The Victorian porch provided ample opportunity to show this facet of the Victorians to the full. The typical Victorian porch would be reached after a short walk from the gate, up the tiled pathway, and then up a step or two.
Porches are present in many different sizes and ages of Victorian houses, from the modest larger terrace, especially in the more prestigious areas of cities, to the grand country mansions.
Most porches tended to be open with simply a small roof supported on two pillars. A porch served the purpose of linking the area at the top of the steps to the front door so that visitors were protected from the weather whilst waiting for the householder or their servant to open the door once the bell had been rung. However in some houses the porches were more enclosed with walls on either side of the front door. These walls provide another great opportunity for the Victorian with funds at his disposal to use decorative wall tiles for the visitor to admire whilst waiting for the door to open. As the Victorians knew, first impressions really do count and giving the visitor a flavour of the type of house they were visiting could only help to gain their admiration before they even entered the building and were entertained.
What would the original porch floor have been like?
In most porches the floor would be tiled in a pattern or colour scheme similar or complementary to the tiles used on the garden path where there was one. Sometimes these designs were continued or added to within the hallway once the threshold was crossed. The most common of these patterns to survive is the black and white chequerboard patterns with a decorative or plain border, or otherwise a more ornate mosaic tiled pattern in rich red and brown hues.
If wishing to decorate your Victorian porch in a similar manner to the Victorians and your original features are missing, here are a few key pointers. With all tiles, you need to ensure that the tiles you purchase are suitable for exterior use and for additional weatherproofing and protection, you can get glazed tiles that you use on the walls treated with silicon. For floor tiles, ensure these are frostproof and treat the tiles according to the manufacturers instructions – you will also wish to seal them to ensure that they are resistant to staining. However a little wear and tear will only enhance their authenticity.
The Victorian Emporium's external wall tiles are shown here comprising Benthall relief tiles with dado and plain wall tiles all in a mixture of Blue, Laurel and Honey
Did porches have tiles on the walls?
Many porches would have had colourful wall tiles including a skirting tile, dado tile and decorative tiles in between. If you are going to install wall tiles on your porch, you may wish to include some plain field tiles with a few decorative relief or patterned tiles making a feature within the tiled area. The Victorians would also have used various different strip or dado tiles to add to the design. Always make your design decisions having reviewed evidence of what is fitting to the era of your house but do not be a slave to the era. It’s your house for you to enjoy and if you wish to go against the grain, that’s your perogative as the owner of the property. Your Victorian porch should always be somewhere that feels like home.