Victorian Houses

Fireplace: A feature usually found in the Victorian era houses. Beyond its useful capability as a warming unit, the presence of a fireplace indicated that one had enough money to retain servants to tend to the fire. Coal was easily accessible by this time, so the fireplace was more for show than actual use. Because this ostentation was acceptable during the first half of the Victorian era, ornate mantels and overmantels and such were built to enhance the fireplace. In Gothic homes, fireplaces had dog grates and andirons to simulate the appearance of a Medieval home.
Doors: In the early Victorian years, doors were made from inferior pine or fir with a diagonal piece of wood (brace) to prevent warping. In the later Victorian years, the doors were made from oak and nailed with carefully-spaced iron nails—indicating greater craftmanship. They were lightly-stained and fit perfectly in their detailed frames. They sported hammered black wrought-iron hinges and cunningly-designed, hand-carved latches with matching pegs as locks.
Inside, however, was another matter. The quality of the interior doors varied greatly in accordance with the rest of the house furnishings. The ‘framed and paneled’ doors were more or less elaborate—more frames, less frames, etc.—depending upon where they were placed. Servants, of course, received much simpler doors than did the occupants of the house. The more inferior doors were sometimes painted in such a way to imitate the better-crafted doors, but there was no comparison between the two kinds. Whatever kind of door, most included push or finger plates above and below the oval/circular-shaped knob to avoid fingerprints on the paint.
Decorative plasterwork: In wealthier Victorian era homes, the skirtings or the baseboards plus the dados were sometimes done in plaster instead of wood, which was used in less-expensive homes. However, it was the ceiling which afforded the owners to really become creative in their plasterwork—usually with elaborate friezes, paneling and ribs. Other areas such as the cornices, picture frames and mirrors were fair game as well. Flower and leaf motifs were common, as were scrolls and loops. Beaded, fluted Greek designs were popular as well.
Stairs: In the more modest Victorian era homes, staircases were simply a steep flight of narrow, wooden stairs. They were typically made out of cheap pine and ascended from the hall or one of the rooms on the main level. Terraced houses had ‘dogleg’ stairways. They were called this because there was a half-landing separating it, usually in the rear of the house. Early on in the Victorian era, the staircase had plain, square balusters. Some simple ornamentation may have been in the form of a newel post and a polished mahogany or oak railing. As skill improved and with the advent of mass reproduction, the ornamentation became much more elaborate.
Floors: By the middle of the eighteenth-century, most people had carpeting as it was easy to produce with the aid of machines. The Victorian era homes usually had wall-to-wall, fitted, brightly-colored carpeting in every room. The carpeting often featured geometric designs or highly-patterned flowers and were used to prevent drafts rising from the floorboards as well as being decorative. This style of carpeting faded in popularity by the end of the century because of the Arts and Crafts movement trumpeting simplicity instead of ornamentation. It was also considered unhygienic because one could not get beneath the nailed-down carpeting to clean underneath. Thus, loose carpeting, especially those with Asian patterns, became the norm.