Identifiable by its characteristic umbrella roof — a wide-hipped shape flaring out at the edges — the colonial French house instantly conveys a sense of relaxation. Clad in white-painted weatherboard, old brick, or tinted stucco and sheltered by a standing-seam metal or shingled roof with exposed rafter tails, the house sits low to the land. Thin vernacular wood columns with chamfered corners or stucco Doric columns with curvaceous capitals and graceful entasis run across the front and back or all around the sides. Defining deep, harboring porches, these columns frame glimpses of exterior walls with French doors and tall windows with shutters.
Originating in the French West Indies and Louisiana Territory, this centuries-old style was designed with comfort in mind. Its doors and windows are meant to stay open, blurring the line between interior and exterior spaces and inviting indoor-outdoor living. Within the colonial French house, enclosed hallways are rare. Front doors frequently lead directly into living areas and many rooms have French doors connecting with the porch. Flowing directly into each other, the primary rooms are easily adapted for today’s open-living concepts.
With unembellished walls and high ceilings detailed with painted or salvaged beams, interior spaces create a serene setting that is equally compatible with antiques or casual modern decor. Attached to the house by narrow hyphens, wings and ells accommodate additional living space or kitchens.