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Victorian – America's Most Recognizable Style Home

The iconic “Victorian style” home is one of the most recognizable and most popular styles in both architecture and design.<.P.

What is generally referred to as Victorian is not one style, but a collection of many design styles during the Victorian era (1837-1901) including Gothic Revival, Folk Victorian, Italianate, Stick, Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne, and Eastlake.

Victorian house

• What many designers refer to as Early Victorian or Classic Victorian style is characterized by dark wood floors and walls with mahogany and walnut accents and jewel-inspired tones of deep red, green, gold, and purple.

• Drawing its influence from Gothic style, Victorian furniture is heavy with dark finishes and elaborate carvings and ornamentation.

• Classic Victorian style often includes interpretations of historical styles mixed with Middle Eastern and Asian influences.

• Mass production, a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution, lowered costs and made products more affordable. As a result, homes became more ornate with decorative gingerbread trim, scalloped shingles, and wood or metal trim.

Here are the major characteristics of several distinctive architectural styles during the Victorian time period that are collectively referred to as Victorian.

Styles Popular During the Victorian Era
folk victorian

The Stick style (1860-1890) home, popular in the United States after the Civil War, is a bridge between Gothic Revival and Queen Anne. The classic “Gingerbread House” features intricate half-timbering or stick work. Stick houses are usually two stories with pitched roofs and tall windows.

Second Empire homes, late 18th century and early 19th century, are characterized by a high Mansard roof. The style has French influence with flashy ornamentation. This modern home appealed to the wealthy and was popular in New York and Washington, DC.

Romanesque Revival houses (1870-1890) resemble small castles with corner turrets of brick and large arches. In America, the design was influenced by William Morris and John Ruskin, who were later founders of the Arts and Crafts movement.

house gable

Romanesque homes often feature Queen Anne and Single style details. Features include rough-faced square stones, Roman-style arches over doorways, multiple stories, rounded towers, columns and pilasters, and stained glass. There are often characteristics of Gothic architecture as well.

The Samuel Cupples House, 1890, in St. Louis, Missouri is a prime example of this style home. The restored home is now a museum on the campus of St. Louis University.

Eastlake Style (1870-1890) is named after English designer and furniture maker Charles Eastlake. Eastlake furniture moves away from the large carved furniture pieces popular in Victorian style to a simpler style. It features low relief carvings, incised lines, geometric ornaments, and flat surfaces.

Eastlake furniture in oak, cherry, rosewood and walnut wood accentuates the grain with oils and other natural finishes rather than the dark finishes associated with classic Victorian style. Eastlake style also incorporates the use of nature themes, including simple plant and animal designs.