Erasing Character

With the proliferation of television programs devoted to house renovation (designed to sell products and stimulate the economy – not to instill a passion for history and actual cultural preservation) it’s not surprising that many formerly styled houses end up resembling currently popular trends in new construction which lack specific styling.

Too often renovation projects involving styled homes fail to acknowledge that inherent style and treat the structure as if it were a blank canvas.  In this example a modest house from the 1940’s features a steep hipped roof and half-timbered facade reminiscent of the French Eclectic style.  French-inspired houses which incorporate some half-timbering are sometimes called “Norman Cottages” after the rural houses in the Normandy region of France.  More elaborate examples of the style might include a round tower with conical roof.  Though minimalistic, the stylistic inspiration is conveyed.  A judicious selection of colors applied to the original facade could have produced a striking transformation without the expense incurred by creating the generic “updates” seen in the second image below.

The following photo, courtesy of Google Street View, shows the house in original condition though a milquetoast paint job had already muted its intended architectural character.

 

Before the makeover, a monotonous color scheme muted the half-timbered facade and a long hedge masked a good chunk of it.

 

While more colorful now, the half-timbering is lost beneath gray paint and a synthetic stone veneer. Ornamental shutters further hide the half-timbering. New sidelights appear shoehorned into the entry. On a positive note, the hedge is gone and the entry is now more pronounced than the garage.  But still, it looks like a ho-hum ranch house now as opposed to the quaint Norman cottage it could have been.

 

 

 

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