What: Victorian architecture — buildings constructed during the reign of Queen Victoria
When: 1837 to 1901
Main type: Terraced housing, generally built to accommodate workers moving to cities to work in factoriesThe Victorian era is the period in which Queen Victoria ruled Britain, from 1837 to 1901. Following the industrial revolution, which began around 1760 and lasted until about 1840, production methods and manufacturing processes had changed greatly. The beginning of the railways meant that building materials that would previously only have been available to those in the local area were now available countrywide.People flocked to the towns looking for work. “The explosion of the property market happened in the Victorian era, so they were forced to mass produce homes to accommodate all of the workers,” says Hugo Tugman of Architect Your Home.
A small, hidden kitchen. Kitchens were considered to be the territory of servants for the wealthy, and would certainly not have been on display to the public in smaller homes. Beyond the main house traditionally was a rear projection, or outrigger, which housed the kitchen, the pantry and, historically, an outside toilet.“The only rooms to be presented to the public were the formal reception rooms. That’s probably one of the biggest differences between an original Victorian property built in the 19th century and one now: things like cooking were certainly not something on show to friends and guests,” says Martyn Clarke of Martyn Clarke Architecture. The rear projections were often more than 20 feet long, and can be extended sideways today to create around 430 square feet of space.
Sash and bay windows. Plate glass — allowing for larger panes than were previously possible — arrived in 1832. Typical Victorian windows are made up of four or six panes fixed to wooden runners that slide vertically, called sash windows.
Often the homes have bay windows, either circular or rectangular. “Bay windows are very characteristic of the Victorian era and can even go up to three stories high,” Clarke says. “The Victorians embraced ornament in the detail and in the form of their buildings,” Tugman adds. “They would have had bays to create more interest in the modeling.”
Molding. The quality of woodwork and molding traditionally was directly related to the status of the house. Molding gives form and shape to a room and is an important element in Victorian interior design. Grander homes have much more elaborate molding with decorative details, including ornate coving and ceiling medallions, designed to catch the smoke rising from gaslights.
“You can have different grades of fireplace, different levels of cornicing — different levels of embellishment across the board,” says Clarke.
Types of Victorian Homes
The Victorian terrace. The terrace houses designed for working families are often very small and in close proximity to one another.
A typical house of this kind is a two-up, two-down (two rooms upstairs and two downstairs). Sometimes a whole street would share just a few toilets. Some families may have had as many as 12 children — a source of income at the time, because they could be sent to work — so space is often extremely tight.
Despite their compact footprint, Victorian homes are characteristically well proportioned, making them comfortable living spaces. “They have the best-proportioned spaces, with high ceilings and great depth,” Clarke says.
The Victorian semidetached.Members of the emerging middle class lived in larger terraced and semidetached houses, just streets away from the more crowded homes of the working class. These homes are more likely to have flushing toilets and servants’ quarters in the loft or basement, depending on the status of the original owners. Their internal finishes are more elaborate, particularly in the public rooms.
The Victorian mansion. For the wealthy, Victorian mansions traditionally were places of refuge and comfort. These homes are very grand and followed all of the latest fashions when they were built, including heavy curtains, flowery wallpaper and extravagant furniture. Rich, dark colors were à la mode back then, as were button-backed armchairs, ottomans and chaise longues.
“Often they had riotous colors, and they embraced color much more than we readily give them credit for,” says Tugman. Servants once lived downstairs and were responsible for cooking and cleaning, lighting the fires, heating water for washing and helping members of the family to dress.
Victorian homes today. Victorian architecture shapes much of our architectural landscape today. Many of the larger homes have been subdivided into apartments, and extensions have often been added to both large and small homes to make the most of the space.
There are numerous ways to update Victorian homes: “You can add a contemporary extension, lay underfloor heating and renew sash windows,” for instance, says Clarke.
But while many Victorian homes have been brought into the 21st century, many aspects of their history and character endure.
Farmhouse Architecture Transcends Time
Side gables. Variations on roof configuration in American vernacular are many. Most are simpler, as this is the nature of the style. This house is side gabled. Gabled dormerspenetrate the eave line for the second floor, and a shed roof creates the porch, but the main gabled roof dominates. In this example the primary structure is rectangular, but appendages extend to the sides, making a contemporary plan.
Notice the simplified details. The porch posts and balusters of the railing are unadorned square supports. A simple molding wraps the top of the posts to imply a capital. The rafter tails are left exposed, which adds rhythm to the theme and echoes the repetition of the porch railing. Shutters and a classically referenced entrance door contribute to the more traditional feeling of this house.
Gables atop hip roofs. Less common but quite distinguishable is the gable on a hip roof, like this example. Though the two roof forms can have the same pitch, the gable is steeper than the hip here. As well, the gable portion gets pierced with a shed dormer. Double-hung windows refer to historical precedent. The dance between contemporary and traditional, as this house demonstrates, defines more sophisticated examples of American vernacular.
Farmhouses with unifying materials. You will notice that with the exception of the last example below, these houses are clad almost entirely in one material each. This unifying technique adds to the simplicity that is important to the theme of the American vernacular style. The Central California coastal design here has board and batten siding, reminiscent of the ranch house, as exterior sheathing.
Almost all of these houses have wood or simulated wood siding. Roof shingles of wood or asphalt are used on some, but the standing-seam metal panel is a good fit for this style, as seen on this house and the first and fourth examples.
Some key updates to your kitchen will help you sell your house. Here’s what you need to know
1. Get the wood look. If you need to replace your flooring, consider this: Hardwood is king when it comes to resale value. It’s the floor that buyers look for when they’re house shopping, and it will instantly increase the value of your kitchen.
Does that mean you have to install hardwood for your home to sell? Not at all. Quality hardwood isn’t cheap. It normally runs at least $4 per square foot. You can opt for less expensive flooring that has the wood look, such as vinyl and porcelain tile, which can carry lower price tags. Installing vinyl is DIY-friendly, which can keep your return on investment high.
2. Paint your cabinets. Cabinets are one of the first things buyers will notice about your kitchen. If your cabinets aren’t in tiptop shape, a new paint might be the best and most economical way to give them a modern makeover since new cabinets can easily cost more than $10,000.
A do-it-yourself paint job can cost less than $100 (plus hours of tutorials). If you don’t think you can pull it off, hire a professional. Expect to pay a pro anywhere from several hundred dollars to $2,000.
White is both a popular and timeless choice that will have broad appeal to home buyers. It also keeps your space light and open. Avoid colorful or dark tones and stick to a neutral palette.
3. Replace your cabinet hardware and faucet. These are minor upgrades that can boost your kitchen’s curb appeal for less than $1,000. The type of finish you choose ultimately depends on your kitchen’s style. Oil-rubbed bronze will do the trick, though stainless steel and chrome are more trendy choices.
If you don’t currently have cabinet hardware, consider investing in a style that suits your kitchen. It can give your cabinets an entirely new look and feel. It’s an additional cost but is more affordable than replacing your cabinets.
4. Go granite or solid surface. Here’s the deal: Buyers expect a durable, solid-surface worktop like granite. It’s already as standard a finish as stainless steel. If you have dated laminate countertops, now is the time to upgrade.
There are many options available for countertops. Granite and quartz are two popular choices. Quartz countertops are a hot commodity right now and will certainly help sell your home. Some may even argue that quartz is the new standard instead of granite.
So what will it cost? An entry-level granite costs around $45 to $55 per square foot installed. Quartz normally runs $65 to $85 per square foot installed. While that isn’t chump change, it’s a small price to pay for a sold home.
5. Install a designer backsplash.If you haven’t replaced your backsplash in more than a decade, chances are it’s too dated. A flashy glass mosaic or a creative blend of glass and tile can leave an impression on home buyers. Don’t forget about quality stone like marble and travertine either.
Glass mosaics usually cost anywhere from $10 to $60 per square foot. Stay on the lower end of that spectrum to maximize your return on investment.
6. Paint the walls. A new paint job is usually one of the first expenses that homeowners pencil in when they’re preparing to list their home, and for good reason. Your kitchen walls have to look presentable. Patch up areas that need TLC or select an entirely new color.
When you’re deciding on a new color, the lighter, the better. Remember, you want your kitchen to feel as open and expansive as possible. Grays are certainly en vogue, but off-whites, creams, beige’s and tan’s have broad appeal too. Choose a softer tone to offset dark cabinetry and furniture.
8. Stage it well. You can upgrade or improve every finish in your kitchen, but it won’t mean a thing if potential buyers can’t envision the space as their own. It’s also important to keep your kitchen as clean as possible while you’re showing it.
Here are a few tips for proper staging:
- Declutter. Clearing your counters is an absolute must, but don’t stop there. Get rid of the items you no longer use. Clean out and organize your pantry and cupboards — buyers will likely take a peek. Scrub down places you haven’t seen or touched in years.
- Make it flow. Tables, chairs and decor should feel natural and open, not cramped and closed. Consult with a real estate agent or interior designer if you need help reimaigning your layout to improve your kitchen’s flow.
- Use fruits and fresh flowers as decorations. They’re inexpensive props that add color to your kitchen. Plus, they breathe life into the space and make it feel lived in
Special Thanks to Sam Ferris Houzz Contributor