What do you think of when you’re asked to picture a Georgian-style home? You’re probably envisioning a large Southern plantation home, right? Interestingly enough, Georgian architecture is prominent in the Northeast and along east coast shores and southern plantation homes feature antebellum architecture – a subset to the Georgian style.
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Ever since the late 17th century, the Georgian architectural style is one of America’s most sought-after architectural styles. Their symmetrical design and understated elegance are very desirable, but the boxiness and age can be problematic for some homeowners.
If you’re in the market for a new home and you’re intrigued with Georgian architecture, this article will shed some light on this architecture style, both the good and bad, so you can decide if this house style is right for you.
Characteristics of Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is synonymous with symmetry. This style uses the balance and harmony associated with the golden ratio (aka the mathematical ratio 1:1.618) to create a pleasing aesthetic. Let’s take a look at the characteristics that make this architecture style so special.
A Georgian-style home typically stands two to two and a half stories high and is shaped like a square or rectangle. The main entryway is always dead center and will have an equal number of windows on either side. The main building material that’s used for these homes will depend on where the home is built. Traditionally, Georgian homes in the north will be made with wood and clapboard or shingle cladding. Georgian homes in the south are usually built using brick or stone.
Other exterior features include:
- Side-gabled roofs that may also include dormers
- Double-hung windows with small panes in 12×12 or 9×9 pattern
- Entryways feature wooden pilasters, pediments, or arched tops
- If there’s a chimney, it will be in the center of the house
- If there are two chimneys, they will be symmetrically placed on either side of the house
- Decorative details include pedimented windows, roof balustrades, cornices, or quoins
The interior of a Georgian-style home is going to feature a lot of symmetry and much of the focus is directed to the work areas (the kitchen) and the common spaces (living room). Upon entering one of these homes, there will be a central hall with a staircase. On either side, you’ll find a living room and a dining room. As you make your way further into the home, you’ll find familial-oriented spaces, and then finally the kitchen.
Other interior features include:
- 10 to 11 foot high ceilings with crown molding or cornices
- A closed floor plan with boxy, compartmentalized rooms
- All bedrooms are located on the second floor
- Lots of natural sunlight, thanks to all of those windows
- Extravagant doorways, mantels, fireplaces, and other detailed craftsmanship
Living in a Georgian style home: Pros and Cons
A Georgian home is full of charm but they also have their drawbacks, too.
Since these homes are known for their symmetry and classic style, the curb appeal on one of these homes is top-notch – providing the homeowner didn’t drop the ball on yard maintenance. Inside, functionality is key. With these homes, you can count on every space being utilized, considering that the living spaces are clearly defined and the sleeping areas are located upstairs, away from the communal rooms.
Since these homes tend to be on the larger side, they’re great for big families – especially for families with small children because the bedrooms are all on the same floor. Also, Georgian homes also tend to be on larger plots of land, which is also great for families.
Times have changed a lot since the 17th century and modern living is a challenge in a Georgian-style home. Many buyers are interested in homes with an open floor plan and a clear line of sight between the living space and the kitchen, which a Georgian home lacks.
Along with closed floor plans, there’s a high cost to maintain a Georgian-style home – these structures are three centuries old! Problem areas that need careful monitoring to consist of:
- Foundation for cracks or signs of shifting
- Sewer or septic inspections, depending on when the systems were put in place
- Electrical work
- Poor energy efficiency (drafty windows, poor insulation, outdated appliances)
Georgian architecture has a selective appeal
Although Georgian houses are charming and full of history, they aren’t for everyone. If you’re accustomed to intimate or closed-off rooms and aren’t fond of the traditional adornments, then this style may not be right for you. But, if you have dreams of a home that’s brimming with elegance and balance, then a Georgian house is right up your alley!