Period Design: Victorian Architectural Styles

When we talk about the Victorian period, we are referring to the time between 1837and 1901, when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Many of the typical styles of Victorian homes only became popular quite late on in the Queen’s reign, and of course the archictectural trends and fashions of the time didn’t simply begin and end to coincide with the succession of the monarchy! The housing boom of the time meant that there are many British suburbs filled with Victorian homes, although the industrial slump meant that many of these houses were small terraces packed into densely-populated areas. There are plenty of key identifiers of Victorian building styles which make houses of this period easy to identify and popular to recreate:

Victorian Architectural Styles

Typical Features of Victorian Home Exteriors:

A quick glance at the exterior of a property should give you enough information to know if it’s a Victorian house or not. Homes of the time were often set close to the road or pavement, and had iron railings, bay windows with sash opening, patterns in the brickwork, slate roofs, and stained glass features.

The increasing ability to mass produce building supplies and the introduction of the railways to Britain meant that it was easier than ever during this period to transport bricks around the country, so builders were able to use new techniques and styles of building. Flemish Brick Bonding is often seen on Victorian houses – a technique which alternates brick headers (ends) and stretchers (long sides) to create at pattern.

Victorian houses were built in a time before cars, so did not have garages. Most homes also had no bathroom inside the property, with an outside toilet being situated in a backyard. These days, many houses built during that time will have been extended to the rear, to incorporate a bathroom. The Victorian era was a popular time for decorative elements in architecture, and features of houses are far more ornate than those seen in the Georgian era which preceded. Detailed fretwork and panels over windows and doorways, patterned floor tiles and decorative brickwork were very fashionable features.

Internal Features and Décor for Victorian Properties:

Inside a Victorian property there were also a number of key features which were common to most homes. Central heating was not yet in use for domestic properties, so every house would have a coal fireplace to provide heat for the home. Some larger houses may have had a fireplace in every room, meaning that Victorian houses tend to have at least one chimney, with a terracotta pot. Fireplace surrounds were wooden, marble or stone.

The Victorian period was a popular time for ornate wooden mouldings, such as skirting boards, architraves dado rails and coving. These serve a decorative purpose for impressing guests and making rooms appear large and well proportioned, as well as a practical purpose in protecting walls and hiding joins between flooring and ceilings.

If you’re renovating a Victorian property, or starting from scratch and wishing to incorporate some elements of Victorian architectural styles, it’s a great idea to talk to an expert in the designs of the period. You can often get great recommendations, and even have features custom made to your specification or to match existing aspects of the property, such as the bespoke service offered by Arthur Wood Joinery. There’s a lot of information available for anyone undertaking a period property renovation, enabling you to choose aspects of the style you want to incorporate into your 21st century home.

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