With the hustle and bustle of modern life, and the overwhelming and constant distractions offered by technology, one’s home often needs to take on the role of sanctuary, an escape from the madding crowd, a peaceful refuge. And how better to do that than by building or renovating your home in a style that immediately transports you back to a time when the non-stop lights and noise of electronics didn’t exist, and one’s home was, quite literally, one’s castle.
North America has an ongoing love affair with all things medieval-inspired. Renaissance faires about, where ordinary, everyday people can dress up in their best velvet and chain mail and, for a few hours, step back in time to an era when blacksmiths were the providers of all things hardware, and entertainment was physical, rather than hidden behind a screen.
But this relationship goes back a lot further than the last few decades. Since the nineteenth century, folks in Canada and the US have embraced what is generally known as Tudor Style architecture and interior design. While it can more accurately be called Tudor Revival or Mock Tudor, thanks to its use of considerably more modern methods and materials than would have been used in the actual Middle Ages. Nonetheless, the look remains as faithful to the original as possible, while making it accessible to just about anyone thought the clever use of materials like half-timber and manufactured stone veneers and cladding.
RECOGNIZING TUDOR STYLE
Tudor, or Tudor Revival, Style architecture is a particularly distinctive, easily recognizable look, even though it can come in a variety of different specifics. In a nutshell, if it looks like something that belongs in a movie involving people in period costume, it’s probably a Mock Tudor house. There are a few specific elements, however, that you can use to identify one if you aren’t quite certain.
The roof: Roofs will be steeply pitched and will have multiple gables. These gables will be both front and side, and will not be perfectly symmetrical – asymmetry being another identifier. These types of roofs are ideally suited to areas that experience high levels of precipitation, whether rain or snow, which is another reason why they were, and remain, popular in the northern United States and throughout Canada. Roofs are frequently shingled with slate.
Siding and decorative detail: While real, traditional Tudor homes built in medieval England would have been built from hewn stone and heavy wooden beams, Tudor Revival style perfectly marries modern building techniques and materials with the look of Tudor. That means using half-timber framing and stucco cladding that mimics the look of timbers used in construction, and manufactured stone cladding to emulate those solid stone foundations and bottom storeys. Tudor Revival homes are typically two storeys, with the lower and upper storeys using different materials to clad the wall for a real, traditional look – in mist cases, the ground floor will be stone-clad, with the second floor stuccoed and embellished with the half-timber trim. Exterior chimneys, constructed of brick and either left bare or again veneered in stone, topped off with elaborate chimney pots, add that final magical detail to the house.
Windows and doors: Grouped, leaded-glass casement windows with decorative framing, and elaborately decorated doors and door frames are another feature of the Mock Tudor Style home. Door frames will often include stone cladding designed to resemble heavy, large stone blocks, topped by a keystone, while windows will feature refined wooden or stone lintels. Doorways may be rectilinear, but are often arched or with rounded corners, adding to the old-world charm. Bay windows also feature heavily in the Tudor Style home, frequently capped by a steeply pitched gable, while upper storeys regularly feature dormers.
Indoor architecture: Inside the home, the Tudor look is continued with the help of exposed ceiling beans, arched or rounded-cornered doorways and high, triangular ceilings, thanks to the pitch of the roof. Walls are either plastered or paneled with wood paneling, or a combination of both, and in rooms that feature a straight ceiling, the cornices can be elaborate and a decorative feature all their own. Floors are well-looked-after wood, or tiled with slate, while windows nestle in deep frames that offer their own stone ledges that can serve as a handy surface for window decorations. The heart of the Tudor Revival home is surely the fireplace, with its elaborate and jutting marble or stone mantelpiece and deep stone apron, featuring wrought iron tools for stoking the fire.
Decor: There is a current trend towards modernizing Mock Tudor homes, by painting the interior wood and stone, lightening it up and adding lighter and more modern furniture, while retaining the textures of the Tudor home. If, however, you prefer to immerse yourself in the full Tudor experience, consider heavy wooden furnishings upholstered in either single-colour fabrics or beautifully embroidered patterns – Damask being a favourite. While no modern home will be complete without some electrical gadgets, the idea is to keep them to a minimum, or find a way of incorporating them within the old-school interior design so that they don’t clash, but rather complement.
TUDOR HOMES IN CANADA
Tudor Revival proved to be a very popular style in Canada, right from the start, and in recent years, there has been a considerable growth in interest in this simple, yet attractive style that gives the homeowner a plethora of materials and finer details to choose from, to make this style personal and unique. Because it is a style that can be adapted to just about any size home, from cottages to castles, and can be as elaborate or rustic as you choose, examples of this style can be found in all manner of neighbourhoods in Canada.
BUILDING OR RENOVATING YOUR TUDOR HOME
If you’re building a Tudor Style home from scratch, be sure to select your elements with care. From the manufactured stone cladding for the outdoor walls, chimney stack and indoor fireplace, to the half-timber framing and exposed beams, choose elements that complement one another and the size of the home you are building. For maximum authenticity, it’s best to choose shades of brown to white, rather than greys – although it always comes down to a matter of personal choice.
For those wanting to turn their existing home into a Tudor Style home, it can be as simple as cladding the exterior in the right combination of stone, half-timber and stucco, and replacing the roof tiles with slate. Thanks to the prevalence of convenient veneers and manufactured stone, this can, in fact, be one of the easiest styles to adapt your current home to.
Remember that modern building materials and techniques are your friend when building or renovating a Tudor Revival Style home. This uniquely North American style was designed to take advantage of lighter, more efficient materials like half-timber and manufactured stone, while emulating the look of traditional Tudor, rather than faithfully replicating it.