Victorian style refers to the architectural, design, and cultural characteristics prevalent during the reign of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, which lasted from 1837 to 1901. The Victorian era was a time of significant social, political, and technological changes, and these influences are reflected in the design aesthetics of the period.
In terms of architecture, the Victorian style encompasses various sub-styles such as Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Second Empire. Buildings of this era are often characterized by elaborate ornamentation, intricate details, and a sense of grandeur. Common architectural features include steep roofs, decorative gables, bay windows, stained glass, and ornate facades.
In interior design, Victorian style is known for its opulence and eclectic mix of influences from different historical periods. Rooms are often adorned with rich fabrics, intricate patterns, and decorative elements like moldings, trims, and wallpapers. Dark and heavy furniture pieces made of wood, such as walnut or mahogany, are typical of this style. Other prominent features include elaborate chandeliers, fireplace mantels, and decorative art pieces.
The Victorian era was also marked by a fascination with nature, and this is evident in the decorative motifs used during the period. Floral and botanical patterns, as well as motifs inspired by birds and animals, were popular in textiles, wallpapers, and ceramics.
Overall, Victorian style is associated with a sense of elegance, formality, and attention to detail. It is characterized by a combination of various design elements from different historical periods, resulting in a visually rich and ornate aesthetic.
What is a Victorian House?
A Victorian house refers to a style of residential architecture that was popular during the reign of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. Victorian houses are characterized by their ornate and elaborate designs, showcasing the architectural and design trends of the era.
Some common features of a Victorian house include:
- Steeply pitched roofs: Victorian houses often have gabled or hipped roofs with intricate designs, such as turrets or dormer windows.
- Elaborate decorative trim: These houses typically feature decorative trim, such as intricate woodwork, scalloping, or gingerbread detailing, often found on the exterior facades, porches, and eaves.
- Varied and asymmetrical shapes: Victorian houses are known for their complex and irregular floor plans, incorporating different shapes, angles, and projections, resulting in a visually interesting and unique appearance.
- Bay windows: Many Victorian homes have bay windows, which project outward from the main walls, often in a curved or polygonal shape, providing additional interior space and architectural charm.
- Ornate porches: Victorian houses frequently include large, covered porches with decorative railings, columns, and intricate fretwork.
- Vibrant colors: During the Victorian era, it became fashionable to paint houses in multiple colors, and Victorian homes are often associated with vibrant, bold color schemes.
- Stained glass windows: These houses frequently feature stained or leaded glass windows, which can be found in various shapes and patterns, adding a touch of elegance to the overall design.
- High ceilings and large rooms: Victorian houses typically have high ceilings, creating a sense of grandeur, and spacious rooms with detailed moldings and cornices.
While Victorian houses come in various sub-styles, such as Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, Italianate, or Second Empire, they share a common emphasis on intricate detailing, decorative elements, and a desire to showcase the architectural craftsmanship and individuality of the era.
History of the Victorian House
Victorian homes were originally a British architectural style. They originated during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837 – 1901, which is where the name comes from. This style, although now so iconic in and of itself, actually borrows from many different architectural styles before it. Gothic and Romanesque architecture were heavy influences. At the time of the height of the style’s popularity, the British Empire reached far and wide. This is why the style is also so popular in places like the United States, Australia, and other countries that were colonized by Britain at that time.
The Industrial Revolution also had a heavy influence on the Victorian house style. At this time there were huge advances in both transportation and manufacturing, making building high quality homes quickly and with creative liberty possible. This era allowed architects more freedom to create ornate, decorative homes rather than the simple utilitarian buildings that had been common previously. As such, Victorian houses are lavishly decorated and often seen in colorful paint colors.
Styles of Victorian Houses
The “Victorian house” architectural style is actually a major, overarching category of more specific architectural styles. They all look similar, but have varying elements depending on the subcategory. The more that you study the different types of Victorian houses, the easier it becomes to recognize each one for what it is.
Victorian Style – Queen Anne Homes
The Queen Anne home is probably the style that is most associated with the Victorian architecture style. Unlike many other home styles of the time, the floor plan and exterior are generally asymmetrical. These homes are incredibly elaborate and spare no decorative addition. You will see porches, bay windows, towers, turrets, and trimming. Usually, the Queen Anne homes are painted in bright colors.
Victorian Style – Gothic Revival Homes
Gothic Revival Victorian homes hold influence from the Romantic arts movement as well as medieval architecture. These homes are visually reminiscent of stunning castles and churches from the middle ages. They often include pointed arches and windows.
Victorian Style – Italianate Home
Italianate is another subcategory of Victorian homes. These buildings are generally lower and flatter, and modeled after Italian Renaissance villas. This style is the least ornamental and decorated of the group. However, true to being a Victorian house, it still does include a minimal amount of visual decoration.
Elements of the Victorian House
Of course, as discussed before, different Victorian houses have different styles and different types of ornamentation. However there are a few defining features that are very commonly seen in Victorian homes and are definitive of the style. First, Victorian homes are usually colorful. This is one of the easiest ways to define a Victorian house. They will generally be two to three stories. A single story building is not usually classified as Victorian architecture. The roofs of the homes are typically steeply pitched and triangular. Less universal, but still common, are bay windows, turrets and dormers, and porches.
Victorian Home Decor
The interiors of Victorian houses are just as ornately decorated as their exteriors. The interior architecture is lavish and more asymmetrical than other home styles. Lots of stairways and hallways are typical, and there are less open plan spaces. There is usually lots of crown and base molding and ornamental trim throughout the home. These homes also have lots of space for entertaining, as socialization and hosting friends was very popular during the time the homes were built.
The decoration in Victorian style homes is usually just as opulent as the exteriors. Historically, the homes included ornate furniture with carved woodwork and upholstery, as well as plenty of heavy textiles. Velvets, silks, and other luxurious materials were common. The floors would be covered in large rugs, and tapestries draped from the walls.
Currently, the interior designs of these homes are usually more modern-leaning. You will see them decorated in anything from farmhouse style to coastal style. The great thing about these homes is that they are so iconic on the exterior, yet can be decorated any way the resident wants inside.
Browse some of our favorite rugs below that we think would go beautifully in a Victorian house. If you need more help selecting just the right rug for you, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts.