Victorian Style Homes
Victorian is one of the most recognized architectural styles today, though the term "Victorian" is somewhat of a misnomer, as it refers to an era rather than a style. A Victorian home can be one of a number of styles, including the Queen Anne, which is what most people picture when they think of a "Victorian home". In addition to the Queen Anne, other Victorian styles include Gothic Revival, Italianate, Richardsonian Romanesque, Second Empire, Shingle-style and Stick.
No matter what kind of Victorian-era home you're looking for, most of these houses share a few common elements. The bay windows that stick out and afford residents a window-seat are a well-known feature of the Victorian house. Iron railings, sash windows and chimneys are all signs of that bygone era when horses and firewood were more common than cars and radiators.
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Popular in the early-mid 1800s, Gothic Revival architecture was a reflection of the Victorian fascination with the medieval age. This style has steeply pitched roofs and narrow, pointed-arch windows that are reminiscent of medieval churches. Only the wealthier denizens of the Victorian age could afford this much whimsy and elaboration in their homes; more modest incomes resulted in the Folk Victorian. The Folk Victorian was a square, less flamboyant house that was more suited to the practical considerations of a middle-income Victorian family.
The Italianate was the next Victorian style to be in vogue. Emerging in the later 1800s, this style was inspired by the aesthetics of northern Italian villas. Asymmetrical segments add to the spacious feel of this design. Ornate carvings and ornamentation of eaves and windows also define this home style.
At the same time that Italianate was a popular style, the Second Empire home also rose to prominence. The most defining feature of this design is its mansard roof. This type of roof is designed to maximize attic space while being angled just enough to divert water or snow. Dormer windows dot the roof with ornate surrounds.
The later 1800s also saw the Stick style emerge, with its decorative planks on the exterior walls and massive overhanging second-story porches. While the style is still lavishly decorated, the exterior planks (which are placed horizontally and vertically, and are painted in contrasting colors) really define this type of house.
The Queen Anne style emerged in 1880, and is the most enduring type of Victorian home. In fact, "Queen Anne:" has become nearly interchangeable with "Victorian style". At its most flamboyant, Queen Anne screams "extreme", with bay windows, turrets, multiple, detailed dormers, and ornamentation on just about everything that could be scrolled, carved or shaped. Even conservative Queen Anne homes have a certain ostentation that points back to their origins as upper-middle-class homes.
The 1880s also saw the Romanesque Revival home, featuring stone walls and equally heavy surrounds on windows and doors. In this case, decor is nearly non-existent, but the stone imparts a medieval atmosphere popular at the time. Because of the expense, this style was not often used for private residences and only the wealthy could afford it.
The Shingle style home was the last of the Victorian properties, and is covered almost entirely by shingles of varying sizes. As with the Romanesque Revival house, it is nearly bare of ornamentation, but the details of the shingling, like the stonework of its counterpart, tend to make up for the lack. This was also a home for the very wealthy, but the style eventually caught the interest of the middle-class, which built most of the structures of this type that are standing today.
Victorian homes can be challenging renovation projects. If you're looking for a home of this style, contact us for more information.