top of page

Speaking Your Home's Language

Recognizing Architectural Styles

It’s important for architects to be multi-lingual.

One of the challenges of any home remodel or addition is ensuring that the new improvements fit comfortably with the existing house. Understanding the design language of the buildings we are working on is important for making sure that what we design is harmonious with what is already there.

When architects talk about “language”, what we’re really talking about is the style, visual qualities, and identities of a work of architecture. Specific architectural styles – modern, arts and crafts, Victorian, etc – are obviously important. But so is grasping the unique scale, patterns, and visual features within those styles and finding ways to respect and enhance the special features of a building. We pride ourselves on being able to read, learn, and speak the design language of any existing work of architecture.

Take this addition and remodel project for a home in Rancho Santa Fe, California as an example. The clients wanted to upgrade and rethink many aspects of their home. Retaining the distinctive Spanish style architecture that worked so well with the surrounding rural landscape was a primary criteria for the design we needed to honor. When we made design changes on the exterior of the home, we made sure the new design visually enhanced the existing house and blended well with the existing design language.

The goal wasn’t to timidly blend in to what came before, but to find ways to expand the existing home into a fuller realization of its inherent design potential. The clients wanted to redesign the approach and front entrance to their house in order to make better use of the rest of their yard. To this end we needed to design an entry wing that confidently announced itself as the new front door and reception space to the home. Using the house’s own language, we added a bold new entry foyer and living room wing to the front corner of the existing house.

Because of its location, massing, and use of large arched windows, the addition is intended to clearly establish itself as its own unique component. However the overall visual language is very much in keeping with the rest of the house. It therefore reads as a new wing of the house, but not like a foreign appendage.

By relocating the main entry, we were able to repurpose the old entryway entirely. By adding a covered porch and balcony, the space could now serve as a comfortable outdoor living space directly facing a lavish new pool. Once again, by being mindful of the overall design language, we were able to seamlessly integrate a prominent new porch structure that perfectly complements the house.

Architects often boast of their “signature style”, a specific visual identity that they carry through all of their projects. One of the things you’ll notice when browsing our website is that One World Architecture doesn’t force a specific style. We prefer to let the circumstances of each individual project determine the style and the design language that we use. So whether you have a large Spanish style home like this one, or a compact craftsman bungalow, or any of the myriad of house styles out there, drop us a line and we’ll help you translate the existing language of your house into whatever remodel or addition you have planned.


bottom of page