The Shingle House (Style Spotlight)

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Style Spotlight Shingle style home

By Bud Dietrich, AIA


First popularized by the Vanderbilts, Astors, Morgans and their peers, the Shingle style developed in New England in the mid to late 1800s in reaction to the highly ornamented Victorian revival styles. Simple forms and a minimum of ornamentation made the Shingle style America's first "modern" style, suitable for the new suburban home as well as seaside "cottages."

The Shingle style's most telling feature was that it treated the house as one large volume of space that the exterior wrapped around and enclosed. Like a balloon, the Shingle style exterior was all taut and tensioned to hold the interior space in place.

The Shingle style fell out of favor at the turn of the 20th century when the Colonial Revival style came into vogue. It wasn't until the 1980s that the style came back in popularity, having been resurrected by architects in New England. Today, new homes built in the Shingle style can be seen from the Northeast to the Southwest, from the rocky coasts of Maine to the sunny suburbs of Southern California and everywhere in between.

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The Shingle House (Style Spotlight)

Unfinished shingle siding, white trim, green fabric awnings, gable roofs and deep recesses are all hallmarks of the Shingle style. In contemporary updates, the relaxed curves and volumes of the original style are converted to more severe, angular shapes.

Another trademark feature of Shingle-style homes is the extensive use of pergolas and patios to extend the living space to the outdoors.

Often large and rambling, the classic Shingle style is more a collection of parts than one simple form. The simple forms and shapes and lack of fussy ornamentation are hallmarks of the style.

Shingle-style homes love to be located where there are large yards so that a strong inside/outside connection can be created. In this case, terraced landscaping and multiple porches connect the home to its yard.

Bold gestures and oversized elements, especially at the entrance and porches, add to a Shingle-style home's grandness.

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