Tudor style front of home with ivy covered walls.

Tudor Houses: A New Take On A Historical Design

Morgan McBride5-Minute Read
UPDATED: September 01, 2022

Tudor-style homes are dramatically beautiful and a true showstopper from the curb. If you have found yourself daydreaming about owning a Tudor-style home of your own, you may want to pause and think about what lies beyond the gorgeous facade. Read this article to learn more about the intriguing histories, fine, natural materials and impressive aesthetic designs of these distinctive, dignified abodes and discover whether this style is right for you.

Tudor stlye home exterior.

What Is A Tudor House?

Due to their exposed timber frames and gorgeous rows of latticed windowpanes, Tudor-style houses possess either the quaint feel of an English countryside cottage or manor, depending on their size. Unlike the symmetrical Colonials with their side-gabled roofs, Tudors feature a more asymmetrical design with front-facing gables that are more typical of Victorian-style homes. Yet, while Victorian houses are known for the highly decorative brick and millwork that defines their dollhouse-like appearance, the Tudor style has a far more mature, stately aesthetic.

Popularized in the United States in the early 19th century, Tudor houses have a romantic, fairy tale feel that makes them the envy of all homes on the block. Tudor architecture harks back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries when the Tudor family reigned over the United Kingdom. The original British design combined the vertical lines of Perpendicular Gothic architecture with the decorative embellishments of the Renaissance style. Its popularity inspired Americans to appropriate the style in the early 20th century.

The homes that you may recognize are known as Tudor revivals or mock Tudors, the majority of which were built in the suburbs of the Northeast and Midwest United States from the late 1890s to the early 1940s. These homes were quite expensive to build. As a result, some became known as “Stockbroker’s Tudors,” a nickname that calls attention to the fact that many of their wealthy homeowners had made their fortunes during the stock market boom of the 1920s.

Tudor architecture fell out of style during the Colonial-style Revival that was triggered by the end of World War II and the patriotism and push for American styles following the war.

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Tudor-Style Architecture

Tudor houses are easily recognizable due to their striking architectural elements. Typical Tudor exteriors are unmistakable due to their steep gable roofs clad in slate, stucco or stone facades adorned with decorative half-timbering, casement windows with diamond-patterned glass panes and brick chimneys capped in clay chimney pots.

The Exterior Characteristics Of A Tudor-Style House

The common characteristics for the exterior of an American Tudor house often include steep roofs with cross gables and small dormers, decorative half-timber framing with stucco or stone siding, elaborate brickwork around chimneys, large rectangular groupings of windows and heavy wooden front doors.

Medieval architecture has influenced the exterior of these homes and how some owners replicate English-style gardens in their landscaping designs to emphasize this traditional look.

Steep Gable Roofs

Among the most striking characteristics of Tudor houses are their steep gable roofs. In many ways, this style of roof looks like a classic child’s drawing of a house due to its triangular shape. The sides of the roof are pitched at a steep angle and meet at a point. The gable is the triangular-shaped wall that faces the front of the house.

Decorative Half-Timbering

Although not present in all examples of the architectural style, decorative half-timbering may be considered the most recognizable feature of Tudor houses. This is a building technique in which a house’s wood framing is exposed, making it visible from the exterior. This design adds a geometric, multitone aesthetic to the structure, as the black or brown timbers stand out against the light-colored stucco or stone used to fill in the home’s facade.

Casement Windows

Casement windows have hinges that are attached to the frame, allowing them to open outward. Tudor houses often have rows of casement windows with small leaded glass panes that are arranged in a lattice or diamond pattern. The frames are commonly made of wood or metal and situated within a house’s gables.

Brick Chimneys

Tudors generally have prominent chimneys that are built out of brick and topped with chimney pots. The chimney pots are usually made of terracotta and are used to extend the chimney and increase the draft needed for combustion. While some Tudor chimneys are highly decorated, others are simple, tall constructions with slender, round or octagonal pots.

The Interior Characteristics Of A Tudor-Style Home

Although many of these interiors have been modernized over time, traditional Tudor homes still maintain some hallmarks. Instead of having large, open spaces, Tudors tend to be divided into more formal rooms, each dedicated to specific purposes. Sitting rooms often have plaster walls, warm color schemes, oversized stone hearths and wood paneling. Rooms also commonly feature decorative beamed ceilings and arched doorways.

Wood Paneling

Almost every touch in a Tudor home is incredibly detailed and intricate. The walls were often covered in intricate wood paneling. Each of their defined rooms could have its own take on a grid-style wooden paneling for a very dramatic look.  

Ceilings with intricate plasterwork or wood beams

The wood beams from the half-timbering on the exterior of Tudor-style homes are often carried indoors as wooden ceiling beams. These are not ordinary beams but intricately hung wooden beams, often at angles following the triangular roof line.

Asymmetrical layout

Tudor homes are traditionally asymmetrical on the facade and in the interior layout. This was often because traditional Tudor homes were frequently added on to, with different generations of the family putting various additions on the home. This resulted in an asymmetrical floor plan that Tudor Revivals went on to mimic.

Wood trim

Tudor homes would have trim on each wall that is left as a natural wood and not painted. The moldings are typically ornate and detailed. This allowed for a color contrast with the plaster walls and echoed the same overall look as the half-timbering on the exterior of the homes.

Arched doorways

Tudor-style homes almost always have arched front doors. These doors are called castle doors, since they mimic the traditional door shape of ancient castles. This shape is arched with a bit of a point at the top. Many of the interior doors or doorways often also mimic this shape.

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Where to Find Tudor-Style Houses

The original Tudor-style home was designed for the cold, wet climate of England so these houses are best suited for Northern and Midwestern states of the U.S. Tudor-style homes are usually found in the historic districts of these areas alongside Queen Anne and Victorian homes.

Should You Buy A Tudor Home? 

Before you jump into purchasing a historical home, it’s crucial that you have a solid understanding of what you’re getting yourself into. While historical homes possess superior craftsmanship and unparalleled beauty, they are often costly and time-consuming to repair and maintain. Still, those who live in historical homes tend to gain a kind of satisfaction from them that is truly incomparable.

Carefully research this type of house before beginning the home buying process. There are a few aspects of Tudor homes that home buyers should consider, including, but not limited to:

Higher Purchase Price

The building process for these homes involves a lot of intricate work, which drives up the purchase price. The uniqueness and interest in this style of home has made the average price for a Tudor house more than that of other popular types of homes.

Renovation Costs

Since most Tudor homes were built in the early 1900s, these houses are often in need of repairs or remodeling. These homes are usually quite large, and remodeling them to bring them into the current century can be very costly.

Frequent Maintenance

Tudor-style homes need frequent maintenance. The roofs, with their gables and dormers, can often have problems with leaking. The homes are often made with stucco, which needs to be replaced periodically. Wooden beams will need to be repaired or replaced over the years.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a home that’s as impressive as it is charming, Tudor houses with their steep gable roofs, intricate casement windows and decorative half-timbered facades may be the ideal choice. Thanks to the popularity of the style at the turn of the century, many Tudors can still be found on the market.

Ready to take the leap? You can begin the process now by contacting a Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC Partner Agent. Our agents will not only assist you in finding the Tudor of your dreams but also guide you through each step of the home buying process.

Learn more by reading about buying a historic home.

Morgan McBride

Morgan McBride is a DIY-lover and home decor enthusiast living in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been blogging at CharlestonCrafted.com alongside her husband since 2012, where they empower their readers to craft their current home into their dream home through the power of DIY.