Why the most elegant of architectural eras still fascinates
Modern homes have the bonus of being maintenance free. Thirties semis certainly aren’t devoid of character. Victorian villas come sturdy and built to last. But when it comes to period properties, the style that always prompts a sigh of admiration is the Georgian terrace. The classic proportions, elegant lines, generous sense of space and undisputable wow factor have a universal appeal. And they are surprisingly adaptable to our modern lifestyles. Still need convincing? Read on as we pay homage to our seven favourite features of Georgian terrace style.
1. Instant kerb appeal
No need to worry about passers-by peering in at the state of your front room when there’s so much to distract them on the outside! Georgian terraces have such striking façades that even if you haven’t got round to updating the inside, you can get away with it any amount of mess inside, safe in the knowledge you already live in a beautiful house.
2. Great windows
Okay, if you don’t maintain them properly they can rattle and be drafty, and they do stick. But properly maintained and perfectly weighted, a sash window is not only beautiful but also practical. The double hung casement enables you to open them from the bottom as well as the top, drawing cool air in from below, and pushing warm air out at the top. Clever, huh?
3. Stunning original features
Inspired by the architecture of Ancient Rome and Greece, the Georgians loved their classical forms. So expect high ceilings, beautiful sweeping staircases, understated cornicing, beautifully crafted shutters and (if you’re really lucky) gently curving shapes – ovals and circles, being technically complicated, suggested the height of refinement.
4. Extra wide floorboards
Extra wide floorboards were a thing for the Georgians, whose floors were handmade and either from oak or painted to mimic hard wood. Steam-powered saws were introduced in the 1830s enabling more standardisation, hence the Victorians went for something more uniform. Today, wide floorboards (as well as painted ones) are having a moment again. Just goes to show, if you stick around 200 years or so, a trend will always come round again…
5. Beautiful proportions
There was more than a little method to the madness of the Georgians. The beautifully pleasing sense of space was down to their obsession with mathematical purity. Even the most simple dwelling was a one or two story box, two rooms deep, with symmetrically placed windows. These basic shapes could then be scaled up, with height and width expanding accordingly. The result? Everything is easy on the eye and feels very easy to live with, without anyone quite knowing why. Genius.
6. High ceilings
High ceilings are natural bedfellows with grand proportions. They’re particularly appealing these days when a sense of space is so desirable, modern ceilings are so low and the average height is on the increase. Even in a smaller box room, they open things up, preventing that sense of claustrophobia you get in other kinds of period property.
7. So easy to make modern
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Georgian properties are surprisingly flexible for modern living with an uncanny ability to adjust and adapt to our every modern need. They can take a rear extension (either tastefully in keeping, or startlingly modern) and modern amenities (such as a very non-18th century indoor bathroom, say) slot seamlessly into former parlours or even servant quarters. You can knock through, push into the attic or dig down into the basement. Even a plasma screen TV looks great above a marble fireplace!
For more great ideas on modern style in period properites, see livingetc