Classic house designs such as Victorians and Cape Cod homes manage to remain fashionable for decades due to their attractive exteriors and timeless appeal, but most contemporary residential structures skip the finer details in favor of generic styling. Neutral colors, simple siding choices, and sustainable materials are the rule, for the most part.
But what if we could include modern materials in classic designs: for example, employ sustainable, sturdy siding in a traditional aesthetic? Though these kinds of homes were once built with more delicate materials like wood shingles that deteriorated quickly, now we can build classically styled homes that are more likely to last for decades, using James Hardie siding.
Having evolved from earlier, Gothic architecture, Victorian homes emerged during the period between 1830 and 1910 and have been a source of architectural inspiration ever since. Even in their heyday, these attractive structures spawned offshoots such as Gothic revival, Romanesque, and Queen Anne styles.
And of course, because of architectural innovations that drew on Egyptian, Italian, and Tudor styles, even homes classified as Victorians vary a lot in their detailing.
You’ll often hear people talk about Victorian homes with a strong sense of nostalgia. One reason for that are the beautiful colors that often adorned such residences.
In contrast to the widely employed tans and grays we observe on new homes today, Victorians were styled with muted but lively colors such as sage green, peach, dusty plum, mauve, and navy. Today, such colors are rarely applied in any way other than for minor accents.
James Hardie siding revives these Victorian tones, however, but this time they’re crafted with top-quality, sustainable materials. The standard Hardieplank Lap siding comes in shades such as Mountain Sage, Boothbay Blue, and Heathered Moss that are conscious imitations of Victorian styling.
All you need to do is complement those colors with the scrolling trims and tables associated with homes of that era.
Shingle Style Roots
Shingle-style homes are a direct descendent of Victorians but generally simplified, with fewer extra details: for example, simplified columns, and large, comfortable porches. Typically marketed as vacation getaways, shingle-style homes didn’t demand the level of maintenance and care that a primary home did.
Still, from today’s vantage, the wooden shingles used in such homes are anything but low maintenance. Prone to chipping, rot, and leaks, and decidedly not eco-friendly, wooden shingles are a disaster waiting to happen, especially if you live anywhere that experiences severe weather conditions.
And we mustn’t forget the threat posed by termites whenever wood is involved. For many homeowners today, this simply won’t do.
In contrast, fiber-cement siding is sustainable, effectively insulating, and sturdy. It even it repels pests and is fire resistant; in sum, the utter opposite of wooden shingles.
Boasting a lifespan that easily reaches into the decades, fiber-cement siding is also a cost-effective solution. Best of all, it comes in shingle style, which allows you to craft the staggered shingle appearance of these classic homes in a range of colors.
The Classic Cape Codder
Similar to the shingle-style home, Cape Cod style embraces a weathered look, often with shingles and simple design, but that simplicity remains relevant. Indeed, it’s been relevant since the 1600s: the original Cape Cod homes weren’t the post-World War II models we think of today but based on thatched British cottages. Of course, we’ve come a long way from that level of material scarcity.
To create the Cape Cod look, you can go with shingles or straight siding, but make sure you add the protective overhangs and shutters. Since these are coastal homes that are regularly exposed to harsh elements, these traditional details are functional as well as decorative … and this was especially true in the past when closing the shutters was vital to protect your home from storms.
Perhaps the best thing about the shutters on Cape Cod homes, however, is that they offer style-savvy homeowners an opportunity to introduce a compelling color scheme to the exterior. Using a bright color for shutters against a more neutral tone for primary siding can really bring your home to life.
Classic combinations include green shutters against a white home or red on neutral blue or tan hues.
Finally, you can’t talk classic American home styles without addressing Colonial-style homes, and those, of course, must be separated into the standard Colonial and the Dutch Colonial.
Colonials, for example, presume a formal, proportional design, with carefully spaced windows, symmetrical columns and chimneys, and dormer windows. These were high-class homes, simple but traditional, with not a detail out of place.
Dutch Colonials, on the other hand, evolved from a simple one-room house, and though you’ll still find the distinctive dormers seen on the standard Colonial, Dutch Colonials forgo the shutters and overall formality of a Colonial. They also include a double-wide doorway and gambrel roof, which make them particularly recognizable.
Regardless of whether you choose the more formal Colonial or “go Dutch,” as it were, James Hardie siding has the materials you need to craft a beautiful home. These houses typically favor more neutral colors such as white, but unlike in the past, you’ll find you can power wash the inevitable dirt when you cover your home with modern, leak-proof material.
Want Classic Excellence? Choose Home Design Exteriors
Whether you’re hoping to restyle your home with inspiration from architectural history, or just want to have a team of true siding installation specialists handle your next home improvement project, you should come to Home Design Exteriors.
Though our company has been around for 15 years as an independent business, we bring more than 25 years of remodeling experience to every job, large or small. Among our many services, we can help you choose the perfect siding, install French doors, or select long-lasting windows — all with our friendly, no-pressure approach. From quote to completion, we bring our best to you.
Contact Home Design Exteriors today to learn more about our top-notch offerings. We’re happy to visit your home, demonstrate our products, and offer a professional assessment of your needs. Home remodeling requires a hands-on approach … and you’ll be in good hands with Home Design Exteriors.