What Is Georgian Architecture And How To Incorporate It Into Your Home

If you've ever explored an old neighborhood in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, or another East Coast state with rich American history, you've probably gasped at the sheer number of gorgeous historical houses in the area. Crown molding, grand windows, classic shutters, and proud entryways are just some of the charming details that you won't find in modern suburban houses. One of the most special architectural styles to witness is the Georgian home. Georgian architecture is thus named because it was popular during the reign of the British monarchs George I, George II, George III, and George IV. The extremely symmetrical and balanced building style became commonplace in North America during the 18th century when colonial people began establishing cities and townships around the nation. 

Today, you can still commonly find Georgian homes around the East Coast, but the style can be emulated anywhere. Learn more about why Georgian homes were a go-to structure for early colonials and how you can embrace the stunning historical architecture even if you don't own a Georgian home. 

The foundation that built a nation

In colonial times, many architects and builders based their designs on manuals called "pattern books." These books laid out the supplies, tools, and other details needed to create impressive and popular designs, including Georgian buildings. Georgian homes are easily identifiable by their exterior, and some common key elements include a two-storied floorplan, a side-gabled roof, a symmetrical front façade, rows of windows, shutters, front steps, and a small porch. Georgian homes and colonial homes can look somewhat similar, but Georgian homes are most recognizable from their front doors, which are framed by crowns, pilasters, and sometimes small windows. The corners of Georgian houses may also be built with quoins, large masonry bricks that provide extra stability and a decorative touch.  

Of course, the inside of these homes was no afterthought. Georgian houses were often outfitted with a grand entryway and wooden staircase, multiple connected rooms, wood, tile, or marble flooring, chandeliers, wall sconces, and ample crown molding. By the time the Revolutionary War finally came to an end, traditionally British architecture left a bad taste in Americans' mouths, and Georgian homes fell out of style. Eventually, Americans gave rise to some of their own unique architecture, including federal colonial, craftsman, farmhouse, and ranch-style houses. 

Achieving the Georgian look in your home

Building a Georgian-style home from scratch can cost upwards of $150 per square foot, and they typically have very large floorplans. If you aren't ready to dish out the dough or move into a historical home on the East Coast, you can still incorporate Georgian themes into your current home! Georgian houses' most iconic feature is their symmetrical face, so the front exterior is a good place to start making some decorative changes. Paint your home in bold neutral colors like white, black, navy, or dark green, and add shutters to your windows. Create the illusion of a dramatic doorway with a crown and pilasters or simply a contrasting color to stand out from the walls. Georgian style also has patriotic elements, so consider adding an American flag by your doorway and include other historical touches like a door knocker, hitching posts, or lantern-esque porch lights. 

If you can't change the exterior of your home or you live in rental housing, you can still add Georgian-like historical touches to your space. Wall sconces, antique furniture, candles, books, curtains, and gold-framed artwork can quickly transform any modern, gray apartment into a luxurious reading room. For an even more dramatic look, try renter-friendly removable crown molding, dainty floral wallpaper, or a large patterned rug.