Last house style question :) Renovator8?

livingreen2013October 24, 2012

Hi there! All of this house style and design advice has perked my interest in looking deeper into what makes a house a certain style. I think one of the hard parts about house plans these days are that the online plans websites have so many descriptions for house styles that it's become the norm to have almost every house be somewhat eclectic. I was trying to research house styles, and almost every one was bringing up descriptions such as "Craftsman, Shingle Style, Victorian..." etc. Was curious what your take would be on these two houses I came across and was drawn to. Because we drew up our own plan, I'm trying our best to keep things cohesive and pleasing to the eye, without breaking the bank. Obviously our house isn't 6,000+ s.f. like this first photo, but I can see some similarities of our house in this one. I really love the look of these houses, but maybe my perception is off from what is historic and true. Thanks for any thoughts.

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livingreen2013

Next house.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 1:36PM
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virgilcarter

Here's an excellent refernce that you may find in the library, your local book store or Amazon:

What Style Is It?: A Guide to American Architecture, Revised Edition [Paperback],
John C. Poppeliers (Author)

You'll find that most of the plans at the house factories are not true to a single style, but pick up elements from various styles (or from who knows where) and incorporate what they think consumers may like.

Often, the stock house plans are so large, retangular and bulky that the exterior elevations and roof planes become very massive and unsightly.

When this happens, most of the stock plans turn to random "notch-o's and bump-o's" as a decorative means to break up the massisveness. When this happens, historic styles go out the window.

It's rare that one finds awareness or adherence to historic styles on spec houses. One generally has to commission a custom house to achieve any degree of historical accuracy.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 3:35PM
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livingreen2013

Thank you for the reference virgilcarter! We'll definitely have to check it out! My wife and I are amazed at how much more we are finding ourselves really looking at houses- new, old, nice, run-down, etc. It's amazing to think of who built the houses, what their goals were, etc. I think you're right- a lot of the charm has been taken out of the process of building a house today. We started off guilty as charged, and are now trying to take a second look at things once again. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 5:08PM
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renovator8

I would say both house are essentially of the Shingle Style although the awkwardness of the gable rakes and eaves is disappointingly amateurish. The Shingle Style is very forgiving but not that forgiving. It's a great place to start but designing a good Shingle Style house requires a much higher level of skill than you will find working for a builder-developer.

I designed some houses for a developer once and he managed to make a complete mess of them. Never again.

I have to tell you that I don't believe there is really any way to build a nice house without paying a competent person to design it. I respect those who want to design their own house because I've always done that myself but I wish I had known then what I know now.

When you learn as you go the tuition is always very high even though you don't know it. That money is better spent on a good designer but I don't expect anyone to take my word for it.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 6:08PM
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tminatl

Reno8,

Can you elaborate on the awkwardness comment? I see things that I don't like in the gables and eaves, but I can't put my finger on exactly what and wonder if more specifics would help me avoid issues with my own build. Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 9:21AM
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renovator8

Well, it's complicated to explain. The awkwardness usually comes from a builder using his favorite low cost alternative at cornice returns and adding details that he thinks are more upscale when they actually confuse the basic design.

In the first example the rake brackets detract from the design. In the second example the designer seems to not know what to do with the ends of the rakes. They should probably return into the eave cornice in some manner or continue into the roof where possible.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 9:49AM
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renovator8

I should add that it is easy to see where a design has gone wrong but unless you know all of the design parameters it is very difficult to say what would work better and still be compatible with the owner's taste and goals. It's never a good idea to design in a vacuum.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 9:53AM
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tminatl

Thanks for the answer. I do see how it is complicated and can't be viewed in a vacuum. When you mention the brackets at the end of the gable eaves and the lack of returns on the others, that is what was bothering me (well in addition to the hexagon hipped roof element embedded in the gable in the first picture).

This issue has been a sticking point for me as we think about roof line particularly gables on our house. I keep seeing things I don't like, but not that I can clearly articulate.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:11PM
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virgilcarter

Tminatl, recognizing and understanding historical architectural styles takes a life-time of study and work, to truly understand why architects and builders did what they did to distinguish one style from another.

That said, if one finds architectural history interesting (I do), then it can be great fun to read and study the different historical periods. As in art (and perhaps other fields), often one "style" would emerge deliberately in direct contradiction to many of the major principles of an earlier "style".

With that in mind, a loose, rambling thread can be established that links and connects many styles with one another.

It will be a significant help if you can find an authoritative book or two (such as I recommended early in the thread) for descriptions and major comparitive elements. It should help in the enjoyable search that it appears you may be taking.

Good luck on your project!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 4:02PM
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athensmomof3

This is an interesting thread. We have a more traditional house but I don't know what style it is, per se. I would say it has many georgian elements but it is asymmetrical. Is this any particular style? We were going for an older style house (1920s etc.) that had been "fluffed" along the way. . . I am sort of a classicist at heart but our neighborhood would not have approved a more classic house - it was a HUGE struggle to get this one approved and we had a call, 3 days before we moved in, to talk about how we could add stone to it to make it "fit in". Needless to say, that conversation never happened!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 5:21PM
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renovator8

The front facing gables put it into the American Tudor style with an English Cotswold Cottage and a rural French influence. The classical portico seems unusual but the overall effect is understated elegance. Very well done!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 6:36PM
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athensmomof3

Thank you - we love it. We were told "french" for the neighborhood but that is just not us - particularly the sort of bastardized french that is available most places. A true french house doesn't fit with our lifestyle of 3 boys, big dog, etc. and the land - walking distance to river, loads of deer, tons of woods to explore, etc. I think the colors read more french but I agree the classical portico is sort of out there - but we also love it:). Kind of a combination of styles to fit within the neighborhood covenants but still have a house that looks like us - gas lanterns are coming and other landscaping so it is still a work in progress. Glad to get your approval. I know it is not a real style but just glad to not hear "neo eclectic" like our last house:)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 6:52PM
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tminatl

VirgilCarter,

I will find the book you referenced about house styles. I've just gotten another book recommended on another thread (Get Your House Right) that I think was suggested by Reno8. I find that the books help to clarify what belongs to what style.

I think, stress think, that to date we have avoided my biggest fear of crafting a house that is a mish mash of different styles without cohesion. However, I do find that the small details of returns, eaves, when and what materials to use across a facade, etc. still leave quite a bit of room for error.

I do like our architect and think he has pushed/helped us tremendously in getting the right floor plan and avoiding many exterior mistakes. However, oddly compared to many on the forums, I think he sometimes listens too much and doesn't push back especially around the exterior. Combine that with his bent for true Prairie Style which we aren't attempting, our love of many different house styles and the limitations imposed by setbacks, impervious surface limits, etc. and I worry about getting a house that we've pushed closer to the mix and match, paint by different architectural style houses that don't fit our vision or desire.

One thing that does help dramatically is threads like this with direct commentary from knowledgeable folks.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 9:34PM
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virgilcarter

Here is an interesting "modern" interpretation of the historical shingle style house, which I found on Houzz this morning:

http://www.houzz.com/projects/17964/Contemporary-Shingle-Style-Residence

I'm always interested in good interpretations of historical styles (unfortnuately, not all of the interpretations are good ones--this one is, IMO)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 9:57AM
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renovator8

It looks a lot like Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio in Oak Park, Ill.

Here is a link that might be useful: here is your link

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 12:51PM
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tminatl

VirgilC and Reno8,

Could I trouble you both to take a quick look at our 3-D renderings? They are in a thread I started called Elevation Feedback. I can bump it to the front page if you can't find it.

Sorry for the thread hijack.

Best,

tm

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 11:11AM
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renovator8

here is the link

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 12:54PM
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