All About Tudor Architecture and Interior Design

All About Tudor Architecture and Interior Design

Architecture
By Mateos Glen Hayes June 13, 2022

When you imagine an idyllic English village, neat rows of Tudor houses with small and manicured lawns are probably what comes to mind. Tudor homes are quite distinctive in their appearance thanks to their beautiful accenting through sturdy wood beams, white stucco walls, and ceramic tile roofing. These homes are even nicer inside with plenty of natural wood, a beautiful fireplace, hardwood floors, ornate carpeting, and classical furniture.

This ensemble comes together to make a quirky design that exudes a stately and classical aura that is distinctly English in character. It is no wonder, then, that this style can be found in many parts of the world outside of the British isles. Tudor-style house interiors can even be found in far-flung places such as Burma or the American West.   

Origins of Tudor Architecture and Design 

The Tudor style was born in England.

The Tudor style was born in England.

Tudor architecture has deep roots in English history, and the British Empire contributed to its eventual resurgence and spread throughout the globe. The style has gained a new lease on life in North America where revival-style Tudor architecture is the most popular today. Unlike the very ubiquitous Colonial architectural style, Tudor is more ornate in some respects and not as popular. 

Tudor Dynasty 

This architectural style takes its name from the Tudor dynasty which reigned in England from 1485 to 1558. It was during this period that Tudor architecture began to emerge. English craftsmen started building two-toned manors that were larger and more sophisticated than the homes that existed before. This new style of home took inspiration from Renaissance and Gothic design elements brought over from continental Europe.

Soon this new design style came to define the aesthetic of cities and settlements throughout the English countryside, and the style remained popular until the end of the Tudor period in 1558 when the Elizabethan style began to take over. Unlike the Tudor style, Elizabethan architecture rejected the craftsman-style simplicity of the Tudor home and favored a more ‘regal’ design with intricate detailing and ornamentation.  

Revival 

Tudor remained relatively dormant as a style until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the trend was revived in the United States. As America’s housing boom kicked into high gear some developers looking for cost-effective ways to build homes quickly favored the simple high-quality Tudor style design. Unlike many other mass-produced home styles, these timeless Tudor Revival-style homes also had a lot more style and customizability, making them more appealing to new homeowners as well.

Tudor-style homes gained the most popularity in the Northern United States and in several areas of Canada as well where they were perfect for the colder climes. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a better place for a Tudor home than a region called New England.  

Distinctive Elements of Tudor Architecture 

Half-timbers produce beautiful designs for the home’s facade.

Half-timbers produce beautiful designs for the home’s facade.

There are several details that are defining elements of Tudor revival-style homes that make it pretty easy to spot them. Most of these homes follow a pretty similar template and even come in similar shapes and sizes. Unlike a more variable design like say Victorian architecture, Tudor homes are therefore more cookie-cutter in some respects. 

Half-Timber Detailing

This is easily the most popular Tudor-style interior design detail. Half-timber detailing is what makes Tudor homes so recognizable, with long sturdy beams placed vertically to provide decorative patterns complemented by lightly-colored stucco walls, brick, or stone between the timbers making for the distinctive two-tone aesthetic. Sometimes this aesthetic is also reflected on the inside of the Tudor home with wooden ceiling beams and stucco in between the beams. 

Materials Used

Tudor revival homes tend to also integrate materials other than stucco, giving them more customizability. For example, it is not uncommon to see Tudor revival homes with red-toned brick between the timbers, and even with brick detailing around windows and doorways. This takes away from some of the two-tone styles of the Tudor home but gives a new appearance that some may consider more modern.

The gables are a prominent element of the design.

The gables are a prominent element of the design.

Brick is also sometimes used with natural stone, making the home look more like the original Tudor manors of the 16th century. As for the Tudor style interior, they usually feature dark wood detailing on walls, ceilings, and floors, and can also have plaster walls for extra texture, or perhaps even porcelain tile for some added charm.

Gables 

Roofing styles are also quite an important part of the Tudor style and are another element that makes it easy to identify the style. Tudor homes typically have several front-facing gables that have steep roof lines that sometimes extend to just ten feet off the ground. This produces a distinctive overhang that gives the homes a unique look that few other homes can reproduce. Tudor homes also feature intricate asymmetrical patterns in keeping with the artisanal roots of the original Tudor style. 

Windows and Doors 

One traditional detail that every Tudor hone is a prominent front door that’s off-center. Front doors are usually large sturdy pieces made of solid oak and sport intricate detailing. They also may have arches or decorative ornamentation bordering them, allowing the front door to appear even more prominent. Windows on a Tudor home are long and rectangular-shaped and are often clustered together. Bay windows are another common fixture of Tudor homes, allowing for plenty of natural light to permeate the inside of the home. 

How to Bring Tudor Style Design to Your Home

Box beam ceilings create a beautiful aesthetic.

Box beam ceilings create a beautiful aesthetic.

Converting your home into a Tudor style one will require a significant amount of work but it is certainly doable even if your renovation budget isn’t all that big. Most of the modifications that will need to be done can be completed at a relatively low cost and don’t require any major structural changes to the home. 

Reimagining Your Ceiling 

On the inside, your ceiling is a good place to start since it will set the tone for the rest of the Tudor interior design. There are generally two designs that most Tudor homes use for their ceilings. One is the coffered ceiling which is effectively a ceiling with many box-shaped ‘coffers’ in it which add dimension and also give you the opportunity for extra stylistic flare. For instance, the inside of each coffer can feature colorful ceiling tiles that will give your ceiling a colorful grid look.

Alternatively, another common modern Tudor-style house interior design feature is the box beam ceiling, which as the name implies is a series of wooden beams aligned to create a box shape. Dark brown wooden beams are the best since they will give the most authentic look. You can always use faux beams to make the retrofit simpler.

Bay windows round out the Tudor design.

Bay windows round out the Tudor design.

Oriel Windows and More

Your windows will need to be revamped as well to complete the Tudor look. This might mean replacing your windows with larger rectangular ones, ergo widening the window opening you have. You may also consider installing some distinctive window styles such as Oriel windows or bay windows. These are both distinctive additions to any Tudor home. Oriel windows stick out, giving the impression of the window floating from the wall.

Bay windows give you a wider field of view, let more light in, and also give your home a classier and more rounded look that is integral to the Tudor aesthetic. If you really want to go all out you should also install lead windows. These are stained glass windows and they come in a wide range of intricate patterns and colors that are a perfect way of complimenting the patterned timbers of your Tudor home.

A Whole New Wall

Speaking of timbers, these are of course a central detail that you will almost certainly want to have to complete the look of your Tudor home. Installing intricately patterned timbers on the side of your home may seem a daunting task, but the cool thing about modern construction is that it is indeed possible to do things much more affordably and simply than during the Tudor era. Faux wood timbers are available as are low-cost alternatives to real stucco or real brick, and this makes it far easier to adapt your existing house to the Tudor style without tearing too much down.  

Floors 

This is another major detail on the inside. As you may have guessed, wood is a big part of the Tudor interior design so it only makes sense to add as much as possible. What this means is that you're gonna want hardwood floors to recreate the aesthetic of the wide plank oak flooring that was common in the Tudor homes of old. Different rooms can also make use of other sturdy materials such as natural stone and brick, and wool rugs can add even more lovely texture.

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes