House Styles of New England

What is a Log House Style?

What is a Log House Style?

Log homes are very rare in the Metrowest Boston area.

Contrary to what TV reenactments lead us to think, there was not enough time for the early settlers to build log homes before the harsh weather of winter settled in, so they lived in wigwams, crude huts and pits covered with boards.


The log homes of today, with what are called “saddle-notches” and layers of whole logs laid horizontally & chinked with “wattle”, were brought to the east coast by way of the Chesapeake bay settlements of Germans and Scandinavians in the mid 1600’s.

Because the first-growth forests in New England tended to be huge and irregular, unlike the young, identically sized, straight-as-an-arrow Lodge pole pines and Douglas firs of the south and west, our early builders tended toward board and batten construction for permanent dwellings and log homes were only built as temporary dwellings on the frontier, crumbling over time.

Modern log homes can be extremely well-built and create a wonderful, rustic sense of place within and around them.

When a log home in the Metrowest area goes up for sale, and this is not often, it has historically generated good return for the seller but taken a very long time to sell.

pinterest-sqFor some great examples of Log Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link
What is a Saltbox Colonial House Style?

What is a Saltbox Colonial House Style?

A variation of early Colonial or Cape Cod style houses, the practical and simple saltbox was often a single room deep.

Given that often a dozen or more people crowded into these early homes, colonists soon began looking for practical ways to expand living space. Adding a single-story lean-to shed to the back of a 1.5 or 2 story & one-room deep house was the most practical method of gaining more space.

The resulting shape of this new house was the shape of a wooden box used to store salt in Colonial times, that’s why we call them saltboxes.

In most saltboxes the lean-to addition was divided into three rooms: a central kitchen with its new fireplace and oven; a “birthing” or “borning” room – reserved for childbirth and the sick; and a pantry.

Sometimes a rear stair, located near the pantry, led up to a low-ceilinged storage space. The prominent center chimney or a pair of end chimneys also defines this style.

By the late 1600’s (1680 saw a lot of these built), the saltbox had become so popular that houses were being built with the lean-to as part of the original construction, with the roofline unbroken from the ridge to the rear wall.

The saltbox grew from the early stone ender to a comfortable three-bedroom house over a period of about thirty years as families grew in size and became wealthier.

Saltboxes are still being built (although their sloping roofline limits upstairs space) and buyers and sellers agree that this is one of the most practical home styles in all of New England.

Because of this, these homes sell quickly and at solid market prices and are considered a great investment.


For some great examples of Saltbox Colonial Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link
What is a Split-Level House Style?

What is a Split-Level House Style?

Split-Level houses were made popular in the 60’s and many are still built today. They are the one house style that most people associate with “Grandma’s House”. Depending on the ingenuity of the builder and the owners, splits are among the least expensive house styles that you can find in any town.

Realtors often confuse them with multi-level houses and raised ranches, but there should be no confusion, as there really is a distinct style that really determines a split. Here it is: If you have to go up a half-flight of exterior stairs and then once inside you are on a landing from which you have to decide to go up or down another half-flight of stairs, you’re in a split-level.

One car garages are often located beneath the sleeping spaces and depending on the size of the footprint two car garages are a nice upgraded feature.

The floor plans are universal, up a half-level you will find the kitchen, dining and living rooms to one side of the staircase and the bedrooms to the other side. Down a half-level you will find a family room, office, laundry, mechanical and storage, and garage.

Splits were originally built as inexpensive homes which maximized usable living space while minimizing foundation and roof costs. Because of this, the basements are usually very shallow, allowing the use of short windows above ground that introduced air flow and sunlight. And either a cause or an effect, they are often found in areas with high water tables and areas with bedrock close to the surface.

As a sweeping generality, in my initial meeting with buyers, split-levels are the one home style that most will eliminate from consideration.  And yet hundreds of them are sold each year due to their economical carrying costs, generally low prices, and great use of space.

For some great examples of Split-Level Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link

%d bloggers like this: