The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural online online sale Details from 1485 to the Present outlet online sale

The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural online online sale Details from 1485 to the Present outlet online sale

The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural online online sale Details from 1485 to the Present outlet online sale
The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural online online sale Details from 1485 to the Present outlet online sale__below
The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural online online sale Details from 1485 to the Present outlet online sale__right


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The Elements of Style is the most comprehensive visual survey, period by period, feature by feature, of the styles that have had the greatest impact on interiors of American and British domestic architecture. Unsurpassed in its range of illustrations, this magnificent volume covers more than 500 years of architectural styles from Tudor to Post-Modern and includes a wealth of American and British vernacular styles. Everyone from owners of period houses, restorers, and architects to interior designers, do it-yourself homeowners, and all those interested in our building heritage will find this reference indispensable.

More than 3,000 analytical drawings and historic engravings are included in this updated edition as well as 400 photographs in color and over 1,000 in black and white. These extraordinary images provide a systematic guide to the features appropriate for every part of a building, from the major components such as doors, windows, walls, floors, ceilings, and staircases to the small but important embellishments such as moldings and door hardware.

At the heart of the book is a chronological treatment of the primary styles and periods of architectural design during the past 500 years. Each chapter begins with an illustrated essay, then looks in turn at individual features, from doors and windows to ironwork and woodwork. The usefulness of this book is further enriched by the inclusion of permanent or semipermanent fixtures such as lighting, kitchen stoves, and floor and wall coverings, as well as strictly architectural details.

A useful system of quick reference, employing color-coded tabs keyed to each feature, enables the reader to trace how particular features evolved over time. And at the back of the book, separate chapters dealing with vernacular architecture are followed by a glossary and a fully updated directory of suppliers of authentic materials as well as period and reproduction features. For this new edition, a biographical directory of architects and architectural practices has been added.

Compiled by a team of experts headed by Stephen Calloway and Elizabeth Cromley, The Elements of Style is the first book on architectural styles that is comprehensive, incredibly thorough, and accessible in its presentation of individual details. Equally invaluable for authentic period restoration or simply for saying to your contractor, "I want one like that" -- this definitive resource presents literally thousands of details.


Colonial Homes Magazine A brilliantly rendered compendium that has no peer in the field of traditional design. -- Review

About the Author

Stephen Calloway, general editor and contributor of the Early Georgian and Regency period chapters, is a former curator of paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He is a full-time writer, lecturer, and consultant on architecture, interior design, and the history of taste. His books include Twentieth Century Decoration and Baroque Baroque, and he writes regularly for a number of periodicals including The World of Interiors, House and Garden, and Elle Decoration.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1



The Tudor and Jacobean periods can be seen as a turning point in British domestic architecture. Fashionable building gradually moved away from the styles and tastes of medieval building toward more sophisticated structures with classicized decoration.

After the Wars of the Roses (1455-85), the accession of the Tudor dynasty ushered in an era of strong rule, political stability and prosperity, and a new age of building and rebuilding. It was not only the first two Tudor monarchs, Henry VII and Henry VIII, who were prolific builders, but also their subjects. The wealthy and the less wealthy rebuilt, re-modelled or extended their houses. Timber-framed buildings were reconstructed or rebuilt in stone or brick; there was a rise in both the quality and quantity of new dwellings.

The construction of more durable houses has led to a greater survival rate, and the large number of houses built has created a greater stock of examples from which to make generalizations. With the dawning of the 16th century it becomes possible for the first time to write the history of the English interior with any accuracy. This great advance is tempered by the fact that subsequently there have been four to five hundred years in which alterations can be and have been made. Important original elements such as floor and wall decorations were changed according to fashion. In an 18th or 19th century house original walls, ceilings and floors can often be found, whereas in 16th- and 17th-century houses they are far rarer. An additional complication is that some elements of the English interior scarcely change between the 17th and the 19th centuries. It is often impossible, for example, to date ironwork accurately, as practical designs, once they had evolved, endured for hundreds of years.

Where original elements from the period survive unaltered, this is due either to their exceptional quality or to some freak of building history. Original floors are sometimes revealed in areas where new floorboards have been laid over old ones. Wall decoration can be found under later panelling, hangings or paint layers. Thus, our view of the early domestic interior is coloured by the patchy evidence which has been left to us.

Certain overall developments during the period help us to unravel the appearance of the Tudor and Jacobean interior. Houses became markedly more comfortable than their medieval forebears. The central hearth, which had been the sole means of heating a room in a medieval house, had been replaced by the wall fireplace in almost all sizes of dwelling by the end of the period. In terms of construction and interior decoration, this change was radical. The abandonment of the central hearth removed the need for single-story houses with holes in the roof; floors were introduced above the entrance level, and as ceilings were no longer obscured or damaged by smoke they could now be decorated. Perhaps more importantly, the wall fireplace became a focus for decorative treatment. From the Tudor period right through to the mid-20th century the fireplace was a dominant element in the style of a room.

Another development which was to have a major impact on the form of the interior was the increasing availability of glass. By the end of the period glass was not only typical in larger houses but had become common in smaller houses too. This affected the size, number and design of windows. Moreover, bigger windows and those without shutters admitted more light and provided the incentive for carved or painted decoration inside the room.

A more fundamental development was the increasing specialization of room functions within a house. In the Middle Ages even the King would live in one big room, where he would eat, sleep and conduct affairs of state. From the beginning of the 16th century, first the royal palaces, then courtier houses and finally gentry houses developed a series of specialized rooms. Separate withdrawing rooms, dining rooms, parlours, bedrooms, closets and even libraries and studies became commonplace. Each of these rooms had its own functional requirements and sometimes a code of decoration. Fabric hangings, for example, were considered inappropriate for rooms in which people ate, as they tended to retain the smell of food: plaster was thought to be more suitable.

A further factor which affected the style of the interior was regional variation. Building materials are on the whole heavy and bulky items which were expensive to transport in an era before the creation of an efficient road or rail network. Thus the style and form of houses varied widely accross the country. The three principal building materials were timber, brick and stone. All-timber buildings were found only in areas without supplies of local stone or brick-earth, such as the West Midlands. Stone was almost universal in the great limestone belt which stretches across England from Bath to Lincoln and it was the standard building material throughout Scotland and Wales. The Thames valley and East Anglia produced suitable brick-earth. Different building materials were reflected in different architectural effects. Although some forms, especially window and door styles, could be reproduced in brick, stone or timber, other elements of decoration were greatly affected by the material in which they were executed. Stone houses, for example, tended to have less decoration than timber ones, as stone was more difficult and expensive to carve. Areas of good building stone such as the Cotswolds or Northamptonshire tend to have houses with more sober decoration than, for example, the highly decorated timber-framed houses of Lancashire or Cheshire. Brick was increasingly used in areas without good stone. It varied as much as stone in quality and colour: much depended on the nature of the clay from which it was made and on the manufacturer. Brick had its own limitations and advantages: it could be carved (rubbed) but more often the individual bricks were laid in patterns, which took local forms.

Another variable in terms of style was the location of the building, whether in a town or in the countryside. Rapid increases in population made for a period of urban expansion -- so rapid that in 1580 a royal proclamation forbade new building within three miles of the gates of the city of London. The early Stuarts, James I and Charles I, placed further restrictions on building in London. This meant that houses built in the centre of the capital (and other towns followed suit) were generally tall and narrow and had external decoration, such as carved timbers and pargeting, concentrated on their cramped facades. In the countryside, where land was less expensive, buildings could sprawl outward and facade decoration could afford to be looser.

Through most of the period the principal foreign influences were from the Low Countries and Germany, but as the 16th century wore on the influence of Italy began to make itself felt, rarely directly from the Italian peninsula but more often through the medium of northern European countries. This process led to the gradual adoption of classical motifs and the classical Orders -- that is, the systems of ornament, derived from ancient Greece and Rome, based on the Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite styles of columns and entablatures. The desire of clients for these novelties was probably less strong than the enthusiasm of the craftsmen who sold the designs. From c.1560 a stream of books and engravings began to come to England from Antwerp, widening the craftsmen''s decorative vocabulary. When the Duke of Alva began to persecute Protestants in the Netherlands in the late 1560s, the flow of printed matter was augmented by the craftsmen and artists themselves who fled to England to escape the dangers.

One of the most important decorative imports from Antwerp in this period was strapwork, a dominant form of interior decoration on ceilings, fireplaces and woodwork. Many of the newest decorative fashions, including strapwork, were first adopted at Court or in court circles, but the speed at which ideas diffused down the social scale was remarkable. This inevitably led to the misunderstanding of decorative motifs by lesser craftsmen.

The imagination of local craftsmen played a central part in the style of domestic buildings. Certain features were universal -- the shapes of door and window heads, the overall configuration of a fireplace, the creeping influence of the Italian Renaissance -- but the final product was infinitely varied. With the additional complication of regional variations in materials, the period 1485-1625 seems to be one of considerable stylistic freedom. This is especially apparent when the period is compared with the age of Baroque, which saw the introduction of the rules of classical architecture, as well as the beginnings of mass production.


The dimensions and position of a doorway were dictated by the practical requirements of access and construction. Whether of wood, stone or brick, Tudor door heads tended to be flat or four-centred (that is, in the form of a shallow arch that rises to a central point). Four-centred heads sometimes had carved spandrels. The jambs often had stopped, chamfered mouldings, to protect and decorate the frame. Hoodmoulds or projecting cornices are common over front doors and, during the 16th century, porches became popular.

Internal doorways, protected from the weather, are often more elaborate than external doorways. Their decorative development is similar to that of the fire-place. Classical details such as pillars and cornices appeared c.1550, but the late medieval style remained dominant throughout the period.

External doors were made from planks up to 26 inches (65cm) wide and were usually oak. The planks were either fastened by horizontal battens on the reverse or by a second set of planks, laid at right angles to the first (a double-boarded or cross-boarded door). The heads of nails were sometimes left exposed to give a decorative finish. Ordinary internal doors were usually battened. Grander doors were often lighter, comprising a framework with an infill of wooden panels. Door fittings were basic, except in the grandest houses.


The simplest windows in this period comprise unglazed square openings, divided by a series of wooden or stone mullions (vertical posts). Most had internal shutters. The mullioned window was standard in the early part of the period; by the late 16th century mullioned and transomed windows were more common: that is, windows with upright posts and horizontal bars. This rule applies across the whole spectrum of building. However, window heads underwent changes during the period. Grand houses from the beginning of the century had foiled tracery window heads but for much of the 16th century the four-centred arch was standard for all but the poorest houses. By the end of the century square heads were the norm. Stone or brick hoodmoulds were common throughout the period.

The grandest buildings always had glazed windows, but glazing only became standard in larger farmhouses and town houses from the late 16th century onward. Smaller houses had to wait until the late 17th century. Glass was generally very thin and rather grey and was cut from blown disks (crown glass). During the 16th century the individual panes (quarries) were arranged diagonally; during the 17th century larger panes were made and arranged in rectangles. If windows opened, and not all did, it was by means of iron or wooden casements, hinged to the masonry mullions.


The most common interior wall surface in this period was flat plasterwork, laid on brick, stone or a skeleton of oak or chestnut laths, and painted with limewash (whitewash).

In more elaborate buildings timber panelling was applied to a brick or stone wall as a decorative cladding or to stud work (the timber framework of a house) to form a wall in itself. When applied to existing walls the panelling could be full height or to frieze or dado level. Dado panelling was usually surmounted by wall hangings (tapestry or painted cloth), or occasionally painted decoration in imitation of fabrics or panelling. Wallpaper was rare in this period. Frieze-height panelling (wainscot) was sometimes surmounted by a painted or plaster frieze.

Panelling comprises thin boards let into grooves in solid timber uprights and cross members. The boards were generally of oak, measuring no more than 24 inches (60cm) square and split as thin as possible. Carved decoration was popular; early in the 16th century a linenfold pattern (derived from wall hangings) was fashionable. Later on, arabesques, strapwork and foliate forms were used, as well as busts in roundels. Geometric shapes were often formed using applied battens. In grander houses a design of panelling might encompass the fireplace and door surrounds.


In the 15th century the ceiling was simply the underside of the floor above; this continued to be the case in humble houses for much of the period. In this case the structural floor members were sometimes decorated. However, in the early 16th century the underside of the floor joists in better houses began to be covered with boarding or laths which were plastered. These suspended flat ceilings could be left plain or sometimes were carved or decorated with plaster mouldings. Even quite poor houses had some kind of ceiling ornament, often in the form of chamfered and stopped mouldings on the joists.

On decorated ceilings the main beams, which are the principal structural elements, divide the ceiling into compartments which can be left plain, be painted, or filled with carved timber or plaster ribs. Early compartmented (coffered) ceilings are grid-like, but those from the later 16th century have a more fluid form and often contain organic motifs or strapwork. At the points where ribs or straps intersect moulded bosses or, in grander houses, pendants are sometimes fixed. Plaster mouldings were at first worked in situ but later the more elaborate patterns were made in wooden or wax moulds and then fixed in place.

Ceilings were not always flat: those on the upper floors of large houses were often coved or hipped.


The simplest ground-level floors were beaten earth; better ones were brick, laid on edge, or tile; the best were flagged in stone. Brick floors were common, but as brick is a soft material most brick floors found today are later replacements. In grand houses brick was normally restricted to service areas. Tiles can be boldly patterned, glazed or left plain; the colours and sizes vary from region to region. Stone slabs were the most favoured ground level flooring; once they had become worn they were turned over and re-used before being replaced. Local stone was usually laid; types commonly found today include York stone, granite, slate, many sandstones and even marble. Cobblestones can be found in rural houses where animals were kept inside.

Upper stories have wooden floors, mostly of oak, although elm is found. Boards are much wider than modem planks: 24 inches (60cm) is not unusual.

Many floors were plastered, particularly in northern England. The mix usually contained a high proportion of straw for greater strength. In grand houses the floors could be painted but most were covered in rush matting. Matting was a universal floor covering. It was sometimes laid when the plaster was damp so that it fused into the floor or it was laid in loose strips on the dry surface. Lengths were often stitched together and nailed down at the edges. Carpets were a luxury.


At the beginning of the period the central hearth was common, but during the 16th century the wall fireplace came into the ascendant. The re-location of the fireplace made it the focus of architectural interest.

The simplest fireplaces were brick or stone stacks built against an outside wall or placed on one of the central, internal walls. In the latter case a number of fireplaces could share the same flue (back-to-back and on different floors). Such fireplaces had timber or stone lintels which could be plain, chamfered, moulded or carved.

In grander houses, the fireplace opening could be conceived as one timber, brick or stone structure. Those from the early 16th century were usually spanned by a four-centred arch with chamfered or moulded decoration. A frieze often surmounted the lintel. From the 1540s fashionable fireplaces had Renaissance details, such as classical Orders on the jambs. Overmantels had niches, coats of arms, decorative panels or strapwork.

Hearths were of stone or brick; those of brick were regularly re-laid. The back wall was often finished with thin bricks or tiles, on edge, or was protected by a wrought-iron fireback. The simplest hearths had small brick walls which supported the burning logs, but most had iron andirons (fire dogs). During the 16th century wood became more expensive and increasingly coal was burned in firebaskets.


The most common form of staircase during this period was the straight flight. In small houses it was squeezed into a narrow space and was often hidden behind a partition. The dog-leg stair is variation, comprising two adjacent flights with balustrades on the same vertical plane. In better houses the staircase was an object of status; it was often placed to the side of the central hall, with elaborate, weighty decoration. Many houses, including quite grand ones, had external staircases and galleries.

Spiral staircases (vice stairs) can be found in better houses early in the period. These developed massive square central newels of brick or stone, which by the mid-16th century had evolved into the framed newel stair. Here, the solid central newel is replaced by a timber-framed tower surrounded by a stone or brick stairwell.

Most Elizabethan balusters are turned to resemble columns or they are waisted. Some carved or pierced flat balusters are found from the middle of the 16th century, but they are more typical of Jacobean staircases. They are curvaceous or tapering shapes, mostly based on strap-work. All stairs are closed-string: that is, the balusters are set on a diagonal brace rather than on the stairs themselves. A wide variety of mouldings was adopted for the handrail. The pièce de résistance was the newel post, which could be elaborately turned and carved in even quite humble houses.

Built-in furniture

Built-in furniture was a significant feature of all houses during the early 16th century and continued to be so in poorer houses throughout the period. Much furniture built in situ was for storage, especially the safe keeping of clothes, silver and archives. The most common form is the wall aumbry which was created by attaching a frame and doors to a wall recess. The recess might be in a masonry wall or worked into a wooden partition. Aumbries can be very elaborate or, in small cottages, merely small cupboards for the storage of spices or candles. In smaller houses they were often located dose to the fireplace to keep the contents dry. Sometimes kitchens were provided with similar cupboards or top-lifting bins which protected food from rodents.

Fixed seats were often created in window recesses, porches or even within great fireplaces. These might be of wood but more often were part of the masonry construction of the house. Settles (high-backed wooden benches often with arms) could be built into walls and were common to all grades of houses. The seat of the bench was sometimes hinged and doubled as a storage chest. Trestle tables and benches were sometimes built into the floor in kitchens and halls and were usually plain.

Internal porches appear in some (but not the poorest) late 16th- and 17th-century houses. They served as insulators and were usually attached to external doors, although some large rooms also had an internal porch.


Standards of sanitation varied according to the status and location of a house. Houses near rivers had ready-made waste disposal facilities and those near springs an easy water supply. Andrew Boorde in his book The Dietary of Health (1540) rates a supply of water as the primary factor in choosing the location of a house.

Water supply to the grandest houses, and in some towns such as the city of London, was by conduit. Wooden or lead pipes fed the water from springs to conduit heads. More commonly houses were served by either communal or private wells. Internal lead plumbing was restricted to grand houses, as was the external network of lead gutters, rainwater heads and down pipes/downspóuts which directed rainwater to cisterns. Highly decorated heads and pipes survive at some great Jacobean houses such as Knole and Hatfield House.

Most households were served by outside privies (houses of office), although built-in garderobes (water closets) were not uncommon during the late 16th and 17th centuries. These were usually sited in recesses and comprised a wooden seat with a hole and a shaft. The shaft was often located next to a chimney-stack to allow upward ventilation. It either led to a conduit which could be flushed from below or, more commonly, to a garderobe pit which was periodically dug out and cleared.

Copyright © 1991, 1996 Reed International Books Limited

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