House designs in the 18th century

Written by elle stober
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House designs in the 18th century
Eighteenth century house styles optimise natural lighting. (historic colonial image by Andrew Kazmierski from

Eighteenth century house designs had less of a medieval look than the previous century; they often included sash windows, less steep roofs and contained a central hallway. Fireplaces were a necessity, and most 18th century houses featured rows of windows arranged to optimise natural lighting. Architects used styles popularised by architects before them, adding and changing details until a new architectural style emerged. Georgian house styles reflected renaissance values and designs. Later in the 18th century, Greek revival house styles paid tribute to the classical designs of Greek architects.


Widely used from the years 1700 to 1780, the Georgian house design draws its name from England kings of the era. Adopted by American colonists, Georgian houses were designed so the long axis ran parallel to the street and had symmetrical fronts with the entry in the centre and two windows on each side of the entrance. Two-story Georgian homes typically had a row of five windows on the street-side second story. Homes built in the North normally had a large fireplace at the home's centre; Southern homes had two fireplaces at each end of the house. Gable roofs topped many early Georgian houses, and dormers also were frequent architectural accents. Late Georgian houses were more elaborate, having hipped roofs that sloped to the tops of the house's walls and were braced by rafters.


Federal houses, built during the American Federal period, were similar to Georgian houses and incorporated the style of Adam houses, named after a pair of Scottish brothers who were architects and interior designers. As adapted by Colonial architects, the Federal house had finer, more intricate details than the Georgian house, with three-sectioned Palladian windows, ornate mouldings and sidelights or windows with a line of small panes set vertically along each side of the front door. Semicircular windows were frequently placed above the front door. Some Federal houses featured decorative columns at the entrance and equally decorative roof overhangs. Red brick was a common Federal home construction material.

Early Classic Revival

Early Classic Revival style houses emerged around 1770 after the Federal style's peak, and were built until Greek Revival styles became popular in the mid- to late1820s. Architects borrowed from Greek and Roman architecture, using columns for front porch support; frequently, porches were topped by a gable with a small, semicircle window in the centre. Early classic revival houses were particularly popular in the South, and their elegance and tradition combined to create a striking visual statement. House fronts were symmetrically designed with the long axis again running parallel to the street, but interiors were not as ordered as those in Georgian and federal houses.

Greek Revival

As the name suggests, Greek revival houses were designed using Greek architectural components. Front entrance columns supported an ornamental entablature that stretched horizontally across the entrance and was topped by a gable. Entry doors were commonly accented with rectangular sidelights. For many in colonial America, the style represented a break from England and a move to a more democratic society. Unlike earlier 18th century homes, Greek revival houses faced the street gable-first.

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