Courtesy Woodley Architectural Group

Architectural over-embellishment in the name of Old World style was ubiquitous in the last housing boom. The idea of re-creating the past—whether in the form of a Tuscan villa, French chateau, or Andalusian compound—became fashionable for many reasons. The nostalgia was romantic and comforting, and fancy details were a visible statement of power and wealth. But what we found is that adding ornamentation without careful consideration of proportion and restraint often yielded elevations that were more awkward than classic. (Just because it now can be made out of foam doesn’t mean we should stick it on the wall.) Good architecture is still defined by form, composition, solid, and void, not by how much meaningless detail is tacked on.

Plus, today’s buyers aren’t so much into bling. Simplicity, clean lines, and efficiency are the ingredients that move them. Filling every inch of a façade with detail is not only unnecessary, it’s unappreciated.

Many builders are understandably reluctant to part with historical and traditional forms and elements. While these legacy designs have their place, it is time to move forward and create a newer transitional architecture—structures that reference their predecessors, but don’t overdo it.

People think differently today and respond to a different aesthetic. They are re-examining their lives and deciding that more stuff is not as important. As a result, houses have become more practical. It is time to clean things up and design for what people want now.

Old World

Expensive Discord The varied window patterns of this Spanish-inspired home establish no sense of order or rhythm. The tower includes odd embellishments that are wasteful and unnecessary.
Courtesy Woodley Architectural Group Expensive Discord The varied window patterns of this Spanish-inspired home establish no sense of order or rhythm. The tower includes odd embellishments that are wasteful and unnecessary.
  • This awkward mix of elements causes graceless proportions. They look like add-ons.
  • Complex roof forms add cost and make the composition uncomfortable.
  • Decorative iron can be overused and seem arbitrary.
  • Too many arches with no hierarchy reduce the integrity of the form.
  • Over-ornamentation can look contrived. Not every surface needs enhancement.

New World

Clean Transition This home maintains the spirit of a Spanish hacienda, yet its contemporary to reflect todays tastes.
Courtesy Woodley Architectural Group Clean Transition This home maintains the spirit of a Spanish hacienda, yet its contemporary to reflect todays tastes.
  • A strongly organized window pattern gives the façade a comfortable rhythm.
  • Taking a traditional arch form and filling it with floor-to-ceiling glass presents a contemporary feel.
  • Reserve powerful forms such as large arches for key focal points. Using these elements sparingly creates visual hierarchy.
  • Minimal historic detailing lends context without looking like an imitation of the real thing.
  • Allow strong forms to speak for themselves. Resist the urge to fill space with unneeded baubles.