Charleston Style Home Plans
A Charleston style house plan reflects the character and historical design attributed to these Lowcountry homes. The charm and appeal of either a Charleston single or Charleston double are unmistakable. However, some of their architectural features can be quite diverse as “Charleston home” often refers to a collection of antebellum beauties.
What Defines a Charleston Home?
The design features of a Charleston home are closely tied to its history and namesake. The city of Charleston, South Carolina was originally divided up into long plots of land. This is when it was actually Charles Town, around about the 1680s. These lots weren’t very wide and as a result, the homes built on them had to be narrow. Contrary to some well-spun myths, these homes weren’t built in a narrow style to avoid taxes but were a result of the land plot shape and size. The width of the house as seen from the street is usually under twenty-five feet.
A Charleston home can be single or double. The moniker actually refers to the layout of the rooms in the home. When you are viewing the house from the street, the narrow width may leave you wondering what the interior layout could possibly look like. Well, a Charleston single is wide enough to accommodate the expanse of one room, a double can hold two rooms separated by a narrow hallway running down the middle of the house.
The number of rooms running the length of the house as well as the number of stories can vary, but the length is always perpendicular to the street. In most cases, the floor plan on upper levels mirrors the plan of the first floor.
Though the styles may differ, almost all of the house plans feature more than one story accompanied by one or more levels of covered porches. These are affectionately referred to as piazzas by Charlestonians. Only the south or west sides of the home plans call for a piazza, a traditional condition to protect residences from the harsh, hot sun.
Features Fit for the South
As mentioned, piazzas or covered porches are synonymous with Charleston house plans. These porches run the length of the house. There may be only one on the ground level or there may be a porch for every story of the home. These piazzas were purposefully placed on the side of homes in the hopes of catching cool breezes in the hot southern summers. The narrow design also is strategic in allowing the wind to flow through the home.
Piazzas have a faux front door on their street side. These doors are another Charleston home icon. Though they do operate somewhat like a front door in providing security and privacy, they actually lead only onto the piazza. The true front door is found in the middle of the ground-level porch.
Upon entering the real front door of a Charleston single home you are welcomed into a foyer. Within the entryway, there will also likely be a stairwell or staircase leading the second story. Having a smaller room to the left that serves as a bedroom is customary. The larger room on the right of the foyer will commonly be used as a living room and segue into the kitchen. The Charleston double home has a true door facing the street that allows visitors into the long hallways separating the rooms on either side of the house.
These narrow and deep homes are usually situated close together, remember the compact lots of land? Because of this, authentic Charleston homes will have fewer and smaller sized windows on one side than the other. For privacy, the side of the house facing the neighboring piazza will have few windows.
Another feature only true to historic Charleston homes is a hyphen. This somewhat odd and widely unknown room is used to connect a detached kitchen to the rest of the home. Kitchens were once very real fire hazards and were therefore separated from the main home. As that became impractical the pathway from the kitchen to the home was walled in, creating a small room.
The final feature that can often be found in plans for a Charleston home is an architectural style. Though the style can differ, it is always anything but modern or bland. The most common designs for Charleston singles or doubles are Italianate, Victorian, Federal, or Greek Revival. Regardless of the style, you can almost always spot hinged shutters on a Charleston.
If you do live in a hot climate you will likely appreciate the ability to open your doors and windows and have the prevailing winds move easily through your home. Regardless of whether or not you have air conditioning, a piazza is a lovely way to relax and catch a cool breeze.
The overall look of the house is very appealing. The quaint shutters, the classical architectural design, and the unique faux door all are enchanting to historical home enthusiasts.
A Nod to the Past
Charleston homes are beautiful examples of historical southern design. Suited to the warm and humid climate they provide many unique features to occupants while maintaining the charm of the era.