Friday, February 4, 2011

Shingle Style Architecture

The shingles are on! In spite of my worry that the Hardie cementboard shingles would not have enough texture or thickness to bring character to the house, I think they look pretty good--much better than I expected anyway. That said, although our crew also worked hard to add some of the detailing that brings a Shingle Style touch to the house, I think we have more of a "shingled house" than a Shingle Style house! The form is more Colonial Revival or Classic Farmhouse even if the detailing aims for Shingle Style. But hey, given our budget and the size of the lot, I have to say that overall I’m pleased.

I wrote some about the Shingle Style in an earlier post, but I thought it would be fun now to show some of the images that inspired us in the design of our house. The images range from grand to modest, and old to new, but all share some of the characteristic features and qualities of the Shingle Style, including:

  • Continuous wood shingles on siding and roof
  • Irregular roof line/shapes
  • Cross gables
  • Eaves on several levels
  • Porches
  • Asymmetrical floor plan
  • Flared eaves and walls
  • Round or oval windows, windows in groups of 2, 3, or more
What I find interesting is that the Shingle Style seems to be more of a design approach than a strict set of forms ands details. There are so-called Shingle Style houses that have Tudor trims, and others that have Queen Anne turrets. Roofs may be gambrel, gable, or hip—and sometimes all on the same house! Shingle Style houses are often more dissimilar than they are alike. About the only features you can count on to define the Shingle Style is a studied informality of plan and overall simplicity of decoration compared with fussy Victorian and other styles.

The Shingle Style gained popularity around the time of America’s 1st centennial in 1876 and combined features of early Colonial American architecture with those of the emerging New England school of architecture. Maybe this “looking back” to the country’s beginnings is what led to interest in houses that looked like they had been added onto and become weathered with the passage of time. As a cladding material, shingles fit the bill since they quickly fade to a soft grey when left unpainted and exposed to wind and rain--giving them an "aged" look in little time.

Our house uses the shingle skin and a few other exterior details, but is MUCH simpler and probably closest to the Shingle Style in the asymmetrical and somewhat rambling floor plan--more visible from the side than from the street. It is also not nearly as complex in its massing nor as large or finely-detailed as some of the classic Shingle Style houses. I think our house looks more like an uptight cousin to the real Shingle Style! But I do love the floor plan and I think the exterior suits the street and will settle into the site nicely once the porch railings are done and the landscaping is in. For now, it feels great to have one more milestone completed!

Kragshyde, 1883, Massachusetts--one of the earliest of the style; now demolished

Another early example--I love that wall of windows in the sunroom.

This one needs a larger lot to set it off better, but look at all those details!

Contemporary example--is that a chimney at the far left?

Nothing modest about this one! Twin gambrel roofs...with two more on the ends.

More symmetrical than most; again the huge chimneys--what's up with that?

This looks small compared to the others! There are the flared roof lines again--I love those.

Close up of a flared wall--supposedly good for shedding rain away from the foundation sill.

This detail really shows off the plasticity of shingles--just like a skin wrapping the house.

Our flared wall under construction--sheathing cut to the desired curve and mitered at the corner.

1 comment:

Joffre said...

I too love the shingle style. I love the rounded corners and the flared walls. I wish there were more in our area. You have some excellent photos here. Keep up the good work.