Period House Style: The Edwardian House
The start of the Edwardian period began when Edward VII became king on the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. This period was relatively short compared to the long reign of Victoria but the Edwardian style is generally recognized to have lasted until 1920 (10 years after Edward VII's death).
Although the Edwardian period was much shorter than the Victorian period, the housing boom at that time meant that the architecture of that time heavily dominates our present suburbs.
There was a rise in the new middle classes and a demand for airy, larger homes that were easily commutable to the towns and cities. New suburbs sprung up on the edges of cities and towns in leafy outskirts close to the new railway lines.
Mortgages were not easily accessible at the time so 90% of homes were owned by investors and rented out to tenants.
These new garden suburbs consisted of a mix of semis, villas and terraces, built from local materials. Edwardian houses tended to be shorter in height than the earlier Victorian homes. Rooms for servants were no longer needed so gone were the cellars and second floors. Edwardian houses were built on a larger plot than the Victorians and were likely to be wider to accommodate a larger hall and longer for a bigger garden front and back.
The new middle classes wanted to show off there new found wealth. External decoration was flamboyant and elaborate. Carved woodwork adorned balconies, veranda, and porches. Multi paned sashes and casements with simpler leaded glass sat within deep bay windows. Large panelled painted doors with Art Nouveau or Neo-Georgian glass. Entrances were tiled on both walls and paths.
"They are wonderfully built, beautifully designed, and they don't substitute tons of fussy detail and ornament for a sense of proportion in the way that Victorian houses do. They represent a return to the classical stylistic references." Ian Dungavell: Telegraph
Edwardian Rooms were fewer but larger lighter spaces compared to the Victorian homes. Heavy, cluttered, dark interiors were replaced with clean light simple spaces. A need for cleanliness and more hygienic homes meant that decorative detail became simpler. Ceiling and plaster work was still popular but with less complicated designs that did not collect dust and dirt.
What started as a style became a necessity: the servantless, working woman wanted a wipe-clean life, freed from ornate, dusty, labour-intensive bric-a-brac. Unless you were the kind of free spirit who rejoiced in shabbiness and dirt, clean lines meant exactly that: clean houses. Virginia Nicholson
Wider plots in the suburbs meant that a window could be set next to the front door, creating more light to show off the wider hall and elaborate staircase.
Electricity became available after 1913 so before that Edwardian homes had gas light downstairs. Internal bathrooms was still a new concept and mains water supplies and sewers were often not able to cope with the later demand of running water and plumbing around the house.
Art Nouveau designs rarely seen on the exterior of the house dominated the internal decoration. Floral and other plant-inspired motifs could be found on wallpaper, lincrusta, tiles, fabrics and lighting. Wallpaper was very popular as was stenciling.
Edwardian Home Products