8 Modern Victorian House Exterior Updates

The phrase ‘modern Victorian house’ may sound counterintuitive, but we want you to keep an open mind when you peruse these updates. It’s possible to renovate your historic home to be practical for today’s lifestyle while also maintaining the charm of the era. And, in this article, we’ll show you some ideas as to how.

If you’re stumped on how to update your old home in a way that honors its history while adding a modern vibe, brick&batten can help. Our team of designers is ready to bring your dream home to life. All you have to do to get started is fill out our simple survey.


What is a Victorian Home?

When you picture a child’s dollhouse, odds are you’re thinking Victorian. Colorful, ornate, maybe even a turret. Every detail is considered and is unique. These are the hallmarks of a Victorian home built between 1830 and 1910, during the reign of Queen Victoria in England.

During this time period, romantic ideas prevailed: fashion, architecture, and furnishings should be beautiful rather than practical. Victorian styles evolved from elaborate Gothic architecture, adding in French, Italian, Tudor, and even Egyptian details, resulting in unique homes.

The Industrial Revolution, with its steam-powered sawmills, allowed for mass production of elaborate materials at an affordable cost. This nationalized the Victorian and Queen Anne architecture style.

The Arts and Crafts movement — focusing on streamlined practicality and handcrafted details — criticized the complexity and clutter of the Victorian-era, and it began to fall out of fashion. However, you can still see Victorian homes prevalent in many historic communities around the United States.

Victorian homes typically include these elements:

  • Two to three stories
  • Wood or stone exterior
  • Complicated, asymmetrical shape
  • Decorative, ornate trim
  • Textured wall surfaces
  • Steep, multi-faceted roof
  • Wraparound porch with ornamental spindles
  • Towers or turrets
  • Vibrant colors

What makes a modern Victorian house?

Whether you’re working on a Victorian-inspired new build or renovating an historic home, we are able to take design elements true to the Victorian era and bring them up to date for a modern lifestyle. We understand that it’s important to honor the history of your home and the time period during which it was built. Here is a list of 8 of our favorite modern Victorian houses that we have designed, and how we chose to keep or update certain elements.


large victorian virtual rendering with sage green paint, large porch and craftsman style windows

#1 // Textured Siding

Wood can be a lot to maintain, especially on a historic home. Sometimes when the wood is in disrepair, replacing it is the only option. We love using James Hardie siding because it’s extremely durable, it comes in a wide variety of colors, and it provides a more unique texture as compared to vinyl. Adding both vertical and horizontal panels has a more ornate feel.


gray victorian home with large porch, turrets, and third story balcony

#2 // Updated Porches

A hallmark of Victorian homes is a big wraparound porch on the first floor. These porches usually have ornate spindles and dental or gingerbread trim. Depending on the condition of your home, the trim and spindles may need to be replaced. Our designers work with your needs to create a new porch that works with your home’s original detailing.


before and after of a victorian home painted gray with white ornate trim and a teal blue door

#3 // Adding Pops of Color

This Victorian house had beautiful trim that was in excellent shape. As such, our designers recommended paint colors that would accent it well. The new teal door pays homage to the bright color schemes of the home’s history.


three story victorian home painted gray with white stone and stained glass windows

#4 // Windows

A common concern with old homes is the upkeep of windows that are inefficient and irregular. Our designers can help you find beautiful windows that suit the Victorian style but are also standard in size. This helps keep your renovation budget affordable.


two side by side comparisons of a victorian three story home with a turret and large porch

#5 // Paint Comparison

Since Victorian homes were typically painted in many bold colors, you may want to see what different options look like on your home. Especially if your wood siding is in good condition, painting can be a simple way to give your historic beauty new life. We always recommend to first paint swatches on your home. Note how your paint color option looks in the lighting at different times of day before buying.


updated modern victorian house in chicago with sage green paint, white window trim and black window grilles and large porch

#6 // Historic Neighborhoods

Many Victorian homes are located in historic neighborhoods with Home Owner’s Associations (HOA) and rules about how the home can be updated. Our designers are very experienced in working with HOA guidelines and can ensure integrity when designing your update.


three story modern victorian house with cedar shingles, dark blue siding, and ornate white painted bay window trim

#7 // Adding Details

Over the years your historic Victorian might have lost some of the original detailing that made it so unique. Our designers can help add elements that are modern, easy to upkeep, but also pay homage to the era’s ornate style. In this example, we gave the homeowner options for colors, siding, and windows to find the perfect balance of a modern Victorian house.


victorian home with large wraparound porch and ornate detailing painted dark green

#8 // Color Palette

One of the best parts of a modern Victorian house is the ability to play with color. Due to improvements in paint technology, we can offer homeowners excellent quality paint in a multitude of color palettes. Siding color palettes have also improved and offer protection from sun fading, allowing you to choose brighter, darker, and unique colors.


small victorian cottage painted midnight blue with large white wraparound porch

Modern Victorian houses = not an oxymoron

If you have your dreams set on a gorgeous Victorian home but you’re afraid of upkeep or maintenance, hopefully these modern update ideas will help you make some decisions. You can own a historic home, honor its integrity and history, while also modernizing it to be practical for your lifestyle.

If you need help visualizing your Victorian renovation, we can help. Our expert designers will offer options to bring your home to life in a way that honors its history. Let’s get started on your design today!