Feature House Styles

Learn what to look for when dating a house.

House Styles

More from Gwen about what to look for when dating your house.

If you can't afford a dendrochronologist, here are a few tips to help you date your house.

Styles can be deceptive. There have been recurrent revivals, especially of colonial-era and Victorian-era house styles.

It's far more instructive just to look closely at the materials of the facade, the proportions and the very nature of the ornament.

The generic term for late 19th-century houses is Victorian.

The predominant characteristic is surface ornament.

So if your house has a lively, even busy facade it could have been built in the 1880S.

By the 1890S, simplicity was becoming more fashionable.

There's one kind of shingles and they're all plain, no longer painted.

These shingles were mass-produced to look old-fashioned, as if they'd been split by hand.

So if your house has shingles like these, it could have been built at the turn of the last century.

Look around your house.

If others in the block are pretty much the same size and shape, but there's a variety of faraway romantic times and places, yours and theirs were probably built in the 1920S.

Dating modern buildings is a different story.

If your home was built post-war, chances are you'll know how old it is.

But here are a few things to look out for.

Modern apartment buildings advertise their functionality.

Ornamentation was banned as superficial and nostalgic.

By the 1980s, Americans had become enthralled with historic preservation.

Even modern apartment buildings, like this one, incorporated local materials and abstracted building motifs from the surrounding context.