Modern or traditional?

There are various issues to consider when choosing your home and what kind of space is most suitable for your needs. Older properties offer generous proportions, but if they have not been modernised can lack in facilities such as up to date central heating, double glazing and built-in storage.

Modern properties, on the other hand, tend to be smaller, may have lower ceilings, which makes them easier to heat, but can make you feel cramped. Depending on the property, modern houses can be unique and have the latest technology and energy saving features. This is also true of refurbished older buildings.

One of the latest trend in city centers has been the conversion of old industrial buildings into Lofts, mixing the old with the new. This brings together the generous proportions and the character of the more traditional properties with the latest comfort and technology of the 21st century.

The most popular architectural styles in London are:


Georgian (c.1720 - 1820)





As an architectural style, 'Georgian' refers to the period 1780-1820. As a period, it covers the years between 1714 and 1820.

Georgian architecture is classical in the majority of the exteriors, influenced by Roman Architecture. The interiors were more elaborate with a wide colour palette. In this period, walls in fashionable houses were paneled from floor to ceiling and divided horizontally into three parts to represent the classical proportions of the column. Walls would have been painted in a single colour, although a darker shade might have been used to emphasise details such as the skirting and door (stronger colours were expensive). Plasterwork reached a height of delicacy and elegance. Ceilings were divided into segments defined by moldings around the ceiling rose with details highlighted in white against delicate muted tones. The colours most used were light blue, lavender, pink and pea green - never primary colours. Fixtures and fittings were also used to introduce colour.

Main Features:

Victorian (c.1830 - 1901)





Victorian architecture was made up of several styles, the main ones being Italianate or Renaissance and Queen Anne or Medieval.

In reaction to the classical style of the previous century, the Victorian age saw a return to traditional British styles in building, Tudor and mock-Gothic being the most popular. Enormous houses were built looking more like great cathedrals rather than houses.

The early Victorian period is characterised by overly elaborate details and decoration;during the late Victorian the style was simpler. The Industrial Revolution made possible the use of new materials such as iron and glass.

A major plus with Victorian homes is the steep pitch of the roof, which makes them great candidates for loft conversions.

Main Features:

Edwardian (c.1901 - 1910)





As an architectural style, 'Edwardian' refers to the period 1901 to 1918. As a period, it covers the years between 1901 and 1910.
The Edwardian era was a period of revivalism, taking ideas from the mediaeval and Georgian periods, among others. Houses mixed and matched many influences.

Houses had wider frontages so there was often more room for a hall, in larger houses this was even used as a living room. For example, it would be furnished with a desk and perhaps even a fireplace.
The underlying themes of buildings and interior design of the Edwardian era were for expensive simplicity and sunshine and air. Colours and detailing were lighter than in the late 19th century, looking back to the Georgian era of a century before. The desire for cleanliness continues. As gas and then electric light became more widespread, walls could be lighter as they did not get so dirty and looked better in the brighter light. Decorative patterns were less complex, both wallpaper and curtain designs were plainer.

There was less clutter than in the Victorian era. Ornaments were perhaps grouped rather than everywhere. Displays of flowers were placed to complement the floral fabrics and wallpapers.

Today, fine examples of these homes can be most often found in areas like Dulwich, Southeast London or in the "garden suburbs".

Main Features:

(*) Art Nouveau (c.1890 - 1919)

Themes in this period would be the rose, iris, waterlily, dragonfly, butterfly, snail and peacock. A distinctive feature was the whiplash or spiral of smoke. Another popular motif was the woman's face with her hair flowing in waves about her as caught in the wind or under water. Strong, asymmetric shapes. Nymphs and fairies emerging from flowers. Naked ladies stretching upwards, holding lights.
This was a very short period and it fell into great disfavour until the 1970's, for this reason very few whole rooms remain.

Art Deco (c.1925-1939)

Art Deco style was the first widely popular style to break with the early 20th century styles of Revival and beaux-arts styles. It consciously strove for modernity, simplicity, and a streamlined effect - typical of the newly emerging Machine Age.

This style had two phases: Zigzag Moderne of the 1920s and Streamline Moderne of the 1930s and 1940s. Although many public buildings - courthouses, jails, bandstands, schools - were built during the Great Depression in this style, sometimes, the Art Deco designs were not actually built until after World War II!

The style was particularly popular for commercial buildings, such as banks, cinemas and courthouses.

Main features:






During the 1930s people moved out to the suburbs to take advantage of affordable newly-built homes and better public transport links.

This suburban developments were established in the countryside around existing towns and cities and produced a wide variety of domestic styles - from updated Victorian cottages, Tudor style miniatures mannors and "Modern" homes, made from cement and steel with streamlined curves and uncomplicated lines.

The typical house of the 1930's was generally smaller than those before 1914. It had a front room off a hall, a second living room at the rear and a kitchen. Upstairs there were two large bedrooms, a third much smaller room and bathroom and toilet. An addition to the typical house was the garage. A new pattern was the bungalow with all its rooms on a single level, or the chalet-style bungalow with one or two bedrooms in the roof.

The 1930's saw a significant increase in the number of flats or apartments built.

Main Features:

Modern (this term includes several styles)





Before the 1930s, architectural styles had always referred to previous styles. From this point on, however, new buildings should not make any reference to traditonal architecture. Modernism had cut all ties with the past. A new aesthetic was needed, one that represented the new epoch, the age of the machine. At the same time, it also provided affordable housing for the common man.

The International Style was particularly well suited to large metropolitan apartments and office towers. On the whole, Modernism was never really accepted by the public, it was more appreciated by big businesses and governments.

From the mid 60s (Postmodern Architecture), there was a shift towards interest in historical styles and the preservation of older buildings. This lead to the renovation of many older landmark buildings and to a tendency to resist new architecture that seemed to threaten the scale or stylistic integrity of existing structures. In general it can be said that the Postmodernists value individuality, intimacy, complexity, and occasionally even humour.

The inflexible, confrontational approach of modernism has been replaced by a more inclusive sense of the architectural heritage that acknowledges and seeks to preserve the very finest achievements of every period.


In the early Georgian period, the women would leave the men in the dinning room when the meal was finished, and go to the "withdrawing room", which gave the name to today's "drawing room". The dining room was the masculine preserve and was decorated in a masculine way and the drawing room in a soft and feminine way.

Georgian homes were made of brick or stone, which became a compulsory requirement in London following the Great Fire of 1666.

The word Modern derives from the Latin "modo", meaning "just now" or "right now". Even though when we talk about art, design and architecture, we associate its use almost exclusively with the 20th century and possibly beyond, it has been used in the English and Latin languages for a very long time.

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