My Side of the Cave: A Look at Our World With a Little Common Sense Thrown In
Many of our early American homes followed European architectural designs from
Greece, Italy, France, Spain, and England. The original settlers to the American shores
and the immigrants that followed, brought with them their comfort zones. Many of these
architectural styles found favor in the new land.
Some common architectural names include Colonial, Federal, Georgian, Roman and
Greek. New American styles included the Cape Cod, the Salt Box, Prairie Style and the
Shot Gun. The inspiring Prairie Style was created in the 1930s by Frank Lloyd Wright.
After 1940, new movements gave us Modern, Neo-Eclectic and Contemporary designs.
Innovation and design continues to evolve to this day.
Owning your own home was not commonplace in the early 20th century, when renters
outnumbered owners. However, after World War Two, home ownership increased to
nearly two thirds of the population.
Post war thought changed the culture of home ownership. It also inspired the great
migration away from the farm. These new non-farm families were locating in urban areas
close to big cities, with their new cars and their new homes. “Urban sprawl” was born.
Builders and architects began building communities of homes, opposed to single standing
homes. The idea was to form a city center connecting single home plans into a
community of homes. This would include a town center focus with full services,
landscaping and traffic design. “Cookie Cutters” was a new term commonly used.
These homes were simple and basic and affordable to the masses. They were usually
pedestrian in appearance, certainly not elegant, but would more than serve their purpose
and gave immense satisfaction and happiness to millions of American families.
This middle-class housing boom did have a negative side. This event gave us look alike
homes in look alike neighborhoods all over the country. Visualize an average home on an
average street, in any city, built from 1945 to 1965, and generally you will not find a lot
of difference from one to another. You will see them as small, functional, basic, similar
in purpose and appearance.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this idea and, in fact, we do not hear a lot of clamoring
for any changes. On the contrary, many people may not want change. In many cases
people want to live the same as their parents did. They may want their traditional family
comfort zone, where they easily fit in with others. This family home and surroundings is
their castle and don’t you forget it!
Because Americans love their same old, same old, it has been difficult for architects and
builders to step outside the norm and introduce anything new, bold and fresh. The market
responds to subtle change and can be more than a little finicky. It is also a present day
challenge to build increasingly larger homes at the same low prices. We want fast and
There is a fork in the road ahead for home ownership. On one hand we may be heading
for tougher economic times that may limit home ownership. On the flip side and if the
economy remains strong, our living spaces could become larger and more diversified.
We will also witness the ramifications of smaller families, both husband and wife
working, incomes vs debt ratio’s, credit availibility and lastly, the positive or negative
outlook of the American people. Castle or cave, The future is a bit unknown at this time.