Cues from the Past Inform a Period-Appropriate Historic Home Renovation
Victorian homes are some of the most highly sought after properties for lovers of historic architecture. Romantic, opulent, and irresistibly charming, it’s no wonder why!
Victorian houses were born out of the “Victorian era” when Queen Victoria ruled Britain from 1837 to 1901. The aesthetic caught on in the United States at the tail end of the Industrial Revolution, which made construction materials more readily available and allowed architects to take more creative liberties. The result? Highly ornate and decorative homes that were the antithesis of the simplistic, utilitarian structures of the day.
Using the phrase “Victorian home” generally embodies the period as a whole, but there are multiple subcategories within the design style, each with its own defining features. Read on as our historic home renovation experts share insight on the most common types of Victorian houses and how you should approach remodeling one of these classic beauties.
Characteristics of Victorian Homes
Just like modern home designs are distinguishable by certain interior and exterior components, there are numerous elements that set Victorian houses apart. Typically, properties include:
- Gabled roofs.
- Multiple stories.
- Towers and turrets.
- Elaborate front porches.
- Colorful exteriors.
- Bay, sash, and stained glass windows.
- Intricate millwork.
- High ceilings.
- Detailed, closed floor plans.
Understanding these distinctions is especially important if you’re planning a historic home renovation. Too often, old houses are updated without first considering the time period in which they were built, resulting in properties that lack character. By knowing the key features of a Victorian home, you can ensure they’re celebrated rather than erased.
Common Types of Victorian Properties Our Historic Home Renovation Professionals Love
Not all Victorian homes are created equally. While there are certain characteristics that encompass Victorian designs in a general sense, these properties can be broken down into several sub-styles. Here are five types our historic home renovation company sees most often in and around Kansas City.
Queen Anne: Often considered the quintessential Victorian, Queen Anne houses are brightly colored, over the top, and reminiscent of life-size dollhouses. These asymmetrical structures were popular in the United States from the 1880s to 1920s and typically have two to three stories, which feature polygonal towers, overhanging eaves, classical columns, and wrap-around porches.
Now, you may be wondering what another queen has to do with the Victorian era. Queen Anne architecture first appeared in Great Britain in the 1700s during Queen Anne’s rule – more than a century before Queen Victoria. In the 1870s, these homes made a comeback, but they were more eccentric than before, and soon enough, the revival began showing up in America as well.
Italianate: Italianate homes are modeled after 16th century Italian villas. John Nash, a British architect, is credited with building the first Italianate in 1802, but the style really flourished from 1840 to 1885.
Wider rather than tall, Italianates are rectangular in shape and have low, flat roofs. Narrow windows, square towers, and decorative trim are all facets of this Victorian home. It’s worth noting that because of the Industrial Revolution, mass-produced cast iron and metal elements are also prevalent and should remain intact or be reproduced for your historic home renovation.
Second Empire: Second Empire homes boast various architectural features that were considered luxuries in the Victorian era, making them only accessible to the upper class. Inspired by the properties found in France during Napoleon III’s reign, these houses are identifiable by their mansard roofs, dormer windows, pavilions, and strong massing.
Gothic Revival: Gothic Revival historic home renovations in Kansas City are less common, but they’re certainly a sight to behold. This style draws inspiration from medieval architecture and the Romantic art movement, emulating the exquisite cathedrals or castles of the middle ages.
Like any Victorian property, Gothic Revival houses have no shortage of gorgeous details, including diamond-shaped windows, pointed arches, and tall turrets. Stone is most often used for the exterior, but Carpenter Gothic homes are popular in the Midwest and feature wood siding.
Folk: Folk Victorians are the most common type of Victorian home in the United States. That’s because this style is the most modest, which made it more affordable among the middle class. Everyday American families didn’t have the means to hire an architect or ship in ornate design elements and built these properties with only the help of a skilled carpenter.
Although Folk Victorians tend to be more minimalistic in nature, they’re no less beautiful. They still feature many classic Victorian characteristics, like striking spindlework detailing and a gable front design.
The Importance of a Historic Home Renovation Expert for Your Victorian Remodel
Just like there are many types of Victorian homes, there are a wide range of home remodelers with varying levels of knowledge and experience. When you’re ready to plan a historic home renovation in Kansas City, it’s essential to hire a specialist who’s committed to bringing your vision to life without sacrificing your property’s architectural integrity.
Our historic home renovation company is well versed in the ins and outs of Victorian architecture, along with other period styles, and can craft a design that strikes the perfect balance between new and old. We work closely with you every step of the way to ensure your finished space not only meets your needs now, but can be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.