When you drive through a residential neighborhood, there are always a few homes that turn your head. There’s something about their curb appeal that screams, “Look at me!” It might be a Contemporary home with sleek lines, or it could be a classic Craftsman design. These two architectural styles are profoundly different, but they’ve got something in common.
It’s the right balance of doors and windows. These knowledgeable home designers made excellent use of door and window styles to complement their homes. They knew how to choose a front door that makes a bold statement. They knew how to match windows to their home style. And they knew how to blend front door styles with window styles that work with their overall architectural theme and give a dramatic effect.
Knowing how to choose the right doors and windows brings out the best in your home’s façade. You don’t have to be an experienced home designer to appreciate a good look when you see it. And you don’t have to fully understand home design basics like form follows function to recognize a properly balanced exterior.
But it does help to recognize the different architectural designs found across American residential neighborhoods. Knowing what conventional theme your home carries goes a long way in deciding what door and window styles are best for your home’s appearance and value. Let’s look at the top ten timeless home designs. You’ll see how important windows and doors are to their individual appearance.
The Top Ten Timeless Home Designs
Let’s face it. We all have our likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to architectural design. Like so many things in life, no one home style appeals to everyone. That’s a good thing. Otherwise, our neighborhoods would be stark and boring.
Some of us long for the past when homes were built for practicality. They used simple, boxy lines and made the best use of limited materials. Window panes were small and divided because glass sheets were scarce. Doors served to let folks in and out, rather than giving a wow-factor.
Maybe your home tastes tend towards modern materials and methods. You might like the ease of low maintenance products and benefit from energy-efficiency. Perhaps you crave lots of light. Thankfully, today’s window technology allows unbroken expanses of glass with special coatings to control ultraviolet rays yet offer unsurpassed thermal resistance. Front door units also are high-tech and have an enormous visual impact.
Or your home style preference may fall in between. You want to make a special statement with your windows and doors, but have to work within an existing design. Your home might not be a true classic, but it can certainly benefit from a facelift by renovating with the right door and window combinations. Let’s take a look at the conventional home designs and how they incorporate the right windows and doors:
1. Cape Cod
These homes are highly-recognizable. Although they originated along the New England coast, you’ll now see Cape Cods in many American sub-divisions, and their distinctive roof dormers are a dead giveaway. Cape Cod designs are commonly clad with painted clapboards with wall shingle accents.
Perfect balance is specific with Cape Cods. Their front doors are placed in the center, and each dormer is equally spaced. Some Cape Cod doors are wide and inviting with transom windows and double sidelights. Windows are equally sized and are often divided into multiple panes. Single hung and double hung window openings are the best choice for Cape Cod designs.
Colonial houses are known for simplicity. These classic two-story home designs sprang up in both the north and south Atlantic regions in the 1600 and 1700s. Colonials truly followed the “form follows function” principle. They’re often called “saltboxes” from their straight rectangular lines.
Balance is also vital with Colonial designs. You’ll note they have central front doors like Cape Cods but often have simple architraves over the entrance. Sometimes, colonial homes have long front porches but all display equal window spacing on both the top and bottom floors. Colonials best show with double and single hung windows that have divided panes. Shutters are another common feature on Colonial designs, even if they’re only decorative.
These designs reflect a modern approach to architecture. Contemporaries disregard the ornate additions of older homes and express themselves with clean, horizontal lines and asymmetrical window and door placement. Decoration on contemporary homes takes advantage of their finishing materials, colors and natural light.
You won’t see many divides in contemporary windows. Big, open spans are common. Small secondary openings provide adequate ventilation without blocking views or drawing attention to a busy window surface. Sliding openings and casement windows are usually used in contemporary designs. Door choices greatly vary with a contemporary style. Some modern architects like to make a front door statement while others prefer a subtle hidden look.
The Craftsman style home has made a huge comeback. These functional houses have a distinctive form that started as a revolt against excessive and needless decoration in the Arts and Crafts period of the early twentieth century. Craftsman designs jump out from their low-pitched roofs with wide overhangs and heavy, tapered porch columns set on stone bases.
There is no distinct balance on Craftsman façades. Porches can be offset and windows irregularly placed. But Craftsman homes have a distinctive window pattern. They use double and single hung openings that have top sections accented with vertical mullions. Craftsman front doors are also unique. Wood is the most popular choice, by far. Craftsman front doors have raised panels and an upper window with vertical bars. They also have a horizontal ledge below the front door window that’s highlighted with dentil blocks.
These designs come from America’s great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. His famous work, Fallingwater, is a prairie style masterpiece. Its flat and low-sloped roof overhangs protect cantilevered extensions that form long, continuous lateral lines. Like contemporary homes, expression in prairie homes is found through excellent use of light and color.
The best window choices for prairie designs are casement and horizontal sliding openings. These windows are unbroken by vertical divides and work well with accenting horizontal flow. Prairie designs aren’t committed to any uniform balance in window and door placement. Nor are they particular to the type of door and window materials. Wood, steel and fiberglass doors are equally used on prairies homes. Window frames are often aluminum. That allows great support for long spans.
Ranch homes are one story designs. They’re also called bungalows and ranchers. These practical homes have ground-level, one-story living and are popular on larger lots where they can spread out unrestricted. Ranch styles aren’t sensitive to balance. Rather, they make the best use of site positioning and flow from natural elements.
You’ll often see ranch designs set where the front door isn’t a prominent feature. Ranchers usually have a clean front appearance with windows serving a functional purpose rather than being decoratively placed. Bay and bow windows are common in rancher living rooms. Casement windows are also popular. So are garden windows in the kitchens. And rancher lifestyles lend well to patio doors with rollaway screens or French doors set at the rear.
7. Spanish or Mediterranean
This style of architecture is common in America’s south and west. These designs originated in Europe, where seaside villas displayed tiled roofs and ornate balconies. Stucco is the most popular exterior finishing choice. Colors range from subdued beiges to bright reds and yellows.
Spanish and Mediterranean designs use big, bold windows. They’re perfect for rounded top or geometric window configurations where angled windows follow staircases, and arched tops bring light into foyers above massive front doors. Your imagination can run free with these eclectic designs. Entry doors make a loud statement without being restricted to a specific configuration. Wood is still a classic front door choice, but many Spanish and Mediterranean homes have modern steel and fiberglass entry units.
Split-level homes abound across American subdivisions. They were most popular from the 60s to the 80s. Now, many split-level houses are ready for renovation, and their non-restrictive lines lend well to all sorts of window and door combinations.
Most split-level designs have cathedral entries. Generally, their front doors are central. They enter part way between the lower and upper floors. This gives the foyer a high, cathedral-like appearance where upper windows over the doorway illuminate inside. Split-level designs commonly use geometric windows as well as bay and bow combinations.
Many split-levels have partly exposed basements. Here, your best bet is to use an awning or casement window that opens for ventilation but protects from rain. Door choices are wide open for split level homes. Your only problem is the immense number of choices from wood to fiberglass to steel entry and side doors.
These elegant designs came from the British. Whether it’s a cottage or a mansion, Tudors are defined by their cropped gables and exposed timbers set into stucco. Tudors tend to be dark outside but light once you enter through a prominent doorway leading into a central hall. Tudor roofs also tend to be tall and heavy, which complements their bulky appearance.
Round top windows are common to Tudor design. They’re usually clean and undivided. This makes casement and horizontal sliding windows your best choice for a Tudor-influenced home. Front doors are prominent. Wood doors are your best choice for completing a Tudor look, but you’ll be surprised at how fiberglass doors can be stained and finished for an authentic appearance.
Victorian homes are unmistakable. These nineteenth-century designs are high and highly-decorative. Most Victorians are brightly-colored and use ornate accents throughout. Turned porch posts and spindles are common on Victorians. So are scalloped shingles and carved details on their fascia boards.
Symmetrical window and door placement are important for Victorian architecture. Like Cape Cods and Colonials, Victorians normally place their front doors right in the center. Each side is laid out with equally-spaced windows that are rectangular, being taller than they are wide. Single and double hung windows are ideal Victorian choices. Front doors are open to your imagination. Wood is timeless, but both fiberglass and steel doors can be painted in traditional Victorian colors.
Choosing the Right Window Styles
The top ten home designs use a wide range of window styles and materials. What’s right for a Tudor isn’t necessarily the right choice for a rancher. Similarly, if you have a prairie or contemporary home, your window choices will be different than if you have a cape cod, colonial or craftsman. It really comes down to what your home style is, what your tastes are and what window options are available.
There are eight main window styles. They reflect different types of openings and divisions. You also have options in window frame composition and glass specialties. Here are your choices to complement your home:
- Single Hung windows have a moveable lower portion. You can slide the lower section up or tilt it out, depending on the ventilation or weather protection you want.
- Double Hung windows allow both the top and bottom sections to be slid or tilted. Double hungs allow for twice the versatility over single hungs.
- Sliding windows have fixed panes and movable sections that can be slid open but not tilted out. Sliders come in both vertical and horizontal configurations and tend to be the most economical windows.
- Casement windows are also called crank styles. These movable sections are mechanically operated and allow precise openings with limited force.
- Basement and Awning windows are usually used near the ground where ventilation or egress is needed. These styles open fully with hand pressure and allow maximum exposure.
- Bay and Bow windows are showpieces. They’re large, prominent window assembled normally used in living and dining rooms. Bays are joined by defined 30 or 45-degree angles where bows form a more rounded 10-degree junction of 3, 4 or 5 lite designs.
- Garden windows are perfect in the kitchen where you can grow and display plants. Gardens extend out from the wall surface and appear like miniature greenhouses.
- Geometric windows are where your imagination goes crazy. Think of a shape — round, arched, diamond, trapezoid, triangular — and it can fit your home style.
Choosing the Right Door Styles
Like windows, doors come in many different styles and configurations. It’s the same with materials. The most popular materials are steel and fiberglass. However, wood is still the timeless choice for many architectural designs. Here are the main exterior door designs for timeless homes.
- Entry doors aren’t just for making a front façade statement. These doors allow you and visitors in through the side and back.
- Patio doors lead onto a rear deck or concrete, ground-level patio. They can swing in or out, depending on your preference.
- French doors are still a classic choice for many renovation projects. Their style reflects a rich elegance.
- Storm doors serve a practical purpose. They keep out the rain, wind and cold but they can also be attractive.
- Sliding doors are great when space is limited. Sliding glass doors are excellent for accessing balconies and quiet outdoor sitting areas.
Choosing the Right Window and Door Renovation Company
Choosing the right renovation company is as important as selecting the right style of windows and doors for your home. Since 1993, Sunshine Contracting has helped hundreds of homeowners like you make the best decisions in window and door profiles for all types of architectural styles. We know that getting the right combination will make the difference between plain curb appeal and one that says, “Wow!”
Here at Sunshine Contracting, we pride ourselves on our people and service. We install top quality products backed by first-rate warranties. We strive to educate our customers and help them make the right home improvement choices. Whether it’s doors and windows or our full line of roofing, siding and exterior trim service, Sunshine Contracting is your right choice for home renovations in Northern Virginia. Contact us today for your new doors and windows.