14 Popular Architectural Home Styles
From log homes to Colonials, here are 14 of the most popular home styles today, along with their history and key elements.
Although log homes came about as tiny one-room cabins in the 1600s, many function as large, luxurious getaways today. They are mostly suited to a rural setting, however they can be built in any location. The climate of the area dictates what type of wood is best used to build the home.
Also originating in the 1600s, Cape Cod homes were inspired by British thatched cottages, but modified to include steeper roofs and larger chimneys to withstand the cold winters of the Northeast. Other typical style features include windows flanking the front door, cedar shingles, and dormer windows up top. A majority of the Cape Cod homes around today were built after World War II. They were the very first style used in more modest housing developments.
The result of a variety of influences, such as Ancient Egypt, early Hollywood, and the tropical pastels of Miami Beach, art deco structures typically have flat roofs, smooth stucco walls with rounded off corners, and bold exterior decorations. You’ll see more office buildings in this style than private homes.
Born out of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Bungalow and Craftsman style homes emphasize natural materials like wood, stone and brick. They typically feature wide front porches and low-pitched roofs, as well as an open floor plan with built-in furniture, big fireplaces and exposed beams.
While some people consider contemporary and modern architecture to be pretty much the same, contemporary actually refers to today’s building styles more generally, which can vary in design and appearance. Both styles are similar in the way they look to connect the indoors with the outdoors, but contemporary structures emphasize energy efficiency, sustainable materials, the use of natural light, and recycled materials that are non-toxic.
When Colonial architecture originated in the 1600s, there were many variations because of the diversity of early American settlers. At its most basic, it is a more formal style known for its symmetry. Colonial architecture is most often characterized by evenly spaced shuttered windows, and can also include evenly proportioned dormers, columns and chimneys. The most well-known Colonial style variations include the Georgian Colonial, Dutch Colonial, and Federal Colonial, respectively. Each variation has its own specific set of architectural differences that sets it apart.
Most popular from 1945 to the 1980s, mid-century modern architecture was formed out of new ideas, mindsets and forward-thinking style. The style focuses on seamless integration with nature and more simplistic design principles, and is characterized by open space, large glass windows and flat planes. Mid-century modern was inspired by the new materials brought about by World War II, like steel and plywood, that helped to enlighten new ways of thinking about residential living.
With its decorative appeal and romantic touches, the provincial style came to America after World War I, inspired by estates of the French countryside. Newer suburban housing developments incorporate this style today with their steep roofs and symmetrical proportions.
Obviously influenced by the area from which it got its name, this style was very popular in the United States from 1918 to 1940, and has seen a resurgence recently. The homes feature red tile roofs, arches and plaster surfaces, much like the hacienda style from which it draws. Newer Mediterranean-style structures feature a lot of the same original design elements, including porticos, balconies and ornamental details like multicolored tiles and heavy wooden doors.
As mentioned earlier, modern and contemporary styles tend to get confused. Modern architecture refers specifically to design inspired by the historical art movement of modernism. Key elements include open living spaces, function-over-form, and clean, geometric lines. Since most classic examples of modern architecture go back more than 50 years, it is relatively easy to tell a modern-style home from a contemporary one.
Originally modeled after rural Western ranches in the 1930s, ranch homes focus mainly on practicality. They bear a slight resemblance to the modern style by incorporating easy connections to the outdoors and open floor plans. While exterior details may vary, which allows for personalization, single-floor and split-level floor plans live under the ranch style.
One of the most recognizable home styles, the Tudor style originated in England. It is known for steep, multi-gabled roofs and decorative half-timber framing. Tudor homes were mostly built in the first half of the 20th century in well-established neighborhoods in the Midwest and along the East Coast. The steep-pitched roofs are perfectly suited for rainy and snowy climates.
Victorian architecture came about under the reign of Queen Victoria, between 1830 and 1910. It includes sub-styles like Gothic revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Romanesque style, stick style, and shingle style. Because they are built more for beauty than functionality, Victorian style homes are more complex in design and feature ornate trim, large porches, asymmetrical shapes, multi-faceted rooflines, and bright colors.
Originating from the word “cotters,” which were European peasant farmers who lived in this type of home in the Middle Ages, cottage-style homes are typically small, simple, quaint structures made of stone or wood siding. They feature gravel or brick front walkways, a curved entryway, and brighter exterior colors.