Finding New Design Inspiration in Victorian Architecture

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 28 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

A Victory for Design

During a recent family vacation to San Francisco, I happened to stumble across a wonderful cache of very ornate Victorian homes. These homes are quite beautiful in their unique design and each included a vast array of exterior decorative elements.  These elements can provide a great source of inspiration for corporate design, logos and graphical enhancements for publications for print and online. We have created some interesting design elements influenced by Victorian architecture. These can be seen below.

San francisco - Central street

Characteristics of these old beauties can include:

  • bay windows
  • colorful moldings, called dentils, which frame the house
  • a series of columns extending to the roofline
  • cornices where the roofline and wall meet and extension of wood protrudes from the roofline
  • clapboard siding, common wood used along the sides of the house instead of brick
  • windows, called dormers which protrude from the roof.  Each often has its own roof.

ARCHWAY windows


Graphical ElementsVictorian Homes3

victorian2BIn addition, most Victorian houses are narrow, have stairs, towers and turrets, decorative trim, asymmetrical design, unique window styles, tiny balconies, and wrap around porches. Queen Anne Victorians often have stained glass windows and have decorative trim painted in a contrasting color to the siding. Wrought iron railings frequently adorn the stairs and porches. Many of these porches also have roofs, called porticos. In short, each Victorian house has its own personality and nothing of this style is ever too extravagant.

What is also so wonderful about these Victorians is that they demonstrate some of the most fundamental principles of successful design:

  • repetition
  • pattern
  • balance
  • contrast
  • unity
  • harmony
  • dominance

Victorians4The architects of the period also employed these elements of design:

  • strong lines
  • geometric shapes
  • vertical direction (showing an upward movement)
  • contrasting colors
  • value consisting of lightness or darkness of color throughout the exterior facade

Here’s some logo samples that we created using Victorian decorative elements.

Logo sheet

With decorative design, inspired by these impressive Victorian houses, you can add visual interest to any corporate communication.  Go ahead and see what a difference Victorian architecture can make!


If your company or organization needs an innovative or unique creative solution for a promotion or marketing campaign, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more, please visit

Harlan West is the author of and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 28 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

If you have any suggestions for new topics at this blog, please drop us a quick email at