Common Types of Homes in the United States
Updated on 01/04/24
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There are iconic house styles that dot the American landscape and, whether you're buying an old or new house, you're sure to recognize some of these charming, grand, and modern homes.
A few of the most popular styles include American Craftsman, Cape Cod, ranch, colonial, contemporary, and Victorian but there are numerous others. Many old homes are still full of the character that reflects their particular style. But if you want to incorporate old house charm in a newer dwelling, you'll have to learn about some of the key characteristics that make each style stand apart.
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If you are considering the right home for you, here are 28 popular house styles and what makes them so special.
What Style Is Your House?
When trying to decipher the style of your house, look at distinguishing factors, including the materials used, details like windows, doors, and shutters, roof style, structures on the facade like a porch or portico, the number of stories, and even the era in which the home was built.
32 Popular House Styles
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Cape Cod is an extremely common architectural style of home in suburban communities. They became increasingly popular in the U.S. during the 1950s. The style was originally introduced by English settlers during the late 17th century and is named after the coast of Massachusetts. These homes tend to be a story and a half and include dormers and a central doorway. The original design was inspired by English half-timbered houses from centuries prior, but the frame was altered to suit the New England climate.
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Victorian architecture refers to an era of design instead of one specific style. Victorian homes were built from the early 1800s through the early 1900s during the reign of Queen Victoria. Since the era is generally associated with a rising middle class and increasing wealth, these homes tend to be larger and more elaborate. Victorian architecture was influenced by several prolific architects and varying cityscapes. Today you'll find these homes dotted across communities in the U.S.
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Colonial-style homes date back to the 17th century, and the homes come in many variations. Each style was influenced by early American settlers depending on their country of origin. The homes usually feature symmetry and some type of dormer. You'll commonly see examples of British or Georgian colonial-style homes because a large portion of the U.S. was under British rule early on.You might also find these styles: federal colonial, Dutch colonial, French colonial, and Spanish colonial. They are especially popular on the East Coast but are common throughout the country.
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The American Craftsman-style home came about in the early 20th century during the Arts and Crafts movement. These homes put a particular focus on materials and motifs that are inspired by nature. You’ll commonly find naturally toned woodwork, geometric stained glass, and several built-ins. The color palette of a Craftsman-style home tends to look and feel earthy and includes shades such as forest green, rusty orange, and natural browns.Some of the common variations of the Craftsman style include mission, bungalow, and Stickley. Craftsman homes are found across the country.
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The Robie house shown here is the prairie style that was first crafted by an innovative turn-of-the-century architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Prairie-style homes are inspired by their relationship to nature. They feature lots of handcrafted details, such as simple woodwork, stained glass, and built-in furniture. This style of home was heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, but it is distinct from Craftsman-style homes. Only a handful of original homes exist, with many still standing in Chicago, especially in the suburb of Oak Park. However, the style is still an iconic example of architecture that originated in America.
Prairie-style architecture did not flourish beyond the Midwest. Frank Lloyd Wright intended the architecture to mimic the horizontal lines of the region, but those designs didn't appeal to the masses across the country and it quickly faded away around 1915.
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Ranch homes are single-story or split-level houses that started popping up across the U.S. during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1930s, people built these homes that were inspired by Spanish colonials in the Southwest. Later examples of ranch homes can sometimes be confused with midcentury modern homes, because they share some characteristics, such as their streamlined appearance. In general, ranch-style homes have open floor plans and connect to the outside.
Ranch homes are also called ramblers because of the way they sprawl across a property.
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Tudor-style homes are easily recognizable thanks to their timber details against a light-colored stucco. They also tend to have ornate brick detailing. The Tudor style came from historical homes in England. This home style became popular during the early 20th century in wealthy suburban communities across the U.S. Many Tudor homes can be found in northern climates because the solid architecture is ideal for cold weather.
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This popular American home style was influenced by homes in the Mediterranean. It became popular in the warmer parts of the U.S. during the early 1900s. Mediterranean-style homes often feature warm tones, stucco exteriors, and beautiful ornamental details incorporated into the tile and woodwork. The homes are made to be open and airy with stone, wood beams, and other natural details.
Tuscan-style architecture differs from Mediterranean though they look similar. Tuscan styles come specifically from Italy and Mediterranean style comes from Spanish, Greek, and Moroccan regions.
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It’s easy to confuse modern homes with contemporary ones, but the best way to tell the difference is to look at when the home was built. Modern-style homes were generally built between the 1930s and the 1970s in the U.S., with midcentury modern being a subcategory of this style. In contrast, contemporary homes weren’t built until decades later.
Modern home design, inspired by the modernism movement that emerged in the 1930s, emphasized clean, sharp, functional design, modern materials such as concrete, steel, and glass, minimal ornamentation, neutral palettes, and open plans. These homes are found across the country with many on the West Coast.
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Contemporary architecture essentially refers to the building styles that are trendy in the present day. Contemporary homes can vary greatly, but they generally tend to connect the indoors and the outdoors to convey a sense of flow and natural light. The design of these homes emphasizes sustainability and energy efficiency, as well.
While the style is typically clean and minimal, the edges can still be soft and rounded. Contemporary-style homes are found across the country, especially in new builds (though a new build doesn't necessarily have to be contemporary).
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A farmhouse-style house is a modern interpretation of the rural family farm homes that were situated on lots of acreage. Old farmhouses were erected across the U.S. starting in the 1700s and 1800s. They came in various design styles, including Victorian and colonial. But the most common farmhouse was a simple rectangular structure often with a long porch and a clapboard exterior. Modern farmhouses mimic that simple structure, though they have grown in size.
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Modest cottage-style homes originated in Europe in small towns and villages. And they now dot the U.S., especially in quaint residential communities. Cottages are defined by their small size, and they are usually faced with stone or wood, though siding also has become common. They are typically one to one-and-a-half stories high and often have small porches. The interior is cozy and informal.
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Small log cabins have been built for several hundred years with European settlers bringing the style to North America. This primitive style of building originally consisted of modest one-room homes in the wilderness. Nowadays, people build modern cabins as their primary residence in rural and even suburban settings for the aesthetic. The exterior still often is formed with logs, or it is at least clad in wood as a nod to the original style. The shape is simple, usually with a fairly open interior.
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Rowhouses, also known as townhouses, are homes that are built directly next to one another with an adjoining wall. This type of house is common in major cities across the country, where the lot sizes are long and narrow. Often the same architect will build most, if not all, of the rowhouses on a block, giving them a uniform look. The design style can vary depending on the architect's preferences. Rowhouses first popped up in the Netherlands and Belgium during the 16th century, and they spread across U.S. cities during the Industrial Revolution.
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Greek Revival architecture is inspired by buildings from ancient Greece. The style first arrived in Britain during the 1700s, but it didn't gain steam until the 19th century in the U.S. As a new democracy, Americans wanted to pay tribute to the birthplace of democracy through architecture, which is why many government buildings use the style. Home examples now can be found across the country. The style is defined by large columns, a symmetrical shape, and a white facade.
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French country homes draw inspiration from centuries-old homes in the French countryside. These homes featured more natural and lived-in elements than the ornate French architecture that dominated cities. Some key features of French country homes include natural stone facades, a sloping roof, two chimneys, and natural wood or stone flooring. Such homes can be found scattered in residential communities across the U.S.See AlsoHouse exterior design
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Antebellum architecture, or Southern architecture, arose before the Civil War in the Southern U.S. The design was meant to be both impressive and practical. For instance, the homes featured large windows and high ceilings, which both looked dramatic and allowed for better air circulation. They had large, covered, wrap-around porches to enjoy the outdoors while being sheltered from the hot sun. Winding staircases and columns also were trademark features. This style is still most common in the South, and the modern versions still feature vaulted ceilings and large porches.
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Saltbox houses first popped up in New England during the 1600s, and they’re still most common there to this day. They were simple structures that early settlers were able to build with the supplies they could get their hands on, namely local timber. Saltbox homes feature a slanted, asymmetrical roof and a large chimney. The front of the house is flat, and there are typically two stories in the front sloping down to just one in the back.
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Art Deco style took off in Paris during the early 1920s, and it arrived in the U.S. soon after. Many U.S. skyscrapers and other buildings from coast to coast, including the Empire State Building, are in Art Deco style. Trademarks of this style include ornate and geometric details, bold colors, decorative windows and doors, and parapets and spires.
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Queen Anne style is part of Victorian architecture and was popular during the late 1800s. It persisted in the U.S. into the 1920s, withmost buildings in that style being seen in the eastern portion of the country. Queen Anne homes generally feature an asymmetrical facade with a front gable and overhanging eves. There is also typically a porch that stretches across the front of the home, potentially with a second-story balcony.
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Italianate architecture also was of the Victorian era and was popular in the U.S. during much of the 19th century. It’s inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture from the 16th century. Most Italianate house styles are in the eastern U.S., but examples can be seen out west as well. Key characteristics of the style include a brick or wood clapboard facade, two to four stories, roofs with little to no pitch, and overhanging eves.
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Also part of the Victorian era, the Eastlake style is quite similar to the Queen Anne style. It too arose in the 19th century, and examples now can be found across the U.S. The style takes its inspiration from British architect Charles Eastlake, who promoted furniture and decor that was more angular and notched than the curved designs of other French styles. Thus, Eastlake-style homes generally have posts and railings with intricate, angular shapes. Latticework also is common. The homes are traditionally painted in earth tones with the trim in a lighter color to make it pop.
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Romanesque Revival architecture developed during the 19th century in Britain and arrived in the U.S. in the 1840s. It draws inspiration from medieval European architecture, which featured thick stone walls, huge load-bearing columns, and large arches. Romanesque Revival buildings simplified some of those features but still retained their essence. The style uses prominent arches, round towers, and stone or brick construction. Romanesque Revival architecture is often seen in churches and buildings on college campuses across the U.S. However some large manors or homes will have complex Romanesque Revival features, such as a round tower, detailed columns and arches, rough-faced stone facade, and medieval touches, such as stained glass.
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Originating in France and defined by pointed arches, Gothic architecture was popular in Europe from the 12th century all the way to the 16th century. Gothic Revival arose in the 19th century. Many buildings in the U.S., especially cathedrals, feature Gothic Revival style. It’s not common to see a home fully in the style, though residences will have aspects of it. Trademark elements of the style include pointed arches, stained glass windows, and ornate features such as spires and gargoyles.
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Tudor Revival architecture is a picturesque and composite architectural stylefound throughout historic neighborhoods in the U.S. It is an eclectic blend of Renaissance (15th century), Gothic (12th to 16th centuries), and timber-frame homes from England's Tudor period (16th century). The style's popularity peaked in the U.S. in the 1920s.
You'll find Tudor Revival manor homes and suburban houses. Characteristics of the style include its signature decorative half-timbered or stone facades, steeply pitched roofs, and charming storybook elements such as narrow or diamond-shaped multi-paned windows and patterned brickwork.
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Midcentury modern architecture emerged as a response to the heady times after World War !!. The style took off across the U.S. between 1945 and 1969, signaling the country's fresh start, a building boom, and the exploration of new building materials. This classic style of architecture and interior design that harkens back to a simpler, more optimistic time has experienced a major resurgence in recent years.
The architectural and interior decor style is well-known for its clean lines, little ornamentation, and a distinct connection with nature bringing the outdoors indoors. Characteristics include large, open floorplans, floor-to-ceiling picture windows, and homes are often one story.
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Federal-style architecture is a form of Georgian design of the colonial period. It can be found around the East Coast in the U.S. It was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Federal architecture is also known as Adams' architecture, named after siblings who were architects and made the style popular in Britain.
Federal-style and colonial-style homes tend to look similarly symmetrical on the outside. Though still understated, a Federal home may have a bit more decorative features around the entryway than the more simple colonial home. Its shape is usually square or rectangular with a hipped roof. Even though you can't tell from the outside, Federal homes often have octagonal or oval-shaped interior rooms, a style inspired by Neoclassical architecture.
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Neoclassical style flourished around the world, including the U.S., throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The style became popular because it represented the principles of justice and democracy found in ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Examples of famous neoclassical buildings in the country include the U.S. Capitol Building, which began construction in 1793 as Thomas Jefferson’s desire to build what resembled an ancient Roman temple.The White House (built between 1780 and 1830) is also neoclassical, but it is also classified as Federal-style.
Characteristics of neoclassical buildings include simple geometric forms but on a grand scale with dramatic columns, Doric Greek or Roman detailing, and domed or flat roofs. A neoclassical-style home will include an elaborate portico with tall, symmetrical columns.
It's easy to confuse neoclassicism with Greek Revival architecture. Greek Revival heavily features columns withDoric, Ionic, or Corinthiandetails. Neoclassicism architecture is grander and incorporates many classical features from other periods.
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French provincial architecture has been perennially popular since it first appeared in the 1600s. This elegant, stately style looks just as at home on a grand French manor as it does on a small city townhouse, where the stone facade, steeply pitched roof, and high arched windows always give a sophisticated look. Originally, this style was inspired by the immense architecture of Versailles, but its look was replicated in simpler, more rustic terms for those who couldn't afford the grandeur of the various Louises that made Versailles an icon.
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Asian homes welcome nature in, with large windows and materials that are all found in the organic world. You'll find light wood, glass, and bamboo, and spaces that encourage indoor-outdoor living. Gabled or hipped roofs add dynamism to this architectural style.
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A close cousin of Mission Style, Pueblo Revival is a type of architecture that features earthy adobe structures with flat roofs and wooden beams. These low profile homes are designed to integrate with their Southwestern landscape, and their rounded, neutral-toned exteriors seem to rise straight from the earth. This style gained popularity in 1920s Arizona and New Mexico, and it's seen on both domestic and commercial structures alike.
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Bungalows are a charming, smaller type of home that is typically one to one-and-a-half stories tall. This residential style became popular in the 20th century as the suburbs started to creep from the city's edges, and these darling homes with low-pitched roofs, details like fables and eaves, and welcoming front porches became a favorite of home dwellers. Their front porches invite guests in and keep them feeling the warm and cozy feeling through the use of large living rooms, fireplaces, and built-ins.
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What is the most common house style in America?
One-story ranches are the most common house style in the United States, but Colonial homes, bungalows, and Cape Cods are also seen throughout the country.
What is the cheapest style house to build?
Because of ranch homes' simplicity and their one-story floor plan, they are the cheapest style home to build.
What house styles are trending?
While Colonial and ranch homes are popular year-after-year, farmhouse and craftsman styles houses have been trending in recent years. Their approachable exterior and interior styles make them a favorite of those who are building homes.
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Prairie Style. Chicago Architecture Center.
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I'm an architectural enthusiast with a deep understanding of various design styles and architectural concepts. I've extensively studied and researched the history, characteristics, and influences of different architectural styles, and I have a passion for sharing this knowledge with others.
Design Styles and Architecture Concepts
American Craftsman The American Craftsman-style home emerged during the early 20th century as part of the Arts and Crafts movement. It emphasizes natural materials and motifs inspired by nature, such as naturally toned woodwork, geometric stained glass, and built-ins. The color palette tends to be earthy, including shades like forest green, rusty orange, and natural browns. Variations of the Craftsman style include mission, bungalow, and Stickley.
Prairie The Prairie style of architecture, first crafted by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is inspired by its relationship to nature. It features handcrafted details such as simple woodwork, stained glass, and built-in furniture. Prairie-style homes are influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement but are distinct from Craftsman-style homes. This style of architecture was intended to mimic the horizontal lines of the Midwest region.
Ranch Ranch homes are single-story or split-level houses that became popular in the U.S. during the first half of the 20th century. They are characterized by open floor plans and a connection to the outdoors, and some examples can be confused with midcentury modern homes due to shared characteristics.
Tudor Tudor-style homes are easily recognizable by their timber details against a light-colored stucco and ornate brick detailing. This style originated from historical homes in England and became popular during the early 20th century in wealthy suburban communities across the U.S.
Mediterranean Mediterranean-style homes were influenced by homes in the Mediterranean and became popular in the warmer parts of the U.S. during the early 1900s. They often feature warm tones, stucco exteriors, and ornamental details incorporated into the tile and woodwork.
Modern Modern-style homes were generally built between the 1930s and the 1970s in the U.S., emphasizing clean, sharp, functional design, modern materials such as concrete, steel, and glass, minimal ornamentation, neutral palettes, and open plans.
Contemporary Contemporary architecture refers to building styles that are trendy in the present day. These homes tend to connect the indoors and outdoors, emphasize sustainability and energy efficiency, and have clean, minimal designs with soft and rounded edges.
Farmhouse Farmhouse-style houses are a modern interpretation of rural family farm homes and are characterized by simple rectangular structures often with a long porch and a clapboard exterior.
Cottage Modest cottage-style homes are defined by their small size, usually one to one-and-a-half stories high, and are typically faced with stone or wood, though siding has also become common. They are known for their cozy and informal interior.
Cabin Cabin-style homes have been built for several hundred years and are characterized by their simple, often open interior and exterior, often formed with logs or clad in wood.
This is just a brief overview; there are many other architectural styles and concepts to explore. If you have any specific questions about a particular architectural style or concept, feel free to ask!