Discover Your House's Architectural Style
Last week, Cliff and I shared our plans to remodel our two-bedroom house. Our house was built in 1927 and when we started working on plans, we knew we wanted to keep as much of the charm and original character as possible. There was just one problem: we couldn't decide on the architectural style of our house.
We invited friends and family over and walked them through what we were thinking about doing and got their feedback on how we should use the space and which walls to take down (and which ones to leave where they are). And we started asking around: What do you think the style of this house is?
Most people said Spanish, and a few said there was a hint of Tudor. And it is kind of a mix — the exterior is stucco and one detail throughout are the archways. But at the same time, it's missing a lot of the characteristics of a Spanish home: the house never had a tile roof and roof lines themselves are somewhere in between.
So I did what I normally do. I started researching different architectural styles. Whether you're remodeling or just curious, knowing the style of your house can help you gain a better understanding of your home was designed and built and what parts of that you want to bring forward as you make it your own.
Here are seven of the most prevalent styles I've found across Redwood City. I've also included which neighborhoods you can visit to find inspiration for each of these styles around town.
This style was popular between 195 and the 1930s and it’s making a comeback, as many people remodeling ranch homes choose to add craftsman details. These homes are characterized by low pitched roofs, overhanging eaves, and wide front porches framed by tapered columns. The exterior can be finished in stone, wood, or stucco. They often feature interior woodwork such as built in seating and shelving.
This architectural style was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and can be seen in suburbs across the United States. Common features include a steeply pitched roof, decorative half-timbering, and tall, narrow windows. In these houses, you’ll often find brick or stone walls, rounded doorways, and large stone chimneys. A subtype of the Tudor style is the Cotswold Cottage, which look like they are straight out of a fairytale and often feature a sloping roof and a chimney at the front of the house.
Where to find them: Mt. Carmel, Edgewood Park
Mediterranean or Spanish Eclectic
Mediterranean or Spanish Eclectic homes gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s and are still popular in Redwood City today. This style of architecture is rooted in the style of early Spanish missions dotted through California. They usually have low-pitched tile roofs, a stucco or adobe exterior and rounded windows and doors. Other details might include exposed wood, and decorative grillwork or tiles. Spanish homes are also known for open living spaces and asymmetrical layout.
The Colonial style dates back to 1876 and feels very classic in terms of U.S. architecture. Colonial homes are usually symmetrical with a rectangular footprint. They have two or three stories with living spaces on the first floor and bedrooms on the upper floors. The exterior is traditionally brick or wood with divided windows.
Traditional Ranch, or sometimes called California Ranch, style home dates back to the 1930s and gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. These homes are characterized by a single level, a wood or brick exterior, attached garage, picture windows and sliding glass doors leading out to patios. Ranch homes offer great potential for additions.
One distinctive style of ranch homes are Eichler homes built in the 1950s. These homes feature open floorplans, wood siding, clean geometric lines, and glass walls meant to “bring the outside in.” There are a few Eichler’s throughout Redwood City, most notably on Grand St. in Central Park and Atherwood Ave. in Horgan Ranch.
A modern style originating in the 1950s, Split-Level homes offer an alternative to Traditional Ranch styles. Architects utilized this style to isolate certain living activities — the lower level is typically a garage and TV room, the midlevel creates a social space with the living and dining room, and the upper level, above the garage, is designed for bedrooms and quieter activities.
Contemporary & Modern
Contemporary and modern homes built after 1970 and include a wide range of houses built in recent years. Many are characterized by simple forms, clean lines, lack of ornamentation, and a mixture of building materials — such stone, brick, and wood. They often feature open floor plans, lots of glass and natural light, and inventive designs.
As for us, we decided to not strictly classify our house as either Spanish or Tudor and instead decided to update the eclectic style that it is. Stay tuned! We'll be sharing some of our exterior inspiration for the addition next week.