What Architectural Style Am I ?

By Matt Bowles - Director

Architectural Style – the advantages of selecting a Custom Designer Home Builder in Melbourne

When you meet with a luxury home builder, you will be a meeting with an architect to determine not only what you want in your new home in terms of accommodation but also what style of home you are looking for. It is critical that you are able to articulate what architectural style you identify with to guide your design team and ultimately produce a home that you love.

This can be a really difficult for many people because they often will know what they like but they are not sure how to make their home feel cohesive from the footpath to the back fence. Unless architecture and design are a personal passion, many Australians exposure to architectural styles is limited to what they see on renovation shows and these are often loose interpretations of the style. Personal interpretation is what will give your new home your stamp but there are distinct characteristics for some of the most popular styles of Melbourne Architecture over the last 150 years.

French Influence

French Provincial or French Country style homes have been around since the 18th Century and come in two marked flavours. You may prefer the ornate blockwork exteriors comprising of pillars, columns, wrought iron fretwork and a bell roof with grand front fences often seen in Camberwell, Kew or Balwyn or the more restrained farmhouse style with high pitched gables, white washed walls exposed timber beams and shutters on the windows. Both will have a symmetrical façade with double doors and no visible garage. Internally you are likely to see parquetry floors, coffered or lined ceilings, ornate cornice and skirtings, marble accents and furniture with turned timber legs. The overall look inside the home is elegent and feminine and will likely include upholstery in lush linens with a colour palate of warm whites, taupes, grey and ivory.

Period Homes – Victorian & Federation

Victorian and Federation style homes were both popular in Melbourne between 1840 and 1920 and there are still many great examples of these when walking around the inner suburbs like Essendon today. Often characterized by simple floorplans with closed rooms opening off one another or a central hallway rather than the more modern open plan concept we see today. These homes often had a verandah that was tiled and the tiles would extend down the front path to a gate set in the front fence. Aesthetically these homes would often incorporate stained glass, ceiling roses and decorative gables (which sometimes features the coat of arms or Australian flora and fauna), fretwork, picture rails and decorative gables.

California Bungalow

Californian Bungalows started appearing from around 1913 – 1930. This was the advent of Hollywood and a time when Australians started becoming more influenced by the United States rather than the more austere tastes of Britain. The bungalow style homes were so popular because they were comparatively cheap to produce and therefore dominated the ever expanding suburbs of our capital cities. Typically single storey with a steep pitched roof, exposed eaves and dormer windows, there were often of mixed materials (stucco and brick) with lower ceilings than previously popular architectural styles. They often featured front porch and entry door opening into the one living space with a feature fireplace and were still primarily comprised of separate rooms.

Art Deco/Gothic

The Art Deco style extended from 1925 – 1940 and still have a healthy following today. Art deco was used extensively in commercial architecture (think Empire State Building) as well as apartments and single dwellings. The overall look is typically sleek and geometric and it utilizes bold colours and strong contrast to create visual drama along with parapets and balconies with a move away from the large front porch. Over time the style evolved to incorporate curves and porthole windows with a more streamlined look. Internally you would see a lot of mirrors, metallic finishes, chrome, stainless steel, plate glass, chevron or zig zags.

Mid Century Modern

A contemporary style that ranged from 1930 until approximately 1960 and was a seemingly futuristic aesthetic at the time made iconic by Frank Lloyd Wright. More emphasis was placed on the functionality of the home and this is where open plan living really took hold, you can see fantastic examples of this style in and around Glen Waverley. Mid Century Modern homes have flat or skillion roofs, large windows and true design principles are considered relating to orientation and airflow for the first time on an accessible scale. You will often see split levels of sunken living areas with large windows and skylights, the introduction of indoor/outdoor living and a distinct lack of decorative styling – no ornate ceiling roses or cornices in Mid Century Modern homes. These homes often had full laminate kitchens, slate, plastic for its own use (not to imitate other materials) and abstract art as well as natural timber paneling and were decorated with loud statement pieces and what we now recognize as Scandinavian design.

Hamptons Style

Hamptons Style has no set timeframe and evolved from the shingle style homes built in the eastern coastal regions of the US ranging from Maine right down through New York and into the Carolinas. These homes were typically holiday beach houses and Australians identify strongly with this style due to its relaxed coastal feel and they are gaining immense popularity in Melbourne’s Bayside suburbs like Brighton. Characteristically a Hamptons home will have a white on white colour scheme complimented by timber, feature stonework, mosaic or subway tiles, blue and soft grey tones as well as florals. Hamptons is a sophisticated blend of expansive spaces with generous furnishings to create a cozy atmosphere – airy high ceilings and multi paned windows bring the outdoors in and enhance the holiday feeling. Feature cabinetry with a farmhouse sink and a large island bench can really add the finishing touches but a modern kitchen works as long as you keep soft greys and marble benchtops to tie in with the overall feel of the home.

Contemporary Architecture

The term “contemporary” can be used to describe any home designed from around the year 2000 onwards, there is no single dominant style but generally describes a home that is different to the past of what is typical for today.

Contemporary homes are innovative and often incorporate new materials and can seem experimental. Spaces are flexible and interiors are clean, minimal and crisp with personal touches added with furniture and decorating items especially artwork.

New materials are often used and there is a big focus on sustainability. A contemporary home will be designed to ensure that solar panels can be maximized and windows will be positioned to consider solar heat gains. Many consumers are considerate of their carbon footprint and want reduce their homes emissions, a good design will be considerate of these needs.

The advantages of engaging a custom designer home builder when you are planning to knock down-rebuild are vast. The right team of experts will guide you through the entire design process and ensure that every aspect of the property is considered, knowing what you like and don’t like in terms of architectural style will manipulate the final outcome of your project. Be prepared to provide specific feedback and suggestion to your architect to ensure that no matter what style you prefer, the home you are finished with is undeniably yours and fits how your family will live in the space you create.