Creating Georgian and Victorian style kitchens

Whether humble and informal or elaborate with an air of grandeur, the best kitchens in Georgian and Victorian homes share key design elements that simply exude period charm

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If you are designing a new kitchen for a period home – perhaps a Georgian or Victorian property – it is important  to complement the property's architectural style. However, this rarely calls for an authentic recreation of the original design.

Once a purely practical space associated with hard work, today's kitchen is now a sociable, multifunctional room that serves as the hub of family life. And, as the role of the kitchen has changed throughout time, so has the way it looks and functions. 

Reflecting your home's era in the kitchen's design might mean choosing cabinetry featuring decorative detailing. Equally, it could involve a complete contrast using minimalist modern units that nod to the period through elements such as kitchen wall colours and proportion.

It's the details that matter most, so include key pieces inspired by the past such as a butler or Belfast sink, a pantry, and open shelving displaying wares that give an insight into the kitchen's functional purpose. Such attention to detail can also elevate the look of a budget kitchen.

Martin Moore kitchen in Georgian home

Located in a Georgian family home, this English kitchen by Martin Moore combines complementary colours to add warmth and interest. Prices start from £35,000. The work surfaces are by Caesarstone

(Image: © Martin Moore)

Georgian inspired kitchens

The Georgian period (1714-1830) covers the reign of four King Georges, including the later Regency period of George IV as Prince of Wales. Since it encompasses more than a century, it is impossible to define a single design style for furniture of the era. However, today’s interpretation within kitchens is easily recognisable, not to mention incredibly popular.

Pitched somewhere between the austere simplicity of a flat-framed Shaker-style kitchen door, and the more ornately decorated Victorian style (see below), Georgian kitchens are characterised by having a very strong classic look that can be made grander with impressive panelled mantels and imposing full-height larders, or kept simpler for a cottage or farmhouse kitchen.

‘A generous Georgian mantel shelf over your range cooker or hob can be used to display attractive pieces of crockery or other kitchen ornaments,’ suggests Robert Lawrence, marketing manager for Moores Furniture Group.

Contemporary minimalist kitchen in Georgian apartment

Minimalist flush doors make for a stunning contrast in this elegant Georgian apartment

(Image: © Jeremy Phillips)

Georgian kitchen details

  • Raised and fielded panel doors, often with bolection (projecting) moulding
  • Drawers edged with cock-bead or pencil moulding for delicate detail
  • Painted finishes – often greys and blues
  • Grand mantelpieces with raised and fielded panels and solid corbels
  • Granite or marble worktops
  • Butler’s sinks and bridge taps
  • Bronze drop handles, cup handles and knobs

Kitchen in Georgian farmhouse

Keep things simple in a cottage or farmhouse. A mix of natural wood and a painted larder works beautifully in this design

(Image: © Brent Darby)

Victorian style kitchens

Again, the Victorian period embraced many furniture styles during the Queen’s long reign (1837-1901). But there are two main approaches that couldn’t be more different. 

On the one hand, there’s a utilitarian interpretation based on the butler’s pantry or scullery that was the true working kitchen in Victorian homes. The focus is on a range cooker with freestanding furniture, open dressers and a large, well-worn table taking centre stage. 

More often, the kitchen cabinet design we associate with the Victorian era today is styled on the upstairs parlour or dining rooms, although you will often see elements of the ‘below stairs’ kitchen – for example, a butler’s sink, glass-fronted dresser and range cooker – incorporated.

Humble farmhouse-style kitchen in Victorian home

This nostalgic design in a Victorian farmhouse has the looks of a true working kitchen, with freestanding furniture, clothes pulley and centrepiece range cooker

(Image: © David Parmiter)

On the other hand, you will find Victorian kitchens where flourishes are deemed as important as functionality. Grander Victorian-inspired designs have higher levels of decoration than Georgian styles, with elaborate scrolls and corbels, dentil moulding and carved pilasters all frequent features.

Traditionally, kitchens with Cathedral arch doors and barley twist pilasters (influenced by the Gothic revival period) came under Victorian classification, but they have been toned down somewhat in recent years, while wicker baskets and open wine racks remain strong.

Grand kitchen in Victorian vicarage

Featuring elaborate dentil moulding, pilasters and corbels, the kitchen in this Victorian vicarage has a grander, more elegant appearance

(Image: © Brent Darby)

Victorian kitchen details

  • A large cook’s table or island unit
  • Freestanding furniture such as a glassware/crockery dresser
  • Ornate cornicing, twisted pilasters and Cathedral arch doors
  • Pulley clothes dryer above a range cooker
  • Scullery style wet area with butler’s sink
  • Copper items such as jelly moulds and kettles
  • Cream or white painted cabinetry mixed with oak or teak worktops
  • Dentil moulding and intricately carved corbels

Gothic inspired kitchen in extended Victorian home

Featuring carved wood panels, an old church bench and the classic kitchen table, the kitchen in this extended Victorian home is Gothic inspired

(Image: © Brent Darby)

Additional words by Melanie Griffiths

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