By Dylan Snyder
Many homeowners look to the past when brainstorming design ideas for newer homes. Homeowners can often make relatively minor changes to the exterior and interior of a home to capture the style of different periods in architecture. A popular style of architecture that never seems to go out of style is the Greek Revival architecture style.
Architectural Features Found in Greek Revival Homes
The Greek Revival Style began around 1825 and “lasted” until 1860, though many details of this style remain with us today. This style is heavily influenced by structures built in the birthplace of democracy, Ancient Greece. Greek Revival style was also termed the National Style as some obvious elements, such as temple-fronted facades, became a prevalent feature on public and government buildings.
When it came to how Greek Revival style played out in homes across America, there are certain imposing elements generally observed with such homes. Houses were painted white to emulate the white marble used in Greek temples and buildings. The gable-fronted house is one of the legacies of this period. Other elements are simple moldings, gables with pediments, unadorned friezes and heavy cornices. Materials used to achieve Greek Revival style effects were wood, stucco and stone.
Columns and pilasters are commonly found features of Greek Revival architecture. Columns could be round, octagonal or square and designed with or without a base. Both smooth and fluted columns would have been used with Doric being the most common capital style.
Greek Revival Style for Today’s Homeowner
Homeowners have a number of methods available to them to create this look in their homes today. Wood and stucco used to achieve this style in the past continue to remain relatively affordable and can be used when restoring a historic home to its past glory or capturing the Greek Revival Style in a newer home. With this in mind, what are a few easy Greek Revival style projects that a homeowner can begin with?
- Exterior Elements: Adding columns and a coat of white paint is an option for homeowners who want to achieve the basics of the Greek Revival look.
- Floors: Those with existing wood floors are in luck. Painted wood floors were popular during the peak of the popularity of this style. Homeowners can choose from going with a patterned or solid look. Area rugs may also be used in addition to the painted floors.
- Trim and molding: A common feature found in Greek Revival style homes is that of panels made of trim or molding on walls. Cast plaster ornaments may also be used. Trim also forms decoration around windows and doors. Simple trim around windows can be combined with more elaborate window treatments, such as shaped valances that are tied back.
- General color scheme: When choosing colors for a home, look for neutral tones and colors, including gray, brown or gray, as well as white. Stronger accent colors and gilding may also be used as desired to highlight certain room features.
Much can be achieved with the right paint shades applied as it would have been in Greek Revival style homes of the past. In addition, the use of simple trim elements is a cost-effective way for homeowners to start making changes in their home. More expensive changes would include changing the style of a roof and would typically involve hiring a licensed professional to properly execute the desired look.
When to DIY, and When to Call a Professional
Some homeowners have the knowledge and expertise to do many projects on their own, such as taking some care and achieving professional results when painting or adding moldings to various parts of the home. With major projects with potential safety hazards like adding columns, changing the pitch of a roof, or anything that involves moving around electrical systems, consider calling a pro unless you are experienced in such work yourself.
Greek Revival architecture is definitely a great look to emulate. Whether it’s a full-home makeover, or just a few inspired elements within, this project will be one worth bragging about to the neighbors.
Dylan Snyder is a team leader and real estate consultant at The Snyder Group.
This is the first guest post I’ve published on The Joy of Moldings. Thank you for submitting, Dylan.