Georgian-style homes are more than beautiful. They’re also an important part of US history. The term Georgian refers to a style that was popularized during the reign of King George I of Great Britain, who took the throne in 1714 and continued his reign until 1830, when King George IV died. Georgian-style houses were designed with classical ideals, especially the “golden ratio”, a mathematical ratio found in nature and fine arts. Built with the golden ratio in view, buildings have elegant proportions, balance, symmetry, and other defining characteristics. This is everything you need to know about these historical homes.
What is a Georgian-Style Home?
Georgian-style houses are known to be precise in their proportions and symmetry. They are also designed with the Golden Ratio as a goal. They were built between 1714-1830 in English-speaking colonies and countries.
What makes a house Georgian-style?
Symmetry is the most distinctive characteristic of a Georgian home. Georgian-style homes are square or rectangular in footprint. The majority of Georgian homes in America have either side-gabled or hipped roofs. These roofs slope inwards and upwards on all four sides. Sometimes, these roofs are hidden behind ornamental parapets or walls. This creates the illusion that they are more symmetrical when viewed from the street. Sometimes they have dormers with sliding windows.
The majority of houses had at most two chimneys on each side of their roof.A Georgian-style front door is perfectly placed at the front of a house and serves as a dividing line between its two halves. Before the Georgian period, front door designs in England and the colonies were simple and made from wooden planks. This changed when Georgian-style homes were constructed. These sturdy paneled front doors quickly became the most popular choice in residential architecture. A classic Georgian door has six identical and symmetrical wooden panels. However, the two top panels of the door were replaced with paned glass towards the end the period.
An entryway to a Georgian-style home is flush with its front exterior wall and not recessed into an alcove or porch. A Georgian front door usually has bead-and-butt panels. These panels are flat and protect the door from the elements. Pilasters are usually placed at the front of the door. They can be decorated with cornices or dentil moldings and pediments.
A semi-circular transom window is located above the front door. This allows sunlight to shine through the hallway. These windows, also known as “fanlights”, are made of small, individual glass panes that radiate from a central point. They are secured in place with glazing bars made of wood, lead or wrought iron.
Georgian-style houses have fanlights as well as sash windows, which are arranged in a symmetrical fashion on each side of the house. The windows have classical proportions. Each window is exactly 1.6 inches high. After you have entered a Georgian-style home, you will find yourself in the center hall. There is a staircase that leads up to the second level. The formal living and dining areas are located on either side of this center hall, with the kitchen at the rear.
Georgian houses feature high ceilings of 10-12 feet with cornices and decorative molding. The rooms are boxy and defined, with the first floor being used for gatherings, while the second floor is reserved for private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms. The majority of Georgian houses are two stories high, with the attic being used for storage.
These are the main features of a Georgian-style home:
- Form rigidly symmetrical
- Placement of a window and a door in symmetrical alignment
- Side gabled or hipped roofing
- Two- and a half to two-and-a-half stories
- Fanlight window above paneled wooden front doors
- Molding, pilasters and other ornamentation around the entryway
- Rooms that are well-defined
- Crown molding and high ceilings
History of Georgian-style Homes
Georgian architecture was developed during King George I’s reign, when he took the British throne in 1714. This style was popularized first in England, then gradually spread to other British colonies, including the United States. You can find historic Georgian homes all along the east coast. Some of the most well-known examples can be found in Washington, D.C.
Georgian architects were inspired primarily by Renaissance architecture and art, especially the buildings of Andrea Palladio (an Italian architect). This in turn was inspired by ancient Rome and Greece architecture. This style, known as Palladianism was popularized in Britain between 1715-1760 and it became the foundation of Georgian-style design.