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East Coast Style

When it comes to homes, East Coast style is rooted in colonial history. The classic and largely symmetrical styles of homes that are still popular today owe their origins to pious expatriates, adventurous sea traders and fishermen, and revolutionary farmers of New England.

The Mayflower pilgrims included the Puritans who were exiled to Holland, they crossed the ocean and landed in what is now Massachusetts at the tip of Cape Cod.

After exploring the area, a colony was established near Plymouth Harbor.

Among the popular housing styles to come from these early explorers are the Cape Cod cottage, the Dutch Colonial, German Colonial, Spanish Colonial, the Georgian and the Saltbox. Collectively, these are known as Colonials.

Colonial homes 1600s to 1800s

The Cape Cod style was revived in the 1950s as an easy-to-build alternative to the ranch-style home made popular in the West. The Cape Cod’s origins are from the earliest colonists who built simple squarish one-story homes warmed by a single fireplace in the middle overlooking the harbors. Some of the first houses built in the United States were Cape Cods. The modern Cape Cod is rectangular and may have an additional half-story with gabled roofs and dormers. 

The Saltbox is also a modest home with a central chimney, but larger than the Cape Cod. It’s easily identifiable from its sloping roof that leads to a shed-like exterior at the back of the home.

The elegant Georgian style is named for the four King Georges of England, and enjoyed great popularity as an architectural style before the revolution. A Georgian home is two to three stories, nearly always made of brick, and has a symmetrical five windows across the second story to balance the front door and four windows on the first floor.

The Georgian evolved into the Federal style as talk of democracy became more open. The Federal style offers some embellishments from ancient Greek and Rome, such as columns, plaster garlands, and elliptical, fan-shaped or Palladian windows. 

Details that make your East Coast style authentic

Exteriors are symmetrical

Porches and verandahs have columns

Transom windows are popular on two story homes

Windows have shutters

Classic exteriors are white with black or deep forest green shutters

Interiors are a center hall plan with dining and living areas on opposite sides

Living areas are large and gracious with the fireplace as the focal point

Details are simple and classic, such as dentil molding

Living areas are on the first floor, bedrooms upstairs

Keep in mind that most architecture isn’t pure and that one style may borrow or pay homage to another. For example, the Colonial styles aren’t always English. Some of the most charming East Coast styles are modifications. As immigrants brought classic architectural elements from their homelands, the Colonials expanded to Dutch, German and Spanish Colonial designs.

East Coast style is therefore about bringing tradition to a brave new world.