Good Bones: Low Country
I am passionate about architecture and design. In fact, I love looking at housing styles and analyzing what makes them unique. And, I get true enjoyment out of sharing what I’ve learned with others. So, every few weeks, I drop in with a new post about a different style and reveal the details that make it distinctive.
Past posts in this series:
As an architect in the southeast, I have the fortune to design many Low Country style homes. I can’t help but be attached to the design, imagining myself relaxing on the front porch drinking iced tea.
It is this relaxed, friendly character that has made the Low Country a timeless favorite. And now, with the push for a return to the simple, traditional, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the past, the porch is a defining feature that has resurrected this style for new construction among community planners, developers and homeowners.
With warm summer breezes headed our way, let’s explore all of the architectural elements that define the relaxing, traditional Low Country style.
The main feature of a Low Country elevation is the front porch, often elevated a few feet above the street to capture breezes. In the days before air conditioning, this is where you went to escape the heat of the south. In fact, traditional Low Country houses had blue ceilings for the porch to repel bugs. And since blue is a calming color, the blue ceiling helped southerners relax even more.
Once you look beyond the relaxing atmosphere of the front porch, you discover that this style tends to be very traditional and often symmetrical. Many Low Country homes have three- or five-bay front porches with the front door always in the center. Non-symmetrical forms include four bays where the front door is to one side. Two-story homes often have double stacked porches—these have had a huge resurgence today as buyers crave more outdoor living.
Windows are most often single with flanking shutters. Traditionally, Low Country homes were designed with louvered shutters to block the sun while still capturing the breeze. Window grid patterns vary, but are typically traditional, like the windows seen here.
The predominant building material for Low Country styles is siding. Raised foundations are often done with brick or wooden columns with lattice in-between to keep out unwanted guests.
There are so many color options that can work for this beautiful style and account for your personal preferences. Imagine coming home to Classic Cream siding with white windows and trim, black or navy shutters, and Savannah Blue porch ceilings. A favorite Low Country scheme of mine is Sagebrook green siding with Island Pearl trim, white windows, red shutters, and an Stone Mountain Clay porch ceiling—what a change from white, right? Another option could be Russet Red or Sedona Red siding, Sandy Tan trim, sand tone windows with black shutters, and a Pewter ceiling. Or you can pull in the feelings of the coast with Island Pearl trim over Savannah Blue siding, white windows and ceiling, and brown shutters.*
The Low Country style is simple, which makes it easy and affordable to build. If you like things simple and stress-free—but can get a little whimsical and love bold color—this style probably speaks to you!
*Italicized names are colors by Ply Gem