A Guide To Architectural House Styles

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Before deciding on an interior style, learn the ins and outs of America's most popular, unique and breathtaking architectural styles. Based on influences from European civic structures, western ranches and Native American design, you're sure to love one of these 13 architectural house styles.

Art Deco

Known for its distinctive use of shapes and color, the art deco style began in early 20th century France. By the 1930's, it had become a popular style in the United States, and permeated from architecture to interior design. Art deco homes frequently employ shapes, lines and symmetry throughout their design, and are often easily recognized for their unique use of these elements.

Cape Cod

With its roots in the classic New England style, Cape Cod homes reflect the colors, theme and general attitude of elegant beach cities. Often referred to as cottages, these homes are based on the traditional design of small, 17th century fishermen's cottages. In the 1930's, the architectural style experienced a revival, which added to the home design most frequently seen today. Wood siding (frequently painted white), colored shutters, centered chimneys, steep roofs and rectangular floor plans give Cape Cod's their distinctive look. 

Neoclassical

One of the most formal and ornate architectural styles found in the United States, neoclassical homes are frequently seen throughout the east coast, as well as many civic buildings across the country. Based on the traditional architecture of ancient Rome and Greece, neoclassical homes are noted for their use of symmetry, columns, ornate entryways and grand scale. Large, detailed pediments are often one of the most distinguishable aspects of this design style, adding size and grandeur to the overall theme. Neoclassical homes were a popular choice along the East coast during the gilded age.

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Ranch

Designed after the traditional shape of homes on actual ranches, this architectural style is only found in the United States. Known for low roofs, one story and asymmetry created by an emphasized garage and backyard, Ranch style houses attempt to merge the indoors and out, and were some of the first to feature sliding glass doors. Typically found in suburbs, this is one of the most common home styles in America.

Colonial

Born out of the American colonial period, these homes can be influenced by the original style of various European nations, including Dutch, German, Spanish and French. Known for its noticeable use of columns, symmetry, molding and shutters, this home style is common along the East Coast of the United States, particularly in New England.

Modern

Don't be fooled by the name, modern architectural style is actually based on design concepts from the 1950's. Known for its open floor plans, geometric lines and abandonment of ornate or excessive details, the modern home emphasizes function and minimalism over ceremony. This was also one of the first home styles to forgo traditional materials for steel, glass and concrete instead. Note that modern style is frequently confused for contemporary style, which actually changes based on the particular designs that are popular at the moment. Currently, contemporary style closely mimics modern style, leading to the confusion. 

French Provincial

Inspired by French country homes, this architectural style is known for brick exteriors, tall, arched rooftops, at least two stories and 17th century French designs. Large, elegant and fashioned after European styles, these homes are typically found in affluent suburbs and open areas rather than cities, as they tend to have somewhat of a "fairy tale" look. 

Spanish

Frequently found in the American Southwest and Southeast, Spanish style homes take their influence from early Spanish settlers' combination of European and Native American designs. Best seen in missions throughout California, as well as many homes in Florida, this style features tile roofs, arched hallways and porches, towers and neutral colored stucco.

Greek Revival

Distinctively large, white and flanked by columns, this architectural style is based on Greek marble structures, and became popular in the United States around the early 1800's. Often found throughout the American South, these luxurious homes frequently feature detailed moldings and embellishments, evoking the ornate feeling of classic European architecture. Their wood structure is often painted and covered in plaster, mimicking the smooth look of Greek stone buildings.

Italianate

Gaining popularity in the mid-19th century, this luxury home style takes inspiration from Italian design, and incorporates it into a uniquely American structure. Known for their detailed ornamentation, Italianate homes are acknowledged less for their overall shape, and instead designed around key accents. Windows are often tall and rounded, roofs are steep and frequently include a square tower and eaves typically reach out further than other styles.

Pueblo

Frequently found throughout the American Southwest, the pueblo style is highly distinguishable for its use of stucco, mimicking traditional adobe and ancient Native American design influences. Becoming popular in the early 1900's, pueblo homes feature courtyards, wooden accents and rounded windows and archways. Wood incorporated into the style is typically left in a natural state, as seen in exposed beams and large, heavy front doors.

Tudor

Specifically designed to fare well in cold weather, this home is common in the American Mid-west and along the East coast. Becoming popular in the early 1900's, Tudor homes are easily distinguished by their half-timber framing, which creates stark lines running vertically and horizontally across the façade of the typically neutral colored home. Steep roofs make them capable of withstanding heavy rain and snow, while large chimneys, decorated entryways and grouped windows add distinctive, welcoming style.

Victorian

Emerging during the reign of Queen Victoria in the mid to late 1800's, these two to three story homes are frequently ornate in form and color. Painted up to three or more shades to accentuate architectural details, Victorian homes feature textured, decorative exteriors, towers, large porches and "gingerbread" like trims. Victorian homes are often compared to doll houses due to their extensive detailing.

Last Updated: March 7, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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