10 Australian Housing Styles from History

Every day we walk or drive around the suburbs of Perth on our way to work, school drop off, or run errands, never stopping to appreciate the variety of housing styles displayed in the real estate surrounding us in Perth.

Australian architecture has experienced significant change over the years, so let’s take a minute to appreciate 10 Australian housing styles from history. You may never look at the houses around you the same way again.

Australian Housing History

Victorian (1840 – 1890)

Given that Australia’s migrant population was predominantly British, it’s not surprising Victorian architecture (named after Queen Victoria’s time as monarch) proved so popular. From formal, plain, one-storey houses, both freestanding and terraced, to grander, taller, and more opulently adorned homes, they often feature decorative brickwork, timber verandas, and patterned tile floors. They reflected the country’s increasing wealth and confidence and the development of Australia’s industry and craftsmanship.

Workers’ cottage (1840 – 1900)

These humble homes were built, as the name suggests, for predominantly industrial workers. Often tiny, dark, and damp, they were built cheaply and quickly from locally sourced materials. Ironically, today these inner-city homes are coveted real estate.

Inner-city terrace (1850s – 1890s)

Terraced houses (another British style) were a symbol of Australia’s growing wealth. Long rows of terraces were built to accommodate city dwellers and the country’s booming population. They ranged from tiny two-roomed homes to grand 20 roomed abodes, with their facades often cleverly disguising the contents behind the front door. 

Federation style (1880s – 1910s)

Federation-style architecture became a symbol of Australia’s budding national identity. The federation of 1901 filled the air with nationalism and pride. Architects and builders combined French, British, and American home designs to create a unique Australian style. Queen Anne, Filigree, Arts and Craft, and Bungalow are the most common examples of this style.

The Queenslander (late 19th century – late 1930s)

A nostalgic nod to the laid-back Australian lifestyle, Queenslanders were designed for the humid, hot Queensland summers. First built in the mid 19th century, these simple houses were constructed from timber and tin, built on stilts to avoid flash flooding and local wildlife.

The California bungalow (1915 to 1940)

California-style bungalows started appearing in newly created suburbs across the country between the two world wars. These modest and affordable one-storey homes, built on decent-size blocks of land, were planned and designed for casual living. Featuring an informal, open plan layout, they focused on blurring the lines between inside and out, encouraging people to adopt a more informal and modern lifestyle.

Post-war triple-fronted brick veneer (1945 – 1965)

The somewhat unassuming triple-fronted brick veneer home dominated suburban architecture after World War II. Favouring functionality over beauty, they were designed for families as servicemen and women returned home, and an influx of immigrants moved to Australia after the end of the war. While this style has been described as the “ugly duckling” of Australian domestic architecture, for many, they represented stability and security after the uncertainty of World War II.

Mid-century or Post-war Modern (1950 – 1970)

The 1950s and 1960s saw Australian architects re-inspired by the post-war Californian style. Mid-century homes feature large windows and sliding doors, open plan living, and interconnected living spaces, along with sheltered courtyards and spacious gardens. These chic, classic, and simple designs never go out of style and are complemented by the masters of Mid-century furniture designers such as Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and Herman Miller.

Modernism (1950 – 1980)

This style echoes the ethos of “form follows function.” Traditional forms were abandoned and stripped architecture to its barest bones. Developments in technology and industrial materials (such as reinforced concrete) allowed Modernist homes to form geometric boxes, featuring flat rooves, horizontal windows, large glass planes, and raised or cantilevered construction.

While this style was considered radical when it first appeared, it formed the foundation of the contemporary, luxury homes in Perth we see today.

Modernist Pavilion (1950s – present)

Modernist pavilion-style homes are characterised by simple rectangular box-like volumes, open-plan interiors, and patios oriented to the local environment. Low-pitched skillion roofs top glass walls to create houses with a sense of easy informality and modern efficiency.

If there is a particular home style that resonates with you, contact one of our experienced real estate agents today. They can help refine your search for your perfect home due to their extensive knowledge about Perth’s real estate.

ACTION is one of the most in-demand real estate companies in Perth, and we are committed to delivering the best property outcomes for our clients. Call us today.