Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Friday, September 24, 2021

Wood Shingles and Clapboards

Photo by Salt Water New England



  1. Just so very perfect! Thank you!

  2. I don’t know about that look. Looks like someone started making repairs and ran out of money.

    1. Capt Bob, the clapboard facade (most important, front-facing) with shingle sides (less important, doesn't matter as much) is a venerable New England house tradition. It is based on deliberate frugality and economy of labor, not anyone haplessly running out of money.

      This is called "hierarchy of design," where the most impressive elements are presented where they are most noticed.

      Take, for instance, a 17th century summer beam which has refined molding and decorative lamb's tongue pips on its front edge, which those entering the room immediately see and admire. But this beam has a back edge treatment which is quite plain, because why pay extra for something that's not prominently seen?

    2. Very true. The spectacular home Cogswell's Grant in Mass., the front is painted Pumpkin Spice. The back is painted a gray blue. Invest in that which is "seen".

  3. There are few housing aesthetics more pleasing, yet so often unconsidered, than a cedar shingle roof.

    And while Capt Bob has it right, I’d rather drive a Volvo than a Ferrari. The humble, thrifty tradition has become its own aesthetic.

    Lovely photo, as always.

  4. We have cedar shingle siding framing the outside of our master bedroom, clapboards everywhere else (clapboards made from a manufactured concrete product - for the reason hinted at in the next sentence). Had a cedar shake roof for 20 years, but wood in exposed areas of a home are a poor choice for a very humid climate (DC metro). Replaced with more durable composite.

  5. Interesting discussion. My old antique colonial in Connecticut has red clapboards on the front and cedar shingles on the sides. It has been that way since the 1940s when my parents bought it. I often wonder when this clapboard front and shingled sides tradition became common and always thought probably sometime in the nineteenth century as I don't believe the house looked nearly as formal in late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (In fact it probably looked rather dumpy and archaic then with hand-hewn clapboards of uneven shapes and widths with many fewer windows.) I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on when such division between the formal front side and the informal other sides became common.

  6. The current equivalent is tract homes with brick on the front of the house and vinyl siding on the rest. I think it looks cheap. If I couldn't afford a brick house all round, I would rather do 4 sides vinyl.


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