Are you lucky enough to own one of our Georgian style dolls houses?
Famed for beautiful proportions, light rooms and subtle, understated style, it will look all the better if it is maintained with some thought for its original features and colour schemes.
So, what is Georgian style?
Although the heyday of Georgian architecture was between 1730 and 1800, the style largely covers from 1714 to 1837. This period is often divided into the Palladian, early and late Georgian period, and was largely influenced by the classical architecture of yesteryear. This period of history saw a massive and rapid urban expansion, when the need to fit many homes into small areas brought the birth of terraced housing, with row upon row of symmetrically designed houses. The matching house fronts were a very desirable feature of Georgian town planning. Homes were usually built with either brick or stone, but the trend was for a lot of reddish brick walls that contrasted with the white which was used on window trimmings and cornices. The entrances were often emphasised by a portico. And the walls built between terraced houses were sturdy and thick.
What Are The Classic Georgian Features?
Georgian properties were light and very spacious, with large windows that showed off pale colour schemes and plenty of woodwork. Unlike the Victorians, the Georgians tended to go for a subtler, more sophisticated room at least in today's eyes
The Exterior Red bricks were replaced by yellow bricks later on during the Georgian period and, although stucco fascias were the norm, stone was the favoured choice. The roof was hidden behind a parapet, and the lower level was usually stucco-faced.
Windows Window shutters were extremely popular, and many front doors had a filigree fanlight with a canopy overhanging. The window openings were likely to be double-hung sash windows and chimneys would be found on both sides of the home. The doors often had a fanlight.
Colour Schemes Sought-after paint colours during the early phase of the period included burgundy and sage green, but as time wore on, the colour scheme preferences turned much lighter, and included shades such as soft blue, grey, dusky pink and white. Many paint) manufacturers today offer historical period colours. Curtains were sumptuous, with large pelmets and would match the furniture - fabrics would be decorated with delicate patterns, including floral designs.
Walls Panelled walls often only reached the height of the dado rail, and the plaster above would be decorated with wallpaper or pale paint. Print rooms were extremely popular and it's a simple look to achieve by pasting walls from floor to ceiling with old prints and engravings, or aged photocopies, and adding a coat of varnish for longevity.
Floors largely comprised of bare floorboards, predominately pine and fir, as opposed to oak, covered in areas by ornamental rugs. The patterns on such coverings were often influenced by the Orient, which can be easily picked up today. The more opulent properties often had stone or marble floors, but this can be recreated today with some of the cheaper modern floor options that can give a similar finish.
Lighting Georgian lighting fuelled by paraffin consisted of chandeliers, made from glass, metal and wood with curved centrepiece arms. Wall lights were made in brass or silver, or often a simple candle flame bulb.
Details There were an abundance of mouldings, which were very detailed and intricate, with ceilings decorated with ribbons, classical figures and urns. Many firms today specialise in making reproduction features, and other companies can restore and repair original mouldings. The living area would include classical pillars and columns, screens over the fireplaces and furniture adorned with swags and decoration. The fireplace was always the main focal point of the room, and the walls would be decked out with ornaments such as fans and paintings.
How Should I Decorate My Georgian Home Today?
The sky is the limit with a Georgian home whether you choose to decorate it in original shades and furnish it with simple antique furniture, or paint it in white and accessorise with modern pieces, you really can't go wrong However, there are always going to be some don'ts highly patterned paper, over the top schemes, rooms crowded with furniture and accessories are all going to drown out the beauty of the original features. The key is to keep it simple and let the architecture do the talking.
The three phases of Georgian are a continuum of each other. As the century progressed, the style became lighter and lighter in terms of colours and decoration and eventually became regency style.
Taking an interest in fashion and interiors was very much the order of the day entertaining was becoming more popular and print books containing designs and architectural models were becoming available to the public for the first time.
Style harmony and symmetry airiness, space and light pale colour schemes and woodwork delicate furniture Influences Palladian style - especially Inigo Jones" s architecture the Grand Tour - it was highly fashionable for the upper classes to take a tour round Europe, particularly Italy, for two or three years the Orient At the time 1714 George I on the throne 1748 Pompeii discovered 1813 Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen 1837 Queen Victoria crowned Get the lookEarly Georgian colour schemes include burgundy, sage green and blue grey but, as the style developed, they became lighter and included pea green, sky or Wedgwood blue, soft grey, dusky pink and a flat white or stone. Many of today's leading paint manufacturers now produce historic colours helpfully labelled according to the period. Floors can be bare floorboards covered with Oriental rugs. Grander houses had stone or marble floors in pale colours, perhaps a keystone pattern. You could cheat with a lino in the same pattern. Print rooms were popular and this look is easy to recreate: paste walls from floor to ceiling with old prints and engravings or photocopies made to look old and add a coat of varnish for longevity. Walls were still panelled but the panelling only reached dado height and the plaster above was either painted or papered. If your hall has panelling, paint the cornice the same shade as the walls but, if you have painted walls, paint the cornice to blend in with the ceiling. Look for simple repeat patterns in wallpaper such as trefoils. Some of the original designs are still being produced today. Wallpaper was imported from the Far East so anything with a chinosierie feel to it would be in keeping. Towards the end of the Georgian style, simple block papers began to be introduced and experimented with designs were fairly rudimentary so look for geometric patterns with squares and stripes, perhaps with darker shading behind. Consider handblocking wallpaper yourself with a stamp. Mouldings are intricate - ceilings might have ribbons and swags, classical figures and urns. There are companies who specialise in making reproduction ones as well as firms who will restore and repair original features. For soft furnishings, look for glazed cotton fabrics with small sprigs of flowers. The same fabric would have been used for both the upholstery and curtains. Armchairs and divans often had loose covers made from cheap ticking or striped linen, which were removed for special occasions. Curtains often had pagoda style pelmets on top. The arrival of paraffin was a major breakthrough for Georgian lighting. Look for chandeliers made from glass, metal and wood with curved arms like an octopus for a centrepiece. Elsewhere, use wall lights in brass, silver, or silvered wood or a simple candle flame bulb. Fittings in pewter or tin were used in less grand homes. Furniture should be delicate - wing chairs and chairs with hoop or shield backs are typical. Fireplaces would have been the focal point of a room. They should be elegant with basket grates, cast iron backs and decorated fronts featuring swags, urns, and medallions, perhaps flanked with classical pillars. Add a firescreen painted to match the room or featuring a trompe l'oeil. Decorative objects can include screens, fans, porcelain and lacquerwork from the Orient and bronze ornaments. Hang pictures in formal groupings, flanking the fireplace. If your front door is Georgian it's likely to have a filigree fanlight with a canopy and pediments. Original Georgian properties had sash windows and shutters.
An influential style
The period we know as the Georgian style (named after the English king George I) has had a significant influence on almost all other furnishing styles. But it, too, was built on other styles! It was actually a combination of a number of other styles, such as rococo (lots of scrolls, flowers, ribbons - a particular favorite of the French). Rich young Englishmen did the 'Grand Tour" where they traveled in Italy visiting all the ancient and culturally fashionable towns. This in turn influenced English architecture (they especially admired the work of Palladio), which then went on to influence the fashions in North America. The Georgian style takes the straight lines and symmetry of the Palladian style, the best of the French influence in rococo, together with Gothick and chinoiserie, mixed them with a touch of the orient, and blended a certain look which we now call Georgian. The influence of technology As with all furnishing styles, it was dependent to a large extent on new materials, discoveries in science and methods of manufacture. New skills in furniture making, cloth weaving and printing, and the availability of different woods as a result of increasing world trade were also important factors. The people of the time were just like us - they wanted to keep warm, and have as much light as possible in their rooms. Warmth was provided by fires, so they concentrated on making attractive fireplaces. Light came from windows, and so they built their houses with large windows. Mirrors reflect light, so they included mirrors in their decoration. A lasting legacy in furniture Another reason why Georgian style has lasted and had so much influence was the beauty of its furniture. Furniture designers such as Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite have had a lasting effect on furniture ideas and designs Georgian interiors put great emphasis on wall decoration. They split their walls into three sections: The wainscoting from the baseboard (skirting board) to the chair rail (dado rail). The central or mid-wall section The top section which was made up of the frieze and cornice. The wall panels were made of wood which was left in its natural state and stained, or painted. Fabric was sometimes fixed to the walls by using wood battens. They were very keen on paintings, and the generous size of the wall panels allowed them to hang quite large paintings without them looking out of place. Floors Floors were usually wood planks which were waxed, and often covered by area or oriental rugs. If the owners wanted to show their grandeur, they would have the floor of a hall or large room laid with marble or stone. Soft furnishings As regards fabrics, the key to the Georgian style is co-ordination. They made sure that everything blended together and that nothing was out of place. They used many of the popular fabrics of the time, such as damask, chintz, silk and velvet. The first and most effective way of bringing a Georgian style look to your room is to divide the walls into the three sections and mentioned previously. The base section from the floor to the chair rail (dado rail) should be about 2'6" deep (75cms). Then have the main section with the frieze part (from the picture rail to the ceiling) in proportion. You can get both plaster and polystyrene moldings to give you the effect you want. Wallpaper Many wallpaper manufacturers now supply Georgian reproduction papers. If you add a small gold border around each section, this will also help to achieve the historical effect. Flooring If you have an area such as a hallway, you could use a marble imitation flooring. (You could use the real thing, but marble is quite expensive, both to buy and to lay correctly.)Furniture Original Georgian furniture is only found in museums or in the houses of the very wealthy. But you can find many modern reproductions of very good quality which will allow you to create an authentic look. One furniture style which has changed very little over the centuries is the wing chair. Cover this with a traditional damask and you won't go far wrong. When selecting your furniture, don't overdo it. Georgian rooms had far less furniture in them than we tend to have today. Details One easy feature you can use is silhouettes. If you have a side view photo of a family member, use it to draw or trace a silhouette in black card, which you can then mount in a black frame. These don't have to be very big, and a few of them displayed in a group will give your room a realistic Georgian style. Mirrors were a common feature, especially with gilded frames. Some of them were quite elaborate and large, and often used the rococo style Windows As regards window treatment, don't go too far. Roller or festoon shades (blinds) are ok, and maybe a swag and cascade (swag and tail). Curtains were not obligatory, but don't have anything too heavy. The colors used in Georgian interiors were dull and sullen by today's standards. The science of chemistry was in its early days, and the color tints were still natural. Insipid green, stone, off-whites or gray were very common. Later in the Georgian period they managed to become more proficient with dyes, and yellow and blue became available. Because many of the colors used didn't have very much life to them, borders and edges were often gilded, which relieved the overall drabness. When they couldn't afford real wood for their panels, a faux wood treatment was used.
Sample picture of how a Georgian Style Dining Room would look: