Tudor homes look like something straight out of a fairytale, with a charming style that takes its cues from medieval English architecture. Their distinctive wood-faced facades and white-stuccoed walls were popular with well-to-do homeowners from the the mid-19th century until World War II; since Tudors were built with expensive materials like timber and stone, with ornate details that made them too expensive for the average American homeowner. Old Tudor homes are most often found in historically wealthy suburbs, but today, cheaper building methods and materials make it possible to add a touch of Tudor flair to modern affordable housing.
What Is a Tudor House?
Tudor houses — which are sometimes known as Tudor Revival, Mock Tudor, or Jacobean style— are large, multi-story houses made of brick with large sections of half-timbered white stucco siding, giving them a medieval appearance. Tudors have steeply-pitched gabled roofs with decorative chimney pots, narrow, multi-paned windows, and wooden front doors. Inside, Tudor-style homes feature plaster walls, arched doorways, beamed ceilings, and wood details.
What Makes a House a Tudor?
Unlike the centuries-old homes they used for inspiration, Tudor homes are built with brick, not wood, and often have exposed-brick siding on their first floor. On the upper floors, the large sections of the siding are covered in white stucco, which is then accented with large, dark timber beams to create the illusion that the house is built on a wooden frame.
The roofs of Tudor homes are steeply pitched with multiple overlapping windowed gables, and can be built at varying heights. Tudors have tall, ornate brick chimneys that have a decorative stone or metal pipe jutting out of the top, known as a chimney pipe. Tudors are usually shingled with slate tiles, which can be arranged to mimic the appearance of a medieval thatched roof.
Tudors have multi-paned windows that are tall and narrow like those in medieval times, which are grouped closely together to allow a solid flow of light and air into its rooms. In some of the grander rooms there may be oriel windows (best described as floating bay windows). Some windows may even be stained glass.
The front door of a Tudor home is made from heavy solid wood, and may have heavy metal hardware and bold decorative elements like door knockers. The door will have a rounded arch overhead, and will be bordered on each side by stone or stucco that contrasts the exposed brick siding.
Inside, Tudor houses continue their historically-inspired motif with walls covered in a veneer of plaster and ornate, detailed wooden elements like wainscoting and trim. Like the exterior, Tudor ceilings are accented with dark, heavy wooden beams that run across a white plaster finish.
- Two-to-three stories
- Timbered white-stucco siding
- Exposed brick
- Steep, gabled roof
- Chimney pots
- Narrow windows
- Wooden doors
- Plaster walls
- Decorative ceiling beams
- Wood trim
- Wooden staircases
- Arched doorways
History of Tudor Houses
England’s Tudor period began in the late 15th century, marking the end of the medieval era. During this time, houses were most commonly built on wooden frames, with walls made from woven sticks covered in a clay-based mixture which was painted white. The exposed wood timbers were treated with hot tar to prevent them from rotting, giving them dark brown finish that was visible both indoors and outdoors, and creating the iconic half-timbered style that defines all Tudor homes.
Early American architecture borrowed liberally from its English past (see Colonial-style homes, which have never gone out of style), and in the mid-19th century, wealthy home builders began to integrate aesthetic elements from the Tudor period into their designs.
In the early 20th century, new construction materials and techniques were developed that made the construction of Tudor homes even easier and — though they were rather expensive — far more affordable. Tudors remained out of reach for most Americans, but in the wealthy suburbs, their popularity exploded. The construction of new Tudor houses sharply declined after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and gradually fell out of favor during the Great Depression. By World War II, the Tudor revival movement was all but over.