Based on a popular catalog of house plans for primarily smaller to mid-size homes, The Most Popular Homes of the Twenties includes a variety of looks from southwestern style to Dutch Colonial Revival.
Daniel D. Reiff Supplies New Introduction
Originally published in 1925 as The Most Popular Homes in America by American Builder, Daniel D. Reiff has written a new introduction and added supplementary drawings of period homes to the book.
Reiff explains the advent of catalogs from which prospective homeowners could order their plans, materials, or other necessities with the most famous being the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog homes.
The purpose of this particular book was not to sell homes but rather to encourage readers to build homes using the enclosed plans. With each dreamily named home, clear visuals show what the exterior home could look like and sometimes included interior possibilities as well.
Architectural plans note the dimensions and room placement of the interior, making it comparably easy for delighted readers to use the plans as their template for building their new homes.
Popular House Styles in the 1920s
As demonstrated by Radford’s collection, house styles varied depending on regional history and interests although a few examples of each would be found in surprising locations, such as the Spanish-influenced Southwest adobe styles that occasionally cropped up in the Midwest.
The Dutch Colonial Revival and American/Georgian Colonial styles appear in several forms in Radford’s book and their ensuing popularity remains evident in many neighborhoods throughout the country.
For those looking for a more fanciful style, the English storybook or moderately sized Tudor homes fulfilled the requirements.
The Italianate style was the last major design included in the collection and its usefulness as an urban-dwelling well-situated in narrow lots became a selling point although more expansive versions also aided in its popularity.
Arts and Crafts elements appear throughout the book but their importance had already recessed by that time as homebuilders looked for newer design ideas after the heyday of Gustav Stickley and William Morris.
Uses for the Modern Reader
While the plans enclosed could be adapted for new builds of these classic designs, this book’s unexpected value comes from exposing popular ideas of interior decorating and garden design in the 1920s.
Garage designs that refer back to the house’s architecture and feature well-appointed doors offer inspiration and modern homeowners can find sources to recreate the historical look in their own homes.
Italianate, Dutch Colonial Revival and Southwestern Style Back in Fashion
The Most Popular Homes of the Twenties will intrigue both American twentieth-century historians and old house devotees looking for new inspiration for their architectural treasures.
Architectural Salvage for Historic, New Houses
Older houses often make a statement no matter their size due to unique exterior and interior details that differentiate them from other houses. While large homes often feature more details, size does not dictate the potential warmth and attractiveness of the older home.
After all, New Orleans-style shotgun houses with gingerbread and small Chicago bungalows can be just as visually appealing as enormous Queen Annes, Mansard-topped mansions or prairie-style homes.
Interior Structural Element Choices
Inside, historic homes of all sizes often contain carved fretwork, lovely ornamental fireplace mantels and hearth tiles or other details that showcase the house’s bones, or structure. Even during the Industrial Revolution with its increase in factory mass-production, houses in the nineteenth century often sported eye-dazzling details not found in most modern homes.
Whether the intent is to restore missing or damaged elements or to create a period feel, architectural salvage shops make it easier to find woodwork, glass, tile, and other necessities to improve a home’s appearance and functionality.
Reversing Previous Design Choices
Of course, the character of these older homes also means that the houses have often experienced many owners who may have changed the houses to fit their needs at the time. For homeowners who plan to restore their homes to a near-original state or who want to modify them with period pieces, architectural salvage businesses prove vital for materials, advice, and financial considerations.
Origin of Salvaged Items
Since the business’ items are salvaged from other houses or buildings slated for demolition or remodeling, there is usually a wide assortment of objects grouped together. For example, in one area of the business, there may be cases or boxes of glass, metal, and ceramic doorknobs while in another section one could find hundreds of doors of various sizes and details.
Find Pieces of Local History for Sale
Turn-of-the-century sinks and clawfoot tubs maybe just a few feet away from pelican-adorned fountains while enormous quarter-sawn oak bars sit next to 1940s-era light fixtures. In some ways, it can be a scavenger hunt to find just what is needed, but the staff can help locate things if there is little time to rummage around. In some cases, the staff may be able to tell you where a specific item came from, especially in cases of large items or if it once graced old theatres and other community landmarks.
Unique Treasures Found in Salvage Shops
When looking through old doors and wooden furniture, buyers can find unique woods such as burl, tiger maple and quarter-sawn oak that can give a piece an extra glow and are difficult to find in new construction. Many architectural salvage shops also sell smaller antique pieces such as vases, frames, and other things at reasonable prices.
Environmental Benefits to Using Salvaged Parts
As a result, many homeowners restore their historic houses not only to preserve the house’s sense of identity but also with the intention of using recycled materials that fit the home. By buying old house parts, those pieces stay out of the landfills while also saving the resources needed to recreate them. This also saves the homeowner money since buying new customized parts to match the original details can be much more expensive than buying modern standard items.
New House Owners
Owners of newer homes can also benefit from these places, especially if trying to recapture earlier eras through interior decorating. If creating specialized rooms such as media rooms or bar areas with a fun old-time feel, accents such as period lighting or saloon-style wooden bars can bring the ideas to life while ensuring that the rooms will be different from neighbors’ homes.
Elements for Art Deco, Moderne for More Modern Feel
Specific details could be found in houses from the spare colonial period through the exuberant antebellum and Victorian periods and continued through the craftsmanship-oriented Arts and Crafts era and the Art Deco period, which still evokes an inherent sense of modernity. Those looking for more streamlined decor might find the Art Deco and Moderne pieces something that they want to incorporate into their own interiors.
Advantages of Architectural Salvage
For those hoping to restore their homes through matching antique details or by adding new period touches, architectural shops are a great resource. The staff tends to be knowledgeable and prices are competitive. While architectural elements such as these might not work for everyone, architectural salvage businesses are there to help those looking to create their own bit of history in their homes.
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