Colonial architecture refers to several building design styles associated with the colonial period of the United States. The general era refers to houses built between 1600 and 1900. Most colonial architecture that stands today was built in the 1700s.
You see, colonial America refers to a time period. We may imagine a quite specific time in our minds, but the period is quite broader than one might think. After all, it took quite a while for each country to colonize The New World.
What Is A Dutch Colonial House?
Dutch colonial houses are one of the most popular types of colonial houses. The thing that makes Dutch colonial houses distinguishable are the gambrel roofs having curved eaves along the length of the house.
Most of the time, the houses were made of stone and there was almost always at least one fireplace. Sash windows are popular in Dutch colonial homes, and so are swinging wood shutters. And of course, the Dutch door.
This all seems like something you’d see on an old cottage. But when you picture Dutch architecture, you might picture a cottage. The Dutch were masters at making homes seem high-end, yet cozy at the same time.
Dutch Colonial Vs. French, Spanish, And Georgian Colonial
Dutch colonial isn’t the only type of colonial home. While all of these homes are American colonial, they are all different as they have different cultural influences. These are the aspects of the main types of colonial homes.
Each type of home is distinct and has different influences. Yet all of these homes were being built during the same time. This just goes to show you that multiple people can have different, equally alluring, design styles at any given date.
Most French colonial houses have a heavy timber frame of logs (or stucco) that are placed vertically on a sill or into the ground. The logs adhere together with a lime mortar or clay mixed with pebbles or a special mixture.
This mixture contains mud, moss, and animal hair. When renovating, much of this old infill was replaced, and some of the walls replaced with brick. Distinct traits of a French Colonial home include other things as well.
These things include a raised basement to support the floor that included the living quarters. Most colonial homes with exterior stairs were French colonial homes. The stairs led to a large veranda up top.
Many French colonial homes also had dormers and of course, the classic French doors. You’ll notice doors helping you tell most colonial homes apart. If you find a colonial home with original doors, consider yourself lucky.
Spanish colonial homes are traditionally inventing and warm. While you may imagine that Spanish colonial homes are all made from stucco, this isn’t always the case. The point of these homes is that the materials are indigenous.
Traditionally, many of them were stucco as they were often built in the southern parts of the United States and Mexico. Most of the windows were open holes or metal, and glass was rare. The point was to not allow as much sun into heat the house.
Wood shutters were very common in Spanish colonial homes. While arches and designs might be put into the clay, ornamentation was rare. The homes of the rich may have intricate tile, but other than that, the base was plain.
Intricacy was generally reserved for chapels and government buildings. Just like in Mexican architecture, Spanish colonial homes had wood support beams that poked out from the walls on the exterior.
Lastly, a courtyard was highly sought after by Spanish-Americans during this time, so any home that could have one did. To this day, most Spanish homes in the Americas feature courtyards, especially in rural areas.
Most English colonial homes during the First Period were in the northern states, so the homes were often built facing south. When a building is facing south, more sunlight can enter to heat the house.
These houses were also built with central chimneys to maintain enough space for fireplaces and for air to be led to the stove to burn clean. The English colonials were all about staying warm after losing so much to the frigid temperatures.
Another strange thing you’ll see is an asymmetrical rooftop. Again, it is designed to maximize the heat from the south and minimize the coldness from the north. Inside the houses, clay and twigs were used as insulation.
In English colonial homes, staircases usually wrap around central chimneys. Thick beams can be seen throughout English colonial homes to support the upper levels. So, as you can see, English colonial homes were all about staying safe.
Georgian architecture refers to a time period rather than a place. The 1700s and 1800s are where you can find Georgian architecture origins. This refers to architecture built by English-speaking countries.
Symmetry is one of the most important things in Georgian homes. The door is in the middle and each side has the same amount of windows. These windows are usually plentiful and elaborate.
Georgian homes often had multiple fireplaces for warmth and to maintain symmetry. For example, if three fireplaces were needed, four were built so there would be two chimneys on each side of the house.
These houses were a dream for someone with OCD as everything is satisfying and appealing to someone who needs things to be balanced. Clean corners were used at every given chance, making most homes quite square.
Lastly, you may notice Greek and Roman influences, most often seen on the exterior or entryway. This includes pillars and aesthetically pleasing ancient designs. Though not as common in classic Georgian homes, Georgian colonial homes loved this feature.
What Are The Factors Of A Dutch Colonial House?
When it comes to a Dutch colonial home, there are a few things that set it apart from other homes. You cal call the Dutch the Old World’s best masons. After all, it is one of their prized titles. So go ahead and fawn over their homes.
Gambrel roofs are the most distinguishable feature of Dutch colonial homes. This type of roof is what you’d see in a barn with four panels to the roof instead of the classic two-panel roof. When it comes to gambrel roofs, the Dutch were experts.
Many Dutch colonial homes also had flared eaves. This is simply something that made their architecture unique and cottage-like. It also redirected the water, acting as a gutter and letting the water fall away from the sides of the house.
While most original Dutch colonial homes were made of stone, the frame was usually made of wood. This gave the builders something to work with no matter what material they used to construct the rest of the house.
Ceiling beams are necessary for any wooden house. The difference is that in Dutch colonial houses they were made to be exposed rather than hidden like in English colonial houses. Exposed beams are still trending today!
Sash windows are windows with multiple panels, with one of the panels opening. This type of window is very common today but wasn’t all that common when the Dutch used them during colonial times.
A dutch door is a door that opens in two separate sections. Dutch doors may open together like a normal door. However, a dutch door can be opened in halves as well. They allow air to come into the house while keeping animals out.
While most windows on a Dutch colonial home are square, many Dutch homes had one or two arched windows. These were usually on the gabled end or around chimneys. They added a lot of character to these homes.
You’ll notice at least a few round edges or curvature in most Dutch colonial homes. While the houses are square, there is usually a touch of roundness to soften the overall appearance of the home.
While English homes had center chimneys at this time, Dutch homes at multiple end chimneys. In warm climates, there was one end chimney. But in colder climates, there were two end chimneys to warm the house.
One And A Half Stories
This was an intelligent move for the Dutch. The Dutch made their houses one-and-a-half stories to avoid the tax that was set for two-story houses in America during colonial times. It worked out well for them and has now become a part of their architecture.
Dutch Colonial Homes Today
Now you know why Dutch colonial homes are so popular. Many people try to replicate old Dutch colonial houses when building from scratch. While you can never replicate them completely, you can have a similar home.
Take a look at the checklist and find inspiration by looking at real Dutch colonial houses that are still standing today. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find some in your area to get a feel for one in real-life!
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