Home Buying & Selling
May 26, 2022

Common Architectural Home Styles

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

There are a great number of architectural home styles across America, all with unique features and characteristics. Each distinct style lends itself to different life stages, geographic locations, and owners’ preferences. Aside from aesthetics, knowing the time period your home was constructed as well as its architectural style may better prepare your expectations with repairs, maintenance, and renovation possibilities. We’ll explore at some of the common architectural home styles and their key features to better assist your home search.

Ranch

Ranch-style homes were built with accessibility and flexibility in mind. After World War II, soldiers were ready to return home and start a family, increasing the demand for affordable, quality homes. These homes are considered easier to care for than other homes due to their lower roofs, open interiors, and the simplicity of one-story living.

Key features:

  • One story with brick, wood, or stucco exterior
  • Low-pitch roofs
  • Large windows
  • Sliding glass doors that often lead to a deck or large backyard
  • Open living space
  • Attached garage

Cape Cod Style

This style of home originated in the 1700’s after its namesake vacation destination in Massachusetts. Cape Cod homes were built to withstand the rough New England winters with heavy shutters and central fireplaces with linked chimneys to heat separate areas more efficiently.

Key features:

  • One or one-and-a-half stories with steep roofs
  • Symmetrical appearance with central door and flanking windows
  • Multipaned windows
  • Dormers
  • Formal floor plan

Colonial

Colonial homes may share similarities with Cape Cod style homes, with both being built out of necessity to withstand Eastern American weather. Often a simple and symmetrical shape, they were built with separate rooms and low ceilings to retain heat more efficiently. Both traditional and modern colonial-style homes can be identified by their symmetry.

Key features:

  • Two to three stories with gabled roof (both sides slope at the same angle) and dormers
  • Decorative motif over front door supported by pilasters or columns
  • Constructed of brick or wood siding
  • Grand entrances with living areas on the first floor and bedrooms on upper levels

Victorian

Victorian style became a catch-all term for a wide variety of architectural styles, such as Italianate, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Second Empire, and Folk Victorian. The style originated during the Victorian time from the 1830s and 1900. They were originally brightly painted with unique features like turrets, verandas, and multipurpose rooms for large families.

Key features:

  • Steeply pitched and irregularly shaped roofs with front-facing wide gables
  • Ornate woodwork shingles with decorative wooden brackets and clapboard siding
  • Asymmetrical wrap around porch
  • Interiors with high ceilings and deep archways between rooms
  • Small rooms divided by their uses, such as a formal dining room, small library, formal living rooms, etc.

Tudor

These English-originating homes feature multi-gabled roofs and half-timber framing. Tudor-style homes were brought to the United States by European-trained architects in the late 1800’s and gained popularity in the 1920’s. They were inspired by late Medieval and early Renaissance architecture.

Key features:

  • Multi-gabled roofs
  • Timber framing stone masonry
  • Large windows with multiple panes, framed with wood or metal
  • Stone trim and decorative embellished doorways

Mediterranean

Inspired by Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy, these homes became popular with American builders in the 1920’s. Their stucco and stone construction elements and emphasis on indoor-outdoor living make them popular in areas with temperate weather, such as California and Florida.  

Key features:

  • Red flat or low-pitched tile roof with warm-colored stucco exteriors
  • Extensive outdoor living areas or verandas, second floor balconies, and large open seating areas for air flow
  • Large arched windows surrounded by wrought-iron railings and detailing

Contemporary

Often confused with modern style, contemporary refers to the present time while modern refers to a period that has already passed, such as Midcentury Modern. Contemporary homes today often incorporate modernist elements, eco-friendly materials, and generally reflect the exterior design within the interior.

Key features:

  • Strong geometric shapes
  • Extensive uses of natural light
  • Flexible layout to adapt to changes in family needs

Modern Farmhouse

Inspired by traditional farmhouses, the modern style combines rustic and classic architecture elements, such as exposed stone or tall ceilings, with clean lines and modern convenience.

Key features:

  • Large, rectangular porches
  • Barn inspired roofs
  • Reclaimed wood floors or furniture

Cottage

Cottages began as homes for working-class farmers in England. In the United States, some people bought cottages for vacation homes as they’re often smaller in square footage than other architectural styles.

Key features:

  • Wood features or wood shingle siding
  • Steep roof pitches with cross gables
  • Small porches and arched doors
  • Casement windows with small panes

Bungalow

Bungalow homes became incredibly popular in the United States during the 1900’s because of their simple layout and affordability. Often a single- or one-and-a-half story home, bungalows were often built as squares or rectangles with front porches.

Key features:

  • Large covered front porches
  • Most living spaces located on the main floor with the living room in the very center
  • Tapered or squared columns that support the roof
  • Low eaves with exposed rafters

Craftsman

Craftsman homes focus on handmade and well-constructed elements and architecture. They emerged from an international 19th century artistic and architectural movement against mass or factory produced housing. Each design reflects three core style values: architectural simplicity, handcrafted decorative construction, and the use of locally sourced natural materials.

Key features:

  • Wide porches and open floor plans
  • Exposed beams and other natural materials
  • Low-pitched roofs

The Right Style for You

Ultimately, the ideal architectural home style will depend on your lifestyle and goals. When you’re ready to find the home of your dreams, contact us. Our Loan Originators will work closely with you through the process to ensure your homebuying journey is successful.

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