What Style Is Your House? The 10 Most Popular House Styles Explained
What Style is Your House?
Whether you're remodeling, adding a second level, or just giving your home some extra curb appeal, knowing the style of your house can help you develop a successful plan. You'll also gain a greater appreciation of the way your house was designed and built.
This guide to different styles of houses will help you understand the many variations within the variety of designs. You can also find architecture guides at your local library or in larger bookstores that will help you identify a particular style or design. Using the original style of your house as a starting point for an exterior makeover is usually the best technique, but, in some cases, mixing styles can energize a design.
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 floors. Original Cape Cod-style homes were fairly small, and they often boast dormer windows for added space, light, and ventilation. If you're in need of more space, an addition to your current Cape Cod house plans can go on the side or back depending on the site. Many original Cape Cod-style houses did not have a finished space upstairs, so you might find that the upstairs area is either incomplete or previously remodeled and can easily be changed to fit your needs.
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.
Colonial style—dating back to 1876—is one of the most popular home styles in the United States. Colonial-style houses 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.
Colonial homes are easy to add on to at the side or the back. A brick facade can be difficult to match, but a builder or designer can help you find complementary siding materials. Search online for reproduction Colonial-style materials, such as divided-light windows, to help you make a smooth exterior transition.
There are several styles of houses (such as Queen Anne-style houses) 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, and cutaway bay windows. Victorian-style houses usually have an asymmetrical facade with a partial or full-width front porch.
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 reinventions 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.
Play Up Tudor Style
The Craftsman bungalow (also known as Arts and Crafts-style houses) was a popular house style between 1905 and the 1930s, and it's making a comeback today. If you're wondering what a Craftsman-style house interior looks like, pay attention to the woodwork. 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 houses 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.
Add Craftsman Style
Craftsman-style houses hold a lot of potential. See how to play up your home's charming Craftsman aesthetic with these curb appeal ideas. Your patio and front yard will look better than ever.
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.
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. The rooms in Spanish-style houses often open to the courtyard, promoting cooling cross-ventilation and the flow of fresh air.
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 might appear plain or cookie-cutter on the outside, ranch-style houses 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.
Referring specifically to architect-designed homes built from about 1950 to 1970, the term "contemporary" has come to describe a wide range of modern house styles 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.
New Home Additions
Not every home abides by a single house style. You will often see elements of different house styles combined in one home. It's a product of one era moving into another while retaining some features of the previous period, and it can easily be adapted to your design scheme. Although you should avoid a hodgepodge of house styles, you can alter a particular style for your addition. Once you understand the style of your existing home, you can thoughtfully move forward with the design of your addition.
For example, juxtaposing building materials and mixing window shapes create architectural intrigue between this home and its addition. Although they were built at different times and feature contrasting materials and elements, they are connected by the use of angles and strong geometry.