What historical style can my house be?

CamGAugust 22, 2012

I took Renovator8's suggestion to buy the book Get Your House Right, and have devoured it. It has convinced me that a coherent, particular style is preferable to a random mishmash of features which have in part produced the McMansion phenomenon.

I question what style my house could be. We are building (to be near a good school and in a nice neighborhood) in housing tract. The covenants require stone or brick wainscoting (if that is the right term) approximately half way up the front, and then either stucco or vinyl siding. An example of the type of house nearby is the first image below. We are building a 2 story house with a front porch, such as the second image below.

My question: is there a single style which we can use which will not require significant changes to our floorplan or porch, complies with the covenants requiring stone or brick, and will not stand out tremendously in our neighborhood?

Thanks for any thoughts you have!

Example of style of nearby houses:

General shape of our house (except we will have a front-loading garage):

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The first is neo-eclectic with assorted pediments and the second is colonial/ colonial revival in what is generally considered a farmhouse form. Historically the barn-looking garage would be behind the house instead of featured as part of the house.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 9:51AM
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What does your lot and plan look like?

Show us a house you really like even if there are parts that are not what you would want.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:00AM
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You're definitely on the right track, because your farmhouse-like option is a WHOLE lot better than the nearby house! It would help to see a plot plan and plan for your house to see if perhaps the garage could shift behind your main house, or at least be recessed from the main house facade.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:37AM
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My floor plans are:

Main floor:

Second floor:

The link below has a post with bigger versions (I have slightly modified the main floor).

As far as a house I really like, I'm not sure. That book has ruined me, I'm afraid, as I see significant problems with every house similar house I see! I'm having a hard time finding a house that complies with our floor plan, does not involve greatly increased cost, and will not stand out too much in our neighborhood. I'm worried that the elements I've discussed simply cannot be found within a single style.

Here are a few that I like, but I'm not sure they can work well for my house:

Here is a link that might be useful: Post with my floor plan

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:40AM
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I think I'll have to redesign the floorplan to put the garage further back, as the mudroom entry would be in the very front of the garage. Maybe that is worth it?

A rough sketch of the lot and house placement is:

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:46AM
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I like your floor plan a lot! If you simply pushed the garage back flush to the rear of your house, would you still have a nice back yard?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:50AM
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It looks like you're on a corner -- is side entry garage not possible? Maybe separate garage from house and add a breezeway (assuming you're not in a terribly cold climate).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:53AM
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If we pushed it back, as I mentioned, we would have to rearrange the placement of the mudroom. And I'm not sure about that--the big front windows would better look into a mudroom than a powder room or walk-in pantry. I want the house to look good, but I care more about it functioning well. Hopefully we can have both!

We really like the idea of a front-load garage. We can sit on the front porch and watch the kids play on the driveway, we can hold garage sales and block parties, we can see people who arrive at the house, etc. I agree that side-load looks better, but we both like the usefulness of front-entry better. We could potentially change our minds on this, but we would need a very good reason.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Maybe shift back a little, like this:

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:18AM
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CamG: I might be missing something, but I'm not clear why shifting your garage would mean rearranging the mudroom. The mudroom door would just be further toward the front of the garage, which actually might be preferable because then the step wouldn't be so near the car door. I'm no Summerfield by any stretch of the imagination, but a rough mockup is below.

What this would affect is the roof, and I don't know what that means in terms of design and cost.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:23AM
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CamG, one of your inspiration houses is actually the model home that our home is based on! If you visit the builder's website, you can find a lot of homes with a similar style. (This floorplan is the "Northland," but most of their homes are build in the same neo-craftsman style.)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:27AM
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oops I posted before I saw mjlb posted the same picture. But I do want to say that I too like your floor plan, love the front porch, and like it SO much better than the other house in your neighborhood! Much more appealing.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:32AM
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minneapolisite, it was your posting regarding house hunters that brought me to that builder, actually! This was the image that convinced my wife we could build this plan without looking too out of place in the neighborhood. But I don't know how well those details would apply to our plan, which is significantly different than that above.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:10PM
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I think you can shift your garage back if you want... Where you *might* run into problems isn't on the first floor, but on the second. I am not sure you'll be able to keep the 2 windows on the right side...

Love that you had a lot of help from Summerfield on your plan. Maybe she can answer that for you. (But, I see no issue with your mudroom placement/first floor).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:20PM
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I'm beginning to think you all may be right about shifting garage back not affecting the mudroom terribly. I suppose it just puts the back doors and trunk (where kids and groceries are, respectively) closer to the mudroom door.

I'm not concerned about ditching the windows upstairs, we may have to eliminate them anyway to stay within budget (so my GC says). If I moved the garage back, I might be able to put a little door from one of the bedrooms into the attic above the garage (or make a fun little club house for the kids!).

And yes, I am infinitely indebted to Summerfield. I can't wait to show her how we've employed her plans!

So... having established that we can move the garage back, what about the rest of the style of the house? I really can't have typical farmhouse style, as I perceive it, in this neighborhood, without sticking out tremendously. This is not an eclectic style neighborhood, but most houses are in a very similar style to the house I posted above.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Keep in mind that the current garage roof is a continuation of the front porch roof so perhaps the garage only needs to slip back 3 ft and the roof eave could remain where it is. The weather protection at the garage doors would be a nice feature and it would put the garage doors in shadow. Decorative brackets could support the roof overhang.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:54PM
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Since you are on a corner lot, you could angle your house, do a side entry garage and eventually do a circle drive in the front. Just something to think about.

R8 got me hooked on shingle style houses too. I have a folder with styles I love. This one reminds me a little of yours. OK maybe a little larger :-)

Isn't it Beautiful.

If your home was adapted to a shingle style exterior, would it work in your neighborhood?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:57PM
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You have learned well Red!

The garage should enter from the side. Kids paying in a driveway makes me think of crushed tricycles...unless you're talking basketball and that should be on the side too. What's wrong with a yard for playing. How about a wide front walk? They grow up fast if you didn't already know.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 1:16PM
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The shape of your plan and the Northland are the same (basically a square w/ a garage), but the rooms are rearranged so window placement would be different.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 1:55PM
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The Shingle Style can be formal like the one above or informal like the Robert Stern house below.

The covered porch is on the back side of the Stern house so you could sit and watch your children play in the back yard.

Here is a link that might be useful: Life Magazine Dream House by Stern

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Holy cow, shingle is really gorgeous with stone...


And I could get this in a vinyl, I imagine (must have zero-maintenance siding). Would this look too out of place in my neighborhood?

I have to remember, of course, this is not going to be a REALLY nice house, and it's in a developer's housing tract--no one is going to be restoring this house 100 years from now. But I figure I should try to make it look as nice as possible, and that includes a a unifying, coherent style.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 3:39PM
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Cam--side note.

I notice something that you might want to consider in your floorplan if you decide to not put windows on the far right wall of the upstairs...

I would consider switching the closet of the NE room (by diagram, have no idea how it lays on your lot, but the upper, right bedroom) to the right hand window wall. It would mean that your remaining window in that bedroom would be off center, but it would also mean you aren't walking into a closet wall when you walk into the room... If you put the closet in the lower right corner of that bedroom, you could put the desk in the upper right corner and have 3 walls that would be suitable for the bed. Alternatively, if you do put in some sort of secret passageway for the over garage space, you could put the closet in the upper right corner, and the secret door in the lower right corner.

Also, you may be able to move your laundry to over the garage, itself, or have access to the bonus over garage space through the laundry room... All of these things depend on roof pitch of your garage.

Side-bar over.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 4:19PM
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There's something about the simple brick colonial that I find very appealing and the nice symmetry of your home would work very well with it.

Traditional Landscape design by Dallas Landscape Architect Melissa Gerstle Design

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 4:33PM
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Cam--just to show you a little more eye candy even though I know it won't work for you....Ahhh.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I'm concerned that the New England shingle style would look too out of place in Nebraska--I've been looking and haven't seen a single similar style around.

To my very amateur eye, it seems the closest thing in our neighborhood to a single style is craftsman, as most houses have low roof lines, square/tapered columns, and craftsman style woodwork. Most houses are one story, and only a few other houses have two full-sized stories like mine. But I don't think my floor plan is compatible with craftsman, is it?

Renovator, you referenced a farmhouse style. Would this style look out of place in a housing tract on a third-acre lot?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 10:11AM
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The farmhouse style, the one you posted as an inspiration picture, would work just fine in NE. I lived in that house (from the outside anyway) in IA. It was in a development with properties in the .5-1ac size... The back yard was big, but the front wasn't, so I think it would work in a 1/3ac lot. (tho, I am not Ren8)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:43AM
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Kirkhall, I agree that the farmhouse style would generally work in Nebraska (where better than the plains?) but in a modern subdivision, I'm not so sure. If our neighborhood was a collection of styles, I would be more comfortable, but most houses are pretty similar, and none are farmhouse.

It was the shingle-style house that I'm concerned would look out of place in Nebraska. I also wonder if I could replicate the style with bland, uniform vinyl. There are probably better cement board siding options and things, but we are close on budget, and that would be a very significant price increase.

Maybe I'm being too concerned about style, I just need to make some decisions on the exterior fairly soon, and I'm being so deliberate about everything else on this house, I don't want it to be haphazardly thrown together.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Post a few more pics of what is in your neighborhood...but I don't think so. I think with the requirements to get the brink, etc, that having shingle would not make you out of place; just look nicer. :)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 3:59PM
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It could certainly be compatible with a modern Prairie fusion, Cam. You could slide the garage forward (opening it to either street) on the front elevation to create some of the change of lines that might be desirable. This would also create a larger yard outside the kitchen, which could be either a widening of the driveway or garden/patio off the kitchen. There are plenty of ideas for this in Sunset too.

Prairie's deep overhangs are very, very practical, and environmentally responsible, allowing one to use air conditioning significantly less and to keep the windows open even when it's raining. With summers getting hotter and hotter, and energy in danger of becoming very expensive, at least for a very uncomfortable transition period of years, designing for the climate is an even better idea than ever.

It's been a long time since I took Sunset magazine, but for decades their look was a modern version, or evolution, of Craftsman without all the fussy, expensive details but retaining its environmental suitability. You might get some good ideas there.

BTW, what a shame that a rather ugly, frequently uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous utility area like a driveway is the only "front" yard area that people feel they have social permission to use (dragging a couple of lightweight folding chairs quickly out of the garage). I'm with those who'd put the drive and its traffic on the side. The front could then be landscaped beautifully around a large handsome patio that would serve as a gracious entry garden, as well as so much more nicely for all the functions you really need one for. Sunset has always offered excellent ideas for this as well.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 4:36PM
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Farmhouse is not actually an architectural style but so many of them were simple two story houses with one story porches that they are often thought of as a style. They could be Folk Victorian, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, etc.

The one shown earlier is a modern interpretation of Colonial Revival but if you added shingles and a few more classical details it could be called Shingle Style.

It seems like an impossible task to advise you about house styles without knowing more about the area in which you live. I would not reject a style only because there isn't one like it nearby. Photos would help.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Rosie, I'm having trouble finding houses that are prairie fusion. Some interesting looking houses I've found that are modern prairie, although we have a minimum of 6:12 roof pitch, which makes some of these designs a little more difficult. The Sunset magazine houseplans I can find online consist of the same database as Southern Living...

As far as the front load garage, it's interesting to see different people's perspectives. Growing up, the driveway was more of a living space than the front yard (both of which were very large at my parent's house). The driveway was where we worked on cars, did fireworks, performed science experiments, sold lemonade, played basketball, drove remote control cars, etc... I'm not one to want to hide behind a large garage--we're going to have one of the only 2 stall garages in the neighborhood, and we'll have a front porch across the whole house--but I include the driveway as part of the living space. Maybe I'm abnormal in this? The reason I don't want a side-load is because I figure I wouldn't be able to watch our kids as easily do all the fun stuff in the driveway!

Kirkhall, I'm posting another house in the neighborhood. I'll post more tomorrow. I think I'm leaning towards the house type that apparently you have lived in in a suburb.

Ren8, thanks for the clarification. I think I might be narrowing in on Colonial Revival, and I can have my drafter do mockups of the elevation after I supply the necessary details. Is there a particular style of stone which either works well or conflicts with it? The book you mentioned talked about having stone that looks like could actually be laid that way--the stacked stone that is common in my neighborhood suffices.

I also need to talk to the GC to see about the additional cost for the additional details that I suddenly can't live without--I'm sure he was quoting me for a porkchop return, for example.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 8:59PM
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