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When you think of San Francisco, you likely think of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the marvels of modern architecture, especially if you’re not from this area. However, the Golden Gate Bridge isn’t the only architectural wonder in this area. When you stop to appreciate the types of houses in San Francisco, you will immediately notice there are many more styles outside the standard highrises you might expect to see in major cities. Despite what many who live outside of our beautiful city might think, there’s no such thing as a “San Francisco style house”!
The architecture of the San Francisco Bay Area’s residential areas gives the city a look and feel all its own. Our team at The Moulding Company in Santa Clara, CA, has compiled some of the most famous architectural styles for homes in the area for inspiration to transform your home into the style of your dreams with our moulding options. Whether you love Italianate row houses, Spanish-influenced Monterey Revival homes, or extravagant Queen Anne designs, you’re sure to find homes aplenty in San Francisco to satisfy your architectural desires.
Are you fond of thinking of relaxing in an Italian villa with a glass of delicious red wine in your hand as you enjoy the heat of a bright summer day? Then you might be the right person for the San Fransisco style house, an Italianate.
Reaching back to the late half of the 19th century, the Italianate style was popular across the U.S. Though originally built as simple, unadorned boxes; this style featured narrow windows with rounded tops, false parapet roofs with decorative edging, and multi-story octagonal bay windows. This style of home was primarily built of wood in San Francisco, unlike the stone used for similar construction in the East.
Victorian Stick Houses
What does Queen Victoria have to do with architectural styles in San Fransisco, California? A lot. During Queen Victoria’s reign in England, there was a boom in transportation and manufacturing that meant builders had better and more access to higher quality materials. This home style became popular because people had more access to materials and could construct homes more quickly and with more ornate details. It wasn’t long before those things traveled to the US and took root here.
In San Francisco, Victorian stick houses grew in prevalence from the 1860s to 1880s, featuring thin wooden beams resembling sticks along the house’s facades. Stick houses can be relatively simple or feature more ornate decorations from trusses on the gables or other woodwork.
A Queen Anne home is a charming San Fransisco-style house to see with romantic profiles, gorgeously ornate moulding, and doorways built to entice you to enter. Queen Anne homes are elaborate like other types of houses in San Fransisco. Still, they take it a step above and are the ultimate in extravagant design, featuring an abundant array of bay windows, decorated roof lines, flashy trimming, turrets, and more. This style developed around 1880 and combined many different elements from various styles.
Queen Anne homes are the perfect inspirational pieces for a new look if you feel your current home looks blasé and could use more flair. Their elegant aesthetic fits in well with people with a flair to stand out.
Mission Revival style homes became popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the inspiration drawn from Spanish missions. People resisted industrialization and instead leaned into the romanticized period when Spanish missions were first built. These resisters crafted their homes in this nostalgic fashion to visually represent their dislike of industrialization.
Today, you will see these homes all over San Fransisco, including at the historic Presidio military base! Keep an eye out for the rounded bell gables and the red tile roofs these homes are known for as you explore this architecturally diverse city.
Although developed in California, the Monterey Revival home style was heavily influenced by Spanish colonial architecture with its adobe-style construction and red clay-tiled roofs. These homes are typically two stories tall and feature plastered exteriors and tiled or shingled roofs and shutters. These design elements all contribute to a classic Southwestern look.
Unfortunately, many of the older-style homes in San Fransisco were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. After the earthquake, Edwardian-style homes took up the mantle of one of the more popular styles. This style’s simplistic profiles, light colors, and less ornate moulding make for a more modern interpretation of a Victorian-style home. Today, Edwardian-style homes are still abundant across the city.
Designers came up with the Craftsman home design in resistance to the wave of manufactured homes in the area. The Craftsman movement feared that traditional trades would be lost to machines, which spurred the elevation of homebuilding to an artistic craft. These homes are simple yet beautifully crafted, often featuring low-pitched gable roofs, wide eaves, and handcrafted stone or woodworking. Moulding options on these homes are also simpler if present.
If you’ve seen enough of the previous styles but still hope to see another beautiful San Fransisco-style house, look out for a Tudor Revival. Inspired by the Renaissance buildings popularized during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, these homes are typically mansions. They are recognizable by the structure of their steeply pitched roofs and the timeless stonework. You will also notice some of these homes have extremely ornate trim and moulding, while others choose simpler mouldings but ornate decoration in unexpected places, like the brick chimneys.
This style quickly fell out of popularity during the start of WWII, when homebuilders began to favor less ornate home profiles and chose to stick to designs that were more “American,” like colonial-style homes.
Are you looking for the quintessential San Fransisco-style house? Travel to Silicon Valley, and you will find clusters of art deco homes, many of which have forgone the ornate mouldings of some of the other styles in favor of steel beams, glass walls, and chrome that highlight the love of modernity and technology. If geometry and neat, clean lines are more in line with your interests, you might find yourself particularly drawn to these homes.
This home architecture style developed in the Marina District in San Francisco, incorporating Mission Revival and deco elements. Marina houses are single-family homes that typically place the living room at the front of the house overlooking the street with bedrooms at the back of the house. The roofs of Marina-style homes are usually flat, and the back of the home typically features a sunroom with ample windows.
Want Your Home to Look More Like A San Fransisco Style House?
These popular home architectural styles and more are part of what gives the San Francisco Bay Area its unique character and appearance. Whether your home already fits one of these styles or is of a different era or design, The Moulding Company can help you take inspiration from these San Francisco-style houses to adapt your existing home for the design of your dreams with our moulding and trim options. Let us help you craft your dream home!