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Elements of Style: What Signifies a Home’s Pedigree?

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Elements of Style: What Signifies a Home’s Pedigree?

Home styles in the U.S. include a mélange that range from Cottages to Colonials to Victorians and far beyond, with the landscape in each region of the country reflecting its favorites. As architects and homeowners engage in their creative conversations to discuss the elements of style they would like to embrace in a project, the results impact everything from windows and doors to colors, as well as kitchen cabinets and appliances.

Here at 7 Tide, we’re about resetting expectations for what is possible, so we thought a review of some of the popular home styles in New England, and the elements that comprise them, would be an interesting place to start. A home is a reflection of personal style, a repository for memories and a source of emotional connection. So it’s not surprising that many take the decisions about how to create their home’s style very seriously.

The Cape Cod

Synonymous with New England, the Cape Cod style originated in the 1600s. While inspired by Britain’s thatched-roof cottages, they were built in the U.S. with steep roofs and large chimneys, appropriate for New England winters. Most of the Cape Cods still seen today were built after WWII. Windows flanking the front entrance and second-floor dormers are part of their signature style. Siding is often, but by no means always, cedar shingles. These lovely homes are often thought of as charming and cozy.

The Victorian

These two- and three-story homes emerged during the reign of Queen Victoria (1830-1910) and are known for their asymmetrical shapes, decorative trim, and rooflines that are steep and gabled. Often they have large, wraparound porches and sport bright or dramatic colors. There are sub-styles considered part of this genre: Gothic Revival, Queen Anne and Shingle Style, as well as several others. They are considered stately and created for beauty.

The Colonial

Known for its symmetry, Colonial architecture originated in the 1600s and offered many variations, which reflected the diversity of settlers in America. The similarities that most often did – and still do – characterize the style include evenly spaced shuddered windows, dormers, columns and chimneys. Variations, such as the Dutch Colonial, are distinguished by a gambrel roofline and Dutch doorway (designed to allow the breeze to come in above, while keeping animals out below). Yet others, like the Federal Colonial, are modeled after Roman classicism and often have a more formal look, with brick construction and the addition of wings off each side of the main structure.

The Ranch

Unique to the U.S., these single-story homes offer open floor plans with L- or U-shaped layouts. Originating in the 1930s, ranch homes were modeled literally after Western ranches. A bit of a chameleon, whose style may be transformed during remodeling, a Ranch can change its personality with style details (like windows, exterior finishes and more) that may make it appear more like a Cottage, Spanish or Modern-style home.

The Craftsman

Borne of the Arts and Crafts Movement, bungalows and Craftsman-style homes emphasize wood, stone and brick. Their interiors often feature built-in furniture, large stone fireplaces, exposed beams and intricate woodwork, windows and doors. Details such as arched doorways reflect the vision of their architects and the skill of the craftsmen and artists who built them.

The Farmhouse

Informal and inviting, Farmhouse style evolved from rural architecture and agrarian lifestyle, with an emphasis on function and practicality. Large porches and kitchens provide gathering spaces for large groups of friends or relatives. These homes often clearly define formal and informal spaces.

The Tudor

One of the most recognizable home styles, Tudors originated in England. Their steeply pitched roofs with multiple gables are found atop brick, stucco and slate exteriors accented by half-timber framing. The combination of materials offers a distinctive, more formal appearance.

The Mid-Century Modern

As WW II brought new materials into the field of architectural design, many designers turned to Modern style between 1945 and the 1980s. Open space, large glass windows and clean, geometric design were the hallmark of this style. This home style inspired innovations including built-in appliances and the use of veneers and laminate. The freedom of a connection between interiors and nature outside changed the way we thought about homes.

The Contemporary

While the terms Contemporary and Modern are often bandied about together, there are true distinctions. In Contemporary architecture, the focus is on emphasizing energy efficiency, the use of sustainable and non-toxic materials. While the rooflines, large windows and connection between interior and exterior are similar, Contemporary homes are dedicated to natural components that create an environment that respects resources and a healthy lifestyle.

While this list is far from complete, it provides a starting point to consider what it is about a home’s style and the history of its architecture that resonates with you and your family. When embarking on the one-of-a-kind design adventure that awaits you at 7 Tide, you will have the opportunity to share your vision, lifestyle and personal goals and explore the details that will help you create the home that you imagine.