The Victorian House Origin and Architecture Style

Let Explore What, Exactly, is a Victorian House And Its Origin

What is Victorian style?

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 Classic Victorian Styles House - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

The Classic Victorian Styles House

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. These houses are characterized by their ornate and elaborate designs, showcasing the architectural and design trends of the era.

Some common features include:

  • Steeply pitched roofs: These 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: These homes 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: These 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: The houses typically have high ceilings, creating a sense of grandeur, and spacious rooms with detailed moldings and cornices.

The Victorian style houses come in various sub-styles. These include Queen Anne style, Gothic Revival, Italianate, or Second Empire. But they all share a common emphasis on intricate detailing, decorative elements. They showcase the architectural craftsmanship and individuality of the era.

Victorian House Style Yellow Nazmiyal

The lavish Victorian house style.

History and the Victorian House Origin

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, these 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 style homes and 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.

Queen Anne Victorian House Nazmiyal

A Queen Anne Victorian house.

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.

Gothic Revival Victorian Architecture Nazmiyal

An example of the Gothic Revival style of Victorian architecture.

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.

Italianate Victorian House Nazmiyal

An Italianate Victorian house.

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 this style of 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 House Elements Nazmiyal

Victorian homes all have similar elements.

Notable Victorian house architects and decorators

The Victorian era, spanning from 1837 to 1901, was a period of eclectic and ornate architecture and interior design. The era saw a mix of styles, influenced by earlier periods and exotic cultures, often emphasizing elaborate detail and decoration.

Here are some of the most notable architects and decorators for this style:

Notable Victorian Architects

  1. Charles Barry (1795-1860):
    • Notable Works: Rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square’s Nelson’s Column.
    • Style: Classical and Gothic Revival.
    • Barry was instrumental in the revival of Gothic architecture, which became synonymous with the Victorian era.
  2. Augustus Pugin (1812-1852):
    • Notable Works: Interior of the Palace of Westminster, Alton Towers.
    • Style: Gothic Revival.
    • Pugin was a key figure in the Gothic Revival movement and his work focused on intricate and authentic medieval designs.
  3. George Edmund Street (1824-1881):
    • Notable Works: Royal Courts of Justice, All Saints, Margaret Street in London.
    • Style: High Victorian Gothic.
    • Street’s architecture often featured polychromy and rich decoration, characteristic of the High Victorian Gothic style.
  4. Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912):
    • Notable Works: New Scotland Yard, Cragside.
    • Style: Queen Anne and Arts and Crafts.
    • Shaw was known for his domestic architecture, blending traditional English styles with contemporary Victorian influences.
  5. William Butterfield (1814-1900):
    • Notable Works: Keble College, Oxford; All Saints, Margaret Street.
    • Style: Gothic Revival with polychromatic decoration.
    • Butterfield’s use of colored bricks and elaborate patterns made his buildings distinctive and iconic of the Victorian era.
  6. John Ruskin (1819-1900):
    • Notable Works: Influential through his writings rather than buildings.
    • Style: Gothic Revival and advocacy for the Arts and Crafts movement.
    • As a critic and theorist, Ruskin championed the Gothic style and craftsmanship, influencing many architects and designers of his time.
  7. Philip Webb (1831-1915):
    • Notable Works: Red House (for William Morris), Standen.
    • Style: Arts and Crafts.
    • Webb’s work emphasized simplicity, craftsmanship, and the use of natural materials, principles central to the Arts and Crafts movement.
  8. Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905):
    • Notable Works: Natural History Museum in London, Manchester Town Hall.
    • Style: Gothic Revival.
    • Waterhouse’s buildings often combined functional design with elaborate detail and strong Gothic elements.

Notable Victorian Decorators and Designers

  1. William Morris (1834-1896):
    • Notable Works: Textile designs, wallpapers, and furniture.
    • Style: Arts and Crafts.
    • Morris was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, known for his intricate and nature-inspired designs.
  2. Christopher Dresser (1834-1904):
    • Notable Works: Decorative arts, metalwork, and ceramics.
    • Style: Aesthetic Movement and early Modernism.
    • Dresser’s work was innovative and often ahead of its time, blending Victorian ornate detail with early modernist simplicity.
  3. Charles Eastlake (1836-1906):
    • Notable Works: “Hints on Household Taste” (book on interior design).
    • Style: Eastlake style, part of the Aesthetic Movement.
    • Eastlake promoted simple, functional design in furniture and decoration, influencing a more restrained Victorian aesthetic.
  4. E.W. Godwin (1833-1886):
    • Notable Works: Furniture design, architecture.
    • Style: Japanese influence and Aesthetic Movement.
    • Godwin’s designs were influenced by Japanese art and emphasized simplicity and elegance.
  5. Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881):
    • Notable Works: Interior designs for the Peacock Room (partially), cast-iron fireplaces.
    • Style: Aesthetic Movement.
    • Jeckyll’s work often incorporated Eastern motifs and intricate detail, characteristic of the Aesthetic Movement.
  6. John Henry Dearle (1859-1932):
    • Notable Works: Textile designs for Morris & Co.
    • Style: Arts and Crafts.
    • Dearle continued William Morris’s legacy with his intricate textile and wallpaper designs, heavily inspired by nature.

These architects and decorators not only shaped the Victorian aesthetic but also influenced future design movements. The blend of revivalist and innovative styles created a rich and diverse architectural and decorative heritage that continues to be celebrated and preserved today.

What are the most notable homes in this style?

The homes are known for their distinctive architecture and elaborate detailing, are scattered across the globe. These houses often embody the eclectic tastes of the Victorian era, incorporating elements from Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, and other styles.

Here are some of the most homes, each with unique architectural and historical significance:

Notable Victorian Homes in the UK

  1. Osborne House (1845-1851)
    • Location: Isle of Wight, England.
    • Architect: Prince Albert and Thomas Cubitt.
    • Style: Italianate.
    • Notable Features: This royal residence was designed as a private retreat for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It features ornate interiors, a blend of Renaissance and Baroque details, and extensive gardens.
    • Historical Significance: Osborne House is a quintessential example of Victorian opulence and personal royal taste.
  2. Highclere Castle (1842-1849)
    • Location: Hampshire, England.
    • Architect: Sir Charles Barry.
    • Style: Jacobethan.
    • Notable Features: The home boasts a grandiose exterior with elaborate stonework, turrets, and towers. The interiors are richly decorated with period furniture and art.
    • Cultural Significance: Famous as the filming location for the TV series “Downton Abbey,” it exemplifies the grandeur of Victorian country estates.
  3. Wightwick Manor (1887)
    1. Location: Wolverhampton, England.
    2. Architect: Edward Ould.
    3. Style: Arts and Crafts.
    4. Notable Features: This house is noted for its timber framing, intricate woodwork, and a collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. Its interiors showcase William Morris wallpapers and textiles.
    5. Historical Significance: It represents the Arts and Crafts movement, focusing on craftsmanship and traditional design.
  4. Tyntesfield (1837-1863)
    • Location: Somerset, England.
    • Architect: John Norton.
    • Style: Gothic Revival.
    • Notable Features: This manor features elaborate stonework, stained glass windows, and intricate wood carvings. It is surrounded by landscaped gardens and parkland.
    • Historical Significance: A quintessential Gothic Revival mansion, Tyntesfield represents the wealth and tastes of the Victorian gentry.

Notable Homes in the USA

  1. The Carson Mansion (1884-1886)
    • Location: Eureka, California.
    • Architect: Samuel Newsom and Joseph Cather Newsom.
    • Style: Queen Anne.
    • Notable Features: The mansion is famed for its asymmetrical facade, turrets, gables, and extensive use of stained glass. It is often considered one of the most grandiose examples of Queen Anne architecture in the United States.
    • Historical Significance: Built for lumber baron William Carson, it represents the economic prosperity and architectural exuberance of the Victorian era in America.
  2. The Winchester Mystery House (1884-1922)
    • Location: San Jose, California.
    • Architect: Sarah Winchester (in collaboration with various builders).
    • Style: Queen Anne.
    • Notable Features: This sprawling mansion is known for its maze-like design, with staircases leading to nowhere and doors opening into walls. It has over 160 rooms, 10,000 windows, and numerous architectural oddities.
    • Historical Significance: Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, the house reflects Victorian eclecticism and the folklore surrounding its construction.
  3. Mark Twain House (1873-1874)
    • Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
    • Architect: Edward Tuckerman Potter.
    • Style: Gothic Revival.
    • Notable Features: This home features elaborate Gothic detailing, a picturesque roofline, and richly decorated interiors. It was the residence of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) for 17 years.
    • Cultural Significance: The house is significant for its association with one of America’s most famous authors and as an example of high Victorian design.
  4. The Breakers (1893-1895)
    • Location: Newport, Rhode Island.
    • Architect: Richard Morris Hunt.
    • Style: Beaux-Arts / Renaissance Revival.
    • Notable Features: This opulent mansion features a grand hall, intricate marble work, and lavish interiors. It was built as a summer residence for the Vanderbilt family.
    • Historical Significance: As one of the most extravagant Gilded Age mansions, it exemplifies the wealth and luxury of late Victorian America.

Notable Homes in Australia

  1. Rippon Lea Estate (1868)
    • Location: Melbourne, Victoria.
    • Architect: Joseph Reed.
    • Style: Victorian Free Classical.
    • Notable Features: The mansion is surrounded by extensive gardens, a fernery, and a man-made lake. The house features ornate interiors and verandas.
    • Historical Significance: It represents the prosperity of Melbourne’s elite during the Victorian gold rush and the adaptation of Victorian architecture to the Australian climate.
  2. Como House (1847)
    • Location: Melbourne, Victoria.
    • Architect: Edward Williams and William Pitt.
    • Style: Italianate.
    • Notable Features: This mansion includes classical Italianate elements, extensive gardens, and well-preserved Victorian interiors.
    • Historical Significance: As one of Melbourne’s earliest grand homes, it showcases the transition from colonial to Victorian architecture in Australia.

Notable Homes in Canada

  1. Craigdarroch Castle (1887-1890)
    • Location: Victoria, British Columbia.
    • Architect: Warren Heywood Williams.
    • Style: Scottish Baronial / Romanesque Revival.
    • Notable Features: The castle is renowned for its asymmetrical facade, turrets, stained glass windows, and richly detailed interiors.
    • Historical Significance: Built for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, it represents the wealth and ambition of Canadian industrialists during the Victorian era.
  2. Casa Loma (1911-1914)
    • Location: Toronto, Ontario.
    • Architect: E. J. Lennox.
    • Style: Gothic Revival.
    • Notable Features: This grand castle includes secret passages, towers, and lavish interiors. It has 98 rooms and extensive gardens.
    • Historical Significance: Though built just after the Victorian era, its design is quintessentially Victorian. Casa Loma is one of the most iconic structures in Toronto.

Notable Home in Europe (Outside the UK)

  1. Palace of Pena (1842-1854)
    • Location: Sintra, Portugal.
    • Architect: Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege.
    • Style: Romanticism with Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish influences.
    • Notable Features: The palace boasts vivid colors, eclectic architectural details, and sweeping views of the surrounding hills.
    • Historical Significance: As a royal summer residence, it exemplifies the romantic and eclectic tastes of European royalty during the Victorian era.

Victorian home decor

The Victorian  interiors 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.

Modern Victorian House Interior Nazmiyal

A modern Victorian house interior.

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.

Here are some beautiful Victorian – era rugs from the Nazmiyal Collection:

Large Antique English Axminster Rug Nazmiyal

Large Antique English Axminster Rug

Antique Oversized Arts and Crafts William Morris Rug Nazmiyal

Antique Oversized Arts and Crafts William Morris Rug

Large Floral Antique French Savonnerie Carpet Nazmiyal

Large Floral Antique French Savonnerie Carpet

Oversized Antique Persian Tabriz Haji Jalili Carpet Nazmiyal

Oversized Antique Persian Tabriz Haji Jalili Carpet

Green Floral Romanian Antique Bessarabian Kilim Rug Nazmiyal

Green Floral Romanian Antique Bessarabian Kilim Rug

Black and Red Antique Persian Ziegler Sultanabad Rug Nazmiyal

Black and Red Antique Persian Ziegler Sultanabad Rug

Rust Oversize Antique Persian Sultanabad Carpet Nazmiyal

Rust Oversize Antique Persian Sultanabad Carpet

This architecture blog about the Victorian style house was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs.

Related News

Different Architecture Blogs and Posts About Specific Interior Design Styles by Nazmiyal

The Different Architecture Blogs and Posts About Specific Interior Design Styles

In this post we just organized and included the blogs that we had written about...

Tudor Style House Nazmiyal

What is a Tudor Style House?

In this article we take a close look at the Tudor style house and the...

Tallest US Building: One World Trade Center by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Tallest US Building: One World Trade Center

Let's take a look at One World Trade Center in New York City - the...

Shopping Cart