What style is my house? That’s a common
question asked by homeowners wishing to better understand the style of the home they live
in. It’s a simple enough question, but as with most simple things it becomes more complex
the more you learn. The go-to book on this topic is the Field
Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester. The authors break down American
homes into six major categories with several minor subcategories, ultimately resulting
in 39 identifiable styles. We’ll take a more in-depth look at six of these common
styles that we typically find in the Washington DC metro area. But first let’s take a look
at three terms that are necessary to understanding style; Scale, proportion and pattern.
Scale. Scale and proportion are similar, but when we talk about scale we’re generally
speaking about how the size of a building or building elements relate to a person. This
could also mean how the size of a building relates to a neighborhood or a surrounding
area. Proportion. Proportion is used to describe
how the size of the elements within a design relate to each other. Large objects may be
out of scale when compared to a person, but still work within the context of a design
because they’re in proportion to one another. Think about the columns at the parthenon.
Pattern. In the context we’re discussing here, pattern describes the arrangement of
the building’s features, as viewed from the street. How the rhythm of elements such
as windows, columns, material changes and accent features such as brackets are used.
People are pattern seekers and symmetry is a pleasing and easily distinguishable base
to a pattern. Many styles discussed here lend themselves
to asymmetry. Pattern can be an effective way to bring an asymmetrical massing together.
This has been a brief overview of some of the basic design elements that make up the
style of your home. We’ll be covering specific styles soon, including colonial architecture,
craftsman style and shingle style. If you want to read more about architectural styles
and other home design topics, make sure to check out our blog at mangangroup.com. Thank
you for watching.