Good Bones: Folk Victorian

As an architect, there’s nothing I enjoy more than analyzing the details of what makes a house unique and appealing. So, every few weeks, I pop in to the ProTalk blog with a post about a different architectural style and share the details that give it character.

Folk Victorian: Elegant but playful

If you like elegance coupled with playfulness, then you’ll love the Folk Victorian style. Don’t let the name fool you. Unlike its Queen Anne and East Lake cousins, this Folk Victorian style is characterized by simplicity. I think a more fitting name for the style category is Picturesque – the name alone conjures delightful images.

Restrained Ornamentation

Unlike other Victorian styles, the Folk Victorian is about simplicity and elegance with restrained use of embellishments. In fact, you’ll notice that the dramatic style elements are subtly found in gables and around porches. This style is also creative with its use of materials — siding specifically — since the types and combinations of it are limitless. The main body is often clad in horizontal lap siding, but you’ll find this accented with either board and batten or half round shakes. Because the Folk Victorian lends itself to an elongated look, I prefer board and batten’s vertical style to enhance architectural elements like gables.

Vertical Proportions

One thing the Folk Victorian style does share with its more ornamental Victorian cousins is a steeply pitched roof. The various steep roof pitches coupled with the vertical proportions of the windows and doors help give this style its elegance. Windows are typically doublehung and often singleflanked with paneled shutters. The window grid pattern further enforces both the simplicity and the vertical style with a 2 over 2 pattern (see images).

Regional Colors

Now, if you’re ready for fun, let’s add color; real, vibrant color—no earth tones here! In fact, specific colors often reflect the region in which a home is located.

Down south in places like Key West, the colors are light and fresh like ice cream sherbet. Try Savannah Blue main body siding with Classic Cream half round shakes in the gables and white trim and accent colors of blue or Vineyard Red.

Further north, colors tend to be more saturated, but just as playful. Check out Wedgewood Blue siding with Amber board and batten in the gables. You can use a slightly darker trim color like Island Pearl and accents of Berry. A more masculine, bold combination would be Sedona Redsidin­g with Sandy Tan half round shakes. For the more conservative, consider Autumn Beige with Island Pearl half rounds, white trim and Georgetown Blue accents. If white is your preference for siding, try a red standing seam metal roof to give a pop of color.

In today’s low maintenance world, be sure to check out the cellular PVC trim gable and porch column brackets and details. The Folk Victorian is a great style for selfexpression and individualism without the worry—just go with what feels right.