Descriptions and illustrations of emblematic styles popular in the DC metro area

http://longandfosterimages.fnistools.com/images/uploads/teams/116782/content/0/artdeco.gifArt Deco. The 1925 Paris Exhibition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs launched the Art Deco style, which echoed the Machine Age with geometric decorative elements and a vertically oriented design. This distinctly urban style was never widely used in residential buildings; it was more widespread in public and commercial buildings of the period. Towers and other projections above the roofline enhance the vertical emphasis of this style, which was popularized by Hollywood movies of the 1930s. Flat roofs, metal window casements, and smooth stucco walls with rectangular cut-outs mark the exteriors of Art Deco homes. Facades are typically flush with zigzags and other stylized floral, geometric, and"sunrise"motifs. By 1940 the Art Deco style had evolved into"Art Moderne,"which features curved corners, rectangular glass-block windows, and a boat-like appearance. Popularized in the United States by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, the style enjoyed a revival in the 1980s.
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Cape Cod.
Some of the first houses built in the United States were Cape Cods. The original colonial Cape Cod homes were shingle-sided, one-story cottages with no dormers. During the mid-20th century, the small, uncomplicated Cape Cod shape became popular in suburban developments. A 20th-century Cape Cod is square or rectangular with one or one-and-a-half stories and steeply pitched, gabled roofs. It may have dormers and shutters. The siding is usually clapboard or brick.
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Colonial.
America's colonial period encompassed a number of housing types and styles, including Cape Cod, Saltbox, Georgian, and Dutch Colonial. However, when we speak of the Colonial style, we often are referring to a rectangular, symmetrical home with bedrooms on the second floor. The double-hung windows usually have many small, equally sized square panes. During the late 1800s and throughout the 20th century, builders borrowed Colonial ideas to create refined Colonial Revival homes with elegant central hallways and elaborate cornices. Unlike the original Colonials, Colonial Revival homes are often sided in white clapboard and trimmed with black or green shutters.
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Contemporary.
You know them by their odd-sized and often tall windows, their lack of ornamentation, and their unusual mixtures of wall materials––stone, brick, and wood, for instance. Architects designed Contemporary-style homes (in the Modern family) between 1950 and 1970, and created two versions: the flat-roof and gabled types. The latter is often characterized by exposed beams. Both breeds tend to be one-story tall and were designed to incorporate the surrounding landscape into their overall look.
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Craftsman.
Popularized at the turn of the 20th century by architect and furniture designer Gustav Stickley in his magazine, The Craftsman, the Craftsman-style bungalow reflected, said Stickley, “a house reduced to it’s simplest form... its low, broad proportions and absolute lack of ornamentation gives it a character so natural and unaffected that it seems to... blend with any landscape.” The style, which was also widely billed as the “California bungalow” by architects such as Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, featured overhanging eaves, a low-slung gabled roof, and wide front porches framed by pedestal-like tapered columns. Material often included stone, rough-hewn wood, and stucco. Many homes have wide front porches across part of the front, supported by columns.
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Dutch Colonial.
This American style originated in homes built by German, or “Deutsch” settlers in Pennsylvania as early as the 1600s. A hallmark of the style is a broad gambrel roof with flaring eaves that extend over the porches, creating a barn-like effect. Early homes were a single room, and additions were added to each end, creating a distinctive linear floor plan. End walls are generally of stone, and the chimney is usually located on one or both ends. Double-hung sash windows with outward swinging wood casements, dormers with shed-like overhangs, and a central Dutch double doorway are also common. The double door, which is divided horizontally, was once used to keep livestock out of the home while allowing light and air to filter through the open top. The style enjoyed a revival during the first three decades of the 20th century as the country looked back with nostalgia to its colonial past.
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Federal.
Ubiquitous up and down the East Coast, Federal-style architecture dates from the late 1700s and coincided with a reawakening of interest in classical Greek and Roman culture. Builders began to add swags, garlands, elliptical windows, and other decorative details to rectangular Georgian houses. The style that emerged resembles Georgian, but is more delicate and more formal. Many Federal-style homes have an arched Palladian window on the second story above the front door. The front door usually has sidelights and a semicircular fanlight. Federal-style homes are often called “Adam” after the English brothers who popularized the style.
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Georgian.
Befitting a king—in fact, the style is named for four King Georges of England—Georgian homes are refined and symmetrical with paired chimneys and a decorative crown over the front door. Modeled after the more elaborate homes of England, the Georgian style dominated the British colonies in the 1700s. Most surviving Georgians sport side-gabled roofs, are two to three stories high, and are constructed in brick. Georgian homes almost always feature an orderly row of five windows across the second story. Modern-day builders often combine features of the refined Georgian style with decorative flourishes from the more formal Federal style.
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International.
Initiated by European architects––such as Mies van der Rohe––in the early 20th century, this is the style that introduced the idea of exposed functional building elements, such as elevator shafts, ground-to-ceiling plate glass windows, and smooth facades. The style was molded from modern materials––concrete, glass, and steel––and is characterized by an absence of decoration. A steel skeleton typically supports these homes. Meanwhile, interior and exterior walls merely act as design and layout elements, and often feature dramatic, but nonsupporting projecting beams and columns. With its avant-garde elements, naturally the style appeared primarily in the East and in California.
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Neoclassical.
A well-publicized, world-class event can inspire fashion for years. At least that's the case with the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which showcased cutting-edge classical buildings that architects around the country emulated in their own residential and commercial designs. The Neoclassical style remained popular through the 1950s in incarnations from one-story cottages to multilevel manses. Its identifying Ionic or Corinthian columned porches often extend the full height of the house. Also typical: symmetrical facades, elaborate, decorative designs above and around doorways, and roof-line balustrades (low parapet walls).
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Queen Anne.
A sub-style of the late Victorian era, Queen Anne is a collection of coquettish detailing and eclectic materials. Steep cross-gabled roofs, towers, and vertical windows are all typical of a Queen Anne home. Inventive, multistory floor plans often include projecting wings, several porches and balconies, and multiple chimneys with decorative chimney pots. Wooden “gingerbread” trim in scrolled and rounded “fish-scale” patterns frequently graces gables and porches. Massive cut stone foundations are typical of period houses. Created by English architect Richard Norman Shaw, the style was popularized after the Civil War by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and spread rapidly, especially in the South and West.
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Ranch.
Sometimes called the California ranch style, this home in the Modern family, originated there in 1930s. It emerged as one of the most popular American styles in the 1950s and 60s, when the automobile had replaced early 20th-century forms of transportation, such as streetcars. Now mobile homebuyers could move to the suburbs into bigger homes on bigger lots. The style takes its cues from Spanish Colonial and Prairie and Craftsman homes, and is characterized by its one-story, pitched-roof construction, built-in garage, wood or brick exterior walls, sliding and picture windows, and sliding doors leading to patios.
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Sears Catalog Home.
Although not a"style"per se, the Sears Catalog Home that sold from 1908 to 1940 were complete homebuilding kits that included lumber and plans. The "balloon style"framing architecture could be erected with a small construction team of family members and friends. Decorative elements were conservative, reminiscent of late Victorian esthetics. The double hung sash windows of the Sears Catalog homes are the most common residential window type in the United States. Sears Catalog homes remain popular for their better than average quality.
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Split Level.
A Modern style that architects created to sequester certain living activities––such as sleeping or socializing––split levels offered an multilevel alternative to the ubiquitous Ranch style in the 1950s. The nether parts of a typical design were devoted to a garage and TV room; the midlevel, which usually jutted out from the two-story section, offered"quieter"quarters, such as the living and dining rooms; and the area above the garage was designed for bedrooms. Found mostly in the East and Midwest, split-levels, like their Ranch counterparts, were constructed with various building materials.
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Tudor.
This architecture was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and continues to be a mainstay in suburbs across the United States. The defining characteristics are half-timbering on bay windows and upper floors, and facades that are dominated by one or more steeply pitched cross gables. Patterned brick or stone walls are common, as are rounded doorways, multi-paned casement windows, and large stone chimneys. A subtype of the Tudor Revival style is the Cotswold Cottage. With a sloping roof and a massive chimney at the front, a Cotswold Cottage may remind you of a picturesque storybook home.
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Victorian.
Victorian architecture dates from the second half of the 19th century, when America was exploring new approaches to building and design. There are a variety of Victorian styles, including Second Empire, Italianate, Stick, and Queen Anne. Advancements in machine technology meant that Victorian-era builders could easily incorporate mass-produced ornamentation such as brackets, spindles, and patterned shingles. The last true Victorians were constructed in the early 1900s, but contemporary builders often borrow Victorian ideas, designing eclectic “neo-Victorians.” These homes combine modern materials with 19th century details, such as curved towers and spindled porches. A number of Victorian styles are recreated on the fanciful “Main Street” at Disney theme parks in Florida, California, and Europe.