Please help identify the architectural style of my house.


Hello, We recently moved into a newly constructed house.  Even though I don't expect it to be a true architectural style, I'd like to know which direction to take for both landscaping and furnishing the interior.  Currently, the interior trim is the standard "run of the mill."  As shown in the photo, it is all brick construction.  The entry arch is an impressive (by my standards) 9 feet tall by 4 feet wide.  The house has several keystones -- 3 in the octagonal front and one over the front door.  Different, darker colored bricks were used to trim the windows and for quoining.  So, we're thankful there are no faux window shutters used on the house.  The ends of the roof are hipped, so there is only the one gable seen in the photo.  It's my guess that the house is "inspired" by the arts and crafts style, but I would truly appreciate input from this community.  Many thanks.

Jan 4, 13 1:29 pm

That is beautiful! Congrats on your purchase.

Jan 4, 13 2:11 pm

Unfortunately, you may need to brace yourself for some snarky comments on this forum.

As for your question: you're quite right this your house is not a pure example of any identified architectural style.  The vast majority of houses share this sort-of hybrid nature, by the way. Merchant builder/ developers (and some architects) have long tended to mix and match architectural features from different styles and/or periods in an attempt to attract buyers or satisfy clients.

Specifically, I'm not sure I get even a hint of Arts and Crafts, though the pedimented gable, fanned round-top window, keystones and quoins certainly suggest neo-classicism.

I wish I had more time for a detailed response.  Best of luck with your project.

Jan 4, 13 2:16 pm
wurdan freo

The Architectural Style of your house is referred to as "McMansion".

There are elements of your house that point towards Colonial revival, but they are very isolated and don't seem to be a part of a cohesive plan or style. 

You could argue that the windows are similar in appearance to the Arts and Crafts style, but their method of manufacture is a complete rejection of the Arts and Crafts style. 

Bottom line - you could do what ever you want. If you like Arts and Crafts, go arts and crafts. I recommend you hire a designer, however, that can improve the design of the property.  You could do some significant improvements in the landscaping to customize and improve the value of the home.

Jan 4, 13 2:28 pm

i think merchant builder style would be a good term to start using.

post neo-eclecticism could also fit.  really though, i would not consider this house a mcmansion, which is a plus.  *edited after i saw wurdan's post, i can see colonial revival too.*

i think the round front porch thing and gable could be reminiscent of queen anne, but a bit more gingerbread would help that generalization.  the quoins and multi-color brickwork may be inspired by queen anne style too.

imho, neo-classic isn't neo-classic without a doric column or some variation of a doric column.

Jan 4, 13 2:30 pm

I think it's half "Faux Kultur", half "Wallmart Neo-Colonialist" and half "Guns 'n' Crafts Nouveau-Isolationist". Good mix if you ask me. 

Jan 4, 13 2:44 pm

I disagree, it this is house is 3,600 sq. ft. for four people, its a bloody McMansion. This house is a perfect example of contractors who have no clue about design treading on an architect's territory.

@ OP: If  you want to know what style it is, its "Home-Depot Chic", or "Gaudy-Pastiche Revival".

Jan 4, 13 3:56 pm

it appears to be single story.  in my opinion, a mcmansion should have at least 2 stories with a minimum 2-story tall entry.  this looks more like a country club to me.

Jan 4, 13 4:09 pm
won and done williams

I won't be cute with you. There is straight up no identifiable architectural style associated with your house. It's a stock floor plan that a builder-developer created. Appreciate it for what it is - your home to do what you want with - not its architectural identity.

Jan 4, 13 4:11 pm

@starrchi  That certainly adds to the discussion.  Next time I'll know to request "constructive" input from the community.  I'm not 'bitter', just looking for answers to my question.  I think the rest of the group sized things up for me.  They confirmed what I already knew.  Was hoping, I guess, that there were enough elements from the hodge-podge to run in a certain direction with it.  I do appreciate everyone's help.  Best Wishes!

Jan 4, 13 4:21 pm

A moat is the only way to go.

Jan 4, 13 4:54 pm

^-- i would have a sand hazard along with the water hazard, but i like to make things difficult

Jan 4, 13 5:06 pm

Rusty, I like the moat idea -- a lot!

Jan 4, 13 5:07 pm

that is one sad lonely little tree in front of that place.


in terms of landscaping - I'd go for some kind of exuberant front garden that will help create more charm for this rather modest and unremarkable house.  if you have bits of house peaking behind showy trees and bushes and flowers it's a little more titillating and makes your house seem more interesting than it actually us.  right now it's like a lumpy average-looking person squatting naked on your front lawn.


then you can get shit like a weathervane for that octagon thing.


unless your town has some kind of scorched earth front garden ordinance... 

Jan 4, 13 5:37 pm

i agree with toasteroven.  that octagon arch piece would stick out and the rest of the house would be obscured, and it would look pretty neat.

Jan 4, 13 6:41 pm

@toasteroven, i l-o-v-e your comment.  that is so cool -- and actually is the advice my brother gave me (minus the four-lettered word).  an advantage the house does have is the yard.  just over an acre with a large front yard table-top flat.  landscaping, i think, can make all the difference.  the ordinances say "no fence of any kind in the front yard."  it says nothing about how to garden the front yard.  i love your advice, and think that is really the way to go.  thank you for your response. 

Jan 4, 13 6:45 pm

I too wanted to offer a snarky smart ass remark, but you seem sincere and genuinely understand in the grand scheme of things what you have. If you like arts and crafts, I think it could work nicely, especially the heavier English A and C items. A lush Arts and Crafts garden, wildflowers and rustic stone and wood could really help. Most of all, take this opportunity to understand what makes great Architecture great, and try to use those lessons on your place. Hope it all works out for you.

Jan 4, 13 7:13 pm

Kevin, My sincere thanks.  I live in a nice neighborhood, but think a lush yard/gardens would stick out like a sore thumb -- all the better, I think.  I don't mind kickin' it up a notch, as they say.  

Jan 4, 13 7:38 pm

From what I'm able to see, it looks like a traditional style home. The entry unfortunately takes it in a direction that makes it wrong.

Jan 4, 13 9:09 pm

@chris.  I agree.  Admittedly, I like the front entry with its arch and octagonal shape (and even the keystones).  It makes my house different from any of the others in my neighborhood.  But, I'm with you on this.  The entry takes it in an unknowable direction (and in a big way).  Thanks for your input.  Thanks for everyone's input.  It helps.

Jan 5, 13 4:37 am

hey, i think we're growing up! in the past this could have gone in a really bad direction...

Jan 5, 13 8:18 am

Actually, it's that 45 degree gable (to the left of the house in the image) that takes the house 'style' in the wrong direction. Without that gable the house (front) would look much more dignified, stately even.

Jan 5, 13 10:47 am

I agree with Steven.  But the skeptic in me notes that there's still time for mindless drive-by's...

Jan 5, 13 11:22 am

Quondam, Thanks for your input.  You have me looking in a new direction.  The octagonal entry is fixed (unchangeable).  However, the gable is the biggest offense to the front of the house -- and it can be removed or (easier on the wallet) changed in appearance.

At this point, I'm thinking go the arts and crafts route which, itself, is a marriage of several architectural styles.  Address the gable -- wood shingles maybe, but incorporate wood making the gable more attractive and less prominent.

Be lush with the front yard.  See toasteroven’s linked photo.

Making only a few changes, but still being a bit heavy-handed – using wood and stone, and moving in the English Arts and Crafts direction (Kevin W.’s suggestion).  The house would have three basic components – wood, brick, and stone.

We’ve been in the house about 6 months, and only now have I truly gotten a glimpse of how to run with the house and yard.  I’m excited.  Thanks for everyone’s input.  I’ve read all the posts several times over and everyone has been helpful.  I had only recently thought about arts and crafts, but seemed stuck on how to work around the entry.  It’s actually the gable that is screaming the loudest – well that and the stark front yard.  I, intentionally, held off planting trees, etc until I knew which way to go with the house.

One last thought.  The octagonal gazebo in the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral in DC.  When I first saw the house, the entry reminded me of that “gazebo”.  I think it’s officially called “The Shadow House”.  It’s octagonal; made of stone and wood; gothic (which was certainly absorbed into the arts and crafts style); and it has the same basic silhouette.  That’s not to say I’m going to build a gazebo, but it gives me confidence that I can commandeer the house and yard in that direction somewhat successfully.  Of course, the house will never be a true example of anything, but I’m cool with that.

I still welcome (and appreciate) your ideas.

Jan 5, 13 12:49 pm

ivy vines make everything look better.

Jan 5, 13 1:39 pm

the architectural style of your house is 'Cookie Cutter'

Jan 5, 13 3:08 pm

mdrhea, you seem to have the makings of an architect's dream client, at least to me.

Focusing on the gable area, move all those bushes forward at least 10 feet or so from the house wall, thus creating a semi-screened-in terrace area in front of that wing of the house. I don't know what room is under the gable, but making those windows into french doors or down to floor windows will make the terrace more attractive and/or even functional. I'd start with crushed(?) gravel for the terrace (thus regular drainage).


Jan 5, 13 4:53 pm

Quondam, Thank you for that excellent advice.  We live in a subdivision, but are on a ridge with only views of wooded hills out both the front and back of the house.  And being on a cul-de-sac, we have lots of privacy in comparison to our neighbors.  So the terrace would not only balance the house, but could be put to good use.  We’ll have to take care when planning a front garden not to screen the views entirely.

I can now more easily see how to incorporate arts and craft elements to the front of the house without it looking like an afterthought.  This is pretty darn exciting!

Jan 5, 13 8:06 pm

I've been in this business for 25 years and I still don't understand why are people so obsessed with what "style" their house is?  That word is just a way for people to feel that the world has neat categories, to get some sense of being able to be in control of their realm.  Any non-custom house built in the last 50 years has no style beyond being what the developer thinks will sell.

It doesn't matter. It's your house, do what YOU like with it, and you will thus give it style: yours.  

Jan 6, 13 9:32 am

mdrhea style: founded in the early 21 st century. In a period of architectural turmoil.  It was a holdout to the "Egg Nest" Style and to the "Crushed Beer Can" Style and to the "Exploding Geotek Fractured Crystal Style"  Mdhea Style hangs onto many  aspects of early European fundamental forms which somehow end up being transplanted to America from the 1700s' to present day.  It is as if the designer was driving past Euopea in a  car going fast and grabbing anything they could simulate into more modern version of the past.  This in itself leads to the clunkness of the style as it is somewhere between here and there, but is the norm of American Residential Architecture of the Early 21 st  Century.  One distinguishing  site feature is the open lawn effect with  evergreen foundation plantings and the single flowering crab tree most often planted in the Front yard to establish a sense of Scale.

Jan 6, 13 9:45 am
vado retro

the masonry, the turret, the punched openings. Definitely Early Builder Romanesque.

Jan 6, 13 10:28 am

cut that tree down. It wasn't part of the original vision.

Jan 6, 13 12:31 pm


much like philip webb's red house, the tree acts as center to the home's perimeter.

note the two outstanding elements of the front facade: the gable and the turret.  the gable is axially located along the tree and while the turret is off-center, its arched opening is rotated to face the tree.

the gable's beige, siding which is the only siding visible from the front, reinforces this gable-tree-turret relationship by including an octagonal vent which ties the gable to the octagonal plan of the turret.

i agree with the lush landscape approach and suggest Gertrude Jekyll and her work with Edwin Lutyens as the gold standard of english gardens from which to be inspired ->

regarding the interior, i think it would be fantastic to walk in to something completely different and unexpected: minimal details.  again, keeping it in england  for the design theme, pick John Pawson or David Adjaye or David Chipperfield and do a super clean, super modern interior.  I'm thinking of the typical mall where the exterior is a generic box (often brick) but interior stores can be completely different.  Most mall retail stores are completely crap, but if you look at some high-end stores, like miu-miu or armani, you see some pretty tasty material selection and lighting design.

Jan 6, 13 1:08 pm

ah, architects working for free.

Jan 6, 13 1:35 pm

Burn it down. Then it would be "Detroit city style"

Jan 6, 13 1:43 pm

Three houses who think they got style go to a bar. First one says, "I am colonial may I have a martini please?" Second one says, "my name is craftsman, can I have a cold one?" Third one says, "they call me hi plains country, I'll have a screwdriver." Bartender looks at all three of them and says, "let me see some ID's."

I just made this up. 

Jan 6, 13 1:46 pm


This is my new inspiration for a porch on the left side of the house (the aforementioned Shadow House).  To include a fireplace w/ oversized chimney.  The windows now under the gable will be french doors (Quondam’s idea).  English Arts and Crafts is the new motto (credit Kevin W.).

FRaC, you have truly kicked it up a notch.  I am very impressed – flattery be damned.  There is a lot to be absorbed.

News, is this so novel to you?

Jan 6, 13 1:51 pm

News, is this so novel to you?

no dude, and THAT is the problem. There's no less than a 101 ways to turn your boring house (not architecture) into something special (approaching architecture), and almost every single respondent in the thread would likely jump at the opportunity to do a drawing set for this for a modest fee, so that all you have to do is approve the design and pass the drawings to a contractor. But you aren't even offering the $250 that craigslist posters do for this sort of work, you're just straight up getting free service!

Jan 6, 13 3:48 pm

Threadkilla, so aptly named, I’m reminded of the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.”

I simply posed a question.  It is a free country.

The respondents that offered some minutes of their time (on a subject they are obviously enthusiastic about) did so out of generosity – something you’re apparently lacking in.

No, god forbid, the house isn’t architecture.  It’s a hovel of bricks.  I’ve said nothing higher about it.  I have, however, lived in enough city apartments and condominiums that people in your profession have had a hand in, and were compensated, that I can better appreciate the peace, tranquility, and privacy that comes from sheltering myself in this heap of bricks and on a plot of land both gladly and unashamedly.  If you have nothing to offer, but bitterness, why spend a second’s time putting together such a post, or even another moment in a career that may offer a real contribution – not to me, but to anyone.

Jan 6, 13 5:08 pm

mdrhea, I want you to forget everything I've said, everything everyone else has said, and even Arts & Crafts, and consider going in a whole new direction. I present to you the (ultra-new) "Stately, but oh what a state" style.

Reproduce this image down to every detail and there's no question your house will be widely published and a future much used movie and television set!

Kidding aside, this image was taken today in 1917.

Now seriously, we should do this someday--your money, of course. Or, if you ever want to return a favor, you can buy one of my books--just follow the link and look for Sachlichkeit.

Jan 6, 13 5:39 pm

well said mdrhea. i won't ask your id. whiskey on rocks? but it is not a free country..

Jan 6, 13 5:40 pm

Orhan, I know.  I was just making a point.

Jan 6, 13 5:46 pm

Quondam, that design's a bit too cutting edge for me.  I will, however, take the book, Sachlichkeit.  

And yes to the drink, Orhan.

Jan 6, 13 5:56 pm

please post interior pics so we can continue the free design services k thks

Jan 6, 13 6:08 pm

FRaC, That is too funny.  Thanks for the laugh.

Jan 6, 13 6:19 pm

I live in a nice neighborhood, but think a lush yard/gardens would stick out like a sore thumb -- all the better, I think.  I don't mind kickin' it up a notch, as they say.


that's how it starts - you'll be the first person and soon everyone else is doing it.  DO IT!

(I'd even recommend growing food out there if you're so inclined)


to the grouchy people - I'm not offering free "design services" - it's about the level of advice I give at parties.  real design services would be recommending plant groupings, site finishes, writing up specs and contract docs, conducting construction admin, etc... those are the sort of things you should be paid for because they require knowledge and experience and actual hard work.  I pretty much just told the OP something they could eventually figure out after searching amazon for "front yard gardening books."  (plus, after the OP takes the plunge there are probably dozens of amateur gardening forums they can frequent for advice as well - I'm guessing there are also local horticultural societies, gardening clubs, etc...) if you think what has been offered thus far are actual "design services" you're going to really struggle in this profession.


oh - and I just recommended something that is going to be a sh-load of work for the OP.  they'll save a bunch of time and headache by hiring someone to do the design for them (although it'll cost a lot up-front), but if they're willing to learn and struggle and see the rewards over many years of trial and error (and in turn, change their neighborhood for the better, IMHO) - then I  think the latter is more of a win.

Jan 7, 13 12:13 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

The architects who worked for the production builders in the 20s and 30s knew how to design thoughtfully in traditional styles.  They were the last generation of architects schooled in classical design by universities.  The invasion of American design schools by the Bauhaus was very complete in ensuring that no American architecture graduate could design traditional architecture well, and meet the consistent demand for it.  Houses like this one are the secret stepchildren of Walter Gropius.

Jan 10, 13 2:36 pm

no shit eke?  bauhaus and gropius condoned loose imitation of mixed historic styles?  are they teaching that in schools now?

i bet sears roebuck had more to do with it.

Jan 10, 13 3:56 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

You miss my point entirely.  Gropius and his Bauhaus contemporaries so thoroughly took over the architecture schools in America, that within a decade all traces of the Beaux-Arts education that all architects had received for hundreds of years was wiped out.  Architects were no longer taught the things that were necessary to know in order to produce good traditional architecture, yet as practitioners, many of them were demanded by the marketplace to produce that kind of work.  The modernist-trained architects then proceeded to make it up as they went along, with predictable results.  Compare builder's houses from the 1920's (or the Sears Roebuck houses, for that matter) to the builder's houses of today.  The difference in design quality is clearly apparent.  I believe the real difference is the architects of the 1920's houses were Beaux-Arts trained, and the architects of today's builder's houses were trained in modernist schools.

Jan 10, 13 6:19 pm

I think a clearer benchmark for American homes (design and construction) is pre-WWII and post-WWII. And it's not so much the education of the designer. For the whole industry, everything pre-WWII just seemed too old-fashioned for post-WWII. And, by the 1970s, the price of labor and materials started to steadily rise, thus rendering the 'old-fashioned' ways more or less completely obsolete. And, by the mid-1980s Post-Modernism brought 'style' back into the design equation. But 'style' and 'the old-fashioned way of doing things' are not the same thing.

Jan 10, 13 6:47 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: