The Historical Evolution of Melbourne’s House Styles

7 mins read
The Historical Evolution of Melbourne's House Styles

Melbourne is a city of architecture, with a history steeped in innovation and creativity. It’s also a city of house styles, featuring a diverse and unique range of homes that reflect the city’s cultural diversity, history, and environment. From the grand mansions of the 19th century to the stylish and modern homes of today, Melbourne’s house styles have evolved over time, reflecting the changing needs and tastes of its residents.

Melbourne’s house styles have been influenced by a variety of factors, including architectural trends from around the world, available resources at the time of construction, and the unique features of the local environment. As a result, the city’s house styles are diverse and reflect the individuality of each suburb and neighborhood.

The Historical Evolution of Melbourne’s House Styles:

1. Pre-1850s:

Before the 1850s, Melbourne was a small settlement of houses built by squatters and settlers. These homes were typically simple structures made from local materials such as timber and mud brick. They were designed to be functional and sturdy rather than stylish, with little consideration given to aesthetics.

2. 1850s-1890s: Victorian Architecture

The Victorian era brought with it a surge of prosperity and population growth for Melbourne. This period saw the construction of some of Melbourne’s most iconic homes, including the grand Victorian mansions of Toorak and South Yarra. These homes were ornate, with intricate details such as stained glass windows, decorative brickwork, and cast iron lacework. The rise of the middle class during this period also saw the construction of more modest Victorian-style homes, such as terrace houses and cottages.

3. 1890s-1920s: Federation Architecture

The Federation era was marked by a desire to create a distinct Australian architectural style. Homes built during this time were characterized by their use of Australian materials such as red brick, terracotta tiles, and sandstone. They were also designed with a focus on outdoor living, including features such as verandahs and landscaped gardens. The influence of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements is also evident in the decorative details of these homes.

4. 1920s-1930s: Interwar Architecture

The interwar period brought with it a shift towards more functional and streamlined homes. Homes built during this time were typically smaller and more affordable than their Victorian and Federation counterparts. Styles included Californian Bungalows, which featured low-pitched roofs, overhanging eaves, and open-plan living spaces, and Art Deco homes, which were characterized by their geometric shapes and bold colors.

5. 1940s-1950s: Postwar Architecture

The postwar period marked a return to more traditional styles of architecture, with a focus on family living and comfort. Styles included the Australian suburban bungalow, which was designed to accommodate growing families and featured multiple bedrooms, a large living area, and a backyard. There was also a renewed interest in Art Deco design during this time, with many homes featuring streamlined, modernist details.

6. 1960s-1970s: Modern Architecture

The 1960s and 1970s saw a surge in modernist architecture, with a focus on minimalist design and clean lines. Melbourne’s suburbs were transformed during this time, with many homes featuring flat roofs, large windows, and open-plan living spaces. The influence of international architects such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright is evident in the designs of many homes from this era.

7. 1980s-Present: Contemporary Architecture

The 1980s marked a return to more traditional styles of architecture, with a focus on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. Contemporary homes in Melbourne feature a mix of traditional and modern design elements, with a focus on clean lines and natural materials. Homes built during this period often feature passive solar design, rainwater harvesting, and other sustainable features.


From the simple mud-brick homes of Melbourne’s early settlers to the stunning contemporary homes of today, Melbourne’s house styles have evolved over time, reflecting the changing needs and tastes of its residents. Each era has left its mark on the city, creating a rich tapestry of architectural styles that is unique to Melbourne. Whether you’re looking for a Victorian-era mansion or a modern minimalist masterpiece, Melbourne has a home style that is sure to suit your taste.


What is the typical style of Melbourne homes?

Melbourne’s homes are diverse, with each suburb and neighborhood featuring its own unique style. However, some of the most iconic styles of Melbourne homes include Victorian-era mansions, Federation-style homes, and Californian Bungalows.

What should I consider before buying a house in Melbourne?

Before buying a house in Melbourne, it’s important to consider factors such as the suburb and neighborhood, the style of the home, and the size of the property. You should also consider the local market conditions, including the current property prices and the demand for properties in the area. For more information, check out our Guide to Buying a House in Melbourne.

What are some popular suburbs for buying a house in Melbourne?

Some of the most popular suburbs for buying a house in Melbourne include Brighton, Toorak, Hawthorn, Carlton, and Fitzroy. Each of these suburbs features its own unique character and style of architecture, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase.

What are some of the key features of Melbourne’s house styles?

Key features of Melbourne’s house styles include ornate detailing, outdoor living spaces, and a mix of traditional and modern design elements. Many homes also feature sustainable and energy-efficient features, such as rainwater harvesting and passive solar design.

What is the average price of a house in Melbourne?

The average price of a house in Melbourne varies depending on the suburb and neighborhood. As of 2021, the median house price in Melbourne is around $800,000, but prices can range from under $500,000 to over $10 million for luxury properties.

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