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Keeping columns and other design elements the right size will result in an impressive entrance that meshes with your home.

Many neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area were built during the 1920s boom era with homes designed to mimic popular Northern houses familiar to Florida transplants. - I call these wood-frame houses "traditional" because they were the main style built during that era. Architectural historians have various names for this type of design: colonial, craftsman, Victorian, bungalow - even Sears for houses built using kits sold by the department store. - These houses can be found in some of the most desirable neighborhoods, and owners often renovate or expand to accommodate modern conveniences and growing families. - When done well, these renovations blend seamlessly with the older part of the home and the surrounding neighborhood. - When done poorly, the newer sections stand out - and not in a good way. - The difference is in the details. Over the next four weeks, I will talk about specific design characteristics of older homes.

Timothy Rhode is an architect in St. Petersburg. He can be reached at (727) 823-1566 or through his website,

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Architects typically design the most exterior detail into the main entrance of the house because the entrance celebrates and articulates the transition from the exterior to the interior.

Many of these "traditional" houses use columns to support a one-story entry, which often includes a porch. The columns are the most obvious design detail within the porch and it is important that the proportions of the column are appropriate for the style and scale of the porch.

The columns sit on a square base or plinth. If the plinth is wood, it is usually 2 inches to 6 inches in height. If the plinth is masonry, it will usually be 2 to 3 feet in height. The column dimensions should be proportional to the plinth. The photos show some examples of the appropriate versus inappropriate columns and plinths.

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Upcoming articles

Today: Columns and entries

July 10: Windows

July 17: Brackets and overhangs

July 24: Gables

Do you have an older home?

Future stories in this series will feature photos of existing homes to illustrate the details. If you own a home that you think would be appropriate to include, e-mail Tim Rhode at Please limit e-mails to two or three photos and include your contact information.

To learn more

Proper proportion has long been valued in architecture. One resource is The Four Books of Architecture by Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect who drew detailed diagrams and wrote about the proper proportions for columns as well as other classical architectural elements.