There is modern, contemporary, transitional, coastal, Key West, West Indies and Mediterranean. Then there is the lesser seen farmhouse, cottage, colonial, Cape Cod, craftsman, ranch, Tudor, split level, art deco, Victorian, log home, mid-century modern, Asian, pueblo, and more. So people building or buying a home have a lot to choose from. Back in the 1990s and early 2000’s it was simpler. Most people were selecting the Mediterranean look with its rounded arches and columns. But that’s fallen out of favor, and what’s replaced it, isn’t one style anymore, but a variety of styles with some common traits.
“The trend today is not the trend,” said Gary Aubuchon, owner of Aubuchon Homes. “There is not a predominant style today as it was in the mid 2000’s when virtually everything was Mediterranean.”
John Cooney, a partner with Stofft Cooney Architects in Naples, is one of the area’s best known architects. He’s seen trends come and go and has designed a wide variety of abodes.
“The tropical West Indies is very popular right now,” he began. “But it is almost on the later end of the trend now. We have a plethora of styles of architecture that people are asking for right now. What I am really excited about is I don’t think there is going to be a next (style). Everyone has been asking for different styles of architecture. Regardless of the style, people are asking for a little cleaner.”
Builder after builder said the same thing. No matter what style people request, they want cleaner lines and a lighter look.
“If there is a common thread, the common thread is that there are cleaner lines,” stressed Mike Hoyt, Senior Vice President The Lutgert Companies. “Even if it is old Florida or Key West or coastal, they are all a lot cleaner. They are lighter in color. That Tuscan look had a lot of busyness to it. The homes and condominiums now are just very simple lines and very elegant interiors and exteriors.”
“The homes we are building now have clean lines,” echoed Michael Diamond, president of Diamond Custom Homes. “There is not a lot of exterior detail. The stone is subtle. It’s lighter homes with darker windows. That is what I am seeing now. It is not so much Mediterranean verses, tropical verses, Bermuda. It is clean lines is that we are designing.”
Cooney is amazed that Mediterranean took off and lasted so long.
“I was kind of surprised about Mediterranean,” he began. “It is a very formal piece of architecture. People are looking for more casual sophisticated, more casual family living homes, kind of the modern day beach house. Those formal styles are not the perfect fit for the casual beach house.”
Now it is common to see homeowners of Mediterranean style houses having major renovations done to bring their homes into the 2020’s. So how does someone create a house that will stand the test of time?
“I don’t think you can go wrong with an old Florida style,” Cooney advised. “Classical Florida will never go out of style. Classical Key West, classical Bermuda will never go out of style. Its high end materials that will last the test of time. You stick to those rules, and you create timeless architecture.”
It’s also easier to renovate something with cleaner lines, Cooney explained.
“With the Mediterranean you have arches and turrets and heavy columns and so it is not easily transformed,” he said. “A timeless Bermuda or old Florida or West Indies, they have a lot of the same elements so if you wanted to take it a different route it is not a big ordeal.”
Builders all around Southwest Florida agree that the trends are either toward Old Florida and Key West or a more contemporary look.
“We are about split between modern contemporary and traditional,” said Tim Rose, building company president of Arthur Rutenberg/Lyons Homes. “The modern contemporary we find very exciting. It is the opposite of the Mediterranean that was heavy and detailed. The new designs are crisp.”
Diamond has seen the trends come in a circle.
“Thirty to 40 years ago, people’s idea of Florida was very Florida,” he began.
He pointed to the pastel colored beach houses that were common back then. Then it turned to the heavier Mediterranean style that stuck around for about 20 years. Now it’s back to a lighter Florida style.
Steve Watt, president of Gulfshore Homes, says he’s not building much Key West and coastal.
“Transitional – that’s the buzz word right now,” he described. “And the more edgy modern stuff, we are going to see more and more of it. Everybody who comes down here from up north wants the Florida lifestyle. They don’t want what they had in Cincinnati. They want to embrace what we have down here.”
There are some styles we just don’t see in Southwest Florida, such as Victorian or Colonial or Tudor. Hoyt says there is a reason for that.
“Some of those, the materials don’t lend themselves for here,” Hoyt explained. “Brick is not a locally available material. That would give you a reason for not seeing some of those. Another is the area has started with a certain style and it is hard to fit in with a new style. Also those home styles are very popular where those homes came from and people don’t want the house like they had up north.”
Aubuchon has seen some farmhouse and craftsman in the area, though he admits it is not that popular here. He’s says some people are still building Mediterranean, though not as ornamental as the style was a decade ago.
“Cleaner lines, simpler appointments are definitely predominant today,” Aubuchon stressed. “There are so many influences at play. Oftentimes what happens in other industries, boating and fashion influence both architecture and design. I see this simplifying of things staying with us for a while. What is fun about this current environment is people are not boxing themselves in. They are giving themselves freedom both architecturally outside, and what they are doing inside.”
- Contemporary – refers to the present, while modern refers to a time period that has already passed such as midcentury modern. Contemporary homes focus on clean lines and natural textures and tend to be energy efficient. The colors are more neutral with pops of color added in the interior.
- Modern – refers to design inspired by the historical art movement of modernism. It often focuses on open living spaces, clean, geometric lines and function.
- Key West – homes feature wrap around verandahs, seaside and pink shades. Metal roofs and open floor plans are also key elements.
- Cape Cod – originated in the 1700s in Massachusetts and were inspired by Britain’s thatched cottages, but built with steeper roofs and larger chimneys. Original Cape Cod homes were simply built with wood siding and shingle roofs. Today’s Cape Cod homes have more windows and space.
- Cottage – often described as cozy and charming, they usually feature wood siding of shingle siding, porches, and brighter exterior colors. Flowers are usually featured by the outside entry.
- Craftsman – focus on the value of handmade, well-constructed architecture, rather than the cookie cutter homes. Natural materials are emphasized. The homes feature hand-worked materials, exposed beams, low-pitched gable roofs and tapered columns on their porches.
- Mediterranean – features elements from Spanish and Italian villas. Arches, columns, and ornate details are typical. There is a big focus on indoor-outdoor living. Colors are warmer and often darker.
- Ranch – this style boomed in the 1950s. They are typically one story and feature low-pitched roofs, large windows, sliding glass doors, large backyards, open living spaces and attached garages. Ranch houses come in a variety of shapes from L or U shape to straight. There are also variations that include split-level.
- Tudor – this style was brought to the U.S. by European architects in the late 1800s, and gained popularity in the 1920s. Elements include stone masonry, timber framing, steep gable roofs, and classic leaded windows. They often have a storybook appearance.
- Victorian – These homes were popular from the 1830s through the early 1900s. The two or three story houses feature ornate elements, bay windows, small towers, porches, steep gable roofs and brightly colored exteriors.
- Colonial – have a simple, rectangular, symmetrical structure that dates back to the 1600s. These homes are usually two stories and have a grand entry and a focal point staircase. The style has a variety of influences from English, French, and Dutch, to Georgian, Spanish and American.