What is a Victorian Home?

We dive into the various styles and what defines them.

When most people think of Victorian-style architecture they picture steep roofs, pointed arches and beautiful wooden features throughout the exterior of the home. Very distinct from other styles, Victorian homes have captured the hearts of homeowners for centuries. In fact, they got their name more than 200 years ago during the reign of Queen Victoria, spanning from 1837 to 1901.

Due to the large presence of the British Empire in those days, the Victorian style is still found today throughout parts of the United Kingdom, North America, Australia and New Zealand. While there have been several variations throughout the years, there are a few defining aspects that dictate a Victorian-style home.

On the exterior, they often include steep, gabled roofs, round angles, towers (or turrets), shapely windows, stained glass, decorative woodwork and bright color variations. On the interior, you will often see anywhere from two to three stories, floorplans featuring added nooks, higher ceilings, wooden trim and ornate staircases. Below are some examples of different Victorian styles and how their characteristics differ from one another.

Queen Anne

Widely considered to be the most popular and well-known of the Victorian styles, the Queen Anne home traditionally features gabled roofs, rounded towers, decorative ornamentation and a variety of color accents, textures and patterns. Architect Richard Norman Shaw originally coined the name in England after Queen Anne.

The first notable version of the style by an American architect was completed in Newport, Rhode Island by H.H. Richardson, who went on to design the
William Watts-Sherman house. The Queen Anne style became popular closer to the end of Queen Victoria’s rule, with many built between 1875 and 1905.

Folk Victorian

A big difference in a Folk Victorian home is the absence of towers. And, unlike more traditional Victorian homes,
the Folk Victorian does not have a complex floor plan. Rather, it combines a few different inspirations, including English cottage and American homestead, as well as paying homage to Victorian romanticism. Most of these homes are found in areas with lots of space, such as rural environments, and are smaller and more square than other styles. They were also more common with the middle class who would typically design their own homes and work with local carpenters to complete the job.

Italianate

One way to identify an Italianate Victorian home is by recognizing the large and decorative front porch that most of them include. Widely believed to be inspired by villas across northern Italy, these homes are usually only two levels and have lower roofs, Corinthian columns, and arched windows.

Gothic Revival

Gothic Revival homes have been compared to castles over the years. Their architectural design draws inspiration from European churches from the medieval era and includes pointed arches and front-facing gables with vergeboards (wood trim).

Second Empire

With a look similar to western European homes, Second Empire houses have a style going back to the time of Napoleon III. Most homes in this particular style have mansard roofs that include a heavy pitch and lots of millwork on the outside. In addition, they tend to have heavy ornamentation and tall facades.

Stick Eastlake

The simplest version of a Victorian-style home, the Stick Eastlake,
is primarily made of wood. During the time these homes first started to appear, building materials became cheaper, making them easier for more people to construct. That said, most of these homes have a deep sense of creativity that often shows through in the decorative trusswork. Simple gables, double-hung windows and shingled roofs are other attributes closely associated to the Stick Eastlake.

Each version of a Victorian home offers its own sophisticated touch, with an elegance not as widely seen within today’s modern architecture. Whether you are looking for something that says “castle” or going for more of that charming cottage feel, there’s a Victorian design for everyone.