Over the centuries our homes have changed dramatically. One of the biggest changes has been the role of glass. It was one of the later inventions and initially very expensive so only tiny panes were made, held together by lead strips. That explains why very old homes have small windows and the wealthier you were, the more windows you would have in your home. It was also common practice to take them with you if you moved!
In Georgian times between 1714-1820, the design was all about sash windows, stucco cornices and rectangular windows or fanlights above a six-panelled front door. Rooms were generously sized, with the important entertaining and family rooms on the first floor above usually at the front of the house. A cosier family parlour would be at the back on the first floor, bedrooms were on the second floor with servants housed in smaller rooms right at the top of the house – often on the fourth storey. The number of windows in the house denoted how wealthy a family was as a heavy window tax was levied to help fund the army. Some thrifty people bricked up windows to avoid paying it.
During the Victorian period between 1837-1901, designs featured bay windows, coloured brickwork and a garden back and front. The industrial revolution brought with it mass manufacturing and many more people could afford to buy their own homes, or upgrade them more often, especially in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The middle class was emerging and they moved into substantial detached, semi or terraced homes, still large enough to accommodate a couple of servants, with large reception rooms with high ceilings and marble fireplaces.
Towards the end of this period most middle class homes had flushing toilets, gas lighting, inside toilets and open coal fires. Cheap plate glass invented in 1832 and the repeal of window tax in 1851, encouraged large windows in new homes.
The Edwardian period between 1901 – 1910, saw buildings become squatter than their Victorian counterparts. Most were set on a wider plot, two storeys tall and with elaborately carved and painted wooden balconies, porches and verandas. There was big demand for airy, larger homes, many built in new suburbs on the leafy outskirts of cities and towns close to the new railway lines. People wanted their homes to be less formal, so Edwardian style was born. Living rooms were designed with windows at both ends and French windows opening into the garden became very popular.
The 1930s were all about the semi and houses were smaller than those built before 1914, with a front room off a hall, a second living room at the rear and a kitchen. Upstairs there would be two large bedrooms, a third much smaller room and a bathroom and toilet.
1950s buildings were all about function as hundreds of thousands of homes had been destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. A building boom in the late 40s and 50s so many of the resulting homes were boxes – traditional semi and high rise flats. Interiors were simple, open plan areas such as merged living and eating spaces were seen for the first time in the 50s. The main focus of the living room became the TV for the first time in history.
From the turn of the millennium, we have seen a revolution in both design and function. Many homes are defined by social areas rather than designated hallways, kitchens and dining rooms. With our hectic lifestyles, convenience and sociability have become the main focus which is why kitchen diners and games rooms have grown in popularity. Space is scarce too with the average new-build home in the UK being half the size of a comparative new-build in Denmark, so furniture and other items need to be easily disassembled and multi-functional.
With design changing dramatically all the time one of the biggest achievements or adaptations is when we use things like a Fabric Roof Structure found at links like spatialstructures.com/building-systems-explained.