Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

March 29, 2008
Like a tourist looking at houses

We all know people who buy field guides to get out and identify a million kind of birds, trees and insects. Then there are those diehards who like to walk around the city and suburbs, pointing out Tudors, Cape Cods and Bungalows.

Real estate agents do this all the time. They talk about Split-levels, Shingles, Georgians and Colonials the way regular people dissect a lunch menu.

For a long time covering the real estate beat I carried this guide to residential styles in my briefcase, pulling it out here and there on walks to see the differences between, say, the Queen Anne, Victorian and Italianate styles. It got rumpled into oblivion, banging around in there with manila folders and umbrellas.

Even better than that guide, for people who like identifying home styles in great Sacramento-area neighborhoods, is a book some helpful reader recommended early last year, A Field Guide to American Houses.
Driving through neighborhoods with this tome is like visiting the Consumnes Nature Preserve south of Sacramento with the definitive guide to ducks.

I recall being most surprised at how many houses, even today and even in the suburbs, still take some of their design elements from ancient Greek temples. Buying the book is a bit steep, but the Sacramento Public Library has six copies on its shelves right now. It can make you see your surroundings a whole new way.

- Image courtesy of Stephanie Baker Thomas, East of the Sun Publishing.

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