The Georgian style home is best described as being orderly and symmetrical, with a rectangular shape and formally symmetrical exteriors and interiors. Based upon the classical symmetry of the Renaissance, Georgian house plans became quite the rage in the New England and Southern colonies during the 18th century. The style has roots in both the classical architectural styles of ancient Greece and Rome and also the Italian renaissance style. English settlers in America were inspired by the elaborate Georgian style homes which were being built in the mother country, and tried to reproduce the lifestyle of the wealthy nobility back home. It became the dominant architectural style throughout the American colonies in the 18th century. While colonial homes in the Georgian style can be found in practically every old community on the U.S. East Coast, still Colonial Williamsburg is the most notable example (particularly the College of William and Mary’s President’s house, a stately brick mansion with perfect balance, symmetry and formality, which was finished in 1733 and has been home to all of the presidents of that university for three centuries).
In the southern colonies Georgian homes were constructed of brick; but as you move northward toward New England (where brick was not as common) wood frame construction dominates. These European home plans look quite formal: they are square and symmetrical in shape, with both exteriors and interiors arranged according to a strict proportion and symmetry. From the centrally-located front entrance, a hallway and staircase form an axis around which interior rooms are positioned. Often these homes have two chimneys above a medium pitch, side-gabled roof with pedimented dormers and dentil (tooth-like blocks) decorating the roof line along the eaves and a centered front door with pilasters – the flat, shallow columns found in Greek architecture – on each side.
The central door is flanked by evenly-spaced double-hung windows; and they are invariably of two stories (one story homes in this style are referred to as Cape Cod style). There are traditionally five rectangular, evenly spaced windows across the facade of these homes. The windows are multi-paned, with nine or twelve panes in each sash and they have louvered shutters (particularly in the South) which welcome the breeze but provide shade from the sun. In the North paneled shutters are more common, to close tightly to protect the home from the harsh winds, snow, and sleet.
In considering building with Georgian country style house plans, it should be remembered that both brick and wood construction require maintenance. Wood clapboard which is not encased in vinyl siding always requires periodic painting or staining. Exteriors of masonry need much less maintenance, only requiring occasional tuck pointing. The multi-paned windows characteristic of this style are not particularly energy efficient. They must fit tightly and need to be reglazed now and then to keep the putty soft so that it seals well. The wood shake and slate roofs used in original Georgian style buildings were actually sounder than the asphalt shingles available today but all roofs require inspection and maintenance – even shake and slate.