Early American Home Styles and Designs: Colonial Houses

According to American art history sources, around 1650, the very first 17th century early American homes of the settlers were one room homes that served multi-purpose functions of living.

According to American art history sources, around 1650, the very first 17th century early American homes of the settlers were one room homes that served multi-purpose functions of living, dining cooking and sleeping. There was a lone fireplace that served heating and cooking functions.

Later on around 1675, two room colonial homes were constructed with a central fireplace and chimney. The central fireplace had two openings, each facing one room. The two room homes, just as the earlier one room home styles, had attics that were accessible through very steep stairs leading from a tiny hallway at the entrance. Their entrance doors were positioned centrally on the longer exterior wall with window openings on the sides opening into each room.

After 1725, many more complex home designs were introduced.

The four room home designs followed the two room houses around 1750. A central corridor/hallway was created that ran the full depth of the structure. A wooden staircase led upstairs from the hallway to the rooms above. An initial attempt was made to fashion a central fireplace and chimney, but this later proved clumsy and impractical. Eventually they found that a two chimney feature worked out better and was much more effective in four room homes, with each chimney serving two rooms.
Early American Colonial Houses - North and South

The New England Colonial home design styles of 1700 were called the salt box houses and were typical of the provincial style. They had extra rooms added to the back of the earlier home styles of the two room homes, just like add-on structures, with the roof structure sloping down towards the building's rear to cover the homes extension.

On the other hand, the homes in Virginia and the southern regions had home styles that had additions of rooms on the sides which invariably visually increased the size and width of the building.

The southern Colonial houses, especially the homes in the Carolinas and Virginia were better planned and elaborately crafted with aesthetically pleasing interiors, because the southerners were far ahead and more advanced in the appreciation of the decorative arts than their Northern brothers.

By the 1730's, southern Colonial houses were built almost always for grand entertaining and comfortable living. Their appreciation of the decorative arts saw them having their home styles with beautiful entrance halls and elaborate sweeping stairways. These were their most important interior design features.

The advent of the Industrial Revolution in America brought on more complex and interesting features and styles of Colonial houses in both their architectural designs and interior decoration.


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