Single-Family Houses (184.108.40.206)
Editor's Note: The terms “form”, “finish”, and “style” can be somewhat confusing at first.
“Form” refers to the spatial structure of the building - how many stories tall, how many rooms deep, how many windows (bays) wide, how the roof is designed, etc. Terms like "two-story", or "double-pile", or "five-bay", or "end-gable" all refer to form.
“Finish” refers to decoration, color, and material. Decorative millwork (“gingerbread”), shutters, siding, window shape and structure, and color pallettes are elements of finish.
“Style” is the combination of form and finish. Styles are often associated with a particular period of time and in fact can sometimes be named after a particular era. Styles can come into fashion, go out of fashion, and become fashionable again (as Colonial Revival). Some types of finish are associated with a particular form, but some finishes can be applied a variety of forms, and some forms are suitable for several different finishes.
It helps to remember Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's maxim "Form follows function" when thinking about form and finish. A building's form is directly related to its function, but its finish is mostly aesthetic.