For the last five days, I was in Connecticut to attend a family reunion and was driven around like a mad man to prepare for the event. On the familiar routes to and from my brother’s house, I get to see a good sampling of houses in New Canaan. The most popular style in the neighborhood is the Colonial Revival style with white clapboard siding and black shutters. Every variation on the style can be seen as the houses are remodeled, added to or rebuilt as new. I love this style of house because it is unpretentious and the floor plan can be so easily deduced from its exterior shape.
The original style started out quite simply – a rectangular box to which a smaller box might be added to the side. Sometimes we see a gable end turned perpendicular to the main axis of the house. Sometimes we see an enclosed porch at the end of the long box. The later houses with the constant demand of having to be larger had to resort to more tricks in shapes and forms to enhance their curb appeal.
We see some attempts at changing the colors of the shutters. Some variations are bolder and quite clever in incorporating a foreign form such as a silo to the house.
The most successful designs are the ones that stayed true to the original square and straightforward style. Together with the kind of langoruous stretch we see as the house got larger, the house settles well on the site by being more regal with its seemingly controlled sprawl – an assertive stroke to occupy the land so to speak.
The rhythm of the uniform window size and shutters projects a sense of order and rudimentary classicism. The generous use of clapboard siding exaggerates the length of the house. Sometimes a wainscot of brick or painted shingles is introduced to add texture but it is quite unnecessary.
I love the even simpler houses that were inspired by barns.
Some new houses take on the shingle styles but keep a band of clapboard siding.
This house just knows better by locating itself in a most idyllic setting.
Then there is the glass house by Philip Johnson – stretching along a lazy lawn, offering simplicity in its uniform glazing and transparency in its oblong plan.
I came back home to the San Francisco Area and long for more land for a larger lot which would allow the house to set back properly and give us space to appreciate the architecture.