Many of the most popular styles of American architecture from the last few centuries were created by architects and tastemakers, and were designed to achieve a particular set of aesthetic goals.
But just as many American house types were born of simple necessity, their forms dictated by their surroundings and the daily lives of their inhabitants. These buildings are known as vernacular architecture, and a close look at their unifying details reveals a wealth of information about how people lived in eras past.
Here, you can delve into three of the most popular vernacular house types in the U.S.—the creole cottages of Louisiana; the German Sunday houses of Texas Hill Country; and the I house, found on farms from Iowa to Virginia.
Creole Cottage: Designer Mike Waller draws from a vernacular Louisiana house type for this new old house in Baton Rouge.
Texas Ranch Rebirth: Architect Michael Imber revives a little-known vernacular house type in his native Texas.
The I House in Rural America: Simple, modest, and practical, the humble I house is an American gem worth a second look.
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Preservation in Progress: For every museum-like historic house, there are hundreds that might be described as preservation in progress—like this one, which dates to 1740, 1810, and 1990.
Town House Façade Facelift: Designer Miles Redd and architect Gil Schafer work together to revive a town house in New York City’s Little Italy.
Eco-Friendly and Non-Toxic Milk Paint Real milk paint is back on the radar: It’s non-toxic and offers unique finish effects for walls, cabinets, and furniture. And modern formulations have extended its applications.
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Reader Recommendation Sweet William, founded by two sisters, showcases vintage and handmade treasures--check out their blog for some amazing photos and artwork. This bright 7" x 7" poster (digitally enhanced from a pen and ink drawing) manages to fit a lot of color in a small space and is printed on A4 matte heavyweight card.