15 popular and common types of houses

Popular architectural style houses

Travel across America and you’ll find an incredible variety architectural styles represented. While searching for your new home, pay attention to the house styles you like. The descriptions below may be helpful in articulating exactly what you’re looking for in your new home.

1. Ranch style

In the late 1930s, after World War II, soldiers were ready to come home and start a family and the demand for affordable, quality homes skyrocketed.

Ranch-style homes are built with accessibility and flexibility in mind. Many are built horizontally, with each room easily interchangeable with the next. A large family room can easily become a home school classroom by adding French doors. Or a bedroom to a home office.

Unique features include:

  • Single storey with brick, wood and stucco exterior. You will often find an attached garage and the entire house accentuated with a simple finish.
  • Large windows and sliding glass doors lead to a patio or backyard.
  • Floor plans are usually open, unlike the other house styles we’ll discuss.

2. Cape Cod style

The Cape Cod style house originated in the mid 17th century in the Cape Cod area. Originally designed to withstand New England’s incredibly harsh winters, homes had heavy shutters that could be closed to protect windows and block drafts during severe storms.

Original Cape Cod homes had a central fireplace connected to chimneys throughout the home to more efficiently heat individual areas of the home. Modern Cape Cods have decorative shutters and fireplaces at the end of the house rather than in the center of the house.

Unique features include:

  • One or one and a half stories with a steep roof and a small roof overhang
  • The house is made of wood and covered with shingles or shingles and has a symmetrical appearance with a center door
  • Architecture includes multi-pane windows, dormers (which are created as usable space with windows in the roof), and a formal floor plan, usually with hardwood floors

3. Colonial style

Like the Cape Cod, Colonial style homes were built out of necessity. The weather along the east coast can be harsh and cold. Central fireplaces, separate rooms and relatively low ceilings retain heat efficiently. Early settlers brought their own architectural twists from the lands they left. We now have several variations of Colonial style homes such as the Georgian, Dutch and Spanish Colonial styles to name a few.

Although their roots were planted in the 17e century houses in traditional and modern colonial style can be identified by their unique use of soothing symmetry. Exterior windows, doors and columns on one side of the house are often mirrored on the other side. Other features include a square symmetrical facade, evenly spaced multi-pane shuttered windows and fireplaces with evenly proportioned chimney stacks.

Unique features include:

  • Two to three storeys with a rectangular shape, a gable roof (both sides sloping at the same angle) and dormer windows
  • Decorative crown above the front door supported by pilasters or columns
  • The construction is made of brick or wood siding
  • Grand entrances and porches reveal living spaces on the first floor, while the bedrooms are on the upper floors

4. Victorian style

When a home is referred to as a Victorian style home, “Victorian” actually refers to the period from the 1830s to 1900s. The architectural style of the home is referred to as a Queen Anne. Victorian-era homes are grand structures with ornate woodwork and large wraparound porches. The paint and decor span the spectrum of design.

Original Victorian style homes were often brightly painted with no shortage of unique features such as turrets, verandas and multi-purpose rooms for the busy family.

Unique features include:

  • Steeply sloping roofs of irregular shape with a dominant front facing wide facade
  • Ornate wood trim and textured shingles with decorative wood brackets and shingles
  • An asymmetrical one-story porch that extends around the front or the front and sides of the house
  • Some homes have combinations of up to eight exterior colors
  • The interior of the house often contains high ceilings and deep arches between rooms, with small rooms divided by their use: a formal dining room, a small library, a drawing room, a formal living room and so on

5. Tudor style

Like some of the other architectural styles we’ve discussed, the Tudor house originated in England. Tudor-style houses have multi-gabled roofs and half-timbered houses. It was a highly sought-after house style prior to World War II; after the war, however, many wanted a more modern American-style home.

Unique features include:

  • Steeply pitched roofs with wide gables, elaborate chimneys with small dormer windows and slate edges
  • Exposed wooden framework on the outside, with the spaces between the frames filled with stucco and masonry
  • Large, narrow casement windows with multiple panes framed in wood or metal
  • Stone trim and decoratively embellished doorways with stone trim and door surrounds

6. Mediterranean style

The Mediterranean style originates from countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy. These houses are usually built with a stucco exterior with large arched windows and red clay roof tiles. Spanish settlers in the southwest during the 16e century took advantage of the thick clay walls to maintain cooler temperatures in the desert heat. In the 1920s, Americans became fascinated with this distinctive style, which quickly became popular.

Unique features include:

  • A flat or low tiled roof, often red, with a warm-coloured stucco finish
  • Many homes have extensive outdoor spaces or porches, second-story balconies, and large open seating areas to allow air to flow throughout the home
  • Balconies and large arched windows are surrounded by wrought iron railings and details

7. Contemporary style

Contemporary and modern are often used interchangeably when discussing architecture, but they are quite different. “Modern” refers to a period that has already passed, where “contemporary” refers to now. Many modern homes are built with eco-friendly materials and a design focus on clean lines and natural textures.

Unique features include:

  • Clean, simple lines
  • Neutral colors and natural textures

8. Modern farmhouse

A new living style that is gaining popularity is the modern farmhouse. Inspired by traditional farmhouses, modern farmhouses often have high ceilings, exposed beams and a large veranda. Modern farmhouse style combines the rustic feel of a farmhouse with clean lines and modern convenience.

Unique features include:

  • Barn-shaped roofs, large verandas
  • Clean lines and modern functionality

9. Prairie Style

During the Victorian era, young architects grew tired of European styles and wanted to create something new for modern American living. The prairie-style home was designed to reflect and honor the environment. Made popular by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie style homes are designed to be functional, fluid and open.

Unique features include:

  • Cantilevered long, flat roofs
  • Simple and natural woodwork
  • Open concept floor plan

10. Mid-century modern style

The mid-century modern style is easily recognizable and is usually characterized by flat straight lines, large glass windows and open spaces. The focus of the mid-century modern style is simplicity and integration with nature and the environment, emphasizing form as function.

It was made popular in the mid-1950s with the work of renowned architects Rudolph Schindler, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Joseph Eichler.

Unique features include:

  • Two-level plans with wide, flat roofs, angular details and asymmetrical features
  • A focus on the use of floor-to-ceiling windows, walls of glass and wide-open floor plans
  • Known for using materials such as steel, plywood and concrete in the construction of the house

11. Split Level Style

Split-level homes evolved from the ranch-style home design of the 1950s. In a split-level home, the living areas are separated by short flights of stairs. Unlike a standard two or three storey house connected by long stairs.

Unique features include:

  • Living areas separated by short stairs

12. Cottage style

Brought over from England, cottages were home to working-class farmers. Cottage-style homes are cozy and usually on the small side when it comes to square footage. They often have wooden or wooden shingles, small porches and a cozy fireplace.

In America, some people buy cottages to use as vacation homes and there are still many who prefer the sleeker quarters and personality of a cottage.

Unique features include:

  • Wooden shingles or siding
  • Small living space but very cosy
  • Individual character

13. French country style

French country style homes are inspired by the beautiful homes of the French countryside in areas such as Provence. French country houses usually have gabled roofs, shutters, built-in bricks and have a weathered appearance. Inside you’ll find subdued color palettes with worn colors and natural visible wood grain.

Unique features include:

  • Made of stone or contains stone elements
  • Distressed, painted, vintage furniture and decor
  • Lots of wood and other natural materials

14. Bungalow style

The term bungalow can be traced back to the 19e century when the British ruling class wanted to build an easy-to-build rest house to use during their visits. Charles and Henry Greene are seen as early adopters of this style. A bungalow-style house usually has tapered or square columns that support the roof, plenty of living space on the main floor, and a fireplace.

The simple, affordable style grew in popularity in 1900s America. There are several bungalow styles – California style, Michigan style, Chicago style, ranch style – but they all refer to the same type of home.

Unique features include:

  • Made of stone or contains stone elements
  • One or one and a half stories with a low gable roof and a horizontal shape
  • Low eaves with exposed trusses
  • Tapered or square columns that support the roof
  • Large covered porches
  • Most of the living areas are on the ground floor with the living room in the middle
  • Lots of built-in cupboards, shelves and a large fireplace with built-in cupboards on either side

15. Craftsman

A Craftsman-style home focuses on the value of handcrafted, well-constructed architecture. They feature beautiful handcrafted materials, exposed beams, low gable roofs and tapered columns on their verandas. Inside, you’ll find custom elements like built-in bookshelves, hand-laid fireplaces, and window seats.

Unique features include:

  • Hand crafted wooden features
  • Visible beams
  • Large square or tapered columns

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