Storybook Style Roof Shingles
Whether you're building a new home or are replacing your home's roof, you don't want to settle for ordinary. You want a roof that's just as unique as you and your home. One of the most interesting roof types you'll find is a storybook roof. Just as the name suggests, a storybook roof will make your home look like it came directly out of an illustrated book of old European folktales. These houses are also sometimes called fairytale houses.
Storybook roofs are characterized by their very steep slopes (typically a 12/12 pitch or higher) and curved edges, especially around the gables and rakes. Since your roof is among the most visible house components to approaching visitors, a storybook-style design is a great way to make a dramatic first impression on guests and passersby.
At the same time, storybook roofs are also soft and welcoming, with curved ridge lines and gentle wave coursing that reach back to a more innocent time and place.
True storybook homes are rare these days, and that’s because few contractors have the technical capabilities to make the specially curved shingles and shakes required to bring these designs to life. Custom Shingles is different. We’re unique in our design, manufacturing and installation capabilities. Keep reading to learn more, or get in touch to request a quote.
Styling of Storybook Home Architecture
Storybook houses are a unique offshoot from the Provincial Revivalism architectural movement. It's difficult to precisely define storybook architecture since, unlike most other architectural styles, it is more about the overall feel these buildings evoke than the technical aspects of their construction. Therefore, the old saying, "I know it when I see it" applies here.
The feeling one should get when they see a storybook house — and indeed, they are usually houses rather than commercial buildings — is a sense that they've stepped out of present-day America into a fantasy land reminiscent of olden-day Europe. More specifically, the architectural features mimic those of medieval European homes, but they do so in an exaggerated way that gives them a storybook feel, rather than an appearance of historical accuracy.
If you feel the house has come to life right off the pages of a children's fairytale book that includes talking animals, elves, hobbits, fairies, princes or princesses, it's safe to say you're looking at a storybook house. It may also look like a house you've seen in Disney films that immortalized fairytales such as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.
While this overall feel is the most defining aspect of what makes a storybook home, some features are common to most storybook houses. Since they purposely look old, they never use distinctly modern-looking materials. Instead, they tend to include more natural materials like stucco, stone, brick and wood. Sometimes, they are half-timbered. They also typically feature curves rather than straight lines and sharp edges, and are generally asymmetrical and irregular-looking. Turrets and towers are quite common. You may also see winged walls and storybook home siding.
Storybook homes are usually small cottages of one to two stories, but they can sometimes be larger, grander homes. In these cases, you may see other features like columns that give the house a more regal feel.
Storybook houses come outfitted with accessories that fit the overall feel. Doors are typically arched. Windows may feature wavy antique glass or stained glass. Ornate light fixtures and hardware, often made from iron, are common. Landscaping, including trees, shrubbery and flowers, is essential to add to the remote and rural feel most storybook cottages are going for. You can also expect to find a cobblestone pathway leading up to the front door.
What separates Custom Shingles from other manufacturers is our ability to steam-bend wood shingles into any shape. This is critical to fitting the curved surfaces of a storybook roof and subsequently making your design dream a reality. Steam-bending is an artisanal skill that ensures a perfect fit on any custom project. We can bend roof shingles to form curved eaves and gables, as well as other unique architectural features such as flared edges, bell towers and more.
Shingle Installation & Designs
Cedar shingles are a natural choice for any storybook roof. Over time, they will mature to a silver-grey color that complements the old-world look and feel of our custom roof designs. Cedar is also exceptionally durable and weather-resistant, though care must be taken to prevent moss buildup. We offer specially treated woods that deliver long-term protection against the elements, and use a pressure washing technique to prevent moss and dirt from accumulating over time.
Rest assured that when you count on Custom Shingles for your storybook roof, you’re working with a team that will complete the job to the highest standards of integrity. We have installed, restored and replaced cedar roofs on homes and commercial properties around the world.
In many cases, a storybook roof can be added to an existing building without any major structural modifications. Let our team of specialists assist you in re-roofing your cottage or storybook house. For more than 30 years, we have specialized in creating custom roofs that turn any property into a magical reprieve from the modern world.
Where Storybook Homes Originated
Though the inspiration for storybook homes started centuries ago in Europe, the storybook home as we know it today originated in 1920s America. When American soldiers returned home after fighting in World War I, they brought back with them memories of the quaint villages they had seen in countries like England and France, with structures dating back several hundred years. This inspiration is what led to the first storybook house and several subsequent houses.
As the motion picture industry was blossoming, some soldiers found themselves working in Hollywood, the perfect place to bring their architectural inspiration to life. The first storybook house to be constructed in the U.S. is called the "Witch's House." The house, with its lopsided shape, high-pitched wood shingle roof and fanciful details, looked like a romanticized rendering of the cottages the soldiers had encountered in Europe.
Art director named Harry Oliver designed the Witch's House, and construction completed in 1921. The house was on a studio lot in Culver City and was initially supposed to serve as both a film set and office space. Just five years later, the house moved to 516 Walden Drive in Beverly Hills, where it became a residence. Tourists still visit this iconic home today.
After the Witch's House was built, builders continued to construct storybook homes as part of film sets. Silent films were gaining popularity and were often set in times of old or an imagined past that included fantastic beings like fairies. Storybook houses were the perfect type of construction for the sets of these movies. Walt Disney himself, who had driven an ambulance in Europe during World War I, had sets constructed that were inspired by the European provincial style.
Residential storybook homes began to appear around California, first in the Hollywood/Los Angeles area and then in Northern California. Though these homes are relatively rare in other parts of the U.S., they eventually spread as far as places like Spokane, Wash., and Louisville, Ky. This whimsical architectural trend continued throughout the 1920s and faded out as the country entered the Great Depression.
The storybook houses built in the Roaring '20s are nearly a century old now, so they have achieved some genuine age, but they were originally built to look aged at the time. Homebuilders can still construct these houses today in the same style as they were in the 1920s with artificial aging. A storybook home, no matter when it was built, should look like it is straight out of the medieval era.
What Makes Storybook Roofs Unique?
The hallmarks of storybook roofs include sharp slopes — typically a 12/12 pitch or higher — and curved edges, especially around the gables and rakes. Though storybook roofs are often quite steep, they are also soft and welcoming, with curved ridgelines and gentle wave coursing that reaches back to a more innocent time and place.
The curvature in storybook roofs may take the form of sagged, swaybacked, concave, undulating or dramatically pointed. The main thing is that they are never flat and never feature straight, even sides. To maintain the whimsical feel, the roofs must be irregular. Towers, dormer windows and other features break up the roofline and add to the irregularity and charm of the house.
In keeping with the Old-World aesthetic, storybook roofs are typically made with wooden shingles, wooden shakes or slate shingles. Storybook shingles are usually placed in a seawave pattern, which really drives home the feeling that artisans of old built the roof by hand, rather than a modern roofing contractor looking to achieve symmetry and precision. In some cases, even if the roofing material is not thatch, it can achieve a thatch-roofed look through the wavy pattern and curved edges.
Our artisans at Custom Shingles can create storybook roofs that fit the aesthetic of this architectural style and exactly meet your customized design. Our ability to steam-bend wood shingles allows us to create storybook roofs that precisely fit your home and vision. Steam-bending is an artisanal skill that ensures a perfect fit on any custom project. We can bend roof shingles to form curved eaves and gables, as well as other unique architectural features such as flared edges, bell towers and more.
We have a variety of different materials at our disposal for creating the roof. If you live in an area that does not allow wooden roofs, we can use an aesthetic material that will achieve a very similar look to the real wooden shingles.
Otherwise, cedar shingles are a natural choice for any storybook roof. Over time, they will mature to a silver-gray color that complements the Old-World look and feel of our custom roof designs. Cedar is also exceptionally durable and weather-resistant, though owners must take care to prevent moss buildup. We offer specially treated woods that deliver long-term protection against the elements, and we use a pressure washing technique to keep moss and dirt from accumulating over time.
Reasons to Install a Storybook Shingle Roof
Whether you're building a new storybook home or you have an existing roof you want to upgrade, there are many reasons to consider a storybook roof. Since the roof is one of the most significant aspects that contributes to the storybook feel, a storybook roof can completely transform the look of a traditional home.
A storybook cedar roof offers a whole host of benefits, not just regarding appearance, but other practical factors that are also essential to consider. You don't have to sacrifice things like durability or energy efficiency to have a beautiful, unique storybook roof. Let's take a look at some of the reasons to install a storybook cedar roof.
Aesthetic appeal: Storybook homeowners may value the look of cedar shingles or shakes more than anything else. The aesthetic appeal of a storybook home is undeniable. Whether you want a smoother look from shingles or a rougher, more rustic look from shakes, you can create a roof that perfectly fits the unique charm of your home. The natural material fits right into the Old-World style of a storybook house and surrounding landscaping. Cedar ages beautifully into a silvery-gray color over time, so your roof will continue to be a beautiful focal point of your storybook home for many years to come.
Uniqueness: There is no doubt about it — a storybook roof is one of a kind. If you want your house to stand out, there's no better way to make a bold statement. Passersby will stop to admire the house and will likely find themselves smiling as they feel that childlike wonder again. Unique, whimsical personalities should have a home and a roof to match, and you can find that perfect match in the storybook roof design.
Durability: Whereas typical asphalt shingle roofs need replacement after two to three decades at best, cedar roofs last at least 10 years longer. Cedar is a highly durable wood that naturally resists damage from wind, rain, snow, hail, sunlight and insects. Compared to other roofing materials, cedar is also relatively resistant to growing moss. We specially treat our cedar shingles to be even more robust in the face of harsh weather. We also use a pressure-washing technique to ward off the collection of dirt or moss over time.
Structural stability: Thanks to its low density, cedar will maintain its original dimensions, even in very humid conditions. It won't shrink much at all and will hold tightly to fastenings. That is another reason cedar roofs have a reputation for being long-lasting. No matter the weather conditions, they are durable and structurally stable.
Insulation: Cedar is an excellent option if you want your home to be well-insulated. A well-insulated house will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter by creating a stronger barrier between your home and the outside. You can reduce your energy consumption considerably, since your HVAC system won't have to work as hard to heat or cool your house. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, this also saves you money.
Added value: Thanks to the many benefits above, you can add value to your home by installing a new storybook roof. You probably won't want to sell your house, but if you ever do need to move, you can charm buyers with a home that is truly unique and beautiful. Your home's market value should reflect this level of uniqueness and charm, as well as the advantages of durability and energy efficiency.
Contact Custom Shingles for Any Storybook Roofing Installation
Since your roof is among the most visible house components to approaching visitors, a storybook-style design is a great way to make a dramatic first impression on guests and passersby. In many cases, we can add a storybook roof to an existing building without any major structural modifications. Let our team of specialists assist you in re-roofing your cottage or storybook house. For more than 30 years, we have specialized in creating custom roofs that turn any property into a magical reprieve from the modern world.
Rest assured that when you count on Custom Shingles for your storybook roof, you’re working with a team that will complete the job to the highest standards of integrity. We have installed, restored and replaced cedar roofs on homes and commercial properties around the world. One of the distinctions that sets Custom Shingles apart from other manufacturers is our ability to steam-bend wood shingles into any shape. This skill is critical to fitting the curved surfaces of a storybook roof and subsequently making your design dream a reality.
Browse through our portfolio gallery to view the best storybook-style home images, and visit our blog for even more inspiration. If you're interested in having a storybook roof or another type of custom roof installed, contact Custom Shingles today. Our headquarters is in Lake City, Fla., but our expert teams can travel anywhere. Let us put our artisanal skills to use to help create your happily ever after.