Wonder whether you have a bungalow or a Victorian? You may have a small house but it looks colonial. What does that mean? Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods include so many types of homes and even more styles, so we put together this mini guide to help get you started.
What is architectural style? Houses are defined by it, neighborhoods are known for it, but what is it? Generally, it includes ornamentation applied in a systematic pattern or arrangement; the overall form, including proportion, scale, massing, symmetry or asymmetry; the relationships between solids and voids or height, depth and width; floor plan and interior layout; construction materials and techniques.
In the 19th century, large, elaborate houses were in vogue. But by the turn of the century, builders began to abandon formal Victorian styles in favor of homes for the new century: compact, economical, informal. The Craftsman came on the scene. Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses with low horizontal lines and open interior spaces and the Prairie and Foursquare were born. Interspersed among these new forms were the ever-popular Revivals. After World War II returning soldiers needed practical, affordable houses for their families. The Ranch and the American Small House filled this need. Looking back on a century of practical innovation, what have we gained? A rich architectural heritage that makes us feel at home.
Click on each image for a large view and description of the style.
American Small House (1930s-1950s)
This compact three-, four-, or five-room house has an irregular floor plan and a moderately pitched end-gable roof, sometimes with small wings or rear ells. Hallways are small or nonexistent. The front door is often centered. Windows are traditional with a few innovative exceptions, such as the occasional picture window.
A rectangular, symmetrically arranged house, often with a wing or garage extending from one end, the Colonial Revival is found mostly in suburbs built in the first half of the 20th century. Features include a central entranceway and classical cornices. The roof may be hipped or side-gabled with dormers.
Considered the most popular style of the early 20th century, the Craftsman is usually asymmetrical with an open and functional floor plan. Its low-pitched roof may be gabled or hipped. Widely overhanging eaves are open with exposed rafters. Porches have short columns set in heavy masonry piers.
English Vernacular Revival (Tudor) (1920s-1930s)
Drawn from the domestic architecture of Medieval England, this style ranges from small cottages to large manor houses. It has a steeply pitched gabled roof with a dominant front-facing gable and decorative half-timbering, an asymmetrical facade with rounded archways, large masonry chimneys and masonry-veneered (often stucco) walls.
American Foursquare (1915-1930)
A simple box shape and a four-room floor plan characterize the Foursquare. Usually two-and-a-half stories high with a low-hipped roof, a large central dormer, and a full-width porch with wide stairs, it shares many features with Prairie architecture.
The style is characterized by prominent columns, pilasters and wide entablatures that encircle the house. Proportions are large and heavy. A symmetrical front façade has an elaborate central entrance. The low-pitched, hipped roof has a gabled front supported by massive columns to form a full-width front porch.
Designed by European architects, the house features simple geometric shapes and unornamented functionality. The roof is flat. Windows are in metal casements, often grouped in bands. Structural glass block may also be used to let in light. The overall shape of the house is asymmetrical.
Mediterranean Revival (1920s-1930s)
Based on both Italian and Spanish country houses, this style features smooth stucco or masonry walls and is usually asymmetrical. The low-pitched roof is clay tiled and either hipped or gabled. Houses may have little or no eave overhang (Spanish) or widely overhanging eaves with exposed rafters (Italian). Recessed and arcaded porches are common.
(Late 19th-early 20th)
Developed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Prairie house is two stories high with a one-story porch and wings. The roof is low-pitched and may be hipped or gabled. Eaves are widely overhanging and open with exposed rafters. Windows may be placed in rows. The interior living area is based on an open and functional plan.
Victorian (Late 19th century)
Victorian-era houses can be one-, two- or three stories high. They include a number of styles with these identifying features: a steeply pitched roof, a partial or full-width asymmetrical porch, and an asymmetrical façade. Victorian-era styles include Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, and High Victorian Eclectic.
The Ranch House has a long, narrow, rectangular shape. Bedrooms are typically clustered at one end, the principal entry and living spaces near the center, and the garage or carport at the other end. The roof is low-pitched and often hipped.