The design of a house is both a matter of aesthetics and functionality. What works for one needn’t work for another. However there are neighborhoods where all the houses are similarly designed, while in other neighborhoods this might not be the case. What is certainly true is that all the houses that constitute a neighborhood collectively have a bearing on the overall appearance of the entire neighborhood. People being people, everybody can have a different idea about what sort of a character should a neighborhood possess.
For instance the residents of West Hollywood West have lately been exercised by the recent appearance of too many modern box style homes that are changing the traditional character of the neighborhood. In another example the architect of a two storey Mediterranean style home on Middle Road in Menlo Park was asked by the town’s Planning Commission to redesign the house even though it did not violate any regulations, simply because it was out of character in a one story bungalow neighborhood.
Although there is no ideal scenario or one size fits all solution to how most people would like a neighborhood to look, most people do look ahead to certain things in a neighborhood. For instance a tolerable degree of architectural homogeneity is not something anybody would look amiss at. Most people would like the fronts of their home to be more or less in line and close to the street for example. What could work for most neighborhoods is an amalgam of some degree of repetitiveness and a bit of vibrancy and distinctive character.
Suburbia in particular has had to contend with an extreme form of sameness in the design of houses often leading to situation where people had to look for cues that would help them differentiate their homes from the neighbors’. So much so that town planners have sometimes seriously considered mandating some ‘anti monotony’ measures to ensure that the houses have some individual characteristics or traits.
The flip side of this is that customization raises the cost of housing, with builders having to either raise costs or offer smaller houses to their buyers. This has in the past few decades led to assembly line or cookie cutter housing in the suburbs, leading even to much social comment about how soulless life had become with homogeneity making everybody’s life very drab indeed.
In the ultimate analysis there are votaries for both comforting uniformity and giving full play to one’s creative imagination to come up with an n alternate vision of aesthetics. In 21st century America there is room for both.
Summary: The design of a house is dictated by both taste and functionality. There are neighborhoods that are uniformly designed and others that exhibit considerable individuality of taste. The former style has economic advantages while the latter appeals to the aesthetic sense of many. Both have their place in today’s America.