Posts made in December 2011

Chimneys of Rockville MD

Architecture and Chimneys in Rockville, Maryland

Rockville, Maryland is perhaps best known for being on the interstate 270 technology corridor. This area contains many software and biotechnology companies, as well as some government buildings. Tucked behind this technological corridor, however, is a wealth of history. Rockville has grown considerably since its early days as “Owen’s Ordinary Inn”, and through the years the area has been filled with beautiful houses. When we’re out doing chimney cleaning in Rockville, we love to see the architecture the area boasts. Here are just some of our favorite house styles that can be readily seen in the area.

Cape Cod
Cape Cod cottages aren’t plentiful in Rockville, but we’re always excited to get to see one. Cape Cod cottages were first constructed in New England during the 17th century. The cottages are traditionally made low to the ground and broad, with a steep pitched roof. This design was meant to help Cap Cod houses weather the stormy northern coast. Due to the steep pitched roof, these houses are generally one and a half stories tall, and because of the weather the frame was built with little ornamentation.

As modern construction negates the need to small, low to the ground houses to withstand inclement weather, the Cap Code cottage has evolved over the years. No longer small boxes, modern Cap Cod homes add addition wings to the traditional-sized cottage. Also, many are fully two stories tall, allowing plenty of space for the family to spread out.

Unlike most homes, Cape Cod cottages are known for having a central fireplace, with the chimney emerging from the center of the roof. This is often a masonry chimney, and extends high enough to be easily visible.

Split Level
Perhaps the only architectural style more maligned than the ranch is the split level. There’s some poetic justice in this; split-level homes evolved as a compromise between small cottage homes and “expansive” ranch homes. By offsetting three small stories, architects were able to produce plenty of living space without much of a footprint, and with greater accessibility than a traditional three story home.

Some might cast split level homes in a dim light, but we’ve had the pleasure of working on many beautiful split-levels. While endless tracts of split-levels might not be visually stimulating, it’s what the owner brings to the table that transforms a building into a home.

There are many types of split level homes. From stacked splits to raised ranches to split entries, split level houses tend to run the gamut. Many homes showcasing modern architecture are technically considered split-levels, but would look more at home in “The Jetsons” than “The Brady Bunch.”

Traditionally split-level chimneys run up an outer wall of the building, though sometimes they are central to the house. Masonry chimneys and chase covered factory chimneys are equally common among split level homes.

While cottages were once meant to denote small, cozy dwellings in rural areas, cottages are now a common site in major cities. These homes try to carry over the cozy appeal of their rustic cousins, while allowing for the comforts people expect from a modern home. Rockville has some superb examples of modern cabins that have the charm of the old world.

Cottages are generally earthy in tone and built low to the ground. Cottages, unlike most modern house styles, have few guidelines that separate them from another type of home. For example, it would be easy to build a home that is both a ranch and a cottage.

Perhaps the most recognizable incarnation of the cottage home is a rustic looking home with one and a half to two stories and an angled roof. While traditional cottages were made using natural building materials, modern cottages may be built with a variety of man-made equipment such as vinyl siding. A proper cottage, however, strives to appear earthy. Thus, you might see wood toned vinyl siding on a cottage, but should it have bright white vinyl siding it would likely not be viewed as a cottage.

Traditional cottages tended to be small with a central fireplace, ensuring even heating throughout the house. This practical decision has turned into an aesthetic one, with most modern cottages sporting a central chimney, with a masonry chimney seen just above the roof line in the center of the roof.

Chimneys in Bethesda Maryland

Architecture and Chimneys in Bethesda, Maryland

Bethesda, Maryland is constantly gracing a top cities list. Whether it’s for education, income, or best place to live, Bethesda gets a fair share of attention for the quality of life held there. Bethesda also offers a lot of great houses to discovery. From stately colonials to charming bungalows, Bethesda has a plethora of beautiful houses.

At High’s Chimney, we’ve been happy to perform chimney service in Bethesda such as chimney cleaning, duct cleaning, and fireplace installation. Our work has allowed us to work on many beautiful and unique houses, though over the past year we got to experience two styles not often seen around Maryland: Arts and Crafts and French Countryside style homes.

Arts and Crafts
Arts and Crafts architecture was born out of the Arts and Crafts movement. While the name might sound childish, the Arts and Crafts movement was in essence a rebellion against industrialism. As the world became increasing mass marketed, the Arts and Crafts movement placed an emphasis on craftsmanship. In architecture, this lead to the creation of romantic of medieval decorative houses made by artisans.

In the United States, this tended to represent itself in decorative, distinctly European looking buildings. Defining an Arts and Crafts building is difficult as it has no predefined parameters of what makes an Arts and Crafts building. Perhaps the most telling feature of an Arts and Crafts home is in details. If you find yourself staring at a building saying “look at all the detail and decoration that went into that!”, you’re likely looking at an Arts and Crafts building.

Arts and Crafts style homes have an abundance of chimney options, though many use a decorative masonry chimney on the outside of the home.

French Countryside
While “French Countryside” isn’t an architectural style in its own right, it has great popularity in the United States. French Countryside homes, as the name implies, try to bring the old world charm of the French countryside to our busy way of life.

French Countryside homes are generally sprawling buildings built low to the ground, with steep pitched roofs. They’re often made from light colored bricks. The grounds are usually meticulously landscaped, with decorative trees and shrubs giving the impression of the country no matter the location. Inside, the homes tend to be bright. White walls and cabinets give the rooms plenty of light, but well placed natural woodwork helps offset the starkness of white to give the space a natural, almost summery feel.

French countryside homes also tend to have masonry chimneys on the outside of the home. Due to the sprawling nature of these homes, many have multiple fireplaces. What’s more old world than enjoying a glass of wine in front of the fire?

Chimneys of Potomac Maryland

Architecture and Chimneys of Potomac, Maryland

Potomac, Maryland is perhaps best known for the stars that have called it home. Wolf Blitzer and Sylvester Stallone hail from this affluent town, while Arnold Schwarzenegger has a part time residence in this idyllic town. While Potomac might be best known for its star studded streets, it also has a wealth of architecture to discover. When we’re in Potomac, chimney cleaning or doing annual chimney maintenance, we can’t help but admire the homes we work on. Here are some of our favorites over the past year.

Potomac area colonial houses are largely built in the Georgian style. Georgian colonial houses are predominantly made of brick with the use of painted white wood trim and columns. The columns, traditionally two stories tall, are the most distinctive element of the colonial house. Generally, traditional Georgian style colonial homes are thought of as mansions.

The architecture of the Georgian colonial goes deeper than outer appearances. Traditional Georgian Colonial homes have defined rooms, specifically a living room, dining room, and family room. Bedrooms are typically on the second floor. Georgian colonial houses are known to have one or two large chimneys. As colonials tend to be large houses, in historic times this meant the need for multiple fireplaces throughout the home, which led to the dominance of two chimney houses. These are traditionally masonry chimneys to match the exterior of the rest of the home.

Ranch homes have a bad rap in modern culture, but the original ranch homes were actually high-end architecture. These were the first modern-influenced houses made easily available, and they were coveted for their non-traditional floor plans, open interiors, and modern design. As they became an element of tract housing, their popularity declined.

While tract housing may have curtailed the popularity of the ranch house, many original ranch houses are actually bursting with personality and architectural intrigue. Ranch houses are known for their close to the ground profile, minimalist decorative pieces built into the architecture, and clean lines. Ranch house chimneys tend to also be minimalist, often little more than a factory built chimney extending above the roof line with a protective chase.

Modern homes are hard to define accurately. Made popular by the wildly successful architect Frank Lloyd Wright, modern architecture plays largely on using simplified architecture to create visual interest and decoration, while keeping a minimalist feeling to the building. Modern architecture relies heavily on the use of geometric shapes in causing visual interest. When looking at a modern home, you might more easily see it as a conglomeration of shapes than as one solid unit.

As part of the appeal of modern architecture is freedom of design, modern homes can vary greatly. The use of metal and glass is one of the most recognizable aspects of modern architecture. Poured concrete is also often used, but traditional approaches using masonry and wood work are unlikely, though Frank Lloyd Wright broke this rule in his creation of the Robie House.

Chimneys in modern houses tend to be factory made chimneys, often displayed without a chase or cover, allowing the minimalist metal exterior of the chimney visible as it is similar to the modern aesthetic. As cold air can negatively affect the function of an uncovered chimney, care must be taken in installation and maintenance of uncovered chimneys.

–Do you need chimney service in Potomac MD? Call the pros – High’s Chimney Service.