|Sometimes it's all in the details...|
All of the homes we visited were significantly larger than our present home, and about three times as costly. None were really practical for us, since investing in a far larger house at a time when most couples are getting ready to downsize for retirement doesn’t make sense. Nevertheless, we got in the car and headed out.
Only two of the homes we visited were really worthy of note; both were Tudor Revivals, and both had both good and not-so-good elements that caught my eye. They were built almost 20 years apart (1971 and 1988) and both had some interesting stories to tell.
|Not a bad looking house at all - considering it's a relatively recent effort. |
It is not perfect. The house could stand some more detail in the timberwork. The windows are a little too tall, and feature a combination of both square and the cliché diamond-pattern grilles that are always too large and out of scale. Worst of all, they are all white, when they should be the same dark brown as the timber. The overhanging jetties also lack any corbels at the ends or other supporting structure, which gives them a stark and unfinished character.
Overall, the exterior provides an example of a fine, custom-built house (I would assume the work of an architect) that could have greatly benefitted from a little more care and research. I think a lot of American designers use houses built in the 1920’s and 30’s as traditional design guides, instead of resourcing original English examples or even old pattern and style books, like Garner & Stratton’s Domestic Architecture of England during the Tudor Period. The result is often a loss of detail and in less adept hands, some clumsy or incomplete results. The good thing about the exterior of this home is that it could be easily remedied with a few additional elements.
|The door is nice. Not a fan of the parquet. The stair rail belongs in a |
|The way the cased opening here is handled leaves a lot to be desired.|
I found the other Tudor Revival home on our tour to be a great curiosity. My first impression was that someone had taken a rather straightforward two-story colonial home and tacked a brick Tudor-style entry porch onto the façade. I see this feature on a fair amount of Tudor Revival houses, both new and old—when the entry roof pitch is too steep, it borders on the cartoonish. This one was a pretty close call. The front was extended a little to the right, ending in a long side-entry garage featuring a second story with shed dormers. The windows were too large for the style. From the street, it did not appear to be such a happy composition.
|One of the only houses I've seen that looks better up close than at a distance.|
Remember, this was a 1970’s house. I didn’t expect much from the interior other than harvest gold Formica and tired, avocado carpet. I was right on that count, and the furniture still in the house was from the same era. It was almost like a time machine.
|The plaster fireplace surround and crown molding was superb - and |
|Peaked ceiling...and paneled with real hardwood boards...not the |
cheap stuff you'd expect.
Exterior aside, I left that house being quite impressed by the attention to detail and high standards of the original builder and owner. Though the exterior elevation left something to be desired, some of the interior details were totally unexpected. I can’t imagine many of the architectural products were commonly available when the house was built—as Tudor homes were seriously out of style in 1970. They must not have been that easy to source. Even today, with the help of the internet and its worldwide reach, it’s not always so easy, as I have noted previously.
Now if you combined the exterior design of the first house with the attention to detail of the second house, you'd really have something.
As I said, always prepare to be surprised.