August 11, 2022

Colonial House - Style, Architecture and History

Recently, the unique colonial style on the real estate market has been gaining more and more popularity. And we are not talking about new places or going on adventures.

Since this style combines several characteristic of other styles, it is rightfully considered one of the most colorful and atmospheric. Without the right selection of furniture and any decorating elements, it will be impossible to correctly reflect the chosen style. This is due to the fact that it must contain those details that, at first glance, seem completely incompatible. So before making your final decision let’s figure out what kind of property and of what style is perfectly for you.

Where colonial style started

Actually, colonial architecture is called the results of construction in open, annexed, colonized territories. These are the activities of the Greeks in the Northern Black Sea region, and the legacy of the Romans in Gaul, and the buildings of the Crusader Franks on the lands of Byzantium, as well as, of course, the houses of the Spaniards in Latin, the British and the French in North America.

The appearance of the colonial style is directly related to the era of great geographical discoveries. At that time, the world was ruled by powerful maritime powers: England, Spain and Portugal. In an effort to expand their possessions, they founded colonies in Africa, Australia, Asia, and India… In general, wherever their imperious hand reached.

Naturally, the newly-made settlers needed somewhere to live, and they built simple, practical houses according to European traditions. However, the unusually hot climate and natural human curiosity did their job – the oriental flavor gradually began to penetrate into the strict classical interiors. This is how the bright and amazing colonial style was born and, by the way, is in demand even after several centuries.

Colonial style in architecture

Wherever the culture of the metropolises penetrated, it absorbed local customs, was filled with color and exoticism. Gothic and Rococo, Empire and classicism, antique, Romanesque touches, Old English, Dutch motifs are evident in the appearance of colonial buildings…

Take a closer look at the architecture of Buenos Aires, Lima, Sao Paulo. Spanish conquistadors, Portuguese traders and Catholic missionaries brought here a heavy, Moorish touch of Baroque, which was transformed under the influence of Indian folklore traditions. Thanks to such mutual influence, the Latin American colonial style is easily recognized by the roughness of forms and the brightness of colors, the abundance of small decorative details and other attributes.

North America has its own architectural distinguishing feature. The basis for the development of the North American states was mainly the English architectural style. In New York, in New England, the first, most typical examples of English colonial architecture have been preserved. Moreover, many films from the life of old Britain are shot not in London, which suffered greatly during the Second World War, but in Boston. In this city you can admire truly ancient houses – fragments of the former, noble Europe.

The main directions of the colonial style in architecture

  • New England colonial style settlers' mansions built in the period from 1620 to 1740 in the New England region. They have steep, tiled or shingled roofs, with side gables and narrow cornices, noticeable chimney chimneys. The windows in these houses are relatively small, and the walls, if decorated, are very inconspicuous ornaments. The upper floor often slightly overhangs the first, the main entrance is strictly in the center. Nothing superfluous – that's the motto of the first colonial builders, pilgrims from the British Isles.
  • Georgian colonial architecture, which was developed a little later, during the years 1690-1830, was popular in the southern British colonies. Buildings of this type are close to the Renaissance style and look much more elegant than Puritan New England architecture. Georgian colonial houses have elongated, rectangular and symmetrical facades, gable roofs with a narrow canopy, flat columns around a paneled door, paired chimneys. The walls of Georgian-colonial houses are either made of red brick or covered with light plaster, and a stucco royal crown often flaunts above the entrance door.
  • Cape Cod – in the northeast, for a long time (until the middle of the last century), a colonial type of architecture was in use, which received its name from the bay that washes Massachusetts. It is based on half–timbered houses adapted to the more severe, storm-generous northern coasts of the Atlantic. The Cape Cod style is still in demand today, its notable features are wooden, in memory of the half-timbered frame or trim, laconic, rectangular shape, predominantly white siding, steep roof with side gables, large chimney, double glazed, convex windows. Modern Cape Cod-style houses are complemented by attached garages, extensive, well-equipped attics. The pipes on the roof have shifted, as has the fireplace (previously it was placed in the center of the living room), and the shutters on the windows perform a purely decorative function. The secret of Cape Cod style durability is in its practicality, enviable ability to be combined with any interior. And also in the fact that the conservative – like the ancestors – look of the hearth gives a sense of roots, stability and respectability.
  • Spanish colonial style reigns not only in South America, but also in California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, Colorado. Wherever the Spanish and Portuguese settlers set the tone. They built their personal houses in one, as a rule, floor, using shell stone or adobe, unbaked brick or clay. Roofs were often left flat, walls were covered with plaster. The second floors, balconies, as well as decorations in the form of moldings, appeared much later. The characteristic features of the Spanish colonial style today are not very large, attic-bound windows, as well as several doors in the front wall of the building.
  • The German colonial style was formed until the very end of the XIX century in Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania – places where settlers from Germany settled. Migrants embodied the spirit of their native country by using locally available materials: so there were solid houses made of soft sandstone, with powerful, impressive walls (their thickness reaches 60 centimeters), door and window arched openings.
  • The Dutch colonial style gained a certain spread (mainly on the banks of the Hudson River) at the same time. It is characterized by brick or masonry, high roofs under tiles, wide cornices, doors from two autonomous half-gates, chimneys on each side and blind, windowless, rear walls.
  • French colonial style can be observed in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Sprigfield. In Louisiana and Mississippi in the XVIII and the first half of the XIX century, houses were built by immigrants from France, which led to the emergence of another kind of colonial architecture. The migrants brought the ideas of the buildings not from France itself, but from their Indochinese possessions and Guadeloupe. For the American south, this option turned out to be very suitable: French colonial architecture is distinguished by an abundance of windows, openwork balconies, light outdoor galleries. Roofs became sloping, decorated railings and balustrades appeared. French colonial mansions are more elegant, airy in appearance than their overseas ancestors, houses of the Provencal sense.
  • The colonial federal style is the heir of Georgian architecture and classicism, which at that time (1780-1820) was, as they say, on the crest of popularity. The federal style is distinguished by a strict rectangular layout, a high basement, sloping roofs, balustrades, moldings, evenly spaced windows, low mezzanines. Windows are one of the most important distinguishing features of this style. And it's not just their slender, symmetrical arrangement with respect to the door. There are many windows and they are diverse. On the sides are narrow, elongated, on both sides of the door and on the facade – arched, Venetian or oval, equipped with bars and shutters. A semicircular, stained-glass window above the central entrance door is also mandatory. Of the outdoor decor, it is especially worth noting the decoration in the form of an eagle, a national bird.
  • From classicism, the buildings got open, slightly curved stairs and stucco – garlands, ears, fans, smooth volutes. The architectural style that connected the canons of Ancient Rome and the architecture of the New World is quite popular today.
  • The neocolonial style is a continuation of federal architecture, which returned to the podium in the mid–60s of the twentieth century. New times have brought new materials to the colonial exterior. There are no taboos: brick and artificial stone, vinyl and multicomponent polymers are used for construction and cladding. Windows are not necessarily rounded, and shutters are a tribute to tradition and an element of aesthetics.
  • Neocolonial style houses remain of regular rectangular geometry, with light columns, porticos, moldings.

Decoration of rooms

Since historically, the colonial style developed during the existence of the Rococo style, both have several common features. However, the main distinguishing feature of this style is the complete absence of any brilliance and richness. It is worth noting that the ceiling decoration looks quite original, since it is customary to use not only plaster and paint, but also beams made of solid wood.

For the design of the living room in the colonial style, designers recommend using not just wooden beams, but decorating them with leather. Massive elements with leather bindings will look very good, which will add the right atmosphere to the design.

For finishing the walls, it is recommended to use plaster with a rather rough texture. In the event that you do not plan to paint the walls, you can use wallpaper. To date, there are many different natural wallpapers on the market of building materials.

Bamboo, jute or textile wallpaper are perfect for decorating a bedroom in a colonial style. If you want to decorate the walls with photos or paintings, at the same time you should remember that this style likes when each thing has its own space.

That is why it is worth abandoning the idea of cluttering up the walls with a lot of paintings. It will be enough to add only a few elements located at a sufficient distance from each other.

How to choose furniture for Colonial House?

Another feature of the colonial style is the requirement that is imposed on the furniture used. Professional designers note that colonial-style furniture must necessarily be made of natural materials.

At the same time, you absolutely do not have to spend money on products made of expensive wood. It is quite possible to do with cheaper tree species such as palm, yew, rubber or rattan.

Do not buy too massive furniture, because wicker furniture is more suitable for this style. You can also buy leather furniture that suits almost any style.

Special attention should be paid not only to the appearance of the furniture accessories being purchased, but also to how functional and convenient it is.

When designing a house or an apartment in a colonial style, it is necessary to remember that any decorations on textiles are inappropriate. Give your preference to textiles in calm colors, without flashy prints. Such products will fit more harmoniously into the overall design, and will not attract too much attention. If this elegant variant of propert for you don’t hesitate and contact your real estate agent now.