For many homeowners one of the most difficult stages in buying a new home or remodeling the existing one is to define in which architectural style they want it to be. While you may be quite sure what you want your house to look like, you may not always be able to describe it properly. Getting acquainted with the most popular architectural home styles will help you be more confident when discussing the style of your future house and main entrance door with an architect or a home building company representative.
There are many different architectural styles, some of which have survived centuries, while others are the creations of our modern technological world. In this series of articles we'll discuss some of the most popular architectural styles, starting with one the most popular style and its variations - the Colonial style.
Colonial style originated at the time when the first American settlers started to build their homes. In colonial style homes everything is symmetrical- windows, dormers, chimneys, columns. The two-, sometimes three-story homes have a central front door, typically with a crown detailing above. The multi-pane windows with shutters are placed symmetrically, usually in pairs, on each side of the front door. Some details, like colonnade porches are a later addition to the colonial style, borrowed from the British architecture and brought in by British immigrants. Colonial style homes have spacious rooms, spread from the center-placed foyer with a stairwell leading to the upper floor. The eye-pleasing symmetry and the beautiful simplicity of the colonial style has made it very popular and a sought after style among many homeowners.
Georgian colonial style
Georgian colonial style is the most popular variation of this style. Georgian colonial homes have two stories with symmetrically placed windows with shutters. The centrally located front door has a crown, supported by columns, which are usually very simple without any embellishments. This is a simplified version of colonial style, carrying the main features of it without the addition of decorative details.
Federal colonial style
Federal colonial style follows the Georgian style and is more sophisticated with more details and decorations. The characteristic features of the Federal colonial style, also called Adam style, are the wings, added to both sides, as well as some details from Roman classicism. The typical facade of a Federal colonial style house has a wide stairway with embellished columns and nicely curved steps, leading to the front door, which is crowned with a half-moon shaped window. Federal colonial style, as much as other colonial styles, is all about symmetry, but distinguishes from other styles by the richness of decor and detailing. Another characteristic feature of this style is the brick exterior and massive chimneys.
Dutch colonial style
Being originally a one-room box-shaped houses, these were popular among the new settlers. Though this style has evolved overtime, it still carries the main characteristics as centuries ago. It is distinguished by the very wide and high roof and multiple dormers. Apart from the symmetrically placed windows, Dutch colonial style features a Dutch double front door, which is covered by a simple triangular hood, supported by small and narrow columns. Because these houses resemble very much a country house, they are also called "barn" houses. Unlike the more sophisticated versions of the colonial style, Dutch style is very simple and straightforward. You won't find any decorative embellishments here, yet it is beautiful in its simplicity.
Spanish colonial style
Popular mainly in the South part of the United States, this style appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. It features some details borrowed from Spanish architecture, hence the name. Thick stone walls and the large porch offer excellent protection from the summer heat, which is why this style is widespread in the warmer parts of the country. The elegant arch-shaped windows and the eye-catching stonework make this style stand out from the other colonial styles.
Colonial style and its variations make just a small part of the huge world of architectural styles. Some styles are older, some are newer, some of them are more popular in particular regions and climates. There are also styles that combine details of many different ones, creating a whole new level of sophistication and beauty. In the articles to come, we'll speak more about the old and modern styles and their distinctive features.