Townhouses built during the nineteenth-century are still a feature of the urban and suburban landscape. The Victorians loved opulent architectural features drawn from the past, and were willing to pay well to have them in their homes. Of course, by now these Victorian townhouses are all well over a century old, and probably in need of a major remodel (if they haven’t already been remodeled several times). If you’re planning on living in a Victorian-era townhouse, lucky you! Here are some tips for retaining the Victorian features of your townhouse while incorporating modern conveniences.
Let’s consider the exterior first. When it comes to retaining and highlighting your townhouse’s Victorian past, look to the windows: just as our eyes are said to be the windows of our soul, so Victorian windows are your townhouse’s eyes. They are the external feature that is going to matter most. The Victorians loved lots of windows, and a variety of window styles. They particularly liked bay windows, casements, and windows that wrap around corners and curves. They also adored ornate glass treatment: etching on windows and stained glass are important here. If your townhouse still has its original windows, you’ll want to retain these. If the original ones have been replaced, however, give your attention to re-introducing something more stylistically authentic. You’ll want to avoid pvc-u windows, or any kind that does not ring true to the Victorian style.
It’s in the interior of your Victorian townhouse where you can indulge in modern convenience a bit more freely. You’ll be able to remain true to Victorian dÃ©cor, however, if you compromise in a few basic areas. Take flooring, for example. The elegant nineteenth-century style treasured the hand-made beauty of wooden floors made from exotic woods such as Brazilian cherry; if the wooden floors could be done in parquet, all the better. The Victorians also loved encaustic, glass, and mirror-studded tiling.
The kitchen in your Victorian townhouse was originally primarily functional. If you want to introduce a fully-equipped modern kitchen, finding enough space for appliances and an eating area will be tricky. Consider the possibilities of a breakfast bar in the center of the kitchen space. You’ll be able to feed family here, and also have a space for entertaining guests more easily.
Victorian townhouses have high ceilings. Nineteenth-century dÃ©cor loved ceilings that caught the eye: three-dimensional cornices, ceiling medallions, and stenciled designs were all part of the design palate. You may not want to introduce all these features to your ceilings, but you can highlight this feature by avoiding clutter on the walls. Try to keep small pictures and other artifacts to a minimum. Select larger objects for your walls, and locate these at eye level to emphasize the expanse of ceiling.
Nowhere in Victorian interiors was luxurious opulence more apparent than in the lighting fixtures. Create a variety of atmospheres in your rooms with dimmer switches, allowing shadows to play on the ceilings and in the corners of the rooms. And you can take advantage of those lovely high ceilings by suspending dramatic chandeliers from them.