Incorporating Period Architecture: Exteriors

Add exterior details to your home from eight different periods: Tudor, Colonial, Georgian, Neoclassical, Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Prairie, and Modern.

Exterior Period Architecture

When it's time to update a home's exterior, many homeowners are looking to the past for design inspiration--and for good reason. Historical styles are time-tested treasure troves of design ideas.

Here are ideas from eight different periods for adding architectural details to your home's exterior.

Tudor-Style Gables

Reminiscent of a fairy-tale castle, this home is an outstanding example of the early-20th-century revival of the Tudor style of the 16th and 17th centuries. These homes tend to combine tall, peaked-gable roofs running from side-to-side and back-to-back, stucco exterior walls, and decorative timbers and shutters.

The steep rooflines are so prominent that sometimes they sweep almost to the ground. The half-timbered stucco gables are sometimes paired with beautifully patterned brick or stonework on the lower half of the home. First-floor windows are generally arranged in groups of three, and doorways are arched.

Fairy-Tale Tudor Exterior

A two-story rear addition to this 80-year-old home offers the charm of a fairy-tale Tudor cottage and repeats the swooping rooflines and stucco exterior of the front facade.

Colonial Period Facade

Colonial-style homes are synonymous with traditional elegance. First built in the 1600s, the classic look we have come to associate with the style today--think double-hung windows with nine or 12 small panes per sash, louvered shutters, and a centered door highlighted by flanking columns and a pediment above--draws its inspiration from Dutch, French, and Spanish Colonial influences, as well as Adam and Georgian architecture.

The most recognizable feature of a Colonial home is its broad street-facing facade. Trim is minimal, and the clapboard siding is usually painted white or another light color. More formal homes, which take their lead from Georgian architecture, are clad with brick and feature elaborate detailing, such as window trim, cornices, and pediments.

Modern Colonial Entrance

Modern versions of the Colonial home, such as this one, typically retain the classic style but incorporate more elaborate details, as seen in this home's stately entrance. Timeless elements, including brick on the chimneys and matching shutters on the lower windows, complete the look.

Georgian Period Proportions

The appeal of Georgian-style houses--popular in this country from about 1715 to 1780--lies in the classical proportions, balance, and scale rooted in Greek and Roman design.

In the South, Georgian homes such as this often feature hipped roofs with chimneys on each gable end and dormers that line up with the windows on the main level. For a pleasing look, dormer windows are smaller than main-level windows but use the same size of panes. Brick is the most common building material, often laid in Flemish bond pattern, which alternates bricks showing end-out (headers) with bricks showing long-side out (stretchers).

Georgian Revival Architecture

Georgian revival architecture's perfect symmetry stamps this home with quintessential Southern character. The brick exterior features classic architecture made more authentic by antique chimney pots and coach lamps collected over the years.

Neoclassical Entry

The Neoclassical style reflects the prevailing tastes for classical forms in the first decades of the 20th century. It is based primarily on the Greek and Roman architecture orders. The style is characterized by symmetrical facades, large, pedimented porticos, and Roman columns.

The facade of a Neoclassical home is often dominated by a full-height porch with a roof supported by classical columns, as seen on this home. The columns typically have Ionic or Corinthian capitals; the elaborate capitals seen here are Corinthian.

Neoclassical Period Portico

Although the Neoclassical style is often seen in massive buildings requiring a grand scale, elements of the style are evident in homes all across the country. The simple pediment supported by columns forming this home's front portico, for instance, finds its roots in the Neoclassical style.

Victorian-Style Texture

Popular from about 1860 to 1900, Victorian designs took inspiration from newly available mass-produced trim work to create ornate yet affordable homes for the middle class. In contrast to the simple, symmetrical, classically based styles that preceded it, Victorian houses featured steeply pitched roofs, asymmetrical floor plans, and multitextured and multicolor exterior walls.

Typical of the style, this home's exterior textures are varied and eclectic. Tidal-washed cobblestone was used on the foundation wall. Carriage-style garage doors, wave-pattern shingles, and brackets, filigree, and detailing give the house a rich and fanciful texture.

Queen Anne Victorian

There are myriad 19th-century Victorian architecture styles, including Stick, Shingle, Italianate, and Gothic Revival. But the style that usually comes to mind is the Queen Anne Victorian, seen here.

Romanticized and fanciful, Queen Anne Victorian houses are marked by an eclectic mix of motifs, including steep gable roofs, lacy ornamental woodwork, classic columns, Palladian windows, turrets and porches, bay windows with stained glass, decorative wooden brackets, and patterned shingles.

Arts and Crafts-Style Bungalow

Exemplified by simple details and a low-pitched roof, the Arts and Crafts, or Craftsman, style was a revolt against high Victorian architecture and design. As the name implies, the Craftsman-style approach was a return to the old ways of fabricating building materials by hand. Featuring delicacy in scale and proportion, many homes are marked by custom effects, such as beams with softly rounded ends.

The Arts and Crafts style is most fully expressed in the bungalow. These houses are easily recognized by rafter tails that extend beneath the roof; structural or decorative eave brackets; wide, covered front porches; and columns, supported by stone pedestals, that flare from top to bottom.

Arts and Crafts Design

This home's successful mix of Craftsman architecture and an Asian-inspired, bungalow-style roof is good-looking and design savvy. Natural materials and earth-tone finishes enhance the Craftsman bones, evident in the board-and-batten siding below the porch roof and cedar shakes above. Thoughtful details, including decorative brackets, thick white trim, and columns mounted on cultured stone pedestals, complete the look.

Prairie-Style Renovation

The Prairie style is characterized by one- or two-story homes built with brick or timber and covered with stucco. The style, which reached its height between 1900 and 1920, was developed by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and named after the prairies of the Midwest. Although many homes within the style were built on small, urban lots, their low horizontal lines and projecting eaves reflect the broad expanses of the prairie.

When the owners of this 1920s Prairie-style bungalow remodeled to create space for entertaining family and friends, the renovation spilled into the backyard. An earlier rear addition that didn't match the architecture was replaced with one that complements the facade, linking the outdoors with the kitchen and family room. The new patio blends with the home's stucco exterior and brick foundation.

Prairie-Style Colors

A generous application of warm earth tones on this foursquare mimics the horizontal banding common on Prairie-style homes. The horizontal layers work here because they help this narrow home appear larger.

Modern Exterior

Void of elaborate ornamentation and unnecessary detail, modern architecture concentrates on simple forms and geometric lines. Drama on the flat-face exteriors comes from a dynamic mix of contrasting materials and textures, exposed roof beams, and flat or low-pitched roofs.

This home establishes a strong connection to nature and the surrounding landscape through large expanses of windows and natural materials and colors. Front and back courtyards help blend indoors and out, and almost every interior room opens to the outside. Steel and concrete accents add an industrial feel, while vertical panes of board-and-batten siding create a sleek, contemporary exterior.

Modern Update

Earthy stucco surfaces replaced the brick veneer and lap siding that originally covered this home, giving it a modern update. Floor-to-ceiling window banks run up the family room and master bedroom walls, strengthening the contemporary look and drawing sunlight into the home all day long.

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