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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

How to renovate a Victorian house

It’s one of the most familiar housing types, but successfully restoring and updating a period property from the Victorian era needs plenty of design and build know-how, says Alan Tierney
This sliding sash window has been carefully restored and draughtproofed by specialist company Ventrolla (

Huge numbers of houses were built during the Victorian age, thanks to a combination of a population boom, a growing middle class and mass migration towards urban areas. Homes of this period ranged from the very grand to small terraced properties for factory and railway workers. In between were large numbers of substantial townhouses – often terraced – to accommodate the middle classes in rapidly expanding cities. Even the most modest of them incorporated decorative features and architectural detail that provide great opportunities for renovators.

A potted history

Victoria reigned from 1837-1901. Over this long period, architectural styles ranged from late Georgian-inspired to the emergence of Edwardian/Queen Anne revival and the beginning of the Arts & Crafts movement. However, the period is generally typified by a mixture of Gothic and Italianate design.

For examples of the Victorian style at its height, look to George Gilbert Scott’s Midland Hotel in London’s St Pancras, or the Palace of Westminster designed by Charles Barry and AW Pugin. A very good example of a house in this style is Pugin’s own home, the Grange, recently renovated by The Landmark Trust – and there would be no better place to look for inspiration on how to carry out this kind of sensitive project. Perhaps the bestknown example of an Italianate home is Osborne House, owned by Victoria and Prince Albert. When it comes to design details, there was often a trickle-down effect from these very grand examples to mass housing.

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About Build It

Build It is Britain’s longest running self build magazine. Each issue is packed full of inspirational and informative readers’ homes, as well as expert advice on issues from budgets and planning to project management and design. This month: - Beginners guide to extensions - Energy efficient masonry - Renovating a Victorian house - How to maximise your self build budget - Dealing with planning conditions