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How to improve flow in a Victorian house?

As Victorian houses weren't thought for modern households, the flow between different rooms isn't always optimised. Here's a quick guide on how to modernise it.

5 min read

If you own a Victorian home you’ll be familiar with their characterful nature. They come with plenty of unique and attractive features from tall ceilings to bay windows, stained glass and decorative brickwork. That being said, Victorian houses were made for Victorian societies.

The unique layouts and certain details of these properties aren’t always suited to modern households. One factor that renovators often look to address in particular is the flow through the property. We look at some of the ways Victorian homeowners can improve the fluidity of their home and make it work better for you.

What do we mean by ‘flow’?

Flow, in terms of house design, describes the relationship of different rooms to one another as well as the layout of each individual room. A good flow can be indicative of rooms that feel satisfyingly connected to one another or a room where the layout and furniture is arranged in a way that allows you to move intuitively through it. A bad flow can reflect a layout that feels unnatural, cramped or messy.

Flow in traditional Victorian layouts

Addressing the flow in traditional Victorian house layouts is a recurring theme. This is largely because what we ask for and expect from our homes has changed significantly over time. We take a look at some of the features present in original, untouched Victorian homes and how they could be more obstructive than beneficial to the flow in your home.

Front and back parlours

In the Victorian era, the front parlour of a home was intended to display the status of the household. It was intended as a fairly formal room where furniture and items that may have displayed wealth or extravagance would be arranged. Its predominant use would be for occasions or for hosting guests. A wall would divide the front parlour from the back parlour where the purposes would include dining and recreation.

How to improve the flow:

As we’ve touched on, there’s plenty to celebrate in Victorian houses. One of the aspects that former front parlours are likely to boast is beautiful bay windows that invite plenty of natural light into the room. However, the separation of the rooms could mean that the back room is poorly lit and that both rooms could feel a little cramped.

To maximise on the natural light from the front parlour’s bay window, consider knocking down the internal wall separating the two rooms – this is also a fantastic way of creating a more open space. This solution could be suitable for families who prioritise having multi-functioning rooms where they can spend time with each other, enjoy recreational activities and unwind. It’ll also make it easier to move through your space and improve the flow of your home. And because it’ll be towards the entrance, it’ll be a fantastic way to welcome you home.

Book a free advice call with one of our experts to discuss how you could transform the flow of your Victorian living room while retaining the features you love. Not ready to make any changes to the layout of your home? Read our article to get inspiration for how to modernise your Victorian living room.

Improving the flow in your Victorian house © Matt Gamble

Kitchen and scullery

Kitchens in Victorian households would have been one of the most important rooms for the functioning of the home. The kitchen would have been a simply decorated room, intended solely for practical purposes. Often, it would have high windows to allow for ventilation of heat from cooking. And even smaller kitchens would likely have had a small room leading off it towards the rear of the property – the scullery.

The scullery would have predominantly been occupied by servants (another relatively normal feature of the Victorian era that’s out of tempo with today) and used for purely practical purposes like washing clothes and cleaning.

How to improve the flow:

We recently conducted some research that illuminated the importance of kitchens to families today. When asked, a demographically representative sample said that if they were given £10k to spend on any area of their home they would dedicate it to their kitchen. This suggests our evolving connection with our kitchens as the new heart of the home – which tracks with the consistent trend for open-plan kitchens that facilitate the practicality of cooking with family dining time and entertaining guests. It’s a far cry from the Victorian era’s relationship with kitchens and, thanks to this difference, the flow of our homes needs to change with it.

One way to maximise the amount of space is to opt for a rear extension. Simply put, it’s a type of extension that stretches beyond the rear of your property to create brand new space. It’s a particularly good option if your existing home doesn’t have any available room to its side that you can extend into. One huge advantage of rear extensions is that they create an opportunity for you to totally reimagine the space that would have previously been a simple kitchen and poky scullery into an open space that’s welcoming, sociable and bright.

Improving the flow in your kitchen

Explore our portfolio for extension design inspiration and book a free consultation with one of our experts to discuss your big ideas.

For those of you fortunate enough to have unused space to the side of your home, a side infill extension could provide the perfect opportunity for improving the flow in your property. Simply put, side infill extensions build out into the dead space between houses to increase the space in your home. Alleyways are a typical feature of Victorian terraced houses, making them a great candidate for this type of extension. The possibilities that come with extra space are endless but it could allow you to significantly brighten your room, add in a kitchen island, transform the layout of your kitchen and totally modernise your space.

If you’re looking to embark on an exciting design overhaul of your Victorian property but you’re not sure where to begin, get in touch with us for advice and try our Quick Quote Calculator to see how much it could set you back.

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