Stellar Homes’ Styles of Architecture: Volume 1


When you decide to build your custom home, one of the first decisions that you’ll have to make will centre around the architectural style. Will you go with Art Deco or Art Nouveau? Bauhaus or Brutalist? Colonial or Classical? Perhaps a combination of Deconstructivism and Dragestil?

There are as many architectural home styles—and combinations thereof—for you to choose from as there are paint colours. However, unlike paint, the style of architecture that you choose for your home will be more or less permanent. That’s why knowing what your options are and choosing the style of architecture that best suits you is such an important part of the home-building process.

You might already have a rough idea about some of the design elements that you would like to incorporate into your future dream home. Perhaps you’re fond of Gothic architecture, or the Arts and Crafts Movement. But if you’ve never even heard of Arcology then how would you know that you prefer it to both of them?

That’s why Stellar Homes has compiled a list of architectural home styles that we’ll be serializing in our blog. Hopefully, this first entry can help you decide between a Brownstone or Biedermeier home.

Adamesque (also Adam Style or Style of the Adam Brothers)

The Adam style is a neoclassical design aesthetic founded by Scottish architect, William Adam, and further popularized by his sons, Robert, James and John.

The Adam brothers eschewed the more ornate neoclassical architecture styles of Rococo and Baroque that were popular in the early half of the 18th century. They simplified the designs and did away with the exact mathematical proportionality of the Georgian style to create lighter, airier spaces. Nevertheless, they kept the classical Roman motifs, painted ornaments and arabesques that are indicative of the neoclassical school.

The Adam style of architecture, interior design, and furniture design were popular in upper- and middle-class homes in England, Scotland, Russia and a nascent America throughout the mid-to-late 18th century. Home builders can incorporate elements of the Adam style with simplified rounded neoclassical features such as rounded walls and with complex pastel colour schemes of green, blue, lemon yellow, lilac and red terracotta.

Adirondack Architecture

The Adirondack style of architecture refers, primarily, to the aesthetic of the Great Camps—a set of large family compounds nestled within the woods and along the shoreline of the lakes of the Adirondack Mountain range in New York state.

Home builders will recognize the Adirondack style from its overtly rugged appearance but expert craftsmanship and obvious luxury. This style of architecture draws design influence from the Swiss style of chalets and emphasizes the use of building materials that are indigenous to the build site and surrounding camp. These custom home builders made use of local timber logs—either whole, split, rough or peeled—and granite fieldstone for the overall structure. Interior design elements include animal pelts, antlers and foraged decorations from the surrounding area.

Originally, many of the Great Camps homes served as “back to nature” retreats for America’s wealthiest families, including the Post family of General Foods. Over the years, however, they have incorporated luxurious features such as movie theatres and bowling alleys.

Incorporate elements of Adirondack Architecture by using building materials sourced at your build site, hiring expert craftsmen and building on irregular locations. Interior design and decorating elements can include antler chandeliers, grand stone fireplaces and pelt rugs. It’s as regal as rustic gets.

Anglo-Saxon Architecture

The Anglo-Saxon style of architecture was the prevailing style of architecture in England and Wales between the 5th century and mid-11th century.

Anglo-Saxon homes and other secular buildings were rectangular and comprised of timber with thatch roofs. Most home builders today, however, would recognize the more impressive stone churches.

Given the confounding historical evidence and long time period, it is difficult to define the specifics of the Anglo-Saxon tradition in architecture. Nevertheless, certain elements remained more or less consistent.

For the most part, the stone churches consisted of a rectangular nave with either a rounded apse or, more distinctly, a tower apse. Simple and inornate stone carvings served as decoration but more complicated Roman and proto-neoclassical influences are also apparent in the use of technically sophisticated archways with column supports.

Needless to say, contemporary custom home builders aren’t likely to opt for a thatch roof. But using Anglo-Saxon compliments throughout your home’s design can give it a timeless appeal. The juxtaposition of Anglo-Saxon architecture with elements of modern architecture has become popular with home builders in Europe, particularly those renovating or repurposing historic structures. The stark contrast of the ruggedness of a stone feature—such as a stone tower—with the clean lines of glass and steel makes for a striking and arresting visual.

American Colonial Architecture

American Colonial architecture refers to any style of architecture in the United States during its colonial period from the mid-to-late 16th century until the War of Independence in 1776. This style of architecture includes First Period Architecture, German Colonial, French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial, Mid-Atlantic Colonial and Georgian Colonial.

As the names of these various styles would suggest, the influences on American Colonial architecture were, predominantly, the same prevailing influences on architecture in major European countries at the time. Even so, American colonists had to adapt building techniques and designs to suit their environment, more limited resources and building materials.

There are strong regional “flavours” to this style of architecture. The British influence, for example, is most apparent in the Georgian Colonial architecture of New England colonies such as New York and Connecticut while Dutch influences are apparent in Pennsylvania. These regional differences persist even today with Spanish Colonial, Pueblo and Baroque influences apparent in southern states such as Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

Regardless of the particular time period or region, custom home builders today can evoke an American Colonial aesthetic by incorporating mathematically regulated symmetry, rectangular windows with ornamental shutters and rectangular dormers.

More Architecture to Come

Each style of architecture is beautiful in its own way and offers its own design advantages. In our next volume, we’ll take a look at more American styles of architecture and how they can help you create your dream home. In the meantime, take a look at our gallery for more inspiration—and see if you can spot the Adamesque influences.