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Get the Look: Georgian-Style Architecture

Learn how to recognize and appreciate Georgian-style architecture

Written by Debra Steilen
  • Werner Straube

    Georgian-Style Architecture

    If Colonial-style architecture gets its name from homes built by colonists, what's the origin of the term Georgian-style architecture? Georgian refers to styles that were popular from during the reigns of four British monarchs: George I, George II, George III (who was king during the American Revolution), and George IV. In all, they ruled from 1714 to 1830.

    English architecture at the time was inspired by the classicism of ancient Greece and Rome. A fascination with concepts such as geometry and proportion led to a desire for symmetry in home design; that desire spread to the New World via books about architecture.

    Architects: Elissa Morgante and Fred Wilson
    Interior design: Suzanne Kipp

    See examples of Colonial-style homes and their many variations, including Georgian.

  • Greg Scheidemann

    Georgian Style Today

    In the United States, the original fascination with Georgian-style architecture lasted until about 1780. Georgian Revival architecture emerged during the early 20th century and remained popular through the 1950s. Earlier versions were elaborate and detailed; later ones—built for large residential developments—tended to be more modest. Today, architects and builders continue to be inspired by Georgian-style architecture, using its beautiful proportions and classic details as a starting point for house plans that suit today’s lifestyles. 

  • Werner Straube

    Early Georgian: Plain Yet Dignified

    Georgian-style architecture is divided into three periods: Early Georgian, Middle Georgian, and Late Georgian. 

    Early Georgian houses were usually one- or- two-story rectangular boxes, two rooms deep, with windows arranged in strict symmetry. Paneled entry doors were placed atop a raised step, with a simple wood pediment above. Most Georgian houses in New England were frame, but elsewhere in the United States they were sometimes built of brick and occasionally stone. 

  • Erik Johnson

    Middle Georgian: Refined and Stylish

    Middle Georgian homes were two or three stories high, with more refined proportions than earlier versions. Pediments were pushed out and supported by columns to create covered entries. Homes were built of masonry, timber, and sometimes stone. Palladian windows, elliptical windows, and round-headed windows came into play.

    Pictured: This brick Georgian-style home in the South has matching end chimneys to help dissipate the heat. The arched center dormer features a Palladian window.

  • Gordon Beall

    Late Georgian: Elegantly Embellished

    Late Georgian architecture (sometimes referred to as Federal-style) boasted even more robust ornamentation. On this building, for example, the cornice is embellished with dentil molding, the windows are topped with keystone lintels, the levels are divided by belt coursing, and the front door is marked by an elaborate “broken” pediment supported by decorative pilasters.

    See the next slides to better understand Georgian roofing styles and other key features.  

  • Side-Gabled Roofs

    Unlike the early Colonial-style homes, few of which survive today, many original Georgian-style homes still exist. Of the surviving examples, about 40 percent have side-gabled roofs (like the one on the modern-day Georgian home pictured here).

    Architect: Ken Tate

  • David Brown

    Gambrel Roofs

    About one-quarter of the surviving Georgian homes feature gambrel roofs. A gambrel roof is one in which each roof surface has two different slopes, with the lower slope pitched more steeply than the upper one. Gambrel roofs may or may not have gables at the ends. A gambrel roof without gables is also known as a mansard roof. 

    Pictured: This Georgian-style home's gambrel roof has five dormers to bring plenty of light into the attic.

  • Brie Williams

    Hipped Roofs

    Another quarter of surviving Georgian homes have hipped roofs, which means the roof slopes down toward the walls on all sides of the house, with no gables.

    Check out this 1743 Georgian home's formal gardens.

    Garden design: Ben Lenhardt

  • Jeff McNamara

    Front-Centered Gables

    The remaining 10 percent of original Georgian houses have roofs with gables centered on the front of the house.

  • Werner Straube

    Elegant Brickwork

    Many of the later Georgian homes boast exquisite brickwork accentuated with wide joints of white mortar. One of the more interesting brick patterns is known as the Flemish bond. This arrangement alternates the short sides (or "headers") of the bricks with the long sides ("stretchers"), as shown in this Georgian home built in 1936 in Los Angeles.

    Pictured: Originally built for a founder of UCLA, this Georgian Revival home was extensively remodeled by its latest owners, Kristi and Bill Frack. The Fracks finished the house to look as it would have originally appeared. “Design is about reflecting who you are, but it’s also about reflecting the context,” Kristi says. “Older houses have a soul. You have to look for that and listen to it.”

    See the elegant results of the renovation.

    Interior design: Kristi M. Nelson

  • Gordon Beall

    Stately Entries

    Whether sided in clapboard or brick, Georgian-style homes typically boast formal front entries that make a visual statement easily noticed from the street. Paneled wood doors are centered on the front of the house and topped with a decorative crown, called a pediment, supported by pilasters. Sometimes, as shown here, the pediment is brought forward and supported by columns to create a covered porch.

    Pictured: This pediment is embellished with dentil molding—a type of trim made of small toothlike blocks. 

  • Alise O’Brien

    Balanced Window Display

    Windows in Georgian-style homes are typically aligned both horizontally and vertically. (In the home pictured here, note how even the dormer windows are aligned with the windows on the front wall of the house.)  Earlier Georgian examples have double-hung windows constructed with many small panes of glass: usually nine or 12 panes per sash. As glass became more available, windows were constructed with fewer—but larger—panes of glass.

    Pictured: This home has common Georgian "nine-over-nine" windows on the ground floor: nine panes in both the top and bottom sash of each window. The next slide shows eight-over-eight windows. 

  • Werner Straube

    Georgian-Style Home, St. Louis

    This 1922 home’s original architecture inspired its sensitive restoration. “Seldom do you have the honor to work on a house like this with such beautiful bones,” says interior designer Marshall Watson.

    Check out this graciously restored Georgian-style home.

    Original architect: Edward F. Nolte
    Restoration architect: Lauren Strutman
    Interior design: Marshall Watson

  • John Granen

    Georgian Revival Home, California

    When Eric and Erin Fish purchased their 1890 Georgian Revival home in Marin County, California, they knew the home had an awkward layout. “It just didn’t flow the way a family home needs to today,” Erin says. So the couple hired Wendy Posard, an architectural and interior designer with an affinity for classical architecture, to take the house down to its foundation. Staying within the footprint, Posard designed a 6,000-square-foot Georgian Revival home that honored the architecture of the original.

    See more exterior details on the next two slides.

    Architectural and interior design: Wendy Posard
    Landscape architect: Warren Simmonds

  • John Granen

    Classic Portico

    This rebuilt home’s Georgian Revival style nods to the original structure’s design. Exterior walls are lined with tall windows, for example, and the floor plan puts a dining room and living room on either side of a central staircase foyer. In this view, multipaned French doors in the master bedroom open to a small balcony above the entry porch.

    Architectural and interior design: Wendy Posard
    Landscape architect: Warren Simmonds

  • John Granen

    Outdoor Patio

    Several sets of French doors connect the living room to a patio and an outdoor fireplace made of stone. Adults can sit on the patio or in the living room and watch children splashing around in the pool (not shown).

    See how this home’s gracious interiors pay homage to the past.

    Architectural and interior design: Wendy Posard
    Landscape architect: Warren Simmonds

  • Werner Straube

    Georgian-Style Pool House, Michigan

    Homeowners Kappy and Dave Trott enjoy a pool house that repeats details from their Georgian Revival home: a brick exterior, a hipped roof, and classic white columns. “We wanted this building to be a little bit charming…in the spirit of the main house,” architect Victor Saroki says.

    View more of this backyard retreat.

    Architect: Victor Saroki
    Interior design: Craig Steinhaus
    Landscape design: Matt and Bill Whetstone

  • Werner Straube

    Georgian-Style Home, Chicago

    Suzanne and Dan Kipp had no plans to move, but then they found a classic example of Georgian architecture on a corner lot, and it cast a spell on them. Their renovation preserved the home as a snapshot of architectural history while making it suitable for modern family life. “Instead of getting rid of this home and all of its classic elements, we brought it back to life,” Suzanne says.

    See before-and-after pictures of the renovation.

    Architects: Elissa Morgante and Fred Wilson
    Interior design: Suzanne Kipp

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Georgian-Style Home, Atlanta

    Nicole and Neil Metzheiser immediately fell for this 1918 Georgian-style home's graceful proportions and classic details, but they knew a major renovation was still needed. Working with architect Tim Adams, the couple updated the century-old home to add warmth and charm. “Our goal was to maintain the character of the old home,” Adams says, “so we kept the wavy-glass windows and maximized the insulation in other ways—in the walls and floors, and reworking the HVAC system.”

    Browse before-and-after pictures of this charming home. 

    Original architect: Neel Reid
    Restoration architect: Tim Adams
    Interior design: Nicole Metzheiser