The architecture and interior design of American houses has continually evolved over the years (who could forget ’70s carpets), but demand for classic, old-fashioned homes remains stronger than ever.
Numerous social media accounts are now dedicated to renovating and restoring the original features of old houses, as people fall in love with their rustic charm.
Cities now feature these grander homes sitting cheek-by-jowl with high-rise buildings and apartments, as housing styles are adapting to fit in with the changing demographic.
Now American Home Shield (AHS) has brought to life the different styles over the past few centuries, charting how much houses have changed since the 17th century, covering pivotal events from the Civil War to the post-World War II baby boom.
The first edifice is the Cape Cod style of housing, first seen in the 1600s, right up until the 1950s.
AHS explains that these were first built by Puritan colonists to withstand the harsh New England weather.
“They modelled their homes after the half-timbered houses of their English homeland, but adapted the style to the stormy New England weather. Over a few generations, a modest, one to one-and-a-half-story house with wooden shutters emerged,” they said.
From the 1690s, up until the 1830s, the Georgian Colonial House style emerged, named after the four kings of Britain.
This style took notes from the British cities of London, Edinburgh and Bath, “as well as elements of classical Greek and Renaissance Italian architecture.”
The style, typical of “affluent tobacco planters” in the south, only became more common in the north after 1750, they noted.
The Federal style, also referred to as “Adamesque” and “Neo-classical,” can be seen from around 1780, and was in fashion until around 1840.
This was a pivotal moment, as AHS said: “After the Revolution, Americans wanted cultural as well as political independence, and they began to change the style of their buildings to reflect their change of allegiance.”
From 1825 up until 1860, the Greek Revival style was in full bloom, with the new country influenced by its European counterparts.
AHS explained: “As a new democracy, 19th-century Americans were inspired by the birthplace of democracy and by Greek culture, art, and philosophy and all of the symbolism and meaning that it held for a nation in the midst of defining itself. Americans began to reject the Federal style with its British influences and sought an American style with bona fide democratic roots.”
The Italianate style houses, popular from 1840 to 1885, wouldn’t look out of place in a European village.
AHS stated they evoked the feel of a “medieval villa rustica in the Italian countryside,” although they grew in popularity owing not to their design, but low building costs and durability.
The Queen Anne style is probably a common sight in many neighborhoods, with it taking over as the most dominant build during the last two decades of the nineteenth century.
The style is often defined by a front-facing gable, one-storey porch, towers and an asymmetrical shape.
From 1905 to 1930, the Arts and Crafts movement took off, as a “reaction to the manufactured and ornate styles of the Victorian age.”
AHS added: “Arts and Crafts instead focused on the opposite–instead of mass-produced and uninspired, the movement was all about being handcrafted and personal. The idea was that if quality could replace quantity, good design and good taste would prevail.”
From 1920 up until 1945, art deco was in season. A common theme among public buildings in the west, family homes were also built in the instantly recognizable style.
“Art Deco uses a style of decoration that was applied to jewelry, clothing, furniture, handicrafts, and—in this case— buildings. Industrial designers used art deco motifs to decorate streamlined cars, trains, kitchen appliances, and many other machine-age innovations,” AHS said.
From 1945 up until 1980 the ranch style home was popular, and it’s still a familiar sight today.
AHS said: “The Ranch style home was the confluence of several American cultural and demographic trends, including modernist design, westward expansion, and the post-WWII population boom.”
While they added their single-storey design and simple materials made them perfect to meet the new demand for single-family homes.
Prefabricated homes, commonly abbreviated to pre-fabs, popped up after World War II as a way of building houses quickly.
“As U.S. soldiers came home from World War II and began to start new families, the population expanded rapidly—creating an unprecedented demand for new housing.
“One way developers met this need was through the prefabricated home, a house manufactured with relatively inexpensive materials off-site that is then shipped to the site of its permanent residence,” AHS said.
Using wood paneling, sheet metal and steel frames, their low cost has seen them withstand the test of time, as AHS added: “And as a new generation of young Americans look to settle down, the prefabricated home offers one of the cheapest paths to homeownership—so don’t be surprised if a new prefab home pops up in a neighborhood near you!”