If you’re in the market to buy a new home, then you know how confusing the hunt for a house can be. You can picture your dream home in your head, but you can’t describe exactly what you’re looking for to help your agent narrow your search. We’re here to help!
Check out this list of the most common types of architectural styles you’ll find on your house hunting journey.
The word “bungalow” is often used to refer to any small 20th century home that uses space efficiently. However, it has roots that go way back to mid-17th century India. The term was used to refer to homes done in the Bengali style that was common to homes owned by the British ruling class at the time. However, it became much more popular in the early 1900s for homes that were built in the suburbs in the Arts and Crafts style. There are several styles of bungalow – California style, Michigan style, Chicago style, ranch style, etc. – but they all refer to the same type of home that contain the following features:
- Either one- or one-and-a half stories with a low-pitched roof and a horizontal shape
- Low eaves with exposed rafters
- Tapered or squared columns that support the roof
- Large covered front porches
- Most of the living spaces are on the main floor with the living room located in the center
- Lots of built-in cabinetry, shelves and a large fireplace with cabinetry built in on either side
This style home originated in the Cape Cod area of the U.S. in the mid-1600s. Inspired by the English cottage, these homes were built to withstand the tough, cold New England winter. Originally, these homes featured heavy shutters that could be closed during a storm and a large central chimney that was linked to fireplaces in each room. Today, modern Cape Cods typically only have decorative shutters, and chimneys are often placed at one end of the roof instead of at the center.
- Either one- or one-and-a-half stories with a steep roof and a small roof overhang
- The home is constructed of wood and covered with clapboard or shingles and boasts a symmetrical appearance with a center door
- Architecture includes multi-paned windows, dormers (which are created as usable space with windows in the roof) and a formal floor plan, usually with hardwood floors
Much like the Cape Cod, this house was born out of the arrival of English colonists on the Eastern seaboard. It also shares many similar architectural styles of the Cape Cod but is still an easily identifiable style. Colonial homes are distinct in their use of geometry – square symmetrical façade, evenly spaced multi-paned windows with shutters and fireplaces with evenly proportioned chimneys
- Two to three stories with a rectangular shape, a gabled roof (both sides slope at the same angle) and dormers
- Decorative crown over the front door that’s supported by pilasters or columns
- Construction is made of brick or wood siding
- Grand entrances and porticos reveal living areas on the first floor while bedrooms are located on upper levels
This style originated in the areas of the Mediterranean, like Greece, Spain and Italy. It began in the United States as an offshoot of the mission churches built by Spanish colonialists. This very distinctive style are very popular in warm, Southern states and are typically built with a stucco exterior with large arched windows and a tile roof.
- A flat or low-pitched tile roof, often red, with warm-colored stucco finishing
- Many homes include extensive outdoor living areas or verandas, second-floor balconies and large open seating areas to allow for air flow throughout the home
- Balconies and large arched windows are surrounded by wrought-iron railings and details
This easily recognizable style is most often characterized by flat straight lines, large glass windows and open spaces. The focus of this particular design is its simplicity and integration with nature and the surrounding environment with an emphasis placed on form as well as function. It was most popular in the 50s and 60s. The most famous architects of this style are Rudolph Schindler, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Joseph Eichler.
- Bi-level floor 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 like steel, plywood and concrete in the home’s construction
While the mid-century modern home is a recognizable style for the time, the American-style ranch home was quickly gaining popularity as a result of the rise of the post-World War II baby boom and the high-demand for quality and affordable housing in the suburbs across the U.S. The layout is horizontal, and each room is easily accessible and interchangeable. A family room can be transformed into a home office, or a formal dining room can become a library by adding French doors and appropriate furniture. These features of versatility include:
- A single story with a brick, wood or stucco exterior accented by simple trim and often with an attached garage
- Large picture windows and sliding glass doors that can lead to a patio or backyard
- Floor plans that are open versus the divided rooms intrinsic to other home styles
This style of home is characterized by its staggered floor-level layout. The top level is typically the bedroom level of the home, followed by a short set of stairs that lead to the main floor landing area, with another short set of stairs that go to the basement area. This area is usually finished and contains a walkout. Often you can reach the garage from the basement level as well. The popularity of the split-level home was influenced by the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright who believed that half floors would blend naturally with the landscape.
- Three or more levels with the main entrance typically located in the middle level
- The front door can open to a landing or foyer with a small flight of stairs leading up and another leading down. Alternatively, the front door can open directly to the main living area with the stairs located in another place
- Living activities are separated, as sleeping, eating, socializing and parking are done on different levels of the house
Like many of the other home styles we’ve covered, this style also originated in England. It’s best known for its very steep, multi-gabled roofs and half-timber framing. Most of these homes were built in the 20s and 30s but fell out of popularity after World War II when homeowners were looking for an “American-style home.”
- Steeply pitched roofs with wide gables, elaborate chimneys with small dormers and slate surrounds
- Exposed wood framework on the exterior, with the spaces between the frames filled with stucco and masonry
- Large, narrow casement windows with multiple panes that are framed with wood or metal
- Stone trim and decoratively embellished doorways with stone trim and door surrounds
While this particular name is often used to describe a style of home, there are actually many different styles of a Victorian home. The “Victorian” name actually refers to the period in history in which these homes were most popular – the 1830s to 1900. When most people refer to a Victorian home, they are typically referencing a Queen Anne style home. These are the homes we all immediately recognize – large, imposing structures with fancy woodwork decoration and big wrap-around porches. Think “The Addams Family” minus the creep factor.
- Steeply pitched roofs of irregular shape with a dominant front-facing wide gable
- Ornate woodwork and textured shingles with decorative wooden brackets, and clapboard siding
- An asymmetrical porch one story high that extends around the front or the front and sides of the house
- Some homes have combinations of up to eight exterior colors
- The home’s interior often contained high ceilings, deep archways between rooms, with small rooms divided up by their use: a formal dining room, a small library, a parlor, a formal living room, and so on
By understanding the structure and features of common home designs, not only can you choose the right home that will fit your lifestyle and personal goals, you’ll also be able to better communicate your dream home to your real estate agent. That way, your agent will be able to tailor his or her search and get you into your home faster. If you’re ready to get on the road to homeownership, we can help you started today!
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