The Styles of Victorian Architecture

Take a stroll down some neighborhoods, and you might notice some houses that look akin to fancy dollhouses. They’re bound to catch your eye, as they have a very distinct appearance that sets them apart from more “normal” houses.

Of course, what we’re talking about is Victorian architecture. As the name suggests, this style was popular during the reign of Queen Victoria in the UK from 1837 to 1901. And this style was so beloved that not only did it persist through time, but it also traversed oceans.

Want to learn more? Then you’re in the right place. Read on to find out the different styles of this type of architecture.

Gothic Revival

This architectural style first emerged in the late 18th century, and it was popular all throughout the 19th century. In the preceding centuries, neoclassical architecture dominated, and the Gothic Revival was a reaction against it.

As you might’ve guessed, this style drew inspiration from medieval Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages. More specifically, it imitated the cathedrals and churches of the period.

The main points that Gothic Revival architecture sought to revive were pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and large stained glass windows. The goal was to capture the intricate details and grandeur of medieval Gothic structures. This meant that buildings were fantastically vertical.


Again, the name should give you a clue as to what the houses look like. These Victorian homes emanated the style of 16th-century Italian villas and first sprang up in the 19th century. The style was quite popular until after the Civil War ended in 1865, so it was short-lived, as other Victorian architectural styles overshadowed it.

As far as the aesthetics, you’ll know exactly when you’re looking at an Italianate building. The houses are built in a rectangular fashion, and the roofs are either flat or low-pitched. Either way, they come out very far away from the exterior walls and have wide overhanging eaves and decorative brackets; they may sometimes incorporate a cupola or belvedere.

In addition, the windows are narrow and tall, often with arched or segmented arch tops. You’ll often see decorative keystones too.

Other key features include balconies and verandas, as well as stucco or brick exteriors.

Stick Style

Stick style is a late 19th-century Victorian style, which then later turned into the Queen Anne style (more on this in the next section). It’s also what evolved from the Carpenter Gothic style in the mid-19th century.

One look at a Stick style building, and you’ll know why it’s named as such: the outside walls have lots of overlay board strips that give it an almost barn-like look, as it mimicked exposed half-timbered frames.

Other key features include steeply pitched roofs, flat ornamentation, and open stickwork verandas.

Queen Anne

This Victorian-style home was popular in the late 19th century and was named for the queen who ruled England from 1702 until 1714. If you love and want an ornate home, then you’ll certainly get it here, as Queen Anne architecture is known for its eclectic and ornate designs.

The first thing you’ll notice about it is that the buildings are often irregular and asymmetrical. They’ll have projecting wings, turrets, towers, and bay windows, as well as steeply pitched roofs and varied rooflines. As a result, Queen Anne homes are truly a sight to behold.

When you look closer, you’ll notice elaborate decorative details too. From the intricate woodwork and ornamental brackets and spindles, to the gingerbread trim and decorative shingles, these buildings are a visual delight.

Shingle Style

The shingle style came after Queen Anne, and its precursor is the Stick style. It was popular from the 1880s to the early 1900s.

Like with many of the other items on this list, its name gives a huge hint as to what the buildings look like. They use shingles as the primary exterior covering, and many leave them unpainted. This results in natural weathering that allows the shingles to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

You’ll also notice that these houses have a complex and asymmetrical form. There are intersecting rooflines, gables, and multiple projections, giving it an irregular silhouette.

Second Empire

Second Empire architecture first appeared in France during the mid-19th century, but spread quickly to the US and other countries. It’s named after the reign of Napoleon III, which meant it featured grandeur and ornate details. It had influences from classical architectural styles.

The most distinguishing feature of these buildings was the Mansard roof, which usually had dormer windows, decorative trim, and iron cresting. This is made of two slopes on each side, with the lower slope steeper than the upper one. As a result, you get an additional living space on the top floor or attic.

You’ll find symmetry and balance all over Second Empire buildings. This is emphasized by tall and narrow windows and doors, and lots of ironwork.

In some properties, there are courtyards and pavilions, which add depth and variety to the overall design.

Romanesque Revival

This 19th-century movement revived the architecture found in the Romanesque period (11th to 12th centuries). This was a reaction to the neoclassical and Gothic architectural styles that were popular at the time.

The buildings in this style are large and stately, with thick walls, rounded arches, and heavy stone construction. They often include towers and turrets too.

Originally, Romanesque architecture was more conservative with ornamentation, but Romanesque Revival homes tended to have more decorative elements. What makes it spectacular is the use of polychromatic masonry; you’ll see stones of different colors that create decorative patterns.

If you’re interested in learning more about Victorian times, is a great place to start.

Appreciate Victorian Architecture

As you can see, Victorian architecture is varied, and every style should be celebrated. They certainly make buildings more interesting, and you get a little piece of history too.

With your newfound appreciation, you’ll recognize the different styles, whether you’re looking for a new house or you’re just taking a stroll. There’s no denying that a Victorian home turns heads!

Check out the rest of our blog for tons more informative posts.

Last Updated on July 13, 2023

Usama BIN Safdar
Meet Usama Bin Safdar, a wordsmith hailing from Faisalabad, Pakistan. With over 5 years of experience under his belt, he's a master at weaving words to create content that's not only informative but also engaging. He's a deep-diver when it comes to SEO, and as the Founder of SoftwareBench, he helps businesses and individuals navigate the digital landscape with ease. Follow Usama for a journey into the world of SEO and digital marketing, where every word is crafted with precision and passion.

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