Editors' Picks: Vernacular Architecture

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Our editors highlight new and classic articles, along with favorite products and current bookstore sales. This week, get to know some popular styles of vernacular architecture.

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.

The six-bay Creole cottage is, in fact, a pair of townhouses.

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.

New This Week

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.

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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.

Products & Services Directory

Peacock Pen & Ink Poster, $16 + $3.30 shipping
by Paula Mills of Sweet William

Made by Girl - Peacock Poster

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.

Bookstore Sales

On sale until May 31!
Check out these sales and other great deals in our Old-House Bookstore!

Everything you need to know about adding the right finishing touches to your home-improvement or new construction project can be found in this book.


This book is full of more than 400 top notch ideas for a range of styles and sizes of kitchens. Learn how to make smart choices about what you really want in your kitchen. By Beth Veillette. Paperback. 234 pages.


This book serves as a useful introduction to kitchen design, and an inspirational visual reference for homeowners considering their own custom projects.

Editors' Picks

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Products of the Week

A pendant light over the door adds a stately touch to the ubiquitous Victorian porch; Brass Light Gallery’s London Lantern mimics the design of 19th-century streetlights.

Brass Light Gallery

Interior and exterior architectural lighting for your home and garden, in styles from Victorian to '30s Modern. Select from 15 finish options. Made in USA since 1974. They also have a vintage/antique lighting department, and offer expert restoration services.


Unico System

A central heating and cooling system using "aspiration" technology to warm and cool homes evenly and quietly with flexible small ducts that weave through ceilings, walls, and even floors.