What Is a Tudor Style House? Tudor House Design Style Inspiration

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You don’t need to be a design history buff to spot a Tudor-style house, but as of late seeing one with your own eyes has increasingly become rare. Here’s what you need to know to distinguish the magic of these storybook-ready homes: pitched gable roofs, half-timbering, stucco, brick, and chimneys. Their hard-to-miss characteristics make them easily recognizable and eclectic among their more symmetrical and lighter-colored colonial house neighbors. Tudor style homes come in all sizes, with the smaller frames resembling humble but whimsical cottages and the larger Tudors more often embodying the romantic ideal of English country manors. The nostalgic, old-world feel of Tudor home design has appealed to many Americans over the past century and a half.

History of Tudor Style Houses

As an architectural trend, Tudor style homes originated in the United States in the mid-19th century and continued to grow in popularity until World War II. The Tudor style movement is technically a revival of “English domestic architecture, specifically medieval and post-medieval styles from 1600 to 1700,” says Peter Pennoyer, FAIA, of Peter Pennoyer Architects. Because these homes mimicked a style designed to weather colder climates with lots of rain and snow, they were best suited for the northern half of the United States, though they’re popular in other areas of the country as well.

Tudor Style House Features

“These houses, with their myriad materials, solid masonry, elaborate forms, and decorations, were expensive to build and mostly appeared in wealthy suburbs,” Pennoyer says. They were nicknamed “Stockbroker’s Tudors” in reference to owners who gained wealth during the booming 1920s.

Tudor style brick housepinterest

peterspiro//Getty Images

To appreciate the design of a Tudor style house, you have to take note of the steeply pitched roof, often with multiple overlapping, front-facing gables (that’s the triangular portion of the roof) of varying heights. The majority of Tudor exteriors are brick, but they’re accented (often in those triangular gables) with decorative half-timbering: essentially a mock frame of thin boards filled in with stucco or stone. Subcategories include French Tudor homes, which are French country–inspired abodes made of stone and wood in the classic Tudor style, and American Tudor Revival homes, which feature a large gable, brick exterior, decorative timbering and accents, a shingled roof, and tall multi-pane windows.

The Interior of a Tudor

inside of tudor home

The Happy Tudor

Tudor style houses were typically designed with interiors that complemented the exterior in terms of design style. The asymmetry of the front facade of the house also enhanced the interior layout, Peter notes. It “offered great flexibility to the architect in terms of interior planning,” he says. “The plan was not dictated by strict symmetry on the facades, allowing diversity in room heights, window placement, angled wings, etc.” Interiors are often heavily accented in dark wood as well. From ceiling beams to intricate wall paneling, Tudor homes can look as much like an English manor on the inside as they do on the outside.

The windows used in Tudor houses are also a unique nod to medieval architecture. Windows are tall and narrow with multiple panes—sometimes rectangular, sometimes diamond shaped. Large groupings of windows are common, and occasionally you’ll see picturesque floating bay windows called oriel windows on the first or second story. Though often not in the center of the house, the front door is still a significant architectural feature of a Tudor home. It typically has a round arch at the top and tends to be bordered by contrasting stone that stands out against the brick walls. Tudor chimneys are another notable element where the details stand out: They often have decorative chimney pots and a stone or metal extension at the top of the brick chimney.

Where Did Tudor Style Houses Go?

House and lawnpinterest

Peter Gridley//Getty Images

According to Pennoyer, innovative masonry veneer techniques developed in the early 1900s made brick and stone homes more affordable to build. However, the intricacies of Tudors still were quite expensive for the average home builder. This led to the style fizzling out after World War II, when the country turned its attention to focus on new, affordable housing developments that could be built quickly. During the height of the colonial revival period (1910–1940), “this style comprised 25 percent of the suburban houses built,” Pennoyer says. The unique style is still an appealing option for some buyers who want to own a historic home as it has proven to be worth the investment once the time and budget are spent reviving the structure.

Cons of Tudor Homes

  • Expensive project from the ground up as a new build
  • Steeply pitched roof and multiple gables are prone to leaks
  • Stucco is high maintenance
  • Historic homes require updated electricity, plumbing, etc.

Pros of Tudor Homes

  • Solid construction and building materials
  • Unique decorative accents
  • Flexible, well-proportioned floor plans
  • Storybook exterior

Where Are Tudor Homes Now?

Tudors are a rare occurrence today. It isn’t a popular house style among newly built homes the way colonial and farmhouse styles are. But designers are committed to restoring them to their original beauty and stature from the inside out!

stylish living room

Molly Cuver Photography

Interior designer Shannon Eddings says, “Keeping original elements whenever possible is key in a Tudor home. To ‘decorate’ it we did add built-in benches underneath the original windows to add to the cozy style of a classic Tudor home.”

fireplace in tudor home

Aimee Mazzenga

According to Eddings, the charm of the Tudor design should remain a priority. The structure is a commitment, not a blank canvas. So if you’re all in, the story with your Tudor can begin! From Dutch doors to beadboard or an arched window, decorative accents are the secret to honoring the home without keeping it stuck in the past. The designs below prove that there can be a fairytale ending for any Tudor style house.

preview for NOON Home

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