French Provincial architecture has remained popular since it was developed in the middle ages. While other modern building styles use the term "Revival" to denote long periods of disuse, French Provincial architecture needs no such qualification. Homes throughout the french countryside are still commonly built in this style, as are many new suburban homes in the U.S. Attractive in a wide variety of settings, and always distinct amid other buildings, French Provincial homes will likely continue to be a favorite of builders well into the future.
Houses are especially suited to the French Provincial look because it was created specifically for homes. The style originated in France during the reign of Louis XIV in the mid-1600s as a preferred method of constructing rural manor homes. Built to be comfortable, these homes were always large, and defined by symmetry and balance. Large rectangular front doors in arched openings acted as a central anchor, with the home carefully modeled on either side. Due to their large size, French Provincial homes were often comprised of a central hall and two identical wings. Other defining features of these buildings are typically a steep, hipped roof, large shuttered windows, and second story windows that break through the cornice and rise above the eaves. Unlike Normandy homes, French Provincial homes do not have towers.
Many of the building features used in French Provincial homes can be traced even further back into the Middle Ages. The style essentially represents a transition from farm life to a more residential rural lifestyle, and it quietly developed as people occupied the french countryside. Early homes in this form included space for livestock on the first floor, while farmers lived on the second floor. This layout required a larger than usual second floor, and was the reason high pitched roofs with big windows in the eaves became the norm with this style.
Today's French Provincial homes are largely the same as the earliest versions. Easily identifiable by wide, symmetrical layouts and and steep roofs, these homes make a striking addition to any residential area in which they appear. The style is a natural fit for new developments where larger, more classically designed homes are in demand, and has become almost trendy in recent years. Golf course developments, especially, have seen a rise in French Provincial construction on larger properties.
Builders and home owners in search of a reliable, vintage look that's adaptable to modern standards will enjoy the French Provincial style. It's been around for centuries, and it's still as popular as ever.
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