There’s a slick chart making the rounds right now that neatly summarizes 400 years of the architecture of single-family homes in America.
Made by the infographic designers Pop Chart Lab, the poster presents front-door views of typical American homes from the colonial days up to the present.
There’s a simple Dutch Colonial from the 1600s, the colonnades of Greek Revivals from the mid-1800s, a broad-porched Craftsman from the early 1900s, and an archetypal McMansion from the not-so-distant past—or, depending where you look, the present.
Seeing the history of the single-family house in this way makes it easy to think of all the changes in style and size and structure as an evolution.
The architecture can be thought of as a response to local conditions and the changing fashions of the time, the size and ornamentation as responses to the demands of the market and the fluctuations of the economy. Of course, this evolution continues today.
But the evolution of the single-family home is not linear.
At the same time the median size of new single-family houses is on the rise, cities across the country are testing new ways of providing smaller homes, loosening rules on building new accessory units, and even rethinking the whole concept of single-family neighborhoods. [...]