Georgian Style: The Case for Formality

A proper Georgian-style home stands the test of time. It is a formal style firmly rooted in tradition. Dating back to the founding of our country, I find it gives me both comfort and strength. There is order to Georgian homes that, even in today's demand for casual homes, quietly demands respect. 

This strong sense of order is a draw for some, giving them a sense of stability. Though it can vary, lovers of symmetry can find comfort in this style. In some parts of the country, the symmetrical two story version of this style is referred to as "Five, Four and a Door": Five windows across the second story, four windows and a centered door on the first.

Beyond the strength and endurance of the style, I love its black tie formality; men in tuxes and ladies in long, elegant gowns. It is prim and proper and a little decorous. To avoid this style getting too stuffy, I’m always looking for that finishing touch that completes the exterior like the necklace that completes the formal gown or cummerbund for a tuxedo. This could be a tastefully proportioned Palladian window or the half round window in the gable. Adding a double stacked porch brings a refreshing dimension to the style and gives a traditional home that outdoor living so often craved by buyers these days. Don’t forget to explore a variety of handrail patterns!

While the style can be executed in a variety of building materials including stucco and siding, brick comes to mind for most people. I think the use of brick reinforces the sense of longevity and stability. The color of the brick can dramatically change the feeling of the style. Red brick signals ultra-traditional while brown or white brick suggests a modern adaptation of the style. To capture the same feeling without brick, use deep saturated colors that mimic its density.

Windows play a dominant role here because of their placement, proportion and style. They are typically evenly spaced and line up from one floor to another. The proportion should be two to one – the height is double the width. The mullion grid pattern is 6 over 6 or 9 over 9. Trimming the windows with key stones in the headers and shutters on either side further enhances the role of the windows. 

Since this style is comfortable in many materials, it can be found throughout the country. Its enduring characteristics and sense of order brings comfort to many. But more important is the sense of accomplishment this style brings, giving the occupants an outward expression of “I’ve made it.” And that’s a really good thing that shouldn’t be ignored. Our houses should not only bring us comfort but also a sense of pride.