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By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

This article provides vital information regarding the ‘terraced house design,’ which stands out as a monolith of British architecture. The information here can help you make the right decisions when buying or selling terraced houses.

Read on to learn more about the history of Victorian houses, their differences from other house designs, how to design and renovate them, and many more. 

Who Invented the Victorian Terraced Houses and When?

In the UK, Victorian terraced houses were extensively constructed from 1837 to 1901 during the reign of Queen Victoria as a long-term solution to the mass migration to urban areas.

Nicholas_Barbon_Victorian era property developer
Nicholas Barbon, 1666

Even though they gained more popularity in the 19th century, Victorian terraced houses were already introduced in London in the 1630s from Italy.
Nicholas Barbon, an England economist, and property developer designed several terraced houses to rebuild London after the Great Fire in 1666. 

By the early 1950s, the population size in various England towns had risen by at least 25%, and by 1911, the population had increased by about 80%. During the period, terraced houses were massively constructed to accommodate large numbers of people in a small constricted area.

They allowed family members and their servants to live together under one roof, which eliminated the use of servant quarters. With many people seeing them as a ‘higher form of life, the terraced houses became an emblem of Georgian architecture in Britain. 

What is the difference between Victorian and Georgian Terraced House

While Victorian and Georgian properties share various ancient design features, their architecture is quite different. 

Georgian Terraced Houses

early-georgian-terrace-illustration
Early Georgian Terraced House / Illustration by Trevor Yorke

Popular from 1714-1830, Georgian terraced houses greatly contributed to the historic charm of London, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, Bath, and Newcastle.  Georgian properties tend to boast quite plain, uncomplicated frontages that were often built with brick and stone, sash windows, and symmetry at the core of the design. 

Their main characteristics include

  • Built around garden squares, as they lacked gardens.
  • Entrance add-ons, such as arched tops, pediments, and ogee caps.
  • Hip roofs, sometimes with dormers.
  • Sash windows with smaller panes 
  • Stucco-fronted exterior
  • Flat exterior painted cream or white 
  • Balanced interior layout
  • Window decorative headers
late-georgian-terrace-illustration
Late Georgian Terraced House design / Illustration by Trevor Yorke

Victorian Terraced Houses

Victorian terraced houses became popular from 1837 to 1901 during the reign of Queen Victoria to accommodate a rapidly growing urban population. At the beginning of the Victorian era, terraced houses had sash windows and stucco, but red brick and terracotta became famous later. 

New building materials, such as glass and iron, were introduced during the industrial revolution, which made it possible to decorate the properties with Gothic-styled features, which explicitly identified them as Victorian. Even though many Victorian properties have maintained some classical features in Georgian properties, their main features include:

  • A porch 
  • Bay windows
  • Coloured or decorated bricks
  • Dark furniture 
  • Fireplace in every room 
  • Front door at the side of the property
  • High pitched roofs
  • Sash windows
  • Narrow hallway
  • Stained glass windows
  • Wooden floors
victorian-terrace-illustration
Victorian Terraced House design / Illustration by Trevor Yorke

What Original Designs and Layouts Do Terraced Houses Have?

Even though the Victorian period was associated with the mixing of a wide range of design styles, the most popular house type was the red brick terraces.

They were mass-produced after the Great Fire of London. Often built close to the factories, their slate roofs and large sash windows were their most conspicuous fittings. Unfortunately, the original designs also lacked indoor plumbing. 

Initially, the service rooms in the early Gregorian terrace were in the basement. However, this changed in the late 18th century when many terraced houses were constructed with a half basement, which created space for letting in more natural light into the basement rooms. Unfortunately, this also meant that you could access the front door using the stairs.

Victorian Terraced House - typical interior room layout / Illustration by Historic England

If you want to buy an old terraced house, you can approximate its age by comparing its description with some necessary historical changes. For example, the late 17th century saw the introduction of sash windows positioned level with the outer wall.

However, in the early 18th century, forced builders to reposition them four inches towards the rear to minimize the risk of fire spreading along a facade.

By the mid-18th century, rooms positioned on the first floor would be conspicuously taller with more oversized windows and beautifications. 

What are the Typical Terraced Houses in the UK?

In a country where gardens are treasured, privacy is demanded, the land is too costly, and urban space is shrinking fast, terraced houses have long been the most suitable economical solution to inadequate housing.

Terraced houses have been popular in the UK since the 17th century, which makes them some of the most loved and recognizable housing types. 

A typical terraced house in the UK has a single wall that connects either side. This design lines up the houses along streets and saves a lot of space in many urban districts where they are mass-produced because the price of land is at a premium.

The terraced street creates a situation where neighbors are highly likely to meet and develops a community spirit for mutual protection. 

The exterior of a Terraced House

Generally, most terraced houses typically have two stories, but those with three or more levels are often converted into apartments for tenants.

Their sash windows have slim glazing bars, rarely more than 2.1 centimeters, creating a slight division between panes. Victorian houses originally had slim roof rafters, but the modern-day versions are bigger.

exterior-of-a-Terraced-House
Exterior of a Terraced Houses / Image source: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK

Floorplan of a Terraced House

Floor plans of the terraced house often have the living room, dining room, and hallway located on the ground floor to create a large space at the façade.

Usually, the kitchen, utility room, and bathroom are located at the back. A stairwell opposite the dining room often takes you to the family room and bedrooms on the first floor.

floorplan-and-facade-of-a-Terraced-House
Facade and typical floorplan of a Terraced Houses / Image source: Pinterest

Why are Terraced Houses More Affordable?

Even though several terraced houses have been demolished over the years, the surviving ones have continued to regain popularity in the 21st century.

The cost of terraced properties is somewhat lower because most designs do not include front or back gardens, but some may have small front yards. 

They may look old and worn out, but the average Victorian terraced house in the UK is at least 60% cheaper to purchase and more efficient to maintain compared to a typical contemporary home.

Consistent with the latest government figures reported in May 2021, the average price for a terraced house is £222,723.

Why are End-of-terrace Houses More Expensive?

The end-of-terrace house is often attached to only one neighbor whose house is also attached to the other two neighbors. Their sizes and location make them somewhat more expensive than terraced houses.

They are slightly bigger and lack neighbors on one side. It is also important to note that end-terraced houses are as old as the terraced houses attached to them, which means they may have similar renovation and maintenance needs.

How to Recognize Terraced House by its Front Façade

While many terraced houses were wiped out during the modernization period in the 1970s, the surviving ones have been hailed for the high build quality of their original construction. Generally, the houses reveal a well-defined ‘public front and private back’ development pattern. 

For safety and privacy, a terraced house usually has an open public entrance with a pathway leading to the front door. Other qualities of the front facade that you can easily recognize from the public entrance or the adjacent street are: 

  • A visible and accessible front door 
  • A sheltered porch 
  • A kitchen next to the front entrance
  • A seating area or for plants 
  • Windows and balconies 
  • An uncluttered bin area, if applicable 
  • Functional landscaping along boundary interfaces
  • Secondary entrances

The front façade of a terraced house can provide you with a great way to add some personal style!

Terraced Houses Layout Ideas

Terraced houses are occupied by many people in the UK not only because they were solidly built from the onset but also because they were designed with attractive features, such as including sash windows, cast-iron fireplaces, tall skirting boards, etc. 

If you want your terraced home to burst with authentic character, these five layout ideas are ideal for the modern-day versions of the houses.

Preserve Sash Windows

A sash window is one of the fittings that make Victorian terraced houses stand out from the rest. If your terraced house has original ones, make them more durable by revamping and waterproofing them. Moreover, you can use double glazing to upgrade the sashes.

Maintain Original Floorboards

A few decades ago, it was so trendy to reveal the floorboards underneath by permanently removing the carpets. Do you know why? This is because original boards of Victorian houses can be effortlessly repaired and patched up even if they are extensively worn out. 

Go for Dark, Bold Colours

The extensive use of dark, moody hues in modern-day house designs works well with various features of Victorian terraced houses, especially if the house has decorative tiles. Choose cloudy grey for the interior, especially around the fireplace, and off-black for the exteriors.

Highlight Period Features

Many terraced houses are often characterized by striking period features on their front facade, such as decorative door accents! To make them stand out, commit yourself to a regular maintenance plan by cleaning and repainting them properly to make them stand out.

Expose Brick Walls

If you want certain rooms of your terraced house to resemble the industrial buildings and lofts of the Victorian period, simply expose the brickwork. You don’t need to disclose all four walls, but just a section of one wall will bring a rustic atmosphere to your space.

How to Design a Victorian/Georgian Terraced House to Add Value

After World War II, cheap renovation ideas were implemented throughout Britain to facelift Victorian Houses. Therefore, you may wonder how you can add value to your terraced house using different contemporary designs. 

It is important to note that fireplaces and paneled doors in Victorian terraced houses were replaced with plywood and colorful wall coverings. Therefore, lighting is the first thing to consider, even if it means knocking down all the internal walls to create a well-lit space. 

To add more value to the exterior, it is advisable to maintain the brick façade of the Victorian house. This is important even if you have to demolish and rebuild the walls entirely to increase lighting and improve the space flow. 

To echo the minimalist and sculptural geometry of terraced homes, go for bespoke items for the interiors. Handcrafted woodwork and light installations that provide an artistic appeal to the interiors are ideal as long as they complement other expressive features of the design.

Whether selling or buying a Victorian/Georgian terraced house, you can hire a virtual staging company to decorate it accordingly. Virtual staging can help you add elements, such as furniture and rugs, to set up the spaces within the open plan.

Pros and Cons of Terraced Houses

Pros of Terraces Houses
Cons of Terraced Houses
More affordable than homes in the same location
Too much noise due to thin walls (no modern sound-proofing standards)
More energy-efficient (shared walls retain heat)
Lack of parking spaces/lots
Have a garden, even though small.
Gardens can only be accessed through the house – no access from the sides
Pet-friendly
Smaller rooms and narrow staircases
Sense of communal living
Limited outdoor space and less privacy

How to Improve and Renovate an Old Victorian Terraced House

While the floorplan of a house often dictates the layout of every room, you can address the above-mentioned cons by renovating each room of an old Victorian terraced house up to the standard of a family, a young couple, or singles. 

Pro Tip: Maintain the character of the terraced house when remodeling the space by complementing its original design.

George Nicola

For a Family

Kitchen 

  • Kitchen extensions – Transform your terraced house into a family-friendly space by constructing a kitchen extension towards the backyard. This will completely transform the ambiance because terraced houses lack sufficient space on either side.

  • One-wall kitchen
    – Ideal for the typical small kitchens of terraced houses, this layout saves space without surrendering functionality. Install upper and lower cabinets or even shelving against a single wall to create a clean aesthetic.

Living Room 

  • Pale walls – Pale walls emphasize the high ceilings and elaborate moldings of Victorian terraced houses. Here, opt for fresh whites and light neutrals, such as cream, for a calming interior.
  • Hanging decorations – To make your living room spacious, you can minimize clutter using hanging decorations which double up as storage options. Hang small baskets on the wall or install a cloth storage tower to keep away loose items, such as toys.

Bedroom 

  • Soft lighting – To facelift the bedroom of an old Victorian terraced house, go for soft lighting to invite some warmth. A charming arrangement of incandescent bulbs with a color temperature of 2,700-3,000K produces a soothing but functional bedroom. 

  • Partition walls – You can add a partition wall behind the bed in your primary bedroom. This will not only act as a private dressing area but also maximize space for family life.

For Young Couples or Singles

Kitchen 

  • Pale-painted cabinets – Since they have no kids to dirtify the kitchen, young couples or singles can opt to paint all their cabinetry white or cream for more lighting and tidiness. 

  • Oak/teal countertops – To avoid monotony, you can maintain the oak or teak countertops that are originally installed in Victorian terraced kitchens. 

Living Room 

  • Conceal the floor – Since wooden floorboards are rapidly gaining more popularity today than carpeting, you can partially cover them, not entirely! Use a sizeable rug to cover your polished floorboards, breaking up the floor space and creating more defined spaces.

  • Striking artwork – To draw eyes to specific areas in the living room, such as the fireplace, use striking artwork. This not only adds personal character to the space but also creates your preferred mood.

Bedroom 

  • Custom open spaces – An armchair in the corner of your bedroom will be complete if assembled with a small side table and lamp. This creates an office-like central spot for studying, meditating, or just relaxing. 

  • Hanging rails and dressing tables – As an alternative to bulky wardrobes, conserve space in the bedroom by installing hanging rails for clothes storage. With enough space, add a dressing table for makeup and other decorations to make your bedroom tidy.

If you want to sell or buy a terraced house, you can improve and renovate it using virtual staging. For instance, if you are a home seller, we can help you prep the house using our online interior design services before listing it to attract potential home buyers. As a home buyer, you can also use our services to find design ideas for their new space. 

Key Takeaways

  • Victorian terraced houses were introduced in London in the 1630s from Italy. 
  • Nicholas Barbon designed terraced houses to rebuild London after the Great Fire in 1666. 
  • Georgian terraced houses were more popular from 1714-1830
  • Victorian terraced houses’ popularity grew from 1837-1901.
  • Terraced houses are more affordable because most of them lack gardens.
  • End-of-terrace houses are more expensive due to their large sizes and strategic location.
  • When renovating an old Victorian house, maintain its character by complementing its original design.

George Nicola

VIRTUAL STAGING EXPERT / After eight years+ working in high-end design and property business I realised that we are missing a critical part of the property business. We were not providing enough value to these old and empty properties. Not every buyer would have the opportunity to see the potential of vacant property or in a bad state. The idea of Virtual Furniture Staging the property gives the buyer and seller an incredible chance in seconds of taking the critical decision.
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