Timeline of American House Styles

Timeline of American House Styles

Like more than 100 million people, we saw this year’s Superbowl to observe the New York Giants prevail within the New England Patriots. But let’s face it. We see the Superbowl for not only the match but for the half-time show and commercials as well. Actually, there have been Superbowl games when the half time show (who will forget the infamous”wardrobe malfunction”) or the commercials are a great deal better than the match.

Interestingly, there were many commercials from the likes of Chrysler, Budweiser and the NFL which featured a deadline narrative. I have to mention that narratives that are deadline’ve always fascinated me. The NFL spot, revealing a running back hurrying down the area. His equipment, blockers, setting, style and more all changing as he hits the next yard marker. It’s a wonderfully way of showing history and change.

It got me thinking about the way the American house has shifted over a couple of centuries and how amazing home photographs depict this.

Crisp Architects

From the introduction of the first settlers into our day, versions have influenced the American house. Whether French and British New England or even Spanish in the South and Southwest, the first settlers built what they knew and were familiar with.

But, needless to say, they adapted the styles to their new places and the materials at hand. For instance, a house in New England could have had fewer and smaller windows as a response to the harsh winters and the unavailability of glass.

Charlie & Co.. Design, Ltd

As America grew and became more prosperous, the houses became larger and constructed of more expensive substances. And more pronounced regional differences became more evident too. While in the Northeast the houses continued to be massive and fortresses from the harsh winter…

Frederick + Frederick Architects

… houses in the South developed wraparound verandas to shade the interiors and tall windows to allow breezes: a tradition which continues today.

Crisp Architects

Various stylistic revivals came in and out of fashion from the late 18th century during the majority of the 19th century. Revival before, then Gothic Revival a couple of years later dominated house layout. Even though the Greek Revival had a connection to the new American democracy, the Gothic Revival came about when a more scenic and bucolic America had been envisioned.

Dijeau Poage Construction

And what would the 19th century be without the Italianate, Second Empire, Moorish and all of the other overseas inspired movements? Initially looking outward, it appears to me that as America was rapidly growing it had been searching for an architectural identity that fit.

Rhodes Architectural Stone

This search led, at the previous quarter of the 19th century, to the Shingle Style. These were expressive houses of swelling amounts and banded, horizontal elements. The desire for open floor plans and powerful inside-outside connections led to large openings connecting interior rooms to additional rooms and inside rooms to outdoor rooms.

AIA, bud Dietrich

It’s not surprising that Frank Lloyd Wright’s first functions, for example his Oak Park house, were at the Shingle Style since that was the first step in the creation of the Prairie Style. Low, long and all horizontal, the house is no more a collection of box-like rooms. It’s a totally new way of producing domestic spaces that celebrated the connected and open rather than the closed and cave-like.

AIA, bud Dietrich

However, the Prairie Style didn’t last but a couple of decades. Whether it was the nouveau riche of the Roaring’20s or the despair of the Great Depression, America turned into the safe and protected, the tried and true. It was time for its Colonial to take centre stage. However, these aren’t the colonial houses of 200 years before. Although the outward appearance is one of Colonial America, the interiors are the open plans and comfortable spaces that Americans needed of their houses.

Gary Hutton Design

Of course, not everyone was constructing the Colonial. Some places, most notably California and Florida, seen a continuation of that desire to build the quintessential American residence. A house that would be forward looking, accommodate a relaxed lifestyle and dissolve the barriers between inside and out. These Mid-Century Modern houses are now cherished.

CAST architecture

Where we are: ready for the next act in house layout. Even though it’s impossible (and probably unnecessary) to forecast the style, we know that the next generation of American houses will:
Be smaller because we no longer want to heat, cool, keep and pay for all that house.Incorporate low-maintenance materials that can last, freeing up our time and money for additional pursuits.Be contextual to ensure a house in the Pacific Northwest reacts to a different pair of climate and cultural forces than a house in the Deep South. Inform us What do you believe is next in house design?

Read more photos of home exteriors

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