Built to high standards and offering spacious, light-filled rooms, an Edwardian house is always in demand. Following on from the long Victorian era when houses were built with ornate, often cluttered interiors, the Edwardian house was refreshingly simpler.
We take a look at the Edwardian house style, its influences, and the reasons for its enduring appeal.
Style and influences in the Edwardian period
While Victorian houses were often tall, Edwardian houses were generally wider, with spacious living rooms and more windows: the need for tall houses declined as the growing middle classes no longer had servants who lived in attic rooms and worked in basement kitchens.
Edwardian houses were built well, using high-quality materials, and were influenced by several styles including Tudor and Gothic, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and an Art Nouveau style is frequently reflected in ceramic tiles and stained-glass details. Their large rooms reflect the elegance of Georgian interiors, and they often have a wide entrance hall and double-aspect rooms, creating light spaces.
While the Edwardian period was short – Edward VII reigned from 1901-1910 – the architectural style continued after his death, to around 1920 and continued to be influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Great examples of traditional styles of Edwardian architecture can be found in London suburbs such as Dulwich, Blackheath and Hampstead Garden Suburb, along with Letchworth Garden City, Lewes and St Albans.
The Edwardian era enjoyed a real sense of letting in new light; houses were built with large windows to allow maximum sunlight into houses, creating brighter living spaces. Bay windows became popular and often had leaded lights. Fireplaces were created with mantlepieces, built-in mirrors and shelving. There was a growing interest in gardens: many Edwardian homes had front and rear gardens with high hedge borders to create a sense of privacy.
The houses being built reflected the fact that living standards were improving; inside toilets and gas lighting became common, glass became more affordable, and electricity and gas appliances were in use towards the end of the period as the population enthusiastically welcomed better home comforts. The dark interiors of the Victorian age – often made darker by soot – were replaced by pale colours and wallpapers with less intricate patterns.
According to Strutt and Parker’s Guide to Edwardian Homes, housing took off in the suburbs during the Edwardian period, especially around London and the home counties. The expanding rail and road network meant that people could commute into cities to work, making city suburbs accessible to the growing middle class. This, combined with the fact that the population was rising, led to a demand for more homes.
The suburbs offered the opportunity to rethink house building for the modern times. The Edwardian mode swept away the cluttered style of the Victorian era; people wanted less formal homes with the new labour-saving technology that was emerging. Development in the suburbs meant that there were more spacious plots to build on and Edwardian houses were often built in tree-lined streets, set back from roads, with front and back gardens. This growth of the first garden suburbs saw many small terraces, villas, semi-detached and detached houses built outside major towns and cities.
The Edwardian home appeals to house hunters wanting character according to Homes and Gardens which states that many people prefer the simpler, classic proportions and period details of Edwardian homes to their ornate Victorian predecessors. The ideal home can offer the perfect combination of period features, build quality and practicality.
As well as in the UK, Edwardian properties can be found in the USA, Australia and Canada. The style can include large country homes, detached and semi-detached houses, terraces, bungalows and flats.
The new mood inspired architects like Charles Rennie Mackintosh who worked in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts style; Sir Edwin Lutyens who designed many grand public buildings at this time, such as the Cenotaph in Whitehall along with private houses such as Great Dixter; Giles Gilbert Scott who designed Liverpool Cathedral in the Gothic revival style and the innovative Frank Lloyd Wright who paved the way forward for modern architecture.
Edwardian Baroque or Neo-Baroque
While Edwardian houses were less ornate than Victorian period properties, King Edward VII was influenced by 18th century French architecture and his taste led to the emergence of the Edwardian Baroque style or Neo-Baroque. Many public buildings reflected this style which emphasises the importance of the British Empire, particularly through the use of striking domes and columns. The introduction of steel or reinforced concrete frames enabled changes to the way buildings were constructed, allowing walls to be clad in brick or stone. Edwardian Baroque facades often feature architectural influences such as towers from the Italian Baroque and Dutch gables.
Typical features of an Edwardian house
- Borders of hedging and low fences.
- Patterned gables.
- Steep-pitched roofs, often with chimneys built halfway down the roof.
- Tall chimney stacks were fashionable towards the end of the era.
- High ceilings and ceiling roses.
- Cast iron fittings.
- Dormer windows indicating that loft space has been made into living accommodation.
- Stained glass windows.
- Ornate internal decorative details, often crafted from wood, such as picture rails.
- Decorative front doors were a prominent feature.
- A decorative frieze.
- Wooden porches with fretwork patterns.
- Floor tiles or parquet wood floors.
- Georgian-era symmetry.
- Details from the Arts and Craft Movement.
- Casement windows.
- Mock Tudor-style cladding.
Why Edwardian homes are sought after today
- They often represent a good investment due to their standard of build and the quality of materials used.
- Their large, light spaces offer flexible living options.
- Edwardian interiors make great entertaining spaces.
- Their spaciousness makes them ideal for families.
The drawbacks of Edwardian houses
They can have shallow foundations making them susceptible to ground movement caused by trees or broken drains: signs of this include cracking in the mortar. Good ventilation is needed to prevent condensation: it’s important that air bricks haven’t been covered up by garden works.
If I’ve missed any information about Edwardian houses, let me know. Perhaps you’ve bought, or live in, an Edwardian house and would like to share your thoughts about it?
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