30th September 2019

Why Federation Homes Are Fabulous

The Federation style home started in the late 1800s and is still a popular architectural and decor design choice.

The exterior and interior of any Federation style exude character and charm and are a home you feel has a history.

But why are these homes so fabulous? All the different features of this style make it a very popular choice for many Australian’s.

So, let’s take you through the history and what makes a Federation home, so you can determine the design elements based off its characteristics.


The architectural style was popular around 1890 to 1915, and the name formed from the Federation of Australia on January 1, 1901. The design elements are a combination of the Queen Anne and the Edwardian style from the UK.

Throughout the Federation period there were a number of distinct characteristics that influenced the homes being:

  1. Queen Anne Style. These homes were lavish and reminiscent of Old England.
  2. Arts & Crafts. This idea origination from ‘sustainable design’ where natural and handcrafted techniques (mainly timber), rough cut walls and earthy colours were used throughout.
  3. Federation Bungalow. This came towards the end of the period and saw elements of the California Bungalow creep in around WW1 which boasted a simple, single storey home with lower pitched roof and a roofed verandah on one side. They were cheaper to build and featured tall internal timber wall panelling, often stained or painted a dark colour. These style of homes can be seen in most outer city suburbs in Australian capital cities.

The difference in a Federation home from Edwardian is the strong use of external verandahs, elaborate timberwork, leadlight windows and Australian flora and fauna were used as feature pieces in the traditional look.

Being a popular style that blends colonial and art deco elements, it can be seen in new and old homes around Australia. Some of the original style is preserved in many homes with a modern edge added to bring it into today.

What are these features that make a Federation home so stylish and fabulous?

Features of a Federation Home 


A classic feature of a Federation home is the woodwork and timber displayed around the house, especially at the entrance or verandah of the home as well as in the architraves and skirting boards.

Pre 1900’s featured flora and fauna imprinted into the timber to celebrate the new nation, or a sunrise motif at the front gable was used to symbolise the dawn of a new century. However, post-1900 will feature a tendril type design with flowing lines and an Art Nouveau style inspired by Europe.


The key distinction of a Federation home is the verandah at the entrance of the house. A sign of welcome and invitation for guests and a place for outdoor living, the verandah of a Federation home has a range of decorative elements. These design features include filigree timber or iron work, columns that are square tapered or turned with valances and ornamental brackets and inlay moulds.

As you can see from the “Vivacious Victorian Flair” home, this verandah spreads out across the front of the house, giving it a welcoming entrance to the home. Plus, the big square columns tie in with the Federation style.

Bricks & Roofing 

Deep red and dark brown bricks are traditional exteriors for Federation homes along with a unique formation of the terracotta tiled roof. A traditional style will feature elaborate gables, hips, towers other adorning motifs along the ridge cap.

You will also see a key feature of a Federation home adorning the roof, the tall chimney.

Chimneys & Fireplaces 

Chimneys in any Federation home are usually made from brick or roughcast and are a sight coming from the roof, either single or double-stack.

When Federation homes were built, the fireplace was the key heat resource in the home. It is not rare to see more than one set of chimney’s from the roof as multiple rooms had their own fireplace, especially the bedrooms.

It was usual if there was not at least the classic set fireplace in the living room.



Windows were typically made of timber frames. Leadlighting and bay windows are features of many Federation homes and they add the historical characteristics to the style of the house. Fanlights, interconnecting doors and even cabinets will also display leadlighting designs. The beautiful glass patterns add colour and charm to all Federation homes.

The Lacey Street heritage warehouse project (where a 1912 inner city warehouse was converted to apartments) showcases the bay windows seen in a traditional Federation style. Big windows are featured in the main living areas, which allows for the light to brighten up the home naturally.

Architraves, Skirting & Wall Panelling

We spoke about woodwork, and most of the woodwork seen in a Federation home is in the architraves and skirting. Earlier Federation style homes featured Edwardian style mouldings which saw detail with the appearance of larger flat spots appear. Lambs tongue also became popular.

The later ‘Bungalow’ period saw mouldings become more simplified and bull nose skirting was common. Many homes in the later period also featured tall internal timber wall panelling, often stained or painted a dark colour, which is now being modernised with lighter colours as seen below.

Tall Federation era wall panelling updated for today in Journey Home Interiors Jewellery Box Home Renovation.

Final thoughts 

In a Federation home, the core elements added in the 1900’s style is a key indicator of whether the design is within the Federation period.

The features of a Federation style are the woodwork used in the home from the skirting boards to the architraves and wall panelling. Then the filigree and work in the verandah out the front and the beautiful windows around the outskirts of the house bring in the Federation look and feel.

Along with those, the presence of a chimney and the detailing in the roof can easily distinguish what era the home was built in or is inspired by.

We understand what it takes to renovate or replicate a Federation home and can help you choose or match existing skirting, architraves and other mouldings.

We would love to help make your dream home a reality.