Comments on Architectural Styles
and their Influences on Home Design
New home designs need not necessarily relate closely to a particular established style. When one is speaking of a certain house, however, one finds the need to use some descriptive term, to indicate its appearance. Therefore, even when a home has a new look, one may fall back on the architecture styles that most resemble or influence the new home design. Many varieties of interpretation are open to designers though they may describe their differing adaptations with the same style names. So one should allow for this variation when looking at home styles.
Often, the most satisfying new home designs are derived from combining or blending influences from two or three recognized architectural styles. These original and unique home designs may then relate both to our social heritage and to the current times.
Many people find that one of the enduring traditional styles is what they want for their new home. This approach can give them the best of both worlds, a technologically up to date dwelling, with much of the spaciousness of contemporary home design together with the character and ambiance they like in the old style.
Some of the more popular styles or design influences are the Country French/French Country, Tuscan, Mediterranean, Old Tahoe, and Craftsman or Arts and Crafts. Some may be not so much recognized architectural styles as much as currents of influence on styling home designs.
Of these, the French Country may be the one that is least understood or at least has been most narrowly interpreted. The stereotypical American interpretation of indigenous French styles has been almost completely limited to houses with the very steep roof pitch typical of the larger, wealthier French homes: the Chateau and Manor houses. These American houses now strongly tend to be the very large luxury and mansion type. Often these are classified as French Provincial although the historically accepted name is French Eclectic or Chateauesque, depending upon the size and the level of architectural detailing of the particular house, the Eclectic being less in both categories. The Fench Eclectic style originated in about 1920 and in the first half of the century included houses of more modest size, still exclusively with the very steep roof pitch. Other historic French influenced styles were the French Second Empire, the Chateauesque, and to some degree, the Beaux Arts. In reality, French 'Provincial' refers to French homes of the countryside, which include the larger houses but may also include a wide variety of smaller house types which we may generally classify as Cottages. Our interpretation of Country French also includes the original southern French cottages which have lower roof pitches and more casual charm. See more on our French Country page.
Of the Mediterranean styles, the Italian Tuscan style offers colorful low pitched gabled roofs, Venetian plaster, abundant stonework, and flat beamed ceilings. The broader Mediterranean style offers much of the above, plus vaulted ceilings, more use of stucco finishes, arched openings, and deep arched windows and porches (loggia).
The Craftsman home design includes exposed joinery, great wooden entry halls, battered columns with stone bases, and wide low pitched form. The Old Tahoe influence or style, utilizes high open timbered ceilings, low walls, tall dormered roofs, exterior finishes of contrasting rustic and smooth wood, and great stone fireplaces. Another rustic lodge style making a come back is the Adirondack style, which is more rustic even than Old Tahoe style in that it employs more natural forest materials such as curved log beams and trusses, log walls, twig work in gable decoration, balusters and in interior features and furniture. Even birch bark used as wallpaper. Note that both Old Tahoe and Adirondack style homes came out of the Craftsman/Arts and Crafts movement.
The old New England home styles of Georgian and Federal contribute richly carved moldings, classical columns, and carved wooden mantle pieces. Palladian Classicism has been a major influence in architecture since the 16th century. From it today, we borrow such elements as long columned arcades, domed ceilings and roof, great proportions, and of course, the Palladian and Venetian windows. Traditional antique Colonial home style was revived and embellished a hundred years later in the Colonial Revival style.
These next two home styles of Spanish decent are very similar. The Pueblo Revival home style gives us a very spare and square look with progressively stacked massing. Both the Pueblo and Territorial style have the same, flat, parapet-roofed houses, with log Vigas exposed at the ceilings, and smooth plaster finishes. In Pueblo home design, corners are rounded and the look is very organic or earthy, while the Territorial house plan adds plain, painted wood trim at doors and windows, adds brick coping at the roof parapets and turned wood posts at the porches (portales). Territorial design is more of a straight-lined style, having come to the southwest with the Anglos in the 19th century, whereas the Pueblo home came out of the earlier Spanish settlement of the southwest.
There are many more architectural styles, but these seem to be the most influential and popular in different areas of the country.
Leigh Douglas Johnson