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European Style Design Elements

European House Plan #1178 - The Carrera

Design Elements of the European Style

“European Style" is a very broad term encompassing many strong style influences and overlapping design styles, such as Tuscan, Italian, Spanish, English and French. Each country's architecture has diversity within its regional style, and was greatly influenced by travel across these varied regions.

Old World Architecture of the Wedgewood, House Plan #806



Old World architecture found its way to the US and Canada, including design influences from Tuscan villas, English Tudor manors, eclectic Mediterranean homes, and French Country chateaux. The resulting mix of styles, character and variety is wide ranging, offering classic European exterior appearances and interior influences. Sizes can range from small cottages to lavish estates.



Tudor Style elements from the Marcourt - House Plan 1173






While some of the contributing styles, such as Tudor, have faded in popularity partly due to expense of maintenance, elements of the styles remain, such as half-timber components incorporated into other design styles.










7 Exterior Elements that define the European Style House

  1. 1 - Natural exterior materials used were stone, brick and stucco, and most often a combination of two of the materials.
  2. 2 - After initial simple and symmetrical hip roof forms, more elaborate roof forms eventually developed. Roofs grew steeper, concealing upper levels within the structure.
  3. 3 - Roof materials were most often clay tile or slate. Copper and zinc were utilized on curved vertical faces and radiused roof forms- dormers and decorative vents.
  4. 4 - Exteriors frequently clad with stone and brick used together with brick accent details. Stucco tends to be lighter colors with a patina, mottled finish to create the old, aged look.
  5. 5 - Elaborate exterior detailing.
  6. 6 - Garages if present, attached or detached were often found to the front of the house with very ample paved or washed stone surface of a courtyard entrance.
  7. 7 - The house foundation generally repeated the materials used on the exterior wall of stucco, stone and brick. A rusticated base, sometimes contrasting in texture to walls above appears on some larger estate-sized structures.


The European facade from the Champlain, Home Plan 1284



The European façade is full of refined Old-World elements. Stone, brick and stucco were common cladding materials with some timber and half-timber elements surfacing. The combination of two or all three of these materials was common, one of which typically used as an accent detail material. Stucco colors tended to be light, often pastel and with washed or faded patina appearance. If a porch was utilized, it was typically lower sloped with timber columns and simple bracket details.





European Roof Elements from the Foxglove - Plan 1297



The basic forms of the houses were initially simple, often symmetrical with moderately steep to very steep roofs. These were generally hip roofs with dormers breaking through the fascia into the roofline. Eventually, gables were utilized creating a more complex and interesting structure. Upper levels are often concealed with the steep roof and expressed with dormers and similar elements.


Front porch from the Heatherstone - Plan 5016







The large and visually heavy front door, recessed within a small but intricate detailed portico was the first welcoming element greeting one as the entrance to a comfortable, warm and cozy home. Iron railings often accentuated the top of the portico and were used to create juliette balconies at doors and windows on an upper level.




Stone chimney from the Hollowcrest - House Plan 5019







Chimneys are often intricately detailed with a unique chimney pot or cap. Stained or painted wood doors, many times with arched top and a strong darker stain or complimentary color. Color contrasting plank shutters flank the larger windows, with washed or faded paint appearance.





Stone exterior of garage door on Sylvan - House Plan #1321


Vintage-look garage doors with hinge and handle accent elements, vertical tongue-and-groove panels, but with glass rarely utilized. Diagonal braces were arranged across the lower panels. Darker complementary colors were used including browns, greens and grays. Often a weathered look was desirable. Similar articulated detail was found around most window and door openings.








7 Interior Elements that define the European Style House

  1. 1 - Simple lines and open interiors make the most of limited square footage.
  2. 2 - At the foyer entry, an open staircase to the upper level.
  3. 3 - Wide plank wood flooring or ceramic or clay tile, distressed or aged for character.
  4. 4 - Textured walls with a washed and faded look for old world character.
  5. 5 - Ceiling finishes ranged from plaster/gypsum board to wood board and t&g material with wood beams integrated with brackets. These were stained or painted to look like old or reclaimed material.
  6. 6 - Creative eclectic cabinetry, some open shelving and built-in pieces such as window seats.
  7. 7 - Eclectic accent elements reflecting old world character.


Decorative Ceiling from the Spotswood - House Plan #1310




European house interiors tend to be cozy, comfortable and inviting, with lighter creamy white or faded pastel colors walls, often with beams and wood ceiling details.







Foyer from the Wedgewood - Home Plan #806





Open spaces visually connect the home together with generous arched openings flowing one into another. Much taller ceiling heights and wide arched cased openings indicated transition into other spaces. Wood beams and columns reflect these transitions as well. Dining was often adjacent to, or integrated into kitchen with no wall between.

Spiral staircase from the Heatherstone - House Plan #5016








If there is a staircase, it is often grand in style.






Dining area with wood dome ceiling from Heatherstone - House Plan 5016







Reclaimed, distressed and manufactured hand scraped wide plank flooring are used as an “old world" character material. Eclectic wood doors, reclaimed or aged ceiling beams, and special painted finish on aged wood ceilings add to the special warmth created in these homes.





Master bathroom shower from the Foxglove - Home Plan #1297








Wide use of tile in the kitchen, mudroom and bath areas are found, with patterned tile backsplash and stone or marble counter tops. Beautiful accent tile was often found in these spaces as well.







Kitchen Island from the Hollowcrest - House Plan #5019




Cabinetry is typically very detailed and unique, with ornate legs and brackets. Ornate cabinet doors, hardware and finishes including rub through and aged finish looks. Crafted natural marble and stone tops and woodwork are common, with creative workmanship in details and finishes.



Stone fireplace from house plan 1191 - The Genova






Cast stone, aged finishes are found around window and door openings along with more ornate wood window and door trim, with stained or painted eclectic doors to complement the old world character. Fireplaces blended with the room finishes and were detailed with ornate mantles and surrounds. Tile and slate were found adjacent to the surrounds and fireplace opening. Ornate stone or cast columns or stained timber columns are used, along with stone, old character brick.





Great room from house plan 5019 - The Hollowcrest







Large comfortable deep patterned upholstered furniture is typical, with carved wood detail along edges, legs and arms. Fabrics tended to be in floral plaids and striped patterns, and decorative wallpaper may be matched by curtains providing a more refined in appearance. Fancy, unique antique and period reproduction hardware, vintage accessories and period lighting reflected the more ornate, character look desired.




Here are some links to manufacturers of stucco, stone and brick products, wood flooring and ceiling materials, tile and resilient flooring, wood interior and exterior wall and trim products, paint and stain products, windows, doors, roofing materials, period lighting and hardware, cabinets, plumbing fixtures and sinks and other materials you might want to consider for your European Style Home.

Certainteed Timberlaine Monarch Custom Doors
Certainteed roofing products for home designs Timberlaine products for House Plans Monarch Custom European Style Doors


Walpole Outdoors Kraftmaid Kichler
Walpole fencef and gates for home designs Craftmaid kitchen cabinetry for European house plans Kichler fixtures for European house plans

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