Victorian exteriors boast rich color and bold ornamentation.

How to Make the Exterior of Your House Look Victorian

by Renee Miller

Victorian architecture was popular from 1837 through to 1900, during the reign of Great Britain's Queen Victoria. This period was known for its prosperity and industrial growth, and Victorian homes stood out as a statement of the wealth of the people inside. Victorian style is charming and designed for entertaining. There are a wide range of elements that go into making a home in the Victorian style, but there are a few basic additions you can make to your home’s exterior to capture the ostentatious feel of this style.

Add Rich Colors

Victorian facades were bold in terms of design and color. While many homes were painted in natural tones, such as golden yellows, coppery reds, dark greens, or black, they were complemented with decorative elements in contrasting colors. For example, your home’s siding could be bright red or deep green, and the decorative elements, such as shutters and window frames, might be purple or gold. Incorporate additional colors into your porch, such as bright yellows, purples or blues. The key to authentic Victorian color is to avoid neutral or bland pastels and go with rich, vibrant colors.

Dress Up the Roof

Victorian homes typically feature multiple roof lines with steep pitches and gables with wide eaves. More elaborate homes also feature turrets, dormers, octagonal towers, and widow's walks, but renovating a modern roof to create these Victorian elements is no simple task. However, with the help of a contractor, you can add false dormers on the roof above your door to give the illusion of Victorian style without major construction. In terms of your roofing materials, Victorian roofs were originally made of slate. This can be costly, but there are inexpensive asphalt shingles available that resemble a slate tile roof in design and color.

Add a Porch

A key element in Victorian architecture is the sweeping, wraparound porch that provides a relaxing space for socializing and family gatherings. Victorian porches typically covered all or most of the front of the home. To get the full Victorian feel, add furniture that brings to mind lazy afternoons lounging outside, such as benches, rockers and low tables. Hang flower baskets with delicate plants that flow over the sides for a pop of color and texture that remains inside the Victorian style.

Frame Windows with Shutters

Victorian homes originally featured tall, narrow windows with shutters and other decorative elements such as stained glass. If your home doesn’t have these tall windows, you don’t have to replace them. Instead, install shutters on the windows to mimic the Victorian style instead. When combined with other Victorian elements, such as the roof and a large porch, the eye will be drawn away from the not-so-Victorian shape of the windows.

Decorative Bits and Pieces

Victorian exteriors feature ornate trim work, such as columns; corbels, which are brackets made of wood or stone that support arches or cornices; and gingerbread trim. You can mimic this trim work on your home by installing decorative trim along the eaves, on top of porch posts, beneath windows, and around doors. Victorian style goes over the top with the decorative bits and pieces to give the illusion of opulence. Craftsmen of this period didn’t limit themselves to one type of trim, so you can add pieces into the corners and edges of your porch that reflect your personality.

About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images