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Storybook Style — 1920 to 1930s

Storybook Style

Storybook Characteristics

A short description

Storybook or fairytale style often has much in common with the bungalow, English Cottage, Tudor Revival, or Norman/French Revival styles and is often subsumed in those definitions. Its defining characteristic might best be described at the kind of house you'd imagine Seven Dwarves or some happy Hobbits heading home to at the end of a hard day of work.

Whimsical with towers, turrets, columns, and colonnades, the Storybook house often has mullioned casement windows, arched or half-round doors, stucco siding, half-timbering, and ornate hardware or lighting fixtures. This is a style that makes an extremely charming small house, though replicating such unique hand-crafted and irregular spaces today would be very expensive per square foot.

Design elements might be taken from a variety of folkloric sources, not just English fairytales. Moorish tile and arches from the Arabian Nights, or intricately carved woodwork straight out of the Russian fairy tales about Baba Yaga, would not be out of place.

As with the bungalow and ranch, the Storybook style originated in California. It was the child of the returning WWI veteran, who had discovered the charms of French and English residential architecture, and the Hollywood starlet who contributed her imagination and optimism with childlike enthusiasm.

For an excellent online resource on this style, see Storybookers.


Storybook Style: America's Whimsical Homes of the Twenties by Arrol Gellner and Douglas Keister.

Keister, Douglas. "Storybook Style: Take a world tour of a beloved cottage architecture."Cottages & Bungalows, Spring 2007.


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