Tudor homes look like a vision from a storybook when you stumble upon them. Clad in brick, stucco, wood stone or half-timbering, Tudor homes stand out in a neighborhood as both enchanting and intriguing. The characteristically arched front door makes for an enticing entrance that can arouse both curiosity and a touch of intimidation. But once you're inside, you find that Tudor homes offer an interior that is cozy, comforting and not as dark as you would expect.
When classifying the interiors of Tudor homes, the words airy, light and palatial rarely bubble to the surface. That's because Tudor style homes are based off of the architecture popular in Tudor England, which was roughly between the 16th and 17th century. As a result, the style uses many dense materials such as wood and stone in the interiors of the home, which gives the rooms a darker, more intimate feel than those in most other styles.
To discover how the interiors of Tudor homes were decorated, I visited Stan Hywet Hall
- a gigantic Tudor style estate home in Akron, Ohio built between 1912 and 1915. During my visit, Laurie Gilles, the director of collections showed me around the home, which is considered to be one of the finest examples of Tudor architecture in America.
While walking from room to room, it was hard to miss the large amounts of wood. Wood paneling, wood doors, wood furniture and wood beams on the ceiling were just a few of the more prominent uses of wood in the home, and Gilles confirmed that those uses of were common in most Tudor homes. In addition to wood, stone was used frequently as flooring and hearths and white plaster was used on the walls and ceilings. But it was the use of fabric that caught me off guard.
"Inside Tudor homes you're going to find a lot of tapestry," Gilles said. "Tapestries are like artwork, beautifully designed artwork that is of thread, needle and thread, rather than a painted piece, and the tapestries were woven and then hung in the Tudor Style homes primarily for their beauty and also for their warmth, because you could warm the walls of a very cold structure with a tapestry. Another feature are the rugs, the rugs that would, again, warm the floor."
The use of tapestries, rugs and drapes soften the look of the hearty wood and stone giving Tudor homes an inviting, cozy feel you would not expect. In addition to fabric, Tudor homes incorporated numerous symbols, which also helped to give the interiors a softer more pleasant appeal.
"Often you would find the same repetitious, either the linen folded pattern and in some instances you would find carvings of figures in history," Gilles said. "And again you would find that in the windows as well that heraldic or visuals of people from the time period."
Common symbols used in Tudor homes were the Tudor rose, the thistle, the Fleur-de-lis and the linen fold, as Gilles informed me. Those symbols would be found carved into the wood moldings and furniture, woven into tapestries and rugs and featured in stained glass. Another element featured often in Tudor homes that is easy to spot is the Tudor arch, which was used on both windows and doors.
"You'll find that you have the gothic shape to the doors - the round or archway to the doors - but, you'll have that square threshold design," Gilles said. "So, it almost looks like you're looking at a square door but you have this rounded effect to the top of it."
The combination of stone, wood, white plaster, tapestries, rugs, symbols and the Tudor arch give Tudor homes a distinct feel that is part storybook - no, all storybook. The way the interior is decorated just tells which part of the fairytale the home is from.