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The 11 Most Popular Home Architecture Styles in America
We took a deep dive into exploring some of the most popular architectural home styles and what makes each one special!
When buying a new house, it’s definitely important to consider factors like your new home’s location and your personal finances. However, you also need to like the house as a whole, and that means appreciating its original architectural style. In today’s competitive housing market, potential homebuyers have been so desperate to become homeowners that they’ll place an offer on almost anything. People rationalize this by thinking that no home will ever be completely perfect and that they can make it their own once they move in.
However, people who don’t necessarily love their home’s architecture might be more inclined to make one of the biggest renovation mistakes homeowners make: Remodeling their house in such a way that it doesn’t stay true to the home’s original architectural style. In other words, eager homeowners dive into complex renovations without considering the big picture. When that happens, you end up with a weird juxtaposition of styles that don’t always work. For example, you probably shouldn’t remodel an old Craftsman style home in the Greek Revival style, but a Cape Cod style may be a more reasonable remodel.
Without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into 11 of the most popular architectural home styles. By understanding the history behind each style and why it’s special, you can gain a better understanding of what styles resonate with you. You can also gain insight into how you can lean into your home’s architecture in your renovations to truly make your home look its best.
Since they first appeared at the turn of the 20th century, Craftsman-style houses have been one of the most immediately recognizable home types in America. Thought to be inspired by British Arts and Crafts architecture, these homes emphasize clean, simple lines and value handmade, well-constructed frameworks meant to blend harmoniously with nature. Common features you’ll find in a Craftsman home include a covered front porch, tapered columns used for beauty and support, deep overhanging roof eaves, and wide trim around multi-pane windows. Craftsman-style homes are also usually painted and decorated with washed-out earth tones and a color palette that favors natural blues and greens.
If you are looking for a residence that feels cozy and charming, you’ll find that and more inside of a Cottage-style house. While we love cottage homes in America, the word “cottage” actually comes from England, where the first cottages were built for farmers and their families during the Middle Ages. Cottage homes are often on the smaller side, but they make up for their lacking living space with lots of personality and character. Key features will likely include shingles, stucco walls, balconies, small porches, gable roofs, and bay windows. These homes will also only be 1 or 1.5 stories and have an asymmetrical design. These homes make great vacation properties or are a good choice for people looking to downsize.
You’ll often find Spanish Colonial homes while house hunting in places with warm climates, like California, Florida, or throughout the Southwest. The term Spanish Colonial is generally used to describe homes that were built in the early 20th century and take design and architectural inspiration from building techniques used by Spanish Conquistadores during the Spanish Colonization of the Americas. Since Spanish Colonial homes are typically only one-story, they are also thought of as the ancestors of modern ranch houses.
Key characteristics you can expect to see in Spanish homes include materials made from indigenous components and thick, stucco-clad walls that were designed to absorb heat during the day to keep homes warm at night. During the Spanish colonization, homes were built from the environment for the environment and that mindset still lives on. In addition, you may also see small, open windows, inner courtyards, and wooden support beams. However, Spanish Colonial homes will have limited ornamentation aside from arches on entryways, windows, and walkways, and maybe some intricate stone or tile work.
Mediterranean-Style homes look somewhat similar to Spanish-Colonial homes because they take their influence from Spanish and Italian villas. With ties to European Architecture, Mediterranean homes emphasize indoor and outdoor living and are often reminiscent of sun-soaked, seaside destinations. If you tour a Mediterranean-style home, you’ll likely find enclosed outdoor living spaces, red-tiled roofs, stucco walls, and metalwork on balconies and windows. Although the houses are usually white, they’ll incorporate splashes of color along with warm stone and wood.
Tudor-style homes first appeared in the United States in the 1800s and are inspired by Late Medieval and early Renaissance architectural elements. The name Tudor comes from the late 15th century and early 16th century when the Tudor family was at the height of its power in England. These homes eventually gained popularity in the United States in the 1920s and have remained a popular home style ever since. Tudor homes are asymmetrical and are usually recognized by steep gable roofs, brick chimneys, decorative half-timbering, casement windows, stonework, and their unmistakable Tudor interiors. The inside of the homes normally feature warm color palettes, beamed ceilings, arched doorways, stone hearths, and wood paneling. Living spaces are typically large with each room separated for specific purposes.
Named after Queen Victoria, Victorian homes were also introduced to America in the 1830s and gained popularity during the 1900s. Victorian homes first appeared during the Industrial Revolution and are thought to be a product of their time. During the time period, builders gained access to new and better methods of manufacturing techniques and improved transportation. This allowed for more complex, decorative designs and the ability to apply colored paints to buildings for the first time. Although Victorian homes are generally divided into three categories (Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Folk Victorian), they typically always have ornate decorations, steep gable roofs, small towers, and bright facades.
Cape Cod Style Homes originated in Massachusetts during the 1700s. These homes were meant to be hardy enough to withstand the difficult Winters in New England while also still remaining charming and likable. However, the first thing most people picture when they think of Cape Cod homes is images of sandy, wind-swept beaches.
Cape Cod homes are rectangular-shaped, two-story homes that feature a symmetrical floor plan and a centralized entry hallway. On the outside, Cape Cod homes usually have wood siding, roof shingles, and a central door with a window on either side. They typically have two stories and are considered to be entry-level homes for first-time homebuyers in many desirable locations.
Mid Century Modern:
Although it’s a bit unclear, experts speculate that mid century modern home design emerged after WWII from the Bauhaus movement, which was the beginning of modern art as we know it today. Others say that the peak of mid century modern home design arrived in full force in booming postwar neighborhoods in the 1950s or 1960s. But what everyone can agree on is this architectural style has global influences, has a focus on minimalism and functionality, and promotes a connection to nature.
The calling card of mid century modern architecture is low-profile structures that feature sleek, clean lines in both geometric and organic forms. The sleek designs are often completed using both natural and manmade materials, and often have large windows to allow the home’s residents to connect with nature. Mid Century modern homes have little to no ornamentation, decoration, or clutter as they prioritize functionality and simplicity.
Contemporary homes are often confused with mid century modern homes, but the two architectural styles are more different than you might think. In other words, the terms contemporary and modern shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Contemporary homes are thought to be the houses of the present and usually incorporate a mixture of modernist styles and follow current trends from the time period in which they were built. Most contemporary builders rely on eco-friendly materials as much as possible and utilize clean lines and natural textures in their designs. There is also a heavy emphasis placed on open floor plants, neutral color tones, and utilizing natural light within the home.
Greek-revival homes are probably the easiest to recognize on our list because of their impressive columns. The columns are meant to emulate those found on the Parthenon and other famous Greek buildings and are usually large and white. Aside from impressive columns, these homes also have features like interior moldings, Greek-style embellishments and expressive detailing, sash windows, an elaborate front entrance, entablature roof trim, and low-pitched roofs. In addition, some Greek-revival homes will also have a portico, which is a type of open porch leading off the front door that is supported by columns.
Farmhouses can be either classic or modern, but both types are inspired by their namesake. Paying homage to barns, farms, and agriculture, farmhouses typically have tall ceilings, exposed beams, a large front porch, a rectangular layout, and a central fireplace. Some even have barn-shaped roofs, but that’s not a requirement by any means. The decoration within farmhouses is typically rustic, featuring pops of color on a white backdrop and exposed brick and stone. Inside the home, you will likely find apron sinks, vintage furniture, and traditional fabrics. The only real difference between classic and modern farmhouses is that modern farmhouse design takes the original comfortable, relaxed farmhouse style and adds modern touches such as smooth lines, glossy accents, and neutral color schemes.
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