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A Quick Fifty Plus Years of Housing Evolution

2016-02-18 14:47:00

A quick fifty plus years of Housing Evolution

If you think that all of your friends are looking older, but you are still looking fine… then you will likely recall houses that flaunted knotty pine cabinets, carports and greenstone walks. I fall into this category with the exception that I’m not looking too good either.

This article is intended to remind us how housing has changed in the last, short, fifty plus years.

In the early sixties knotty pine was in vogue. I didn’t know why then and I haven’t figured out why since. New houses were typically two bedrooms with a single bath, a kitchen with a table area and a living room located right at the front door. New houses in the sixties averaged around 1,100 square feet.

To me, the seventies were not a lot different except houses were showcased as “all electric” and there was more glass. I recall wrought iron decorative supports on front porches and picture windows. More often than not basements were parged with brick or siding above.

The eighties saw the spilt foyer with a gable on the right side. For variety, some split foyers had the gable on the left side. Wood box columns were popular. Concrete porches were still the norm.

The nineties saw some improvement with story and a half Williamsburg style homes, rustic houses with stained siding and a smattering of Southern Living homes. Houses were approaching 2,000 square feet on average.

By the year 2,000 the McMansion was dominating new subdivisions. These houses appeared larger than they actually were. This was primarily due to the accentuation of the gables toward the street and with the garage becoming a matching element of the house hidden under the same roof.

By 2010 every builder with a hammer was hoisting the “Custom” sign, although their house looked surprisingly like their competitor’s house two doors away.

Today there really are some custom builders throughout Central Virginia that build unique, one-of-a-kind, homes. The square footage for these houses varies. The largest custom home that we have designed and built was 17,000 square feet, but 6,000 square feet of this home was dedicated to an interior pool and an interior greenhouse.

Houses have changed in many ways in the last 50 years. Window unit air conditioners were for the very privileged in the sixties and true walk-in closets were state-of-the-art in the seventies.

Redwood siding gave way to Masonite and vinyl. Brick has held on, but cultured stone has become quite popular. Cementitious siding such as Hardi-plank is a common siding material today.

The public has become well versed in energy efficient windows, but not too long ago single pain windows with air gaps all around were accepted as the norm.

It truly has been a short period of time from when an 1,100 square foot house with a carport and picture window was what everyone just had to have.

By comparison, today’s houses may easily have a bathroom for each bedroom, three refrigerators scattered throughout the house, double dishwashers and ten times the amount of insulation. Additionally, today's house may also contain a parent’s room, a game room, a pet room, a mud room, a great room, a gathering room, laundry rooms on each floor, a shoe room within a closet and a pantry reminiscent of what had been a typical rural country store in those early days referred to as the nineteen-sixties.