From glass-and-cedar facades in the Pacific Northwest to deep porches in the Lowcountry, each region has a particular design vocabulary, developed to meet climate challenges and play to the area's strengths. Over time, proven stylistic elements have a way of migrating, even island-hopping, to mix with other vernaculars. Here, a salty collection of houses inspired by their locales.
Photo: Annie Schlechter
Historic farmhouses in this area are often one room deep and two rooms wide, with gable roofs, central staircases, and porches for summer shade. And like this 1870s Chesapeake Bay home, notes architect Sanford Bond FAIA of 3north, most have been added onto over the years to accommodate modern demands.
Photo: Jim Bartsh Photography
Spanish Colonial Revival architecture has flourished along this stretch of coast since the 1920s, says architect Don Nulty, who built this home 12 years ago. But its trademark elements—including handmade clay tile roofs, thick plastered walls, and deep-set windows—are design legacies of old Andalusian farmhouses in southern Spain.
Photo: Eric Piasecki/Otto/Peter Pennoyer Architecture
Architect Peter Pennoyer took cues for this shingle-style home from the Northeast's earliest examples of the style, which blended American elements like gables with more sculptural European forms, such as a gambrel roof. To maximize views while staying true to regional traditions, he designed the oriel bay to look like a later addition.
Photo: Richard Leo Johnson/Historical Concepts
The jewelbox scale of this 1930s cottage is true to the restrained taste of the snowbirds who vacationed on the island at the time, says Terry Pylant of Historical Concepts. The chinoiserie-style porch was added later, a nod to the historic Jupiter Island Club, which opened in the "30s as a private social club.
Photo: Joe Fletcher Photography
Open pavilions, or lanais, like the two in this South Kohala Coast home, are typical of Pacific island architecture, notes architect Mark de Reu. (These spaces are called bale in Bali and sala in Thailand.) He added sinuous curves to the vernacular hipped roofs to connect the home to the swells of the ocean.
Photo: Scott Frances/Otto; design by Ferfuson/Shamamian Arcitecture
The Greek Revival–style home's entry porch, columns, and cornice trim reflect the formality of the Vineyard's grand down-island houses, according to architects Oscar Shamamian and Tom McManus of Ferguson & Shamamian Architects. The green trim and roofline recall the agrarian traditions of the up island.
Photo: Courtesy of Beau Clowney
While this 1860s cottage is typical of early summer retreats on Charleston's barrier islands, architect Beau Clowney notes it's also nearly identical in proportion to historic loyalist cottages in the Bahamas, with two main rooms facing the ocean, a deep porch with French doors, and a simple gable roof.
Photo: Thomas J. Story
Architect Steve Hoedemaker drew upon the area's old orchard buildings and miner's cabins (linked to the region's gold and silver mines) to inform the design of this two-and-a-half-story home. The milled cedar and fir plank siding is reminiscent of the sun-bleached plank siding of the early barn structures.