If Smart Home 2014's steep rooflines and asymmetrical front-facing peak feel familiar, it's because those are the defining characteristics of a common architectural style found in the innermost suburbs around just about every American city.
Known as the Tudor style, it's origins are stone, castle-like manses built in the 16th century English countryside, but the form was revived in smaller homes in America between 1890 and 1940 (when many of the first suburbs were built). These are made mostly of brick, but one or two walls are generally covered with a combination of stucco and giant, vertical pieces of wood, known as half-timbering. Add steep roofs with a peak facing the road and you get one of the most distinctive architectural styles there is.
Which is not to say that Smart Home 2014 is entirely Tudor. Like a fusion chef, project designer Preston Shea let the iconic style be his inspiration, but mixed in other flavors and textures to create something completely modern and unique. Here are some classic Tudor details he rendered in entirely new ways.
Most of the exterior is brick, but it's painted because that's the way masonry walls are typically presented in Nashville. And for the secondary siding material, half-timbering was too costly and old-fashioned looking, so project builders Ray Kash and John Looney installed horizontal clapboards made of rot-proof fiber-cement, a combination of wood dust and concrete that's been shaped to look just like the real thing. The dual siding materials also help to play down the two-car garage, so it doesn't dominate the façade.
Rather than the typical flat "fascia" board at the bottom edge of the roof, Shea designed a corbel, which is a giant molding, cut from a solid 4 by 12 inch cedar beam. Something like the crown moldings used for interior spaces, it adds a bit of sophistication to the overall look. "It's got a traditional feel, and sets the home apart from what's typically seen in contemporary suburbs," Shea says.
Similarly, 4 by 12 inch beams span most of the home's window and door openings. "That pays homage to the old half-timbering look, but in an updated way," Shea says.
Though the thick beams are big enough to serve as actual structural headers to spread the weight of the house over openings below them, they're actually there just for show. A hidden metal bracket does the heavy lifting right above each one.
Original medieval-era Tudors were often built on large estates in the hilly English countryside, with numerous flat terraces created by stone retaining walls that connected with the house. So Shea created a small, half-walled courtyard out front, formed by an arched masonry wall that makes the space feel like a semi-private outdoor room. And in back, another half wall of brick forms a covered patio off the basement with a porch above that opens out from the dining room.
The home's distinctive sweeping rooflines add as much character inside the home as outside: The cathedral ceiling in the family room follows the classic lines of the asymmetrical front-facing peak two stories up. And the bedrooms upstairs are also tucked under the eaves. "It was important to me to create a connection between the exterior forms of the house and the rooms inside," says Shea. "I didn't want anything to be just for show. I wanted the architecture to be completely honest."
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