About once a year, we discuss the importance of understanding the history, style and architecture of your home. This knowledge is crucial when designing an addition or renovation.
The popularity of several predominant home styles has endured over the past few centuries in the United States. They include the fairy-tale Tudor revival, classic craftsman bungalow and the charming Cape Cod cottage. In addition, we Americans have added a style of our own in the last century — the California ranch.
With each style comes unique renovation challenges and opportunities. The first thing to analyze when considering an exterior home remodeling project is the style of your house. Not every home was designed in a distinct style, and homes can actually have conflicting elements of several styles. Nevertheless, try to determine the predominant style of your home, as the next decision will be whether to revive and enhance it or to change it into something else.
We hope the next few columns can help you determine the predominant style of your home and the challenges you may face renovating that style.
In their purest form, Tudors feel like miniature castles with towers, dormers and steeply pitched roofs. The windows are tall and narrow, with multi-paned glass and the massive chimneys are commonly crowned with decorative chimney pots.
The style is accented on the outside with decorative half-timbering, patterned brickwork, stucco or stone.
Inside you’ll find stained oak paneling and fine interior woodwork. The doorways are often arched and the ceilings accented with exposed structural beams.
The Tudor challenge: If you have a historical Tudor, you will be faced with inevitable challenges in remodeling while maintaining this distinctive style. One of the most prominent features of a Tudor is the steep roof. When renovating, that roof massing has to be accounted for in the new design or the style will be compromised.
On the other hand, if you have always dreamed of living in a Tudor house and want to remodel your existing home into this style, be prepared for a major investment. Remember that the steep roof design element is critical to the style, so most modern homes would need a new, steeper roof added in order to morph into a Tudor style. Adding gridded windows and faux half timbers to your stucco house will not cut the mustard if your roof has a 4:12 pitch.
The craftsman bungalow is an easy-to-spot style. You’ll recognize these homes by their dominating roofs and single-story appearance. If there is a second story, it is subtly tucked into the roof line.
The craftsman bungalow is low to the ground and centered. They were designed with lots of windows for light and ventilation. You can’t miss the pronounced front porch, often with tapered wood columns resting on sturdy masonry bases. You’ll also sometimes see exposed roof rafters and open eaves. Broad eaves and overhangs are another hallmark of the craftsman style.
Common exterior materials include brick, stone, shingles and stucco.
Inside the craftsman bungalow you’ll find a family-oriented living space with a craftsman’s attention. You will often find crown moldings, high baseboards, paneled wainscoting and wood floors, as well as a tiled hearth with a brick fireplace, built-in bookshelves and beamed ceilings.
Interior rooms are arranged to encourage family togetherness, with public spaces open to each other, somewhat reminiscent of today’s popular great-room style. Craftsman bungalows may also include intimate built-in seating areas known as inglenooks.
The craftsman challenge: True craftsman bungalows were well-designed and well-built and therefore tend to have faithful owners who love their beautiful, functional homes.
That means they do not change hands often, so they may need updating when a new owner moves in. If you are lucky enough to have a bungalow or are looking at purchasing one, plan your renovations carefully so you maintain its innate interior functionality and preserve its exterior sense of being centered, solid and enduring.
All things craftsman seem to be very popular these days. Many people come to us requesting this style. However, as with the Tudor style, the look depends a lot on the basic massing of the home. Those broad overhangs are critical, and eaves are not something that can just be magically extended. If you were to continue the pitch of your existing roof to provide 3-foot overhangs, the edge of the roof will drop to an unacceptable height — perhaps so low that it will interfere with the existing windows. Therefore, the entire roof needs to be lifted and repitched or, in other words, rebuilt.
Be careful about adding bits and pieces of an inappropriate style to your home. While you may find a beautiful craftsman front door, adding it to your home may not be advantageous to the overall look and style. It is easier to create a craftsman style on the interior of your home than on the exterior.
In our next column, we will discuss the characteristics of Cape Cod style homes and California ranches.
Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com