Houses in the Victorian era, which is marked by the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837, broke away from boxy shapes and featured asymmetrical interior layouts along with elaborate features on the exterior. These exterior features often included prominent porches and balconies trimmed in wood ornamentation called "gingerbread." The earliest Victorian homes were Gothic Revival style with steeply pitched roofs and gables. Later Italianate homes had arched windows, decorative eaves and elaborate porch decoration. The recognisable Queen Anne Victorian style became popular in the late 1870s and featured multiple steep roofs, porches and decorative gables.
Elaborate porches were a hallmark of Victorian architecture. These protected areas allowed for enjoyment of the outdoors away from the elements of weather like sun, wind and rain. Victorian porches were a prominent structure visible from the front view and often accented with white trim. Some porches wrapped around the sides of the house.
Victorian homes sometimes featured second-story balconies. Smaller balconies were sometimes open to the sky, but the larger balconies were sometimes covered by the roof. Often balconies were stacked on top of the porch on the first floor. Both porches and balconies were decorated with ornamentation that gave the Victorian home an elaborate look.
Ornamentation on Victorian-style porches and balconies is known as gingerbread. Spindles, brackets and running trim give an elaborate feel to the outdoor areas. Running trim uses repetitive scroll designs that are mounted on two rails and run horizontally. The trim can be used between porch posts and brackets can be placed underneath them to enhance their decorative effect. Brackets are placed at the top of porch posts and may be matched by brackets placed at the corners of windows. Fretwork spandrels are highly decorative elements that can add elegance to Victorian porches.
Porch Columns, Balusters and Railings
Victorian porches typically are supported by porch columns and feature decorative porch railings and balusters. The railings include a top handrail along with a bottom rail. Balusters are turned and add a decorative element to the railings. Newel posts often enhance the stairs leading to the porch.