Beginning when the settlers first came to America, home designs have changed drastically. Different eras in American history have led to the design of new styles of homes, many of which draw inspiration from the past and from other locations. Read below to learn more about the design of American homes has changed from the 1600s to today.
The First Homes in America
In the beginning, home designs were largely influenced by where the settlers had come from. Many different countries brought their own style to homes here, so the Colonial-style homes starting in the 1600s were based on a variety of different designs. This included Colonial styles based on homes from New England, Germany, Spain, and France. Dutch Colonial and Cape Cod Colonial homes were also popular during this time.
Homes Following the Revolution
After the revolution, homes started to showcase more classical ideas, with a new twist on them. State and federal government buildings took inspiration from Greece and Rome, and many of the mansions built for plantation homes used this style as well. Though there were Georgian or Adam style homes, they were instead considered a Federal style to avoid using the British terms for the buildings. All of these were types of neoclassical buildings and could be found throughout the US during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Victorian Homes in Late 1800s
During the mid to late 1800s, mass production prospered, and railroads enabled people to move parts for buildings throughout America. This led to more affordable housing, though the buildings did tend to be large and elaborate. Styles common during this period include Gothic, Queen Anne, Italianate, Second Empire, and Romanesque. These were all Victorian styles, named for the era, but each had unique features.
The Rise of Industrialism
The late 1800s to the early 1900s led to the rise in industrialism, known as the Gilded Age, and many families who were able to make money during the Industrial Revolution decided to put their money into their homes. This led to far more elaborate homes than in the past, including homes like the Queen Anne homes or the Chateauesque homes that were similar to French castles. Types of homes common during the Gilded Age included the Richardson Romanesque homes, Tudor Revival homes, and Neoclassical homes designed to be larger and more elaborate than previous neoclassical homes.
The Earliest 20th Century
A lot was changing through the US during the early 1900s. As the middle class began to grow, homes started getting smaller again. Instead of larger, elaborate homes, many people preferred homes that were more compact and less formal. Many of these homes are still in existence today, and common styles for this period include names that those familiar with housing trends will know. That includes Arts and Crafts homes, Colonial Revival homes, Spanish Mission homes, and Bungalows. In wealthier areas, homes were designed to look more upscale, so it became easy to tell the difference between the upper- and middle-class neighborhoods.
The Mid-20th Century
Homes became far more simple during the 1930s and early 40s, as many people could not afford to purchase new homes and those who could were looking for something smaller. After the war, there was a rush to construct inexpensive housing for the soldiers. This began the creation of the suburbs, and homes from this period include the Cape Cod homes, Ranch style homes, and a Minimal Traditional style of homes. During this period, homes spread out further from the cities, and many people were able to start living in areas further from where they worked because of the new highways.
New Styles of Homes
Homes from the mid-1960s today are a newer style, as Americans started to build bigger homes. This period saw the creation of new versions of older styles like Victorian, Colonial, and Eclectic homes. It also saw the beginning of the McMansions style homes, which were designed to be oversized and to show off prosperity. Many of these homes are based on more classical styles, but some combine various styles or add a new twist to the old style. These homes are found throughout America, and make up the majority of homes that are on the market today.
Influences on the Design of Homes
Throughout the history of America, homes have had many different influences. This changed the designs from one period to the next and helped to create the types of homes found in America today. Some of the most notable influences on housing design include the following.
Immigration – Immigration has always had an influence over the design of homes. During the colonial times, those who settled in America brought with them ideas for how to design and construct homes that were used to create their new homes.
Native Americans – When the settlers first arrived, they borrowed ideas from the Native Americans for housing design to create homes that were better suited to the area compared to the designs they were used to.
Homesteads – Throughout the history of America, there have been many that have taken a DIY approach to home design and construction. Homesteads can include log cabins, earth block houses, cob houses, and other older construction types.
Prefab Homes – During the industrial revolution, modular and prefab homes became far more common. Companies would offer house kits that could be purchased and built by the prospective owner. The parts for the home would be created at a factory, then shipped to the location and set up.
Tiny Homes – A more recent influence on home design has been the downsizing. For much of America’s history, the goal has been to create larger homes. The tiny homes movement was created by those who preferred a more minimalist lifestyle.
American homes come in a huge variety of styles today, whether they were built years ago or more recently. Many of these designs have been influenced by the designs of the past, including ancient Greek and Native American influences. Above are just some of the types of homes you may find throughout the US.
A friend in the insulation business in Richmond Va. was giving me a rundown of the history of home insulation. It was really interesting to hear what he had to say. Will do some additional research and add a page detailing this soon.