Designed primarily for hot and humid climates, the French Colonial house style is a colonial-era house plan developed during the early 18th century. French Colonial house plans have several characteristics of traditional European homes combined with building styles and decorative accents from the West Indies. French Colonial homes can be found throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, and larger versions of this style are especially prevalent on old plantations and estates in the Deep South.
Brief History of the French Colonial House Style
The French colonists that inhabited the Southern states brought with them their love for lavish, luxurious home plans with symmetrical designs and clean, simple lines. The French Colonial home style dominated much of the South through the antebellum era. According to OldHouses.com, the early 18th century marked the beginning of the popularity of the French Colonial home style and was founded in Louisiana.
Today, many French Colonial homes can be found in Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. Some examples of homes and mansions built in the French Colonial house style include the Gabriel Peyreaux House in New Orleans, the Destrehan Plantation House in St. Charles Parish, the Maison Bolduc in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri and the Lorriens Plantation house in New Orleans.
Interior Features of the French Colonial House Style
French Colonial home plans are typically rectangular in shape and are symmetrical from inside out. The sizes and placement of rooms on the first floor typically match the size and placement of rooms on the second and third floors. Early French Colonial homes were single-story homes, but modern French Colonial-inspired homes are typically two or three stories. A distinguishing feature of the French Colonial house plan is that there was typically no hallway or foyer.
Other key interior features of the French Colonial home include:
– Dentil moldings
– Indoor columns that rise up to the second floor
– Carved pillars and masonry columns throughout the home
– Tall, narrow doors
– Single door and double hung windows
– Double louvered doors
– Hardwood floors throughout
Exterior Features of the French Colonial House Plan
Exterior features of French Colonial homes remain modest, simple and elegant. All of the designs and decorations are always symmetrical on both sides of the home, and larger homes typically have a spacious porch. In regions where flooding was and is common, the home was “raised” from the ground by being built on top of a raised brick wall, or held up vertically with cedar logs. During the low-flood season, the lower level could be used as a storage area.
Distinguishing exterior features of the French Colonial house style include:
– Porch that wraps around the entire exterior of the home
– Narrow side windows on either side of the front door
– Heavy timber frame
– Side gabled roofs or steep hipped roofs
– French doors
– Stuccoed walls
– Symmetrical, multi-paned windows throughout
– Elegant ballustrades