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Selecting Your Architectural Style Part One

Posted on Dec 21, 2018

This article begins a three-part series taking you on a tour through Riverbend’s six architectural styles. After almost 40 years designing and crafting timber frame homes, the Riverbend team has the knowledge and expertise to assist you with the initial planning of your dream home. For many clients, selecting architectural style is the first step.

timber frame home british columbia
A Glimpse of a Riverbend Timber Frame Residence, British Columbia

Deciding on an architectural style may pose the biggest challenge you face on your journey to a timber frame home. After all, it’s difficult to customize, (let alone fully design), a floor plan concept if you don’t yet know whether you prefer an open courtyard or a wrap-around deck. There are no two Riverbend home styles more different in look, feel, and form than our Mountain and European collections. This article’s detailed look at the two architectural styles may enable you to elevate one over the other, thus moving you one step closer to your timber frame dream home.

Mountain Style Architecture

If you own a parcel located in or near a mountain range, you probably already have some idea of what you want your completed timber home to look like. And, chances are, it’s a Mountain style home. With their steeply pitched roof lines, prow windows, and exposed timber frame elements, Mountain style homes are the epitome of modern-day rustic living.

mountain style architecture
Riverbend Mountain Style Architecture, Alberta Timber Frame Residence

Whether you plan to use your mountain home as a vacation retreat for your extended family, or as your primary residence, you’ll want to consider the views. Knowing the view or views you want to see from each room, allows you and your designer to situate the home in a way that maximizes them.(i)  And then, of course, there is energy use to consider.

When building a home in the mountains, you’ll want it to be energy efficient as well as beautiful. Those same snow-capped peaks that are breathtakingly beautiful can lead to skyrocketing energy costs. Riverbend Timber Framing offers an efficient way in which to satisfy both your desired aesthetic and your pocketbook. Through the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) and insulated concrete forms (ICFs), Riverbend creates an highly energy efficient structural shell that beautifully envelopes timber framing. Because Riverbend Timber Framing designs its homes to incorporate SIPs and ICFs sourced from PFB companies, you can rest assured that your home will seamlessly integrate together.

In stark contrast to European style homes, Mountain style homes usually feature a magnificent prow similar to that of the Alberta residence shown above. In fact, these (often glass-walled) prows serve as one of the most distinguishing architectural elements of this style. Mountain style homes are also much loved for their walk-out basements and large, sometimes wrap-around, deck space. There are few people who don’t appreciate their favorite beverage on a sunny day, especially when relaxing in a comfy chair on a spacious deck.

mountain style residence deck
Riverbend Mountain Style Architecture, Oklahoma Timber Frame Residence

By now, you can easily appreciate the design versatility of Mountain style homes. But, there is something else to consider: location.

When you have the opportunity to take an astonishingly lovely piece of property and make it your own, the house you build on it should perfectly blend into the land itself. With this in-mind, you may now be wondering, “Where does Mountain style architecture work best?” Here are some location suggestions:

  • In scenic areas
  • On a rocky outcropping
  • In the foothills
  • In ski resort towns
  • In wooded areas
  • On large lots

Whether you envision a rustic retreat for family gatherings or a more sophisticated mountain home for relaxing and entertaining your guests, we have a variety of mountain home floor plans that can easily be modified to your needs and preferences. Let Riverbend’s talented designers help you capture your Mountain spirit. View more Mountain Style design concepts here.

European Style Architecture

If you prefer a more classical style of living, our European architectural style may be for you. The long and vibrant tradition of timber framing includes Old World designs found throughout Scandinavia, Europe, and Asia. Powerful, hand-crafted post and beam construction, and beautiful embellishments blend to create astonishing structures. From generous chalets and massive Tudor-style homes to cathedrals and gently unassuming cottages, these buildings have welcomed visitors and families for centuries. Whether employed in large manors or more modest abodes, the lines of traditional European architecture remain popular to this day. This is because European style architecture creates a sense of history– even when incorporated into new construction.

european style architecture timber frame home
Riverbend European Style Architecture, Kentucky Timber Frame Residence

European style timber frame homes, like the one shown above, are instantly recognizable. Featuring ornate detailing along with understated touches, this architectural style is frequently found in our designs. While these timber framing features and techniques date back centuries, the distinct architectural flair of these homes is definitely relevant today.

Often showcasing arched or oblong windows and hipped roofs with steeper pitches than you see with other styles of architecture, European style homes also tend to include generous stone accents. Other popular elements of this style of architecture include open or low-walled courtyards, and fairy-tale style turrets, both of which replicate the timeless aesthetic of the Old World.

Deanery Tower in Hadleigh, Suffolk
Deanery Tower in Hadleigh, Suffolk, early Henry VII is an example of turrets.  Keith Evans © photograph(iii)

It is important to note that at the core of European design is an attention to– and love of– detail. Craftsmanship, for which Riverbend is famous, plays an important role in this style of design. Our artisans use traditional mortise-and-tenon techniques for connecting the timbers just like timber craftsman throughout the world have for thousands of years. We are proud bearers of that legacy.

Riverbend Timber Framing Joinery

With their gracious lines and sophisticated ease, European style homes shine across a multitude of landscapes and neighborhoods. They tend to work best:

  • In established neighborhoods with traditional homes
  • On wide avenues with large setbacks
  • In estate-style neighborhoods
  • On secluded lots

If you find yourself enamored with the elegance of European home design but don’t want to design a whole European style residence, you can choose to incorporate some of its captivating details. Elements like curved timbers and stone accents can easily be added to a home to create a luxurious, Old World charm. Your Riverbend designer will capture your vision and ensure the home is uniquely yours. Browse our European Style conceptual designs here.

About Riverbend

Regardless of which style of home you prefer, Mountain or European, as a leader in the design, fabrication, and installation of timber frame homes across North America, Riverbend Timber Framing will combine traditional techniques and energy efficient products, promising you a home that is beautiful, high-quality, and sturdy — ready to be enjoyed now and for generations to come.

Please return in two weeks for the second article in our home styles series. We will share insights into Traditional style timber frame architecture and compare it with that of The Moderns™.

Notes and photo credits


(i) Your Riverbend client representative provides a great deal of insight on site orientation when he visits your property prior to the actual designing of your home.

(ii) For more information about sloped lots, visit the Designing For Your Lot page of our website, here.

(iii) The Deanery Tower in Hadleigh, Suffolk, early Henry VII. A Grade I listed building is an example of turrets in Tudor Architecture. Keith Evans © photo licensed for reuse under

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