Designing Style:
Folk Victorian showcases exceptional variety
Mass production and distribution often make elite products affordable and available to a broader range of consumers – even when the "product" is a house. Such conditions helped the Folk Victorian style flourish. The Machine Age made many types of gingerbread and ornate trim popularized by the Queen Anne style affordable. And the spread of U.S. railroads gave easy access to the farmlands and remote reaches of America. Today, the eclectic
mix-and-match style of Folk Victorian is conveniently reproducible with vinyl siding, architectural trim and accessories, thanks to the broad selection of readily available products.

As Victorian styles designed by architects gained favor among wealthier families, the working class hired carpenters to build simpler imitations. The style that would become known as Folk Victorian was a cross between Queen Anne and National Folk styles.

Like the Queen Anne style, Folk Victorian houses often feature a front-facing gable with brackets under the eaves, spindlework on porches and a diverse mix of accents and trim. The exact trim and accents used for the original Folk Victorian houses were often the result of happenstance – carpenters would use whatever materials had arrived in bulk via rail shipments.

Unlike the Queen Anne style, and more like National Folk designs, Folk Victorian houses tend to have square, symmetrical shapes, frequently with el-shaped projections. They also avoid the towers, bay windows and elaborate moldings typical of Queen Anne style.

The vast array of profiles, shapes, architectural trim and accessories offered by vinyl and other polymeric siding can help today's designers bring Folk Victorian homes to life.

Vinyl siding clapboard including 3" to 8" reveals, board & batten, beaded and Dutchlap styles are available for the main exterior cladding. Gables or accent walls can feature vinyl or other polymeric shakes, shingles or shapes such as scallops, half cove and fish scale. Virtually limitless options in brackets, jig-saw cut trim, gingerbread, spindles and fretwork also are available.

Complementing the "almost anything goes" approach to mixing cladding, accents and trim, Folk Victorian style also embraces the full spectrum of color options and combinations. Fittingly, vinyl siding offers an amazingly diverse and attractive color palette, including nearly 350 colors certified for color retention.

When it comes to pleasing more folks, greater variety is better. And today's vinyl siding is up to the Folk Victorian task with its exceptional selection, beauty and durability.

To see more specifics on achieving the Folk Victorian style, check out Designing Style: A Guide to Designing with Today's Vinyl Siding.