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Style and Sustainability: How UK Homes Have Changed Over Time

Our home designs are an identifying aspect of our nation’s culture. Wood panelling, bay windows, and stone bricks are instantly recognisable as a product of British construction when compared to other homes around the world. 

As we progress through the years, it’s inspiring to see how our homes have also changed with the times – both inside and out. 

From Tudor panelling to double-glazed windows, home designs throughout history have played a bigger role in our lives and culture than you may think. 

So, how have we got here? How have housebuilders and homemakers through the years shaped the development of what we call home? 

Here, with some help from national house builder, St. Modwen Homeswe take a look at the history of British homes and how they’ve changed to fit our culture and needs through the ages. 

Georgian: 1714 to 1830 

Georgian homes were characteristically grand. Even on a smaller scale, symmetrical and tall facades matched Greek-style motifs and spacious interiors. However, you wouldn’t find natural brightness in every room. The window tax, which was based on the number of windows in a house, lasted the duration of the Georgian era.  

Some homes would brick up window facades to avoid paying an additional levy on their property. Even today, you can see some buildings with bricked up gaps where reglazing has not occurred even 170 years later. Compare that to the new homes of today where large windows are popular to maximise natural sunlight and brighten the space. 

Victorian: 1837 to 1901 

The Victorian era moved us nearer to many of the houses we know today. Bay windows were popularised along with red-coloured brickwork. The centred and symmetrical fashion of Georgian homes had also been abandoned, favouring off-centred doors to the left or right of the façade. Geometric tiling also featured heavily in Victorian properties, adding decoration to flooring and walls. 

For those living in working-class areas, you would expect the toilet to be in an outhouse. Thankfully, this Victorian trend hasn’t lasted. Modern houses are more likely to feature toilets both downstairs and upstairs. However, bay windows and stylised interiors are still popular today. 

Edwardian: 1901 to 1910 

Edwardian and early twentieth-century homes build on the architectural stylings of the Victorian period. A return to symmetry, bay windows were boxed, and doorways became ornate and trimmed with white wooden frames. 

Moving communities into garden estates, families enjoyed a simpler style of house. Corners became squared, and ceilings were lowered for a cosier interior. However, people could enjoy peering out into their own gardens through characterful windows – making homes even lighter during the day. 

Post-war: 1945 to 1979 

Following the Second World War, Britain faced a housing crisis. To combat the national shortage, then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill envisaged the construction of temporary accommodation for the public. Alongside 1.2 million new homes, over 150,000 prefabricated homes (or ‘prefabs’) were built between 1945 and 1951. Prefabs were intended to be used by occupants for up to ten years. 

Bungalows were a suitable choice for simple timber or steel frames, with concrete also being used. While simple in design, this era of accelerated construction demonstrated British innovative approaches to construction. Non-traditional building techniques were developed, including prefabricating structural elements of the homes away from the site. This allowed for faster construction while maintaining the quality that homeowners would expect. 

Now, over 75 years later, some prefab homes remain occupied, and their unintended longevity is inspiring architects to consider modular homes as one option for future housing. 

Turn of the century: 1990 to 2010 

By the 1990s, the style of the modern new-build house had been refined. The brickwork was neat, featuring classic red or newer beige colours that helped create vibrant estates, echoing the stone facades of the Georgian period. Meanwhile, streets of semi-detached or townhouses maintained a consistent style that helped create culture and inclusivity within communities. 

 Driveways and front gardens became more common, while inside the house, ceilings remained low and windows were wide. Double glazing and insulation were also used to help maintain heat and keep utility bills low. 

 The home of today: 2021 

 Now that we’re caught up on the history of homes in the UK, we can see how old architecture has influenced the homes of today. Taking the best elements from a range of historical styles, new-build homes today are more than just an amalgamation of older properties; they represent future ambitions in our culture. 

Sustainability is now a key part of construction and life. Homes today can be upgraded with electric vehicle charging ports, UV panels on the roof, or a waste water heat recovery system. Plus, insulation ensures that homes remain warm in the winter with limited energy needs. 

In some cases, tall ceilings have made a triumphant return and floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural light to fill rooms. Some windows even cover two floors – but don’t worry – there’s no tax on these panes. 

As well as decadent gardens, communities are based around green space. Parks and woods are never too far from reach for families to enjoy.  

Interiors are as spacious as the outdoors, with the return of open plan living, making kitchen and living areas the perfect place to host gatherings with family and friends. So, whether you’re looking for houses for sale in Burslem or houses for sale in Copthorne, you know that a lot of history has gone into its style, design, and construction. 

Our homes aren’t just parts of our culture and history – they’re also a big part of our lives. From raising families to creating a space to work, our homes have changed to make our lives easier, more enjoyable, and more sustainable.