The Difference between Shingle and Classical Home Styles

Posted February 20, 2019 | Tags: Shingle and Classical Home Styles

Do you know the difference between shingle and classical residential styles? Are shingles and classical synonyms or entirely different styles?  Stumped? That’s alright; most people are.  But, we know the difference and are happy to walk you through two of the trendiest housing styles in the United States.

Here’s the basis description of each:

A shingle style home takes a completely different approach with interesting rooflines, asymmetric floor plans, and intricate shapes.

A classical style home is often characterized by side-gabled roofs, balanced windows, symmetrical floor plans, and a grand entryway. 

Shingle Style Home  

One of the first uniquely American home styles, the shingle, was developed in New England in the late 19th century from 1880 to 1900. Although it massively borrowed designs from other Victorian styles that were popular at the time, it is distinctly American rooted. Cedar shingles, wide porches, and an asymmetrical layout were inspired by Queen Anne, while gambrel roofs, stone pillars, and Palladian windows were inspired by Richardson Romanesque style homes.

All these unique architectural features blended harmoniously to create a new style that is not only exceptional, but also tasteful. Most shingle style homes are massive and emphasize the horizontal.

They have ample windows, huge balconies and enclosed porches creating a strong indoor-outdoor connection. This is the main reason why shingle style is popular in seaside resorts.

There's also a lot of freedom in design. with unexpected rooflines, asymmetric floor plans, intricate shapes as well as architectural curves that make this style so unique.  

Even though it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact features of shingle style homes, here are a few characteristics that make recognizing them easy:  

  • Unlike most Victorian-era styles, the shingle has very little decoration. The numerous detailing that was popular with most Victorian-style homes has been replaced with plain cedar shingles that are left to age beautifully or painted to add a little pop of color.  
  • Natural materials like stone, brick, and wood are used for the exterior. The walls, as well as the roof, are covered in wood shingles while the more expensive homes have stone pillars and foundation that extends to all the floors.  
  • The interior is massive with vaulted ceilings and numerous windows to let in plenty of natural light   
  • Palladian windows, gambrel roofs, complex roof shapes, and towers are all classic features of the shingle style  
Classical Style Home  

The classical house style, also known as the neoclassical, arose in the 1950s. Instead of imitating other colonial English styles at the time, the classical home style sought inspiration from the ancient architecture of Rome and Greece.   

A typical classical home is a two-story building (sometimes bordered by one story wings) with a signature entryway. Most times, this grand entryway features a wide porch with tall columns supported by pediments.   

Sometimes, the entrance may feature a two-story portico supported by as many as 6 to 8 massive columns, stretching the height of the home. They are often white and made of steel, iron or concrete. Most columns are cylindrical-shaped, but some styles are known to have square-shaped columns.    

The house plan of a classical style is proportional and symmetrical. The front door, a part of the grand entrance, is usually at the center of the building, with a balanced number of windows on either side.

The roofing structures are mostly side-gabled, with the top peaking into a triangular shape, and features a window at the center.  

Decorative pieces are very common in the classical style. Accessories like columns, doorknobs and porch lights are never plain, and are often adorned with period-appropriate designs. Balustrades and other unique, intricate details are also familiar with this style.  

Difference Summary

As you can see, there are numerous differences between shingle and classical home styles:   
  • The shingle style has plain and simple decoration, the classical style opts for elaborate decorative pieces with accessories like doorknobs, columns, and porches being adorned with appropriate designs.   
  • The shingle style uses natural materials such as stone and brick, the classical style uses industrially produced materials such as iron, steel, and concrete.   
  • The floor plan of a shingle style is asymmetrical with numerous stories, but the floor plan of classical home style is proportional and symmetrical and mostly features two stories.   
  • The design of shingle styles is dramatic with unexpected rooflines and intricate shapes, and the residential design of classical home style is plain with side-gabled roofing structures usually peaking into a triangular shape on the sides.  

At Bill Whitaker Registered Architect (BWA), we are focused on staying true to both shingle and classical residential home styles while adding modern amenities and features to make living more enjoyable.

With over 15 years of experience in residential architecture, we bring to the table expert skills to help you create the home style you need for you and your loved ones.


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We are a small Design-Centered Practice Studio that promotes cost effective Green Building technologies.
We provide a wide range of services, and no job is too big or too small for our experience. With over 15 years of commercial experience, we can design a wide variety of architectural styles that can fit most needs or tastes.