georgian townhouse

Georgian townhouses – Ordered and balanced

In this new series, the Historic Doors Blog looks at homes through the ages. This week we’re looking at Georgian townhouses, famous for their six paneled front doors.

Georgian Architecture: Proportion and Symmetry

Georgian townhouse
Row of Georgian terraces in Islington, London.

Wherever you are, there is no mistaking Georgian architecture. Distinguished by their large rectangular sash windows, Georgian townhouses are often several stories high, with coloured bricks and large six paneled front doors. Georgian front doors are often painted bold colours and as a result stand out from the front of the house. Many have a rectangular window or fanlight above the doorway so as to the brighten the hallway. You can read more about Georgian front doors here.

European influence was strong during this period, and many Georgian houses wouldn’t look out of place along a parisian rue. Architects like Inigo Jones and Isaac Ware were inspired by the work of renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Palladian taste promoted order and symmetry resulting in perfectly proportioned buildings. Ware famously said “There ought to be a uniformity of all the parts…first to the whole building, and next to each other”. This obsession with balance can be clearly seen in the west end of London, where five storey Georgian townhouses line the streets.

The first suburbs

This was the era in which the first suburbs were born and Georgian streets and squares were the beginning of large scale suburban development in Britain. “Noxious trades” were excluded from these new developments consequently creating large residential districts. House builders designed these suburbs to be exclusively for the wealthy Georgians, who wouldn’t appreciate noisy neighbours. Terraced houses were created in order to squeeze in as many homes as possible.But this meant that they had to be built with up to five storeys to fit in room for the family and their servants.

Inside the Georgian Townhouse

georgian townhouse

Stepping through the doorway, a visitor would be greeted by a servant and led up to the first floor reception room. This was above the street noise and at the front of the house. 

For Georgians the hierarchy of the home was very important. The lower floors were for the family whilst servants were confined to the top floor. There was also a cosy parlour at the back of the house, which was for the family only. 

New woods meant new design

georgian townhouses
A mahogany sofa in the Georgian style.

This was the era that painted furniture and doors became popular. Versatile softwoods were being used more, but they weren’t as durable as hardwoods. To get around this, the Georgians painted their furniture to extend its lifespan. You would see pastels and creams used to make a room feel airy. Mahogany became popular after 1720. Sourced from the colonies, it was used to make staircases and interior doors.

If you are interested in buying a Georgian home, you could do a lot worse than check out this prime location property buying guide. It’s got a lot of useful information on what to look for when buying a Georgian property.