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Roots of Style: French Eclectic Design Continues to Charm

Original French diverse architecture began in the early 20th century and remained popular for about 30 years. Americans romanticized the types, details and shapes that they saw in France, borrowing themes from a very long and rich history of domestic architecture.

Because of this there are three principal subtypes of the style.

Symmetrical layouts, the first, developed out of Renaissance styles and were frequently inspired by manor homes and even royal palaces. The preceding extravagant Beaux-Arts and chateauesque fashions also provoked the appetite for French architecture in the following generation. Asymmetrical examples sometimes married Renaissance detailing and a formal medieval massing.

Towered variations were motivated by French regional fashions in regions such as Normandy and Brittany. Most interestingly, medieval kinds persisted through Renaissance influences in each one these subtypes. The unifying distinction in this design is a prominent, and frequently steep, stylish roof.

Reynolds Architecture- Construction & Design

Early-20th-century examples could be scenic, mimicking the nature of country cottages and farmhouses, or else they could be quite formal, with Renaissance classical detailing and carefully arranged and proportioned elevations. A number of the scenic examples have characteristics very similar to those of medieval English structure, while formal illustrations share characteristics with Italian Renaissance buildings.

In the middle of the 20th century, the design dissipated in fame. French design returned in the 1960s and ’70s in the form of the mansard roof. This cousin to French diverse more frequently appeared with little focus on correct detail and proportion as found in first French diverse illustrations. Not until the late 20th century did carefully considered French diverse return to prefer, among many other revivals of standard styles as modernism waned.

Symmetrical French Eclectic

Although less dominant a fashion as Spanish diverse or colonial, French diverse was revived in all its first forms before twenty years. All these neoeclectic examples are located across the nation and are often commissioned individually, which adds to the variety.

The stone-clad symmetrical example here seems balanced and ordered, however its intimate scale and magical details relate well. Note these French diverse details: prominent chimney, round dormers with oval windows, flared eave, Renaissance classical detailing, segmented arches and casement windows. Special to this house is the prominent arched pediment with a comprehensive relief.

Reynolds Architecture- Design & Construction

Similar in scale to the preceding case, this stucco-clad house varies in a couple of details but has the same belt line and prominent chimneys. The arch-topped dormers reflect the shape of the lower-level windows.

The upper-floor windows are uniquely grouped but nevertheless carefully balanced in the front view. The classical entry porch farther designates its formality. The modest proportions of these windows and the entry design keep the scale amorous.

E. B. Mahoney Builders, Inc..

Roof materials could be slate, horizontal wood or tile, as in this house, giving it a country taste. Notice the use of dividers compared to the other cases, placed just on the principal set of French windows. These French doors extending into the ground evolved to what we commonly refer to as the French door. The remarkably shaped dormers further individualize the house.

Spacecrafting / Architectural Photography

As in the first instance, this symmetrical layout (not considering the commonly added wings to both sides) builds a highly organized set of components. The quoins frequently found in French diverse layouts formalize the outline of their exterior perspective, or elevation. The stylish dormer, a third kind found in the design, rests beneath the principal roof, while an arched wall dormer pierces the eave line of the second level.

Highgate Builders

Asymmetrical French Eclectic

This second subtype contains most examples of the French diverse homes you will see. Endless variations unite under the signature hip roof shape and the use of many types and dimensions of dormers.

Handsomely covered in stone and topped with a slate roof, this elegant house achieves a moderately formal air but provides exceptional visual interest with its varied window shapes and dimensions. Notice the oval windows put in round-top dormers and the delightful play of the roofline.

A mansard-shape roof component cleverly draws attention to the centered location of the entry with lovely arched French casement windows over. The huge chimney and multiple eave lines exemplify other components common to the bronchial subtype.

Fergon Architects, LLC

Combinations of stone and brick like this are typical during the design. Nicely detailed gutters and downspouts further contribute to the home’s character. Few fashions accept a combination of complex elevations and rooflines without feeling filthy.

Michael Abraham Architecture

Also, few styles encompass wide variations of the motif suited to both city and country structure. Certainly inspired by French country homes, this beautiful Norman-style cottage includes a carefully dominant roof and beautifully scaled dormers of 2 types and dimensions, all placed atop a simply stuccoed rectangular frame with little windows (in this case, two leaded casement windows) and a romantic entry.

Fusch Architects, Inc..

This complex example joins symmetry, asymmetry and several French diverse elements to get a sumptuous experience. Unified by a redbrick exterior and fine black trim, a central symmetrical block simplifies the makeup. Signature elements such as segmented arched windows, flared and varying eaves, and also a classical entry surround are all found here. Note that stylish, gable and arch dormers are all current.

Orren Pickell Building Group

Towered French Eclectic

The towered variant, the least-common kind of French eclectic design, reaches back into the medieval past for inspiration. These components were inspired by medieval reinforced compounds found in French rural settings.

Most possess the tower as the main entry, with easy wooden arched doors together with a segmented arched inset. In this case stone clads the tower also is mixed with stucco on additional exterior walls. All other elements found in the asymmetrical type are here too. Notice the stucco with the stone unturned to attain an old-world look.


Normal components apply to this contemporary version. On the other hand, the towered elevation is symmetrical, in stark contrast to normal designs. The architects have also produced a exceptional element with the eyebrow roofs over the two bay windows.

This house references the English Tudor design, which shares a number of the qualities of French diverse. The forward-facing gable is found less frequently, but half-timber components and patterned brick exteriors can be discovered in early-20th-century originals.

Peter Zimmerman Architects

Here the architects have combined a tower component with an otherwise symmetrical primary elevation. Massive brick chimneys, stucco with brick detailing and hipped dormers contribute to the French diverse motif.

The French eclectic design persisted through much of the 20th century, though it was less popular than many different styles. Most homes in this fashion were custom built during times of wealth, since the complexity of the style adds to the price of building. More recent cases are often located on independently developed parcels in luxury areas. A couple modest early-1900s homes exist in popular places.

Because of the mix and variants of these components, these homes rarely appear to resemble one another. As mentioned earlier, the prominent hipped roof signals the style’s designation, combined with appropriately scaled details. Because of these features, the design continues to charm and encourage lots of homeowners.

More: Where Can Your House Get Its Look?

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