Knowing the style of your house can help you develop a greater appreciation of the way your house was designed and built. This guide to house styles will help you understand the many variations within the different designs.
With so many types of house styles, narrowing the list down to your favorite can be overwhelming. Here’s the top 10 most popular house styles, including Cape Cod, country French, Colonial, Victorian, Tudor, Craftsman, cottage, Mediterranean, ranch, and contemporary.
1. Cape Cod Homes
With roots dating back to 1675, Cape Cod was a popular style for homes built in the 1930s. Typically one story (sometimes 1-1/2 stories) the Cape Cod-style features a steep roofline, wood siding, multi-pane windows, and hardwood flooring. Original homes were fairly small, and they often boast dormer windows for added space, light, and ventilation.
2. Country French-Style Homes
Country French-style homes in the United States date back to the 18th century. At that time, France occupied much of eastern North America with settlements scattered along the principal waterways, such as the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, and Mississippi valleys. French building traditions started to fade after President Thomas Jefferson purchased Louisiana in 1803, but this house style remained popular in New Orleans and other areas for another half-century.
Country French homes are often one story with many narrow windows and paired shutters, steeply pitched roofs (either hipped or side-gabled), stucco walls, and a half-timbered frame. The curb appeal really stands out and often feature stunning driveways and landscape designs.
3. Colonial-Style Homes
The Colonial style—dating back to 1876—is one of the most popular home styles in the United States. Colonial-style homes usually have two or three stories, fireplaces, and brick or wood facades. The classic Colonial-style house floor plan has the kitchen and family room on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second floor.
4. Victorian Houses
There are several styles of houses (such as the Queen Anne) that fall within the Victorian Era, which lasted from about 1860 to 1900. Homes of the Victorian Era were romantic, distinctive, and abundant with detail, from the fabrics and patterns to the colors and textures. Contemporary Victorian house design retains the traditional characteristics but uses more modern fabrics and colors. Traditional and contemporary can be combined nicely in these houses.
Victorian homes often feature a steeply pitched roof, a dominant front-facing gable, patterned shingles, cutaway bay windows, and an asymmetrical facade with a partial or full-width front porch.
5. Tudor-Style Houses
The name of this style suggests a close connection to the architectural characteristics of the early 16th-century Tudor dynasty in England. But the Tudor houses we see today are modern-day re-inventions that are loosely based on a variety of late Medieval English prototypes.
Common features of Tudor-style homes include a steeply pitched roof, prominent cross gables, decorative half-timbering, and tall, narrow windows with small windowpanes.
6. Craftsman Houses
The Craftsman bungalow (also known as Arts and Crafts) was a popular house style between 1905 and the 1930s, and it’s making a comeback today. If you’re wondering what a Craftsman house looks like, step inside. One distinguishing feature of the style is the large amount of interior woodwork, such as built-in shelving and seating.
As for the exterior, Craftsman-style homes often have low-pitched roofs with wide eave overhangs, exposed roof rafters, decorative beams or braces under gables, and porches framed by tapered square columns. Craftsman bungalows often have unfinished but usable space in the attic that can offer great renovation opportunities.
7. Cottage-Style Homes
Medieval styles of the English countryside inspired American architects to design the charming and cozy cottage-style houses we know today. The style became especially popular in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s.
Common features of cottage style house plans include a warm, storybook character, steep roof pitches and cross gables, arched doors, casement windows with small panes, and brick, stone, or stucco siding.
8. Mediterranean-Style Houses
Mediterranean styles of architecture, such as Spanish colonial revival (also known as Spanish farmhouse or Spanish eclectic) flourished in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s following a noteworthy appearance at the Panama-California Exposition of 1915.
Mediterranean-style homes often feature a low-pitched red tile roof, arches, grillwork, and a stucco or adobe exterior. The typical U-shape Mediterranean floor plan is oriented around a central courtyard and fountain, making the garden an extension of the living space. Rooms open to the courtyard, promoting cooling cross-ventilation and the flow of fresh air.
9. Traditional Ranch Homes
Traditional ranch-style homes usually have simple floor plans, attached garages, and efficient living spaces. The style dates back to 1932 and is still being built today. It was one of the most popular styles in the suburban home-building boom of the 1950s and 1960s.
Although they may appear plain or cookie-cutter on the outside, ranch-style homes offer great potential for additions. Bilevel and trilevel homes evolved from the ranch style and were built during the same era. Because of their simplicity, ranch-style house plans are easy to upgrade with additions.
10. Contemporary-Style Homes
Referring specifically to architect-designed homes built from about 1950 to 1970, the term “contemporary” has come to describe a wide range of houses built in recent decades that concentrate on simple forms and geometric lines. Contemporary-style homes reflect the experimentation and dynamism of the postwar modern period in which many modernist ideas were integrated into the American aesthetic.
Many contemporary homes feature lots of glass, open floor plans, and inventive designs. Without elaborate ornamentation and unnecessary detail, the exteriors of contemporary homes often feature a dynamic mix of contrasting materials and textures, exposed roof beams, and flat or low-pitched roofs.