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architectural style

What Is a Queen Anne Victorian? An Ornate Style of Architecture With Historic Roots

March 10, 2020

What is a queen anne victorian?

John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Elaborate. Eclectic. Flamboyant. These are just a few of the words used to describe the Victorian era’s popular Queen Anne house style. When San Francisco’s iconic row of Painted Ladies along Alamo Square Park was pictured in the opening credits of TV sitcom “Full House,” it introduced wider audiences to these majestic homes. The “ladies” are among the city’s most popular tourist attractions. All hail the queens!

How can you spot a Queen Anne Victorian?

“Think gingerbread trim, towers, turrets, and wraparound porches with multi-angled roofs and fancy lead-glass windows,” says Tera Vessels of San Diego Vintage Homes.

Queen Anne homes come in varied sizes, shapes, and decorative styles, and can be found in cities, suburbs, and rural areas throughout the U.S.

A brief history of Queen Anne Victorian architecture

Victorian homes are named for Queen Victoria, who ruled Britain from 1837 until her death in 1901. You may be wondering, how can an architectural style be named after two queens? Queen Anne ruled more than a century before Queen Victoria, from 1701 to 1714.

In fact, Queen Anne Victorian homes were built during the latter part of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1870 to 1910. The style was developed by architect Richard Norman Shaw in the 1860s in England. But even he wasn’t quite accurate in naming the style, which took inspiration from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras that predated Queen Anne.

In any case, in America, Queen Anne architecture really took off in the last two decades of the 19th century. American architect Henry Hobson Richardson built the first Queen Anne home in the U.S. in 1874—the Watts Sherman house in Newport, RI.

Characteristics of Queen Anne Victorian architecture

Queen Anne homes are asymmetrical, with highly ornamented facades and more than one story. The Queen Anne style is all about decorative excess, with a variety of surface textures and materials like patterned brick, stone, wood, and occasionally stucco. Sometimes more than one material is used.

The homes usually have varied rooflines and trims, different types of shingles, and colorful palettes. There are stylistic subcategories as well, which range from the gingerbread-like Spindled Queen Anne to the more formal Free Classic Queen Anne.

Since Queen Anne homes encourage freedom of expression and creativity, it’s hard to find two homes that are exactly alike. But here are some typical features:

  • Turrets, towers, and balconies
  • Steep roofs with intersecting gables
  • One-story wraparound porches
  • Windows designed in different patterns, sizes, and styles with leaded or colored glass
  • Rooms hidden in towers, bays, and dormers
  • A fireplace or two, typically in the center of the house, by the kitchen, or in the dining room

Famous Queen Anne homes

queen anne beach house
The Beach house is a Queen Anne Victorian in Escondido, CA.

In addition to the Watts Sherman house and the Painted Ladies, the Carson mansion in Eureka, CA, is considered one of the best examples of Queen Anne style in the U.S. The 18-room, three-story, fairy-tale house, completed in 1885, is said to have inspired the clock tower on the train station at Disneyland.

“There are a few really fine ones located in San Diego County,” says Vessels. “One very famous one is the Beach house, circa 1896, located in the Escondido Historic District.” It’s currently for sale for $2.5 million; it was previously listed at $3.3 million in January 2019.

The Beach House was originally built for real estate broker and insurance salesman Albert H. Beach and his wife. It is a 2.5-story house with four bedrooms and three baths.

Pros and cons of owning a Queen Anne Victorian

As beautiful as Queen Anne homes are, the eclectic style may not suit all tastes. Those in the market for a Queen Anne should consider the advantages and disadvantages of living in and/or owning this type of property.

Although the intricate detailing is part of the appeal of a Queen Anne home, the incredible level of craftsmanship means the cost of maintaining and/or restoring one can be considerable.

“It may be challenging to find a skilled craftsman familiar with the style of architecture,” says Jennifer Hibbard, co-owner of Twins & Co. Realty in Arizona.

Vessels says that some people may have issues with the house’s smaller rooms (the open floor plan was definitely not a thing back then), fireplaces located in the dining room, skinny and high windows, and doors that are taller than standard. But she advises homeowners to resist the urge to make major changes, adding that the worst thing a homeowner can do is to overly modernize a Queen Anne home.

“They are solid houses. Most remaining ones were built for well-to-do people and have wonderful history,” Vessels says.

However, she does believe in new foundations, modern plumbing, electricity, and functional kitchens.

“Just do it in a way that makes sense,” Vessels says. “Work with the house.”

The post What Is a Queen Anne Victorian? An Ornate Style of Architecture With Historic Roots appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

More Than Just a Pretty Place: Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Prewar Apartments

February 11, 2020


Renters and buyers in New York City know that prewar apartments are unique. They were constructed between 1900 and 1939 (before World War II) and have distinctive and elegant architectural characteristics that are hard to find in more recently built properties.

“The buildings designed by the most notable architects of the prewar period—Emery Roth and Rosario Candela—remain among the most desirable in the city today,” says Jed Lewin, a broker at Triplemint in New York City.

But as appealing as these classic New York City apartments appear to be, there are also some key drawbacks to living in this kind of place.

Let’s explore some of the reasons people either love or hate prewar apartments.

Pro: Elegant design

Photo by Di Cicco Vinci Architecture + Interiors
There’s no denying it: Prewar apartments are full of elegant architectural details. Crown molding, ceiling medallions, real hardwood floors, spacious living quarters, and high ceilings are common in these types of properties.

“The advantage of living in prewar apartments is that they are full of architectural beauty. They are sturdy, sound, and provide form and function to the homeowner,” says Tami Kurtz, a real estate professional at Triplemint in New York City.

Con: Lack of modern conveniences

According to Daniele Kurzweil, a real estate salesperson with the Friedman Team at Compass in New York City, there’s one major con to living in a prewar apartment.

“During the winter, your heat is either on or off; no climate control, no thermostat, simply steam heat,” she says. If it gets too hot, you’ll need to open a window.

Kobi Lahav, managing director of Mdrn. Residential, a brokerage in New York City, agrees.

“There’s no central AC or HVAC, so you can have a nice, expensive apartment, but you are still using a window-unit AC,” he says. Furthermore, older heating systems are noisy and the windows are usually thin and not energy-efficient.

Another potential issue is that prewar apartments were constructed before the Americans With Disabilities Act became law in 1990. The law established standards for making buildings accessible to people with disabilities.

“So many apartments have narrower doorways and smaller bathrooms,” Kurzweil says. “This can be an issue for people with physical limitations.”

Pro: Sturdy construction

Photo by Raychel Wade Design

Prewar properties were built to last and included hand-finished plaster walls, durable hardwood floors, and solid-wood doors. Many experts say that postwar architecture can’t hold a candle to prewar units when it comes to construction.

“Postwar architecture is typically constructed of red or white bricks and referred to as ‘cookie-cutter,’” says Rachel Ostow Lustbader, a broker at Warburg Realty in New York City. “Postwar apartments have smaller and simpler windows, 8-foot ceilings, unadorned Sheetrock walls, and poorer quality parquet wood floors or, more recently, ‘engineered’ flooring.”

Con: It may need to be updated

Not every prewar apartment looks like a photo op for an interior design magazine. Because of the age of the property, there’s a chance it will need to be fixed up.

“If the prewar building is not as upscale, or has not been well-maintained, you can run into issues you will find in any older building, like leaks, electrical problems, etc.,” explains Jamie Safier, a luxury real estate agent at Douglas Elliman in New York City.

Carole Cusani, a licensed real estate agent at BOND New York Properties, lives in a prewar apartment, and says it was costly to renovate her kitchen.

“It’s common for them to have outmoded electrical outlets, wiring, or plumbing, that a new owner may have to update,” she explains. Also, the typical prewar kitchen is not very big—chef’s kitchens were not a thing back then.

However, buyers may be able to find well-maintained prewar units if they’re located in a co-op.

“The board will usually ensure there is enough in the reserves to make necessary updates and repairs,” says Safier.

Pro: Plenty of space

Photo by Anjali Pollack Design

There’s little reason for you to ever feel cramped in a prewar apartment.

“In prewar buildings, the ceilings are often higher and the layouts are more spacious,” says Chelsea Hale, a real estate professional at Triplemint in New York City.

Postwar apartments, on the other hand, tend to have lower ceiling heights, smaller rooms, and thinner ceilings and walls.

In addition to sprawling interiors, prewar apartments offer another space advantage.

“There are often only one or two apartments per elevator landing in prewar buildings,” says Lustbader. Contrast that with postwar buildings, which tend to have long hallways with 10 to 12 units on each floor.

The post More Than Just a Pretty Place: Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Prewar Apartments appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

American Farmhouse vs. Modern Farmhouse: What’s the Difference?

October 10, 2019

modern farmhouse

Robert Kirk/iStock

Long before Chip and Joanna Gaines made the modern farmhouse style a chic, big-time fad, there was the original—the classic American farmhouse, a simple style of home design that came about to serve the needs of (you guessed it) farmers and their families.

The American farmhouse style combines practical elements (simple floor plan, white walls) with rustic materials (wood floors, hand-hewn beams, and wrought-iron hardware). And you’ll see this style throughout the U.S., with regional variations. For example, you might spot a Dutch door or two in a New England farmhouse, or wraparound porches on homes in the Deep South.

Here’s more on this timeless American home, including its history and ways to incorporate the style in your own abode.

Origins of American farmhouse style

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Connor Mill-Built Homes 

American Colonists built the oldest farmhouses in the early 18th century, often using raw logs (log cabin style) or some combination of rough-hewn logs or native stone. Many farmhouses began as very modest structures, perhaps two rooms wide and one room deep—just enough space to house a young farm family. As their needs grew and the farm became prosperous, the family could expand the house.

In the mid-19th century, railroads transported manufactured materials, offering farmers brick, milled lumber, and quarried stone. With these improvements, many farmhouses began to sport elements of other styles, including Greek columns instead of plain porch supports or stained glass and jigsaw-cut trim to give a Gothic flair.

Key features of an American farmhouse

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Donald Lococo Architects

An American farmhouse is simply built, with local wood or stone and the following typical features:

  • Rectangular floor plan, sometimes in a T shape
  • One and a half or two stories
  • White or light-colored exterior
  • Side gable end roofs
  • Dormer windows
  • Large, welcoming porches
  • Formal rooms in front, separated by walls and doors from family rooms in back
  • Dominant fireplaces
  • Thick walls
  • Few, small windows

American farmhouse vs. modern farmhouse: What’s the difference?

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Donald Lococo Architects

Today, there’s a growing interest in reviving old homes as well as taking cues from the American farmhouse style, whether in terms of fabrics, color palettes, accessories, or furniture.

“I would define this look as ‘casual country’ with a touch of industrial, like wall-mounted kitchen faucets,” notes Jamie Gold, a home designer and author of “New Kitchen Ideas That Work.”

This new take on American farmhouse is a lot like the modern farmhouse look you may know and love from “Fixer Upper.” Although they may look similar, modern farmhouse has a more open floor plan, larger windows, and other contemporary elements that have risen in popularity today. Yet the look may still maintain rustic elements like barn doors and wraparound porches.

American farmhouse ideas to try in your home

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Hendricks Churchill

Want to make the American farmhouse your own? For bedrooms, focus on simple furniture lines (Shaker designs are ideal), a lace or hand-stitched coverlet, and a quiet paint palette.

Gold notes that floral and gingham fabrics are also typical in these rooms, as is painted furniture.

As for artwork in an American farmhouse, framed needlework, hand-painted signs, pastoral paintings, and animal portraits fit in well, notes Stephanie Plymale, president and CEO of Heritage School of Interior Design.

Add soft goods in natural materials

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Dreamy Whites 

Bare windows and plank floors are typical in an American farmhouse, but for added comfort and design try oval braided rugs, eyelet drapes, and gathered sheer panels knotted in the center, recommends Plymale.

“Linen, burlap, and flour or grain sack cottons are also traditionally seen in this type of home,” she adds.

Seek out antiques and retro pieces

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Hammer & Hand

An apron-front or farmhouse sink and retro appliances in the kitchen, as well as a pedestal sink and claw-foot tub in the bathroom, are also hallmarks of American farmhouse style, says Gold.

Accessories might include a wrought-iron chandelier in a dining space, Mason jars and wire baskets for storage, and slipcovers on couches.

Take the American farmhouse style outside

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Sheldon Pennoyer Architects 

A lack of modern air conditioning meant many evenings were spent on the farmhouse porch, which for this style of home was often large and wraparound.

“These functional spots allow for outdoor storage and transitional space for kicking off muddy boots and relaxing on a rocker,” says Plymale.

Keep kitsch at bay

What is American farmhouse style?

Photo by Splash Kitchens & Baths LLC

Bear in mind that American farmhouse style can veer into Americana overload, especially if you run amok with a red, white, and blue color scheme, wooden crates, distressed milk pails, and stars and striped fabrics in every room (stick to a single metal star).

“Honor your home’s architecture and save your kitsch for easily changed-out accessories,” suggests Gold.

Updated from an earlier version by Steven Marsh.

The post American Farmhouse vs. Modern Farmhouse: What’s the Difference? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

The Ultimate Guide to Popular Architectural Styles: From Mid-Century Modern to Mediterranean

September 4, 2018

One of the first things that capture a home shopper’s attention is the architectural style of a house. Like price and square footage, the design of a house is one of the major factors that go into their decision to tour—and maybe even buy—a home.

In the United States, a plethora of architectural designs exists from coast to coast. Some styles are region-specific, while others can be found in neighborhoods all around the country.

Whether you’re trying to identify a particular style or determine which one suits your taste the best, the list of popular architectural styles below will help you sort it all out.

Mid-Century Modern

architecture styles
An Eichler home in San Rafael, CA

If you’ve ever seen an episode of “Mad Men,” you’re already familiar with Mid-Century Modern design. Although this style is characteristic of the ’50s and ’60s aesthetic, these homes began springing up in the mid-1940s—right after World War II—and continued to spread through the 1980s. It has enjoyed a surge of new popularity in recent years.

This design is known for its simplicity. Homes and buildings constructed in this architectural style typically include flat planes, geometric lines, large windows, walls of glass, open floor plans, and varied elevations throughout. This style emphasized the idea of integrating homes with their natural surroundings, and bringing the outdoors in.

Some Mid-Century Modern homes have become closely identified with their architects or developers and their trademark styles. Joseph Eichler, for example, was a pioneering developer of residential suburbs in California and built more than 11,000 homes, many of which are highly sought-after today.


architecture styles
An earthship home in Taos, NM

If getting in touch with Mother Nature sounds enticing, an earthship home could be the perfect living arrangement for you.

These eco-friendly residences, found mostly in sun-baked areas like New Mexico and Arizona, are primarily built from recycled automobile tires filled with compacted earth or compressed soil. Natural and recycled materials such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard are also used in the building process. Because earthship homes are designed to collect and store their own energy, they heat and cool themselves without electric heat or burning fossil fuels or wood. That translates into big savings on your electric bill.


architecture styles
A traditional Colonial house in Saint Louis, MO

Best known for their symmetry, Colonial-style houses evolved from their origins in the 13 U.S. Colonies of the 1700s. Common characteristics include a square floor plan, chimney, medium-pitched roof, and a door located in the center first floor of the facade. Typically, the same number of windows are situated on the left and right sides of the front door.

Across the country, the Colonial blueprint has evolved considerably to meet the needs and tastes of specific regions. These variations include the Georgian Colonial, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, and Southern Colonial houses.

Cape Cod

architecture styles
The steep roofs of a Cape Cod-style house

Cape Cod homes do, in fact, get their name from the vacation destination off the coast of Massachusetts. Originally designed to withstand the region’s harsh winters, these homes are known for their steep, slanted roofs, which allow snow to melt off, and central hall with equal space on either side. Traditional Cape Cod homes rarely have built-out porches or other exterior ornamentation.


architecture styles
Carriage house in Clinton, CT

Long before the existence of cars and trucks, the original two-story carriage houses were popular in the northeastern United States. They served dual purposes: Horses and their gear were housed downstairs while their caretaker resided on the upper floor.

Many dwellings that were once carriage houses have since been converted into garages with the residential area sitting above it. Others have been modernized to include an adjacent building for extra living space, a workshop, or office.


architecture styles
A row of patio homes


A patio home is an attached dwelling that typically has a shared wall with at least one other unit. Architecturally, these homes look very similar to townhomes and condos. Patio homes typically max out at one or 1.5 stories.

They are a relatively recent addition to the housing landscape, coming into fashion in the 1970s as gated and shared communities sprang up around the United States.

A patio home would be ideal for those who don’t want the maintenance typically associated with owning a home with a large yard.


architecture styles
Mediterranean architecture in Orlando, FL

If you romanticize about setting foot in Spain, France, or Italy, a Mediterranean-style home might be right up your alley. Found primarily in warm-weather states such as Florida, California, and Arizona, these homes are generally one or two stores and vary in size. This style’s most distinctive feature is a low-pitched, terra-cotta-tile roof. Other common characteristics of Mediterranean homes include big windows, a stucco exterior, arched openings, columns, and ornamental designs, verandas, and courtyards.


architecture styles
A quaint storybook home in Mount Perry, OH

It may look like this style came straight out of a fairy tale, but you won’t find Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, or seven dwarves here. Often referred to as “Hansel and Gretel” or “fairy-tale” homes, storybook homes were inspired by Hollywood film studios in the 1920s.

Most storybook cottages are asymmetrical, contain one to two stories, and feature arched or half-round doors, decorative fireplaces, stucco siding, cross-gabled roofs, decorative chimneys, turrets, towers, half-round or ached doors, and tiny windows.

Cape Dutch

architecture styles
This Southport, CT, home is one of only two Cape Dutch–style homes for sale in the United States.

Originating in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Cape Dutch style first became popular during the 17th century, when Dutch settlers colonized the area. Today in the U.S., only two true original Cape Dutch–style homes are available for sale.

These homes are often H-, T-, or U-shaped. Distinctive features of this style are a thatched roof and central, rounded gable prominently displayed on the exterior. These homes also feature large wooden sash cottage panes, external wooden shutters, and green detailing.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Popular Architectural Styles: From Mid-Century Modern to Mediterranean appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.