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A Close Look at the Victorian Style House

A Victorian house style emerged during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901) during the 19th century. It's important to note that Victorian architecture technically refers to the era and not the design style that we most associate these homes with.

British architectural styles of the time included the Italianate and the Queen Anne, which were popular during the Victorian era.

What are the characteristics of Victorian Style?

The architecture from this era embraces steeply pitched roofs, wraparound porches and most homes included cylindrical turrets and bay windows.

Victorian Style House

One particular feature that became popular during the Victorian era of architecture was the European influenced gothic revival style using ornate and decorative wooden trim. It's sometimes described as a 'gingerbread' style. It became prevalent in the architectural side of design as well as the interior through furniture.

Victorian houses also adopted the Queen Anne style which was another point of difference during this era, particularly so in higher classes. The architecture we most identify with is the larger Victorian homes - a little more imposing and somewhat elaborate.

How high are Victorian ceilings?

In many Victorian homes ceiling height averaged around nine feet. High ceilings in a Victorian home were, on some level, a way to display wealth to visitors.

Victorian Style House

In the middle and upper classes, the idea was to provide a feeling of spaciousness to oppose the smaller cottages and lower square footage of more modest houses.

How many floors do Victorian houses have?

A typical Victorian house usually includes two to three stories. Each floor housed a number of rooms with definitive functions - more on that further into this post.

Two to three stories was fairly standard, with a basement or cellar as well.

It's worth pointing out that homes from the Victorian era still included small single roomed cottages and much less grandeur houses than the classic Victorian style we're mostly referring to here.

What colours were Victorian houses painted?

The interior of Victorian homes favoured rich dark colours. Ornate and detailed decoration was prevalent and included patterned wallpaper, velvets and texture.

Victorian Style House

Interior walls were painted with deep shades of burgundy, red and maroon. Brown, green and blue hues were also present. Rooms tended to be on the darker side with busy decoration.

The exterior of the homes tended to be a trial for colour. Victorians weren't shy to try out brighter and sometimes pastel shades. That said there were still subdued tones present.

What rooms did Victorian houses have?

For a grander three storied home, each story would have a set of rooms reserved for certain functions.

  1. The top floor would typically house the servants quarters and the children's rooms with a nursery.
  2. The second floor would include the master bedroom and the second bathroom.
  3. On the first floor you'd find the drawing room or parlour, which acted as a receiving room for guests and visitors.
  4. The basement, or cellar, or sometimes, the back of the first floor would house the scullery, where the cleaning would take place. This room would accommodate a big copper pot for boiling clothes and other cleaning equipment.

Rooms would be closed off and only those that guests would need to use, would be visible. The interior of the homes don't tend to function for the way we currently live today. Restored Victorian house interiors will be opened up more to account for our open plan and more interactive living.

Why do Victorian houses have turrets?

Victorian architecture often included a turret - smallish, cylindrical towers attached to the corner of the home. It's a hallmark feature of these homes that distinguishes them from other British styles.

Originally, turrets were used in castles as a defense mechanism. They were built with thin slits so an archer could shoot arrows at approaching enemies.

They fell out of favour as warfare moved on, but a revival during Victorian times had them back in fashion during the 19th century.

How were Victorian homes decorated?

The Victorian style was an abundance of rich, dark colours and heavily patterned wallpapers. House plants and garlands featured heavily as did ornate tapestries and fleur-de-lys.

Other features of the interior decor included:

  • Embossed and textured wall paper
  • Highly intricate wood-worked furniture and decorative frames were strong features
  • Gold coloured tassles on opulent soft furnishings
  • Heavy fabrics with deep colour-ways
  • Gothic influence was present throughout
  • An abundance of accessories and knick knacks were popular.

In fact it would be fair to say that 'more was more' and it's essentially the opposite of today's more minimalist interior approach. The aesthetic was of a somewhat cluttered look and feel.

Where are Victorian houses most popular?

Britain, of course, is where the architectural style of these homes originated, therefore it makes sense that they're found throughout England, and also within British-settled colonies around the world.

In America, Victorian house styles are found in San Francisco - we would be remiss not to talk about the Painted Ladies that depict the Queen Anne style of Victorian home. This narrow and tall design is quintessential of the Victorian styles that we're most familiar with.

Parts of Kentucky in the United States contain the highest volume of restored Victorian style homes today.


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