polished floorboards using patterned carpets at the center of the living room while leaving polished floorboard. Colors have also not changed to achieve Victorian interior decoration, gray, teal, lavender and rose pinks are commonly used. However, another material that has changed is velvet, currently geometric, floral and animal patterns are used to copy the Victorian decor.

The use of materials in the space

The interior of the Westerfeld mansion is associated with uniformity. Even though the building was original as twenty-eight room house, it was later changed to accommodate private and public spaces. Furthermore, the choice of paint in the building was based on the purpose of the room. The stair halls were painted in gray to distinguish them from the nearby rooms. The library in the Westerfeld is also symbolic and represents a relaxation space. It was created to differentiate between formal and less common rooms. The arrangement of the rooms in the mansion consists of private rooms for the family. In addition, family activities were categorized in a vertical way, the social activities happened in public spaces-downstairs whereas the privacy issues in the upstairs. Although each child to symbolize independent and was unique based on gender.

Interior design and material used

The windows were covered with heavy velvet curtains while seats were covered with chintz cushion or seat covers. The Patterns is used everywhere in the interior of the building including the wallpapers, curtains, and cushions. On the other hand, the floor is covered with polished floorboards coupled with subdued tones and soft colors. Again, chairs in the Westerfeld mansion are made of carved mahogany and expensive furniture to represent amassed wealth during the Victorian era (Rybczynski 12). Besides, the furniture of the mansion reflected agility as well as robustness. The interior of the building is filled with lion wallpapers and paint. In this case, the lion is used to depict royalty as well as nobility. Nonetheless, the use of lion reflects different things. However, in this perspective, it also portrays supernatural goodness. Westerfeld building looks like blocks of stone and furnished to march quality wooden. The use of lion wallpaper is rather dull; it could be suitable for the designer to use floral paints on water-silk paper or flat painted interior walls for a simple Victorian decor interior.The Westerfeld mansion also has adequate lighting and decorative lamps that offers a soft ambient lighting of the building. Moreover, the lighting symbolizes an extra touch of the interior. For example, the harmony of analogy concept is used. This is a prevalent design on the interior walls of the Westerfeld mansion and involves cornice at the bottom and wainscoting at the top (Rybczynski 11). While the decorative lamps are used to present a soft ambient lighting, the interior is much clustered. For that reason, accessories, furnishings, and decoration could be displayed. Again, the surfaces could be covered with photographs, China flower vases, and souvenirs.


The Westerfeld Mansion was indeed an iconic structure. The interior beautifications of the mansion were significantly applied by margining various aspects from Beaux Art and other periods. This is evident in the magnificent artwork employed in the interior design of the mansion, perhaps a representation of the great European palaces. The highly embellished textured walls are symptomatic of the Gothic revival. By and large, it is worth noting that the Westerfeld mansion was equally influenced by industrial revolution owing to cheap mass-production of various household items. The evidence of bronze and brass artifacts demonstrate the large-scale production of electric doorbells, decorative doors, and cabinets among others. This is well demonstrated in the paper with respect to the proper lighting coupled with beautified lamps. What seems apparent is that the advent of electric power brought about immeasurable opportunities in hardware design, an aspect that may have had a huge bearing on the architectural design of this period. In reality, the industrial revolution that was marred by mass production altered the way architectural design was conceptualized. The design of houses, would, for instance, break away from boxed shapes by adopting uneven floor style with a magnificent interior. Apart from making the walls of the mansion by stones, it is furnished with high-quality wood. Conversely, the interior paint of the mansion was anchored certain standards of the color wheel. It was through this color pyramid that the mansion is able to attain not only a soft but also an ambient lighting. In the end, this wall coloring pattern is a common trend in the Westerfeld mansion that entails magnificent paints, perhaps to symbolize the lavish lifestyles of that time.

Works Cited

Rybczynski, Witold. "IDEAS IN ARCHITECTURE." The Yale Review 101.4 (2013): 1-29.

September 11, 2021

Science Economics


Architecture Industry

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