Understanding Victorian Architecture

Victorian architecture may seem a bit unpredictable at first glance, but this is only because Victorian houses are designed to be unique. Victorian architecture belongs to the years from 1840 to 1900. Not all of the houses built in this era were grand or inspiring, but the defining characteristics of Victorian can be found in the grander houses of that time period, incorporating elements of the Queen Anne, Gothic Revival or Italianate styles. Many architects of the Victorian era felt free to mix and match styles as they built, creating quirky, one-of-a-kind houses.

Asymmetrical Floor Plans
Most Victorian floor plans look almost pieced together, as if the house were built haphazardly, with extra rooms added here and there. This is a big part of the charm of a Victorian home. The unusual combination of rooms, with some oddly shaped or sized, makes for a show-stopper of a house.

Steep, Pitched Roofs
Victorian homes are usually tall and narrow, but they are also topped by a steep, highly pitched roof covered with decorative shingles, often laid out in a pattern. This makes for a tall, highly visible home.

Elaborate Porches
Balconies, porches, wrap-around porches and gazebos all grace the typical Victorian home. Not only are these extra outdoor rooms extravagant, but the spaces themselves are decorated with ornate iron work, beaded spindles and jigsaw trim.

Unique Chimneys
Fireplaces are a common element in traditional Victorian homes, which were built before gas or oil were used for heating. Grander homes will feature kitchen fireplaces, living room fireplaces and bedroom fireplaces. Corner fireplaces and multiple chimneys can be found in some homes. Ornate metal floor gratings can sometimes be found on the upper floors of homes that have been kept in their original condition. These gratings allowed warm air to move throughout the house.

Irregular Sides
Bay windows and built-in cabinets kept walls from being boring or standard. If there isn't a fireplace, balcony or porch coming out of a particular side of a house, you're likely to find some interesting windows there. In many cases, rooms were shaped like octagons, creating an interesting house shape. These unusually shaped rooms are often found in turrets or towers.

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