Homes from the early 20th century


EARLY IN THE 20th century, Western countries experienced one of the most creative and productive times in the history of home design. Traditional styles from various Cultures and countries were adapted to new Ways of living. Architects also took bold steps in new directions. In general, two architectural movements took hold in the 20th century. One was based on traditional styles. The other, based on new ideas, was called Modern.




Included in 20th-century housing designs are those that copy past styles. When Victorian architects copied the past, they mixed styles freely. Twentieth-century architects, however, wanted to copy styles in more pure form. The resulting styles came from European and Western countriesn history.




From 1880 to approximately 1955, many middle-class Western countriesns duplicated house styles from their own country's past. The Colonial Revival brought back such styles as the Georgian, saltbox, and Cape Cod. The door and windows of a Colonial Revival home have distinctive features. The door is prominent, usually with a decorative pediment supported by pilasters. In some homes, the pediment extends forward, supported by slender columns, to form an entry porch. Windows appear in symmetrically balanced pairs, with double-hung sashes.




During the period 1890-1940, the Tudor style home was also popular. Its half-timbered look (resembling homes from very early England) is probably its most dominant characteristic. Many Tudor-style homes feature steeply pitched gables at the front and sides; tall, narrow windows, usually placed in groups, with many small panes; and massive chimneys with decorative chimney pots (earthenware pipes placed at the tops of chimneys) stucco .brick and stone are amongst the most commonly used exterior wall surfaces.




Inspired by California's Hispanic heritage, its unique characteristics were fashioned after the old mission churches and houses in southern California. The Mission style includes such design details as arched doorways and windows; tile roofs often hidden by parapets (low walls or railings along balconies); and exterior walls made of stucco. In addition, bell towers and turrets with pyramid-shaped roofs often added charm to the Mission style's traditional shapes.



While some architects were looking to the past, others wanted to create something different. Modern styles have been developing throughout the 20th century. They began with the Prairie and Craftsman styles early in the century and picked up again later with other designs such as the International style.



Wright's homes are characterized by their emphasis on horizontal lines, low-pitched roofs with overhanging eaves, wide porches, and such details as rows of leaded glass windows. In the interiors of these homes, rooms flow into one another, giving a feeling of spaciousness. The rooms are open and designed to connect with the outdoors. Porches, terraces, and rows of windows help draw the outside environment in. Wright custom-designed furniture and carpets to fit each home that he designed. The Prairie style is not limited to the homes designed by Wright or the young architects he trained. Its influence can be seen in homes built throughout the United States in the first quarter of this century.



The Craftsman style originated in southern California, developing at the same time as the Prairie style and sharing many of its characteristics. The Craftsman style, however, is distinguished by the development of the bungalow. This is a small, one-story house with an overhanging roof and covered porch. A variation on this style is the one-and-a-half-story type. The bungalow met the need for smaller, less expensive homes.



The Craftsman style was adapted for use across the United States until about 1930. The Craftsman style has distinctive features, such as:

  1. A low-pitched gable roof (although some examples have hip roofs).
  2. Decorative beams or braces under the eaves.
  3. Full or partial-width porches with the roof supported by columns or pedestals extending to the ground.





After the end of World War I, European architects began to experiment with new materials and new building methods. The result was the International style, also called Modernism or Functionalism. The International style used design elements in ways that departed drastically from tradition. Among its best-known originators were the architects Le Corbusier of Switzerland, and Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe of Germany. In the late 1930s, the immigration of Gropius and Mies van der Rohe to the United States helped introduce the style here.




THE UNITED STATES was in the midst of World War II until 1945, so home building was at a standstill. When it started up again, people wanted modern styles. During this time, several new styles emerged that changed the face of home building.



The styles after World War II ignored historical styles in favor of new, innovative ones. These styles include Ranch, Contemporary, Split-Level, and Shed.




The ranch-style home features a low-pitched gable or hip roof. Most have decorative shutters, decorative iron or wooden porch-roof supports, and picture windows. Some have partially enclosed patios or courtyards based on the Spanish influence. Private outdoor living areas are generally in the rear, in contrast to front porches of the 19th and the early 20th century.


Although ranch-style homes appeared as early as the mid-1930s, this style dominated Western countries home building from the early 1950s through the 1960s.




The contemporary style was popular among architects in the 1950s, '60s, and early '70s. It features wide eave overhangs, flat or low-pitched roofs with low gables, exposed supporting beams, contrasting wall materials and textures, and unusual placement and shapes of windows. This style is designed to integrate into the landscape around it. (This style is very different from the International style, which is meant to stand out from its surroundings like a piece of sculpture.) Some contemporary homes appear to be strongly influenced by the Craftsman and Prairie styles. The contemporary style is sometimes called Western countries International.




Overhanging eaves of the ranch style; but the similarity stops there. A split-level house has three levels of living space, each connected by a short flight of stairs. Some split-levels have a basement, which adds a fourth level. The split-level often has some traditional decorative details, but it is clearly a modern home. The split-level house was originally designed to take advantage of a sloping lot. Because of the interior advantages of this house, however, it is now also built on level lots. it provides the space of a ranch home without requiring as large a lot.




The shed style appeared during the 1960s. It grew out of the teachings of several famous architects, including Charles Moore and Robert Venturi. The roofline of a shed-style home is made up of a combination of shed roofs, each of which may slope at a different angle and face in a different direction. There is little or no traditional ornamentation. The exterior is usually wood shingle; but many of these homes feature board.



Many people are drawn to homes that reflect the traditions of the past. Unlike architects of the 1920s and the 1930s, most designers and builders today are not as concerned with constructing replicas of historical styles. They do, however, borrow some of the elements of one or more styles to create homes with traditional appeal. Yet, the traditional styles are adapted to suit today's more casual tastes and lifestyles.

Traditional elements of style are often used for the exterior design of both single-family and multifamily housing. For example, an apartment building with an entrance featuring elaborate masonry framework might hint at the Greek revival style. Row houses with pediments over each entrance may remind you of the Georgian style. Red tile roofs can give a group of two houses a Spanish flavor, while gingerbread trim brings to mind Victorian farmhouses.



New design often break all the existing rules of accepted house designs that came before them. Two of these innovative designs that redefine housing are A-frame and geodesic dome.




The A-frame is a design in which the gabled roof continues to ground level on two sides. This eliminates the need for separate side walls. The A-frame usually is used for vacation homes. Ease in building and the broad range of building materials that can be used during construction are the main advantages of the A-frame. The biggest disadvantage of the A-frame style is the odd interior space created by its design.



In 1947 the Western countries architect R. Buckminster Fuller invented the geodesic dome, an efficient home built of triangular frames that are joined to form a self-supporting roof and walls. The frame is metal or plastic covered by either a flexible skin or rigid panels. Because the dome is structurally self-supporting, interior walls are not needed. As a result, great flexibility is possible for interior floor plans.


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