Tudor House (Style Spotlight)

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By Steele Marcoux

What it is: First, let's clear up this confusing moniker. When referring to the architectural style, the term "Tudor" is actually historically imprecise. It refers not to typical buildings of Tudor England (early 16th century) but instead to a style popularized in the United States during the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Furthermore, the style is more of a catchall term based loosely on a variety of elements from medieval English architecture, from humble cottages to stately manors.

Where to find it: In cities and suburbs all over the United States.

Why you'll love it: With its storybook details (think Hansel and Gretel) and countryside charm (even in the heart of major cities), there's no more romantic style.

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Tudor House Style
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Tudor House (Style Spotlight)

It's one of the most recognizable features of a Tudor home. Medieval homes in Europe featured walls in which the spaces between the supporting timbers were filled, leaving the structure exposed on the facade. Modern-day houses typically conceal that structure with cladding. The decorative half-timbers on Tudor homes are an effort to mimic authentic medieval structures.

How to make it your own: Adding decorative half-timbering is a simple, inexpensive way to get a Tudor look without having to change your roofline or windows.

All Tudor houses have steeply pitched roofs, usually with side gables, meaning the gables "open" on the sides of the house. The steep roofs are often punctuated by dormer windows, like those above. The facade usually features a portion of the house that juts out and is topped with a cross-gabled roof, also with a steep pitch.

How to make it your own: Look for houses with similarly pitched roofs, with or without the other Tudor details. A pitched roof means there's more space underneath for storage or extra bedrooms. Adding dormers is a great way not only to boost curb appeal but to bring in natural light.

Tudor entries are celebrated. Everything about them says solid. The doors are often made of board and batten wood, generally arched (sometimes with a Tudor, or pointed, arch like this one) and typically boast some sort of medieval-looking hardware, like these strap hinges. Statement-making door surrounds, like this one, call even more attention to the entryways.

How to make it your own: Swapping out your door for a board and batten one, perhaps with strap-hinge hardware, is another simple way to get a taste of Tudor style without knocking down any walls.

Tudor houses are built with several siding materials. Although brick and stone are the most common types, stucco wall cladding plays a significant role in the Tudor style as well.

How to make it your own: When planning a small addition, consider cladding that portion in a different material.

Although some Tudor homes feature double-hung windows, they almost always have at least one set of casement windows. The windows also are usually tall and narrow, typically have multiple panes and are often clustered together. Truly authentic Tudor houses usually feature at least one set of leaded glass windows, in which metal casings hold together the individual panes as in the window above. Stone mullions, like the ones above, often separate casements.

How to make it your own: Like doors, windows are relatively easy to switch out. Try casements instead of double-hung versions.

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