British residential architecture nowadays tends to be designed for ease of construction, quick move-in dates and functionality. Yet still, the architectural style that has withstood the test of time is the Victorian house, seen as the cornerstone of British architecture. This particular era saw a significant growth in personal wealth, and many people during the 1900s could afford to buy their own homes following an intense period of economic prosperity. As a result, elaborate and ornate Victorian houses came into being. They are an archetypal feature of British housing, and have since been emulated worldwide. They are wide-reaching in their variety and influence; ranging from terraced houses in inner city areas close to shopping and amenities, to large detached houses with drives and gardens. So typically, what were Victorian houses like?
1. Stained glass doorways
Stained glass features heavily as part of Victorian architecture, both in residential property and Gothic Revival religious architecture. This house features an intricate porch screen with unique stained glass. Victorian housing are excellent for maximising natural light, and stained glass in a doorframe often means that natural light is able to illuminate the house’s frontage.
2. High ceilings and ornate lighting
Along with wonderful glass features, Victorian-style houses feature grand, high ceilings that often make rooms appear larger than they truly are, and this works particularly well for smaller terraced houses. Moreover, in grandiose properties, intricate ceiling roses are a common feature that give a wonderful embossed effect. Nowadays these are sometimes in disrepair, but can be restored and adapted to enhance more contemporary light features.
3. Striking floor tiles
If lucky enough, inside a Victorian house many will have an original geometric tile design running through the hallway. Such designs have been replicated time and time again, but nothing quite beats restoring the original tile that is often hidden away under floorboards and carpet in many Victorian period properties. As a result, it is a common restoration project undertaken by contemporary interior designers looking for Victorian terraced house ideas.
4. Decorated black and white gable and bargeboards
This house from Conwy in Wales is a classic example of gorgeous Victorian red brick, which perfectly contrasts the elaborate black and white gable at the top windows of the house. Many Victorian houses can have these wooden features restored specially to ensure that the property lasts in the way that it was meant to. They are a charming characteristic of any Victorian property.
5. Iconic bay window features
The bay window is considered the hallmark of British architecture, with many houses, whether detached or semi-detached, featuring large bay windows at the front of the house. Consequently, open reception rooms are often flooded with light, making for spacious living spaces with a lot of natural light. Above is an example of a row of Victorian terraced houses in West Hampstead, London with beautiful bay windows both on the ground and first floor.
6. Coloured brickwork
This colourful brickwork facade is typical of the wonderful ornament of Victorian architecture in London – in this example, we can see an incredible cornflower blue brickwork contrasted with terracotta red and primrose yellow at the top of a commercial building.
7. Original feature fireplaces
A building heralding from this era often includes one or more feature fireplaces which are make up the Victorian house foundations.. Over the years, they have been adapted again and again to enhance the breast of the fireplace, or they regularly feature as a centrepiece to a large reception or dining room. Victorian house renovation often includes strengthening the original fireplace.
Do you live in a Victorian house, or perhaps are you dreaming of doing so one day? Let us know what you love most about this style of architecture…