More “comfort architecture” on Long Island

Many homes are built in current styles, even if that style is a return to traditional architecture:

On an island where the traditional is king, most residences can easily be dated — Capes to the postwar Levittown era; ranches, split levels and then high ranches in the ’50s and ’60s, cedar-sided contemporaries in the ’80s, and during the McMansion boom in the late ’90s, “colonials on steroids.”

Over the last decade, many architects and builders have veered toward a more ageless, classic approach.

Some of the materials used to achieve that nostalgic charm, however, are increasingly 21st century, more energy efficient and durable. The exterior trim on the stone manor is a resin-based material called AZEK that looks like wood but is rot-proof. Ira Tane, the president of Benchmark Home Builders in Huntington Station, recently completed a gabled Victorian in South Huntington with fake cedar siding, a cultured stone facade on the front porch, authentic-looking but modern windows with “simulated” divided light panes, AZEK-type trim, fiberglass porch columns; composite porch rails and decking, “all of which contribute to a look that will stand the test of time.”

 Homeowners stick to traditional styling because “there is a real comfort zone in what is very familiar,” Mr. Tane said. “It conjures up a warm, fuzzy feeling. For eating, we have comfort food. For homes, we have comfort architecture.”

Two things stick out to me:

1. Even though these homes are built in a traditional style, they can be easily dated just as much as other homes like 1950s ranches or 1990s McMansions. If you look, for example, at the picture of the home at the top of the story, I think most people could tell it is recent construction. While the homes may have certain traditional style, I don’t think they are going to be confused with older homes.

2. The goal here is invoke tradition withiout really being traditional. As the story notes later, people don’t really want the “100-year-old house with 100-year-old problems.” So they simulate the sense of permanance and tradition instead AND they get all of the modern amenities including big closets and energy efficiency.

I would be interested to hear builders and others explain how these homes are really that much different from McMansions. Perhaps the main difference is that they are not as mass-produced on smaller suburban lots, though it sounds like a decent number of these traditional homes have been built. They are still large homes for wealthy people though they may be more energy efficient. Maybe these new traditional homes are just mansions which are at least not as common as McMansions. Would the same people who complain about McMansions also complain about these homes?

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