Monthly Archives: November 2013

What is a Multi-Level House Style?

What is a Multi-Level House Style?

The multi level (sometimes called a bi-level) is a wonderful, deliberate house style that modern architects created to group similar living activities, such as sleeping or entertaining, separating the quiet activities from the more boisterous ones.

Legend has it that there were lots of unemployed Architects during the Great Depression and the Works Progress Administration hired loads of them to design a truly “American” style of home and this is what they came up with.

There are generally three or more levels in multi’s and looking at the front of a a typical specimen, it looks to have a line drawn down the middle with a one  story home on one side attached to a two story home on the other. You always enter a multi on the entertaining level and once inside if you travel half-way into the depth of the home you will find a set of integrated up an down stairways (usually containing 6 stairs) that take you half a level up or down to the rest of the house. The lowest level(s) of these homes are devoted to a garage, mechanical, laundry and family rooms; the middle level, which is usually part of the one story section, supports quieter activities and usually contains the kitchen, living and dining rooms; and the topmost level(s), usually in the two story section, support the quietest activities and contain the bedrooms, offices or studies.

In Metrowest, multi level homes generally sell very well. Many have updated kitchens and baths and they are usually sited on mid-sized to larger parcels of land in mature, established neighborhoods. In my opinion there is no good looking/functional way to expand a multi, and I find that most people, when they need more space just sell and move-up to a different house style.  Because of that, multi’s  make good first houses for small families and are usually found in abundance in the entry-level price points for their respective towns/locations.


For some great examples of Multi-Level 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 Victorian House Style?

What is a Victorian House Style?

Victorian style developed and was quite popular from the end of the civil war to the early 1920’s. These homes are usually grand in scale, and most commonly two or more stories high with steep roof pitches, turrets and dormers. Porches are often large with turned posts and decorative railings. Decorative gable trim, corbels, and a variation of exterior finishes with multiple coordinated colors make them one of the most enjoyed house styles of all times.


In New England, as most everywhere in the country, there are really two distinct types of Victorians – Queen Anne and Second Empire.

Queen Anne is a completely playful style, who’s distinguishing features are: bold paint color combinations, curved towers and porches, protruding bay windows, asymmetrical facades with bays, towers, overhangs, wall projections and a variety of textures, steeply pitched roofs, vertical windows, embellished porches on multiple levels, and multiple chimneys with elaborate gingerbread woodwork and decorative brickwork.

Second Empire (adapted from French architecture and named for the reign of Napoleon III)is a more stately style, who’s distinguishing features are: big and boxy forms with straight or flared mansard roofs tiled with slate in “fish-scale” patterns, symmetrical facades, and heavy ornamentation such as gingerbread trim. As a side note, if you’ve ever been to Disneyland, “Main Street” is a typical 1800’s small town done in this style.


Because of the Victorian style’s timeless appeal, many people seek these types of homes in good condition for restoration and many can be found on the historical register.

Also because of their huge size and large maintenance bills, many have been carved-up into delightful condominiums which command premium prices and seldom last long on the market.


For some great examples of Queen Anne Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link


For some great examples of Second Empire Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link


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