How To Renovate a Victorian House | Jeffery and Wilkes

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How To Renovate a Victorian House

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London has a mixture of different houses from different eras, over the past few weeks we have looked at How to Renovate a Tudor House and How to Renovate a Georgian House today we are going to look at How to Renovate a Victorian House.

One of the most popular houses we see today in London is a Victorian House

Some of the topics we will cover in this article as well as how to renovate a Victorian House are as follows

  • What Age is a Victorian House?
  • What Does a Victorian House Look Like?
  • How to Restore a Victorian House
  • How to Modernise a Victorian House
  • How to Decorate a Victorian House

What Age is a Victorian House?

The period of 1837-1901 is what is known as the Victorian era. Why? Queen Victoria I reigned through this period when she was 18 until she died 68 years later.

The railways opened and new manufacturing processing local produced building materials could be transported across the UK, allowing for houses to be built with different materials.

Many new houses were constructed in the Victorian Era as the industrial towns had work and lots of people were moving in, so to save space terraced houses were built.

There was still a wide divide between the rich and the poor. The poor were in the very small and narrow terraced houses, the middle class had superior terraces often with front and back gardens. The servants normally stayed in the attic. The rich went for what is known as Villas.

What Does a Victorian House Look Like?

There were still very few cars in the Victorian Era so you will not find original garages and driveways on a Victorian House.

The Victorians did not have central heating and so most rooms would have a fire to keep the place warm, therefore you will normally find a chimney on the roof of a Victorian House.

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Roof

The roof of a Victorian house is normally very distinctive. Victorian roofs were mostly made from slate. The roofs were often decorated with carvings and ornate features to really make them stand out.

You will often see a high, pitched roof on a Victorian house

Jeffery-and-Wilkes-victorian house

Brickwork

With the railway allowing people to import bricks across the country, patterned bricks were introduced.

You will often see Victorian houses with fancy brickwork and patterned with the coloured bricks.

 

Jeffery-and-Wilkes-Victorian-Brickwork

Windows

Many people would have sash windows in the Victorian era.

With the introduction of plate glass, the window panes could be much larger than the Georgian period. 6 and 4 pane sliding sash windows were introduced.

Bay windows were also very popular in the Victorian period. The ground floor bay windows would often have a roof.

You will also find a lot of decorative stained-glass windows in the Victorian era

Doors

The front door in Victorian times was an important feature. We mentioned earlier that wealth and status were very important in Victorian times, so the front door said a lot about their wealth position.

Doors were often panelled and with elegant carvings with a door frame surround. Sometimes they would have stained glass and often the door furniture would be made of brass.

Many of the doors would have fan lights like the Georgian era.

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Porches

Many Victorian houses would have a porch

Railings

You will often find black cast iron railings on Victorian properties and sometimes with gates.

Jeffery-and-Wilkes-Victorian Railings-entrance to victorian townhouse

How to Restore a Victorian House

If you have an original Victorian house that needs restorations the first thing you need to do is see if it falls under conservation. These properties are protected, and your local authority will need to approve any repairs or modifications.

Try and restore the original features if you need to have a refurbishment and do your research to match existing. Repair instead of renewing where possible as some items can be difficult to source.

Have a building survey done with someone who knows what they are talking about. There are lots of decades in the Victorian era alone so even one Victorian House to the next will differ and you do not want to confuse something with the Georgia or Edwardian eras.

Bear in mind when Victorian houses were built so things will not be aligned with straight lines. Embrace this as part of the character.

How to Decorate a Victorian House

Traditional Victorian interiors were dark and ornate. Dark rich tones like navy, plum and dark greens were used.

Ornate cornices were big in the Victorian era so pay attention to these if you are restoring or bear them in mind if you are refurbishing or creating the Victorian look. Your bog-standard plasterer will not be able to recreate this so hire a specialist this will really stand out in a room.

Flooring should be hard wood in a Victorian House, again if you can restore the original try and do that but if not then don’t go for a carpet go for wood.

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A bare room in the Victorian era was considered poor taste so each surface would be filled with ornaments.

Hallways were often decorated grey and simple so as to not compete with the other rooms.

Often the walls or woodwork were marbleised.

There was a lot of influence from the gothic style

How to Modernise a Victorian House

In the 70’s and 80’s in many homes some of the beautiful period features were ripped out and

Replaced with plywood and cheaper materials in a bid to modernise the properties. Today people are starting to respect the period features again, but still want to add some modernisation.

Perhaps you want to keep the original features like windows and roof etc, but you also want to modernise your Victorian house if the gothic style is not your thing. What works well to modernise a Victorian house without completely losing its character?

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If you want to make the most of the Natural light coming into a Victorian House, then use white or light neutral colours. Whilst this is certainly modernising it looks great on Victorian Houses.

Have long curtains to highlight the windows and perhaps wooden shutters.

For bathrooms and kitchens (even hallways) tiles are very popular in Victorian houses go for a geometric pattern.

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Jeffery-and-Wilkes-victorian-blog-kitchen

As Victorian houses usually have high ceilings you can be very bold with your lighting and make a statement to ensure they stand out.

If you are adding a house extension, you do not want it to look like a bolted on extra so go one way or the other. Either make sure your builders blend the extension in so it looks like it could have been with the original property at a glance or go the other way and make a bold statement with a striking contrast extension so it’s clear this is a modern extension on a period house.

You can consider exposing the original bricks walls or just one wall in a room and make this a feature wall that will really stand out and add the rustic look.

There is a lot of modern furniture that is available in the Victorian style, that way you will have a fresh modern look, but your property will still be within the style

Conclusion

There were many houses built within the Victorian era with beautiful period features. Renovating a Victorian property needs to be properly researched and planned to get it right but the benefits with good results are well worth it.


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