Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More French Style Houses

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Many of you have asked what the exterior of my new house is going to look like. It will be French inspired, but with the symmetry that I love. I often think that it has elements of the classic Georgian houses that I have admired for years, but with the softness of color and form that I admire in French style architecture.
I have been gathering pictures for many years now, and one of my favorite ‘inspiration files’ is my collection of pictures of French houses. In recent months, I have added some real beauties to the collection; these all reflect the elegant form of French style to which I gravitate. Some of these are quite formal; others are more relaxed. Somewhere in between is what I am hoping to achieve.
The ‘real’ French (and European) houses
This beautiful home was featured on Cote de Texas recently, as as soon as I saw it, I was smitten. I think it is the simplicity of form, the size, the roof, and the color palette that appeals to me. I love the look of a light colored house with a brown roof. I wonder what this roof material is made of? In Atlanta, this look is often achieved by using a cedar roof, whose shingles weather and fade into a gray-brown tone with time and exposure to the elements. The simple and elegant landscape also add to the appeal of this house.

Kemp Hall Studio (an Atlanta architectural firm) created a facebook post with examples of houses that are real French country – as in, actual houses in the French countryside – as opposed to the Americanized (and sometimes exaggerated) version of French country that is often seen in America. This house was one of my favorites – again, with the clean design and lovely color palette of cream and browns for subtle contrast.

This house, found in the Belgian countryside, is definitely more formal and considerably larger than what I would want, but I love some of the details – the color of the house and the roof, the grayed greens of the shutters, the charming round window, and the iron railing above the door.

La Lanterne, the country home of the president of France (on the grounds of Versailles) is another example of a more formal style French house that has great appeal to me.

I appreciate the relationship between the house and the yard, seen in this picture. The roof appears to be clay tile, and this house strikes me as a newer house than some of the others in this post.

A house in the French countryside, which I believe is also a hotel. The houses in my pictures are often clad in stucco, but this one is brick – with a soft limewash that softens the appearance of the brick.

A bit of greenery on the exterior of a house always catches my eye. Again, the soft mellow palette of this house is my ideal, particularly in combination with the greens in the landscape.

I love the aged tones in the house and the cobblestones contrasted with the green of the trees and grass. I would like to see a picture of this house close up – the dormers on the roof look interesting.

snow house[1]
This beautiful home is from a blog I have recently discovered, My French Country Home. This is actually the home of the author of the blog – a charming place in the French countryside. Of all these pictures, this is one of my favorites; it is elegant but also relaxed, beautifully proportioned, and simply – right.

The American French Houses
Although American interpretations of French houses can often become caricatures, there are some beautiful examples of French inspired houses in my files that pay great attention to scale and form, and do justice to the authentic houses that inspired them.

I saw this beautiful house last year, in Newport, Rhode Island. It was inspired by La Lanterne, seen in the French house collection. I wrote a blog post on it, that can be seen here.

This grand David Adler designed house was also inspired by the Pavillion de la Lanterne. This house appears to be brick, with a mellow integrated color.

A charming French style house as seen by the author of Trouvais on a morning walk. I love the oeil-de-boeuf windows on the roof. To see more beautiful windows of this type, see Willow Decor’s great post from earlier this year.

One of my all time favorite inspiration houses, by A. Hays Town.

Another one that has been on my blog at least 6 times, built in the early 20th century in Washington DC by French-American architect Paul Cret.

A stunning James Means (1904-1979) designed house in Atlanta. This house was featured in Veranda a few years ago, and sits so perfectly on its lot. Landscape design by Howard Design Studio.

Another James Means house; he had a love for French architecture, and a talent for translating it to the Atlanta architectural landscape. This beautiful house was modeled after a 19th century house in France that was photographed by a clay tile roof company in the early 1930s.

Atlanta has its fair share of French inspired houses, and this one was designed and built recently (architecture by Pak-Heydt). The entry for the house is actually situated between two levels of the house. A post was devoted to this house too…seen here. Landscape design by Howard Design Studio.

This charming house was built in the 1920s in Dallas, a time when many soldiers were returning from WWI with exposure to and inspiration from more modest French architecture (as opposed to the grand Beaux Arts examples). Also, photographic studies of French architecture were becoming more accessible to American architects in the early 20th century.

This is a recently remodeled house in Atlanta, where the architects (Pak-Heydt) emphasizes the French style. This is an exquisite example of the trend in Atlanta to take a 1950s ranch and transform it into something more elegant and timeless.
So this is a glimpse into the style of house that served as inspiration for the house that we are building; I showed most of these images to my architect as we started the design of the house last year. Do you have a favorite?

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  1. Beautiful examples, definitely a few to save for the design process of our next home!!

  2. Your last image is such a great example of renovating a ranch. All of the images are stunning. I couldn't pick just one.

  3. Great inspiration images as always. My two favorites are the A. Hays Town one and the 2nd to last one. I love French style architecture.

  4. That second pic had my heart stopped for a minute.......I don't know how you can decide but it must be fun to get to the final result. The James Mean house (the smaller one with the garden in front) is quite beautiful too.

  5. All quite beautiful! will you ever be posting a picture/drawing of the front of your home that you are building?

  6. I think the roof is a key difference between the French & American houses; the French use "ardoise" or slate tiles extensively, because if it's good quality it will last up to 300 years. Historic buildings and chateaux will usually have them. They can be different colors depending where they are sourced around France, but they also happily grow moss and such in a little humidity. Other roofs are used regionally: thatch, red tile, glazed tile, and of course synthetic or imitation ardoise today, but this is the classic. La Lanterne is interesting in that they must have used the darkest slate to be found, and at least in this pic, it is looks like a perfectly black, unused chalkboard...wonder how they do that? Thanks for all the pics!

  7. I agree, all of these houses are 'roof houses' - my architect said that the roof material will be an important design element in the house. As far as pictures of the exterior - we are still tweaking it!

  8. Thank you Holly for showing this picture of my home here in Normandy - I am honoured. It is so interesting in your post to try and define the details that make the difference between the French houses and the American French houses. The age of the house obviously, but I'd say that the American homes are just that little bit more tweaked and perfect. The difference maybe between striving towards something or simply doing it as the norm.


  9. It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog Holly. The houses are just amazing. I loved the Belgian house where a couple of the top shutters were replaced by architectural elements…

  10. The first and the fourth images get my heart racing. I am so in love. I am also extremely excited, Holly!

  11. Love these all. The house in Dallas...I know I've driven by that one! Must be in Highland Park. xo Elizabeth

  12. How in the world can you narrow it down?

    The "A. Hays Town" house gets my heart going. I like the "no foundation planting" look. It looks so inviting. It's closer in feeling to the French farmhouse (but big) than to Petite Noblesse.

    Mr. Means Dumbarton house: pictures just don't come close: The roof detail doesn't come through. And the front is amazingly modest considering what you can't see from the street.

  13. You've got a wonderful group of inspiration photos Holly that all seem so perfectly "you". Love the idea of softening a Georgian home with French features. It will be stunning!

  14. Thank you Holly...such a wonderful grouping of beautiful French homes. Sigh. I love Sharon's house (French Country Home) and the second photo. Just the right size. That Belgian countryside house is the 18th century Villa Rozenhout. I'm so excited for you! Wonderful post! Trish

  15. What a wonderful collection of beautiful homes. The French style is so soft, I know you'll choose the perfect one;
    Wishing you a good week,

  16. Isn't Sharon's home in France the most sublime place ever?!
    Marvelous collection here!

  17. Beautiful examples. I am a fan of the French style too.

    The crab oils are darling.


  18. ugh!! you're killing me!!
    i love the first one..the little picture...and the newer looking one with the tile roof.
    the american versions pale in comparison.
    and i am with you on the expansive green lawn. a must have in my future dream house.

  19. Garden, Home and Party said...
    I love them all but the 6th from the very top (with the 2 lawn chairs in the grass) is the one that feels like home!

  20. No wonder you're Inspired by these gorgeous homes.Each seems to have a commonality but individual none the less...Like you the last one is appealing to me...Glad I stopped by.....Maryanne;)

  21. I love your post today and have been fighting the urge to research vacation rentals in France all morning.

  22. What beautiful images - I too share your love of classic Georgian architecture, and have recently moved to an original Georgian house in the English countryside for this very reason (a modest version!). The variations between the French and the American styles are fascinating to see, but regardless of how modest or grand they are, the symmetry and classical proportions of each building are simply divine.

  23. oh holly i love that first/last house so much, i could cry!!!! it's gorgeous. i'm going there right now.

  24. Hi Holly

    Well, we know from past correspondence that our taste in houses is different, but Hays Town is one of my all time favorite architects, AND as I was scrolling down, looking at your photos and reading your post, I was thinking "I'll bet she would love some of the old Highland Park houses I grew up with"! So,can't wait to see what you end up with and I know it will be absolutely beautiful!

  25. Ooh, these are really gorgeous. You love French houses so much you might enjoy the guest post I did for Parkinson Building Group on home exteriors. I think the first home here is in the post but there are several different ones that I think you would enjoy.

  26. Holly you can take the best of each for your dream home!! Beautiful examples!!

    Art by Karena

  27. THANK YOU for this post:
    I was terribly in need of some real and really lived homes.
    I am so tired of seeing houses that haven't got a soul, they all seems like they're there just to be stared and not to be lived.
    So thank you again,
    Francesca from Italy.

  28. I love the true French houses, and I was definitely pleasantly surprised by American French houses. I feel like most of what Americans think is French does end up being, like you said, a caricature of the true product, so it was really lovely to see such well put together houses. Also, I love the symmetry of those houses too!

  29. They are all so beautiful, it's hard to decide which one is my favorite.

  30. My hand sketched plans are at the architects as I write this. So glad I found you for further inspiration. This is exactly what I am building!

  31. I am building this type of house. I said earlier that my sketches are at the architect now. I would love to see some inspiration from interiors of some of these. My interior will be a blend of vintage/contemporary elements with a touch of French flare!


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