Courtesy Richard Bubnowski

  Shingle-style architecture became popular in the latter half of the 19th century. This classic American style is characterized (as its name suggests) by wood-shingle cladding over a timber frame and often by architecture that emphasizes horizontal continuity in elements such as window headers, roof eaves, and entablatures.

Although the style borrows heavily from early-American colonial influences, shingle-style elevations differ in that they are often asymmetrical. The original idea driving this design was to give the home the appearance of a venerable structure that had been added onto over time. The use of weathered cedar shingles also adds an attractive patina.

But this tradition of asymmetry has created problems in many modern-day interpretations of the style. Too many disparate elements, mashed together with no consideration for proportion, alignment, or balance, can begin to look incohesive and unresolved.

This home, which is currently under construction in Spring Lake, N.J., incorporates some of the same elements as the two houses on the preceding page. While the prior two didn’t quite hit their marks, the overall aesthetic of the third house is more successful, thanks to careful consideration of how its elements relate to one another in scale and character.

Disorderly Construct The façades of these two homes have too many competing design elements that don't relate well to one another. 

  • Too many different roof elements cause façade to look busy and unresolved.
  • Columns are poorly detailed with no capital.
  • Garage doors dominate the front façade.
  • Overscaled entry is capped by a roof element that seems out of character.
  • Entablature should return back to the façade wall.   
  • Extra gambrel element cuts off double-hung windows above it.
  • There is too much space between window headers and frieze board.
  • Column capital should rest below the entablature.
  • Top of front door is not aligned with adjacent window headers.
  • Newell post placement is awkward in relation to columns.

Curve Appeal This home's curved wrap-around porch introduces an element of assymmetry. It is balanced by a simplified roof gable and carefully aligned window and door headers.

  • Detached garage is sited at rear of property.
  • Shed roof over porch fits comfortably with windows above.
  • Rake and frieze board are appropriately detailed.
  • Columns are proportioned to fit with the entablature above (beam and cornice) and are supported by masonry plinths below.
  • Front entry is scaled down, yet still dramatic with broad steps and heavy glazing that provides natural daylighting.
  • Window header/eave relationship is proportional.