English Tudor

Recognizing a Tudor home

You’ll know it’s a Tudor when you see its massive dark timbers, reinforcing diagonal beams, and whitewashed plaster. The timbers, halved in a process called “half-timbering,” are used with bricks or stones, high-pinnacled gables and bay or oriel windows. Upper stories often overhang the ground floor, since building space was at a premium. The chimneys (there are often more than one) are tall and unusually wide, with curving shapes and patterned brick often topped by round decorative “pots.”

Tudor houses mimic humble medieval cottages with low thatched roofs, while others resemble late medieval palaces with steep roofs and patterned brickwork. Modern siding and other remodeling may cover identifying features of a Tudor building. [1]

Restoring the Tudor home

To retain and add value to this home style, you’ll want to add or carefully restore these classic Tudor selling-points:

Bring the exterior back to its original white plaster and black half-timber coloring.

Strip and restore built-ins, including built-in cupboards and hinged storage benches.

Strip and refinish any wrought-iron studs, hinges and latches on windows and doors, or add wrought-iron hinges and latches to new windows and doors.

Carefully restore any plaster relief ornamentation.

Repair any broken or sagging decorative colored glass (Tudor glass echoes cathedral stained glass).

Strip woodwork and mantels of coats of paint, and refinish in a warm, dark stain (traditional woodwork is or decorated with simple designs like carved strap work or heraldic)

Restore or add oak paneling with geometric, botanical or linen-fold designs (in the linen-fold design, the wood is carved to resemble folds of cloth). If paneling is out of your price range, then lime-washed plaster can be used instead. Refinish or restore the floors, which should be stone (usually granite or flagstone), brick, or wood (usually wide-planked oak).

Picking your colors

Dramatic colors are king in the Tudor home. The most authentic are sky blue, orange, ruby, sapphire, other jewel tones and metallic gilding.

Decorating your Tudor home

The great hall should be the focus. Outfit its walls with textiles: tapestries, crewelwork, damask or velvet. Window coverings also should be rich, in damask, velvet or brocade. For floors, rush matting was the most common covering. Sisal mats, coir mats, or even neutral-colored textured wool carpets easily can be substituted. In the living room, the stone or brick fireplace should be the centerpiece. Surround it with heavy, carved-wood furniture, and leather-bound books (an item first made available during the Tudor period). Decorate open cabinets with more leather-bound books, glassware, pewter or a sparing amount of Near or Far Eastern porcelain (which was just beginning to reach English shores during the Tudor period).

[1] Jackie Craven, About.com

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