Analyzing details on a perfect, mid century Dutch Colonial — Royal Barry Wills design?

dutch colonial houseI was driving around recently and spotted this beauty of a house. It’s a Dutch Colonial on a bit of acreage just outside town. I’d bet my bonus it’s a Royal Barry Wills design. Let me count some of the ways I love it and its perfect little details…

matching windows in a dutch colonial houseThe windows upstairs all have matching window treatments. They are beautifully proportioned to the scale of the front of the house, as well.

window boxes on a dutch colonial houseThese folks certainly take pride in their house: The window boxes all match and are all planted and ready to show all spring. I love black shutters on a red brick house. The hostas add nice sun dappled color while still laying low. Also notice the nice hefty cornice (the white decorative trim running horizontally under the soffit of the roof above the doors and windows.

side porch on a dutch colonial houseI have been thinking about these mid century side porches — and similarly, breezeways — a lot lately. If you are going to add an attached garage — consider inserting one of these side porches with a mud room behind. Or, if you can handle the garage detached, insert a covered breezeways. You can make the cornice of the porch curved like this one…you might also consider trellis or ornamental iron columns. Brick floor… or concrete edged in brock.  Windows with shutters and shutter dogs. Door to kitchen or mudroom must be low key / very subordinate to the facade of the house. That’s because it’s bad feng shui to have “two front doors” — the energy does not know where to enter, gets confused, runs screaming.

cape cod house with breezeway to garageHere is the side porch idea when it is executed as a breezeway instead. I adore adore adore breezeways and side porches for mid century modest houses.

early american bell on mid century porch

Don’t forget the Early American bell. See that teensy thingie on the bottom of the shutter — that’s the visible half of Shutter Dog, wrought iron hardware meant to hold the shutter in place, even if only decoratively.

dutch colonial house garage with cupola

Now this is particularly delicious — the attached garage (I think it is a garage…). Of course, dig the important cupola — a hallmark of mid century Early American architecture — . I’d say, the bigger the house, the bigger you can go with the cupola. Window boxes match those on the front. Lovely post lantern marking the entry way to the front door.

garage on dutch colonial house

early american bell on mid century porchThe siding on the garage is board-and-batten — and grey. Note, however, that the siding on the porch is different (clapboard?) and white. This is a classic design trick, too, on these mid-century American Colonial Revival homes. Break up the long low, and consider adding visual interest, by mixing your materials. You have to be careful not to overdo it, or get clashy, though.

board and batten sidingReminds me of this 1952 Dutch Boy paint add — here’s more board and batten siding. Hoever they have done the contrast with paint – did not change materials.



dutch colonial country house

Over to the right of the drive and further back — a second set of garages and a guest house, workshop or studio…

studio and garage next to dutch colonial house

Here is a little closer up. Carriage doors on the garage are just right.

mid century dutch colonial house

Dutch Colonial style was popular in the prewar period. But I am most certain this is a post war house because of the various Colonial Revival touches. I’m also thinking, prewar Dutch Colonials tended to be all brick, with less wood. More “Dutch/romantic” and less “colonial.” I am quite in love with this house. I might have to get all obnoxious and knock next time and ask for a tour.


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  1. Jerry says

    That is a very beautiful home. As much as I love my house Pam, I definately would give it up for that one. 🙂

  2. Leslie says

    Yes, I think you need to knock on the door or send a note!
    (Sending a “thank you” note to a homeowner is not only fun to write and send, but well received. It is nice to know that all of their thought, effort and hard work with landscaping, painting or decorating for Christmas is noticed and loved by neighbors or those driving by).
    Plus I want o see the inside of this home, bet it is as meticulous and well thought out as the exterior.
    Thanks Pam!

  3. Wendy M. says

    Beautiful! There is something so calming about the symmetry in the architecture and landscape. They really got it right! I would also love to see the inside…did they stay true to the character of the house? It’s all very intriguing! I love to speculate about homes in my town that I admire, too…

  4. Sumac Sue says

    What a lovely home. The landscaping contributes so much to the stately yet welcoming look of this place. Pam, would you go past this house again and take a photo of it with the front door closed? I love these shots, which give a glimpse of the stairs inside, but I also would like to see what the front door looks like.

  5. Michael says

    What a *perfect* example of this style; so welcoming. Who wouldn’t want to live there? And I share your fondness for breezeways, Pam. When I bought my MCM home last year the breezeway was definitely one of the deciding factors! lol

  6. MCMeg says

    Thanks for sharing this lovely home! I have also been thinking about breezeways lately. Great minds…, right? I live in a mid-century neighborhood and most houses have them. Most have been enclosed over the years. Our front porch has the same curved detail on the cornice and wood contrast to the brick. Again, thanks for sharing. Next time, go ahead and knock!

  7. CindyD says

    My grandfather designed and built a mid-century modest home in 1949 and enlisted my uncles and my mom in its construction. It was such a smart design (except for the kitchen – I just don’t know how my grandmother cooked in that tiny space!). It had a breezeway between the kitchen and garage – floor to ceiling screen panels which were switched to glass panels for the winter. Grandma always had lots of houseplants on the built-in benches year round. It provided access from the front of the house to the back, too, without ‘traipsing’ through the house (my grandma’s phrase). It was a great place to play on a rainy day and she had a table and chairs there so we could do ‘messy’ things.

    It was on the market recently so I went to see it with my sister. Sometimes it’s better to live with the memory. The breezeway has been enclosed with a slider in the front and access to the back yard is no longer available. Now it’s a rather dim dead end room, unless you’re going to the garage. Unfortunately, it’s had a number of owners since they moved out and somewhere along the line the previous owners made a number of changes that would not have been mine choice. What used to be the showplace on the street is now in disrepair. I will always have fond memories of that home – it was what led me to our current home – same coziness, same character. We’re treading lightly on this one as we are only the second owners of this ’55 ranch.

  8. Sandra says

    I used to have an adorable 1940 wood cape that looked like the one in the rendering. It did not have a breezeway though. When I was house shopping I drove past the open house because I did not like the exterior. I decided “what the heck – it can’t hurt to look”, went back and fell in love. I was totally taken by the large rooms, open floor plan and vintage details.

    It had a full-on Martha Stewart dining room with built-ins. A triple set of french doors off the sunroom (you could see straight out the back from the front door) to two brick patios. The kitchen and bath were original with white cabinets, yellow hex tile with some florals for detail. It even had a walk-in closet in the master!!

    I just loved the house but it was too small for my fiance and me – too many hobbies and too much stuff. I didn’t want to ruin it by adding on so I sold it.

    Two of the houses across the street had breezeways but one was in the process of a horrible addition/remodel and they enclosed it.

  9. Chris says

    What a feast for the eyes! Every detail so perfect! I easily live there for sure! Great ideas for a breezeway. . one day when we can add a breezeway between our house and garage it will be modeled after this one for sure! Great post!

  10. Maggy says

    I grew up on the East Coast, where retro homes are far more common than here in San Diego… where it’s like hoping the realty gods will drop one in your lap. EVERYTHING has been done over in beige and white. My husband and I have decided that beige and white took over the world when we weren’t looking.

    I miss the way neighborhoods looked like back home, with houses from different eras and styles in them. Out here it’s like there are only 3 types of houses and that’s it. Oh well, I’ll stay in our condo till I find the retro home we want.

    However I would say that the attached garage is only a hallmark of mid-century home design back east and maybe in the mid-west. Because it is a dime a dozen over on the West Coast. And almost all modern homes have them here.

    • Irma Cota says


      I totally agree with you on the blahness of homes in San Diego, there are a couple of homes near my parent’s home in (old) Chula Vista that I just love to drive by and every time I do its with the hopes that nothing has been done to them!, also Mission Hills has some nice old ones but nothing like the one featured here by Pam, guess we’ll have to take a driving vacation back east!

      • Maggy says

        I have a friend who’s girlfriend’s sister (what a complicated chain of people!) bought a modern home out here and decided to gut it and redo the interior in a completely retro fashion. It was like a secret retro home I guess. Anyway, according to the girlfriend, her sister’s bank was very hesitant to give her the loan because of the idea that the house would not sell.

        And so the Battle Against Beige continues….

  11. Nina462 says

    Very nice. Love breezeways, as well.
    Do you know why the roof is the way it is on a Dutch colonial? It used to be that homeowners were taxed on the number of roofs they had. So, the Dutch decided to have the roof constructed so that they could still have a second floor, but not a second roof. The Dutch are notorious for being thrifty (as are the Scottish).

    I learned that years ago when I was helping give tours of local houses.

  12. Tami says

    Amazing. The house I grew up in is, in many ways, identical to this one. No dormers, and covered in clapboards, but with the gambrel roof, symmetrical facade, central chimney, and attached saltbox-profiled mudroom/garage. My parents built it in 1969-70 – I wonder if they used a RBW plan? I’ll ask my mom. And I’ll see if I have any pics hanging around to post.

  13. Just another Pam says

    What a lovely house and yard.

    One of the houses I’ve had over the years was a blue shingled version of this built in 1900. We owned it but the locals, we were ‘from away’, always called it the xxxx house after the original owner, how can you not love that sense of history?

  14. Gavin Hastings says

    The porch edged in…”brock”?…..I knew my name was all over this place! So nice!

    From the roofline and batten I feel that the garage was a later addition…which is exactly the way Colonials are intended to grow.

    • Gavin Hastings says

      ….and I think the narrow shutters are replacements. See the space between the front door and sidelight? My guess is it was intended to have door shutters as well.

  15. Jason says

    A beautiful home.

    I have a white ranch with breezeway (enclosed with windows in the front and slider in the back) and one car garage. My living room juts forward out of the house and the corner of that roofline makes a small covered porch in front of my foyer. I love my breezeway, everyone is like what is a breezeway, but then they go out there and plop down and say I wish I had one of these!

    I’m halfway to a cupola for the garage – I received a weathervane with a bird on it (put a bird on it) for my birthday. So I just need the wooden part to place it on.

  16. Gavin Hastings says

    Your first illustration: the white half-cape….why why why is that affordable, easy to heat, cool and maintain home NOT being built today? Would people not buy it?

    • Jenny says

      Yes! Why not!? Gavin, let’s go into development and build a retro-subdivision and see if it does indeed, as I suspect it would, sell.

      Problem might be that to build that level of detail into modern houses is cost-prohibitive. So you could build it, and someone would want to buy it, but not for a price that you could make money on.

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