Houses come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and character. It’s not easy to drive through a neighborhood and find two houses exactly the same. Although there may be some that are repeated throughout a neighborhood, it is hard to find two that look exactly alike. Owners want their houses to be unique in some way. Even if you were to look inside two houses that had the same floor plan and house character, you would undoubtedly experience two different homes. You would see distinctive wall coverings, paint, carpet, tile, furniture, wall hangings, curtains, and so on. Different people have varied personalities, occupations, hobbies, preferences, monetary resources, and so on. The relationship between an owner and a house gives rise to a home, a unique place for a unique individual or family. So although there may be two or more houses that have the same layout and house character, there are no two homes that are the same.
STYLE VERSUS NO STYLE
Different people like different things. I like this, she likes that, and he likes the other thing. This is quite an easy concept to comprehend. So, when something comes in a variety of styles, colors, textures, forms, or sizes, the diversity of that something is
likely to attract different people. When it comes to different styles of architecture, the same thing holds true. Different styles of architecture attract different people to those styles. Clients will have individual preferences of architectural style. Some clients may be very concerned that their house have a particular style, whether it be historical or contemporary.
There are many books that identify and show various architectural styles, including some that specifically illustrate the architecture of American houses. Some of these styles are based on architecture from other countries, whereas others are uniquely American (Figure 1—29). Whatever the style, it is critical that the landscape
designer recognize that each house is unique with its own materials and material patterns, proportions, roof types and slopes, window and door patterns and trim, columns, railings, dormers, cornices, and chimneys.
When a landscape designer has a client with a house that has a definite style, it is strongly suggested that the designer spend time studying the house to identify what is distinctive about it. It may also be necessary to research that style in order to become familiar with patterns and details that are common to that style. This will help the designer to develop a landscape design that is reflective and responsive to the architectural character. Landscape designers who pay attention to each house’s special features will find that new ideas for forms and patterns of proposed design elements will occur (see Chapters 10 and 12). This attention will help blend the house with the site. As always, the landscape designer needs to be objective about the house style and remove his/her own personal opinions from any decisions about what is appropriate. Remember, it is the clients’ house, not yours.
There are many people who are not aware of the vast array of architectural styles, but are still concerned about the “overall character” of their house. It’s on that character that landscape designers need to focus attention, not necessarily on the actual style. Why? Not all houses are built in a recognizable style of architecture. Some houses are easily recognized as having a particular style, while others may have some character that resembles a specific style. Still others may have character taken from different styles. And some can be seen to have no evidence of any style. As stated earlier, houses come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and character.