Tips for building a house that maintains

photography by Lisa Russman

We take dreaming seriously. Please remember that the first step, no matter what tips for building a house you’ve received, is to always dream and envision how you want to live in your home. Explore Pinterest, HGTV, Home & Gardens, local designers, etc to get ideas and start making a list of your must-haves. If you plan to celebrate the 1920’s look, you’ll have to dig through the archives to get period-specific inspiration that’s both timeless and accurate. Fun Fact, did you know that Sears Roebuck & Co used to sell build-your-own-home kits? You could literally order your home by mail! Let’s get you close to that experience by walking through time, visiting the 1920’s style, materials, design, and more!

If you’ve got your heart set on the ever-popular Craftsman style home, then be prepared to build a grand, inviting porch with handsome brick columns to greet your guests and welcome you home. Keep your palette full of earth tones, shades, colors, and textures that look naturally worn and loved. As you head inside one of the most important features to highlight will be your built-ins. Another of our favorite tips for building a house that’s period-specific is to work with your architects and designers so they can capture those must-have elements in a really authentic way. 

For families that are growing or are amidst a small herd already bustling about, you may want to explore some of the styles with more square footage built into the design. The many “Colonial” homes are a perfect choice for you. Colonial Revival homes derive influence from across the globe including styles by the Greek, British, French, and several more. It’s important to note the history because it’s where the much larger stature, fancier details, and trim work, as well as a traditionally two-story build, came from. So if when you close your eyes you imagine ornate dentil detailing, cornices, elaborate dormers, and perfect symmetry, then this is likely the home of your dreams! 

A variation, the Dutch Colonial, is particularly popular in New Jersey, just take a stroll through Montclair or Glenridge! You’ll notice the steeper pitch of the roof, brick or stone detailing, often a side or rear “wing” of the home with a more lived-in vibe and less significance on symmetry. The bedrooms are upstairs and offer a light and airy feel under the daylight of the dormers. Both Colonials offer so many charming details it’s just a matter of preference.

Now for a fun surprise! Did you know that most homes of the 20’s boast linoleum flooring? Wait, don’t cringe! We’re not talking olive green and orange ’tile’ pattern, remember that’s the gift of the ‘70s and it comes in the form of vinyl. Linoleum is worth exploring, you’d typically see a simple diamond or square pattern or even a single tone floor stretch across the kitchen. Families now have many of the same needs as a century ago – durability and simplicity! Linoleum means housekeeping made easy; these floors never get scratched or dinged and cleaning it is a cinch with no cracks or grout to catch dirt. 

What do parquet flooring, clinker brick, Batchelder tiles, and oak furniture have in common? Believe it or not, you can find most of these 20’s materials for sale second hand! As homes and buildings are torn down, they’re being sold so homeowners like you can honor your build with authentic elements that are actually 100+ years old. 

So once you’ve dreamt up your must-have list and you can visualize your home, identify the style you’re hoping to emulate with your build. Get creative with your design and construction team to identify and source appropriate components that are replicas of time-specific pieces or are indeed from that era. And remember, have fun!