No matter where you’re house-hunting, any online search or drive around town will net a variety of architectural house styles. From ornate to minimalist, anyone can find a house style that suits their lifestyle needs and aesthetic preferences. So which type of house is right for you? Keep reading to learn about several different styles.
Originating in India, the bungalow-style home became popular with Western audiences following British colonial occupation and continued to grow during the Arts and Crafts movement of the nineteenth century. Bungalows are typically single-story homes with 2-3 bedrooms, although some may have an unfinished basement and/or attic space, or an additional half-story. They’re usually on the smaller side in regard to square footage, but the interior will often feature open-concept floor plans.
Pros of a Bungalow Home:
- Affordability: Since they’re often on the smaller side, bungalows are usually more affordable than large homes or homes with more than one story.
- Open Floor Plan: The open-concept spaces of a bungalow make them an excellent home for entertaining and hosting friends and family.
- Size and Layout: If you’re looking to downsize or want single-floor living, a bungalow is a great option. Plus, smaller and single-story homes generally require less upkeep than their larger counterparts.
Cons of a Bungalow Home:
- Size and Layout: If you’re looking for lots of extra space, the bungalow might not be the right choice for you.
- Smaller Rooms: Less square footage means smaller rooms, especially the bedrooms. While that’s not a dealbreaker for everyone, if large rooms are on your wishlist, a bungalow might not be the best option.
Cape Cod-style homes are named after the Massachusetts area where early American settlers used readily available materials to build simple homes that could withstand harsh winters. Cape Cods are best known for their distinctive symmetry, with a centered front door and windows on either side. They traditionally have a rectangular layout, pitched triangular roofs, a central fireplace, and 2-3 bedrooms. While older Cape Cods are usually single-story, many modern Cape Cod homes offer additional stories, dormers, and wings.
Pros of a Cape Cod Home:
- Size: Cape Cods are typically on the smaller side, which is great for anyone who wants a cozy space. There’s also less square footage to clean, heat, and cool.
- Steep Roofs: The steeply-graded roof style of the Cape Cod prevents heavy snow from accumulating during the winter.
- Iconic Look: If you ask a child to draw a house for you, they’re probably going to come up with something that looks like a Cape Cod—it’s almost like the blueprint for what our brains think of as a house. That makes it a great option for anyone who loves the classics.
Cons of a Cape Cod Home:
- Size: While a small home can be a bonus for some, others might consider the modest square footage a dealbreaker. Additionally, older Cape Cod homes typically don’t have open-concept floor plans, but instead feature separate rooms.
- Unlivable Attic Space: Although many Cape Cods feature some kind of attic space, it’s not always livable space. This is especially true for older Cape Cod homes, where you may run into an attic that isn’t well-insulated, increasing the risk of interior leaking or mold.
While there are many popular styles of homes in America, none has been quite so enduring at the Colonial-style home, which takes its name from the homes that the first European settlers built on the East Coast. Colonial-style homes are often 2 stories, have a rectangular layout, and are symmetrical, with a centered front door and windows on either side. The bedrooms are often located on the second floor, and there are usually more bedrooms than smaller home styles. The downstairs usually offers a closed floor plan, with a separate kitchen, formal dining room, formal living room, and potentially a family room.
Pros of a Colonial Home:
- Size: Most Colonial-style homes offer a lot of square footage, thanks to their 2-story design. This makes them great for accommodating large families.
- Privacy: The compartmentalized floor plan of the Colonial home offers more privacy than open-concept floor plans.
- Style Variety: While all Colonial-style homes bear some of the same hallmarks, there are many variations on the style, including French colonial, Dutch colonial, and Spanish colonial, among others. There’s something for just about everyone.
Cons of a Colonial Home:
- Accessibility: The Colonial’s 2-story layout may not be ideal for some, including anyone who has mobility issues, aging family members, and small children.
- Closed Floor Plan: While the traditional Colonial floor plan has its advantages, it might not appeal to those who prefer more modern, open-concept spaces. The traditional central staircase may also make renovations a challenge.
The most popular house style in the U.S., the Craftsman was born as a response to the mass-produced housing of the Industrial Revolution and the heavily stylized homes of the Victorian era. Common characteristics of the Craftsman-style home include modest square footage (typically 1 or 1.5 stories), roofs with overhanging eaves, deep front porches, bay windows, and semi-open floor plans. Because the original movement drew from nature, Craftsman homes often emphasize flowing lines, natural materials like wood and stone, and cottage-like charm.
Pros of a Craftsman Home:
- Functional Floor Plan: Traditional Craftsman layouts were designed to be functional and family-friendly, with features like a breakfast nook in the kitchen and a central fireplace in the living room.
- Style Variety: While all Craftsman homes share similar characteristics, the evolution of the style resulted in four distinct variations: Foursquare, Mission Revival, Prairie, and Bungalow.
- Vintage Charm: Many original Craftsman homes are now over 100 years old, meaning they come with vintage perks like artisan details and high-quality materials.
Cons of a Craftsman Home:
- Small Spaces: Because Craftsman homes are older, the rooms and closets are typically smaller than newer homes. This might not be a dealbreaker for everyone, but be sure to take it into consideration.
- Necessary Updates: If a Craftsman home hasn’t already been updated, it may need major renovations—that could include overhauling the plumbing and electrical work, updating the heating system, and adding air conditioning.
Mediterranean-style houses take inspiration from European architecture, especially that of Spain and Italy. Reminiscent of seaside villas, these homes are easily identified by their red terracotta-tiled roofs, stucco exteriors, and indoor-outdoor living spaces like courtyards, patios and verandas. Mediterranean-style homes tend to stick to specific materials, including terracotta, plaster, stone, and wood, and are especially known for their distinctive warm white walls, exposed wood beams, and patterned tilework.
Pros of a Mediterranean-Style Home:
- Easy-Breezy: Mediterranean-style homes usually feature lots of windows and open, arched doorways that encourage breezes to flow freely, accentuating their indoor-outdoor style.
- Accessibility: Many Mediterranean-style houses (especially older ones) tend to be single-story, making them great for anyone who needs or wants one-floor living.
- Style Variety: While all Mediterranean homes share similar traits, there are a few variations: Mission Revival, Italian Renaissance, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Modern Mediterranean.
Cons of a Mediterranean-Style Home:
- Small Spaces: Traditional Mediterranean-style rooms have shorter ceilings, less storage space, and sometimes smaller windows, which can make individual rooms feel cramped.
- Climate-Specific: Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Mediterranean style is that it just isn’t suited to every climate. The traditional stucco walls are meant to let heat out instead of hold it in, which is great in summer weather, but not so amazing once snow and ice start falling.
The term Mid-Century Modern describes a period of time in design from about the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s. Mid-Century Modern homes were a response to a high demand for suburban homes following World War II. It’s remained one of the most popular home styles since, defined by open-concept floor plans and large living spaces, flat roofs, clean lines, large windows, and use of materials like glass, concrete, wood, stone, and brick. Mid-Century Modern homes are typically single-story or split-level.
Pros of a Mid-Century Modern Home:
- Family-Friendly: Post-World War II, many Americans were focused on starting families, and Mid-Century Modern design reflects that through its open, spacious layouts, functional spaces, and plenty of built-in storage.
- Popularity: Because these homes have remained a favorite since their inception, they’re fairly widespread and not too difficult to find. If your heart is set on a Mid-Century Modern home, you’ll likely be able to snag one.
- Vintage Charm: While not all Mid-Century Modern homes look exactly a Frank Lloyd Wright original, most of them do have a mid-century retro flavor and can be easily furnished and decorated to further evoke the time period.
Cons of a Mid-Century Modern Home:
- Environmentally Unfriendly: By today’s standards, Mid-Century Modern homes aren’t very “green” in terms of energy efficiency. Most were constructed at a time when building insulation standards were minimal, and—especially for homes with many large windows and/or glass walls—controlling heat and cold can be a challenge. Older homes may need renovations to make them comfortable and efficient.
First built in California in the 1930s, the ranch—or rambler—gained popularity quickly and has remained a favorite with homeowners since. Ranch homes are typically single-story, with an open-concept layout in an L-, U-, or rectangular shape. Ranches are also known for roofs with wide, overhanging eaves, large windows and sliding glass doors, attached garages, and outdoor space such as patios or decks. Many ranch homes also feature a basement. While a single-story layout is traditional, ranch homes built post-1950s might be split-level designs with 2 or 3 levels.
Pros of a Ranch Home:
- Space: Open floor plans are popular with homeowners because they make spaces feel bigger and brighter. Since ranch homes are already open-concept, you won’t need to knock down any walls to achieve the layout you want.
- Accessibility: The majority of ranch homes are single-story, meaning it’s much easier to get around for those who are older or have mobility issues—or just don’t want to deal with stairs!
- Easier Maintenance: The exteriors of single-story homes tend to be easier to maintain, as tasks like cleaning gutters are less risky when you’re only dealing with one story.
Cons of a Ranch Home:
- Less Privacy: An open-concept, single-story home means that everything on is one floor and there are fewer barriers between rooms. Noise can carry easily, which may cause friction if there are several people living in the home.
- Design Challenges: While there’s a lot you can do to design the large, open spaces of a ranch home, keep in mind that fewer walls means less space to hang decor and organizers. Fewer walls also results in fewer electrical outlets, and you may end up scratching your head over how to conceal wires in an open room.
- Less Outdoor Space: Ranch homes tend to be spread out and sprawling (hence the name referring to their “rambling” nature). That can be great for interior spaces, but depending on the size of your home’s lot, it can also eat up your outdoor space.
More associated with the city than the suburbs, row homes became an essential part of urban planning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were popular in cities as far apart as San Francisco and Baltimore. Row homes are characterized by their uniformity. Typically lined up side by side, row homes share one or both walls, as well as a roofline, with their neighbors. They usually have between two and five stories, with the kitchen and living spaces on the first floor and the bedrooms upstairs. Some row homes may also have basements and/or attics.
Pros of a Row Home:
- Affordability: Row homes are often less expensive than single-family homes, so they may be a good option for first-time homebuyers. They also typically offer more square footage than apartments or condos, so you’ll be getting more for your money.
- Low Maintenance: Because row homes usually don’t have a front yard or driveway, you won’t have to worry so much about tasks like snow removal or lawn maintenance.
- Location and Charm: If city living is on your bucket list, a row home is a good option. Row homes are also often located in a city’s historic district, which means both the home and its neighborhood will offer some vintage charm.
Cons of Row Home:
- Minimal Outdoor Space: Row homes don’t usually offer a driveway or garage, which may prove challenging for car owners. Additionally, the lack of a front yard and the small backyard are important to consider if you need or like having outdoor space.
- Layout: There are a few things to consider here. One is that sharing walls with neighbors can mean a lack of privacy—you may end up hearing each other. The levels of a row home are often connected by narrow staircases, so it may be a challenge to bring in some furniture pieces. Lastly, because windows are usually just at the front and back of row homes, natural light may be limited.
- Insurance: Row homes can be insured as single-family homes or as condos, and that distinction is determined by the local housing association. That and roof maintenance can be important determining factors in insurance rates.
An offshoot of the ranch-style home, the split-level gained popularity following the second world war. With so many people starting families and moving out of cities, the split-level was a perfect option as it could be built quickly and affordably, and fit easily into square suburban lots. Split-level homes typically have at least three floors connected by short flights of stairs. Usually, the bottom floor contains a garage and a shared space like a den, the main floor houses the common spaces, and the top floor is where the bedrooms are located. (Note that bilevel homes are similar to split-levels, but bilevels only have two floors.)
Pros of a Split-Level Home:
- Layout: Split-level homes offer the flexibility and functionality of open-concept floor plans, but the split nature of the levels provides more privacy than typical ranch homes.
- Value: Because split-level homes have fallen out of popularity in recent years, they may offer homebuyers more space for less money.
- Style Variety: As with most popular home styles, there are variations on the split-level, including the standard split, the side split, the back split, and the stacked split. Chances are you can find the perfect setup for your lifestyle.
Cons of a Split-Level Home:
- Layout: While split levels offer privacy, they can also feel choppy and cut off from one another. Also, due to their low-pitched roofs and minimal windows, split-level homes often have limited access to natural light.
- Accessibility: Because the entire concept of the split-level is built around having multiple staircases, they may not be ideal for those with mobility issues. They may also pose a challenge to small children and aging family members or even pets.
- Equity: The reduced popularity of split-level homes might be great for buyers, but keep in mind that also means they accrue value at a slower rate and can be more difficult to sell.
Tudor architecture goes all the way back to England’s Tudor period (1495-1603), but what we’re talking about here is the mid-19th century Tudor revival. Tudor homes are easily identifiable by their exterior features, including steeply pitched gabled roofs, tall decorative brick chimneys, tall and narrow multi-paned windows, round arched doorways, and white stucco with dark wood accents or brick siding. They are typically two-three stories and have interior details like wood panels and exposed beams. The floor plan is usually square or rectangular but asymmetrical, meaning that one side of the house is entirely different from the other.
Pros of a Tudor Home:
- Historical Charm: A Tudor home comes with age and history, meaning they’re filled with one-of-a-kind details and features—some even have hidden rooms! The time period also means they were built to last, using solid materials and techniques like stone masonry and solid-wood beams.
- Square Footage: Tudors tend to be larger than comparable single-family homes, which is great for anyone needing a little extra space.
- Style Variety: There are variations on the Tudor design, including English Tudors, French Tudors, and American Tudor Revival style. You can easily find a style that suits your design aesthetic.
Cons of a Tudor Home:
- Age: Because most existing Tudor homes are around 100 years old, they may need more frequent maintenance than newer homes. And since they were built with high-quality materials, the cost of doing those updates could be high. You also may need to hire an expert familiar with older houses in order to properly renovate a Tudor.
- Roofing Issues: Although Tudor homes typically have sturdy slate roofs, the ornate gables and dormers may cause issues with valley flashing—which could mean leaks when it rains.
- Price: Because Tudors are larger and built with costly materials, they may require a higher spending budget than some other house styles.
Unlike other house styles, Victorian style doesn’t refer to a singular aesthetic, but rather a time period—to Queen Victoria’s rule from 1837 to 1901. However, there are common features among different types of homes from this era. They’re usually two to three stories and feature design elements like brightly colored exteriors, distinctive window features and bay windows, intricate wood and metalwork details, porches, steep gabled roofs, and towers, turrets, and dormers. The interiors are equally ornate and decorated, and often feature “formal” spaces like parlors and formal dining rooms.
Pros of a Victorian Home:
- Historic Charm: Even among other historical house types, Victorians stand out. Their ornate details and one-of-a-kind design features make them great for anyone looking for an utterly unique living space, especially if you want to lean into the aesthetic with your decor and furnishings.
- Style Variety: Because Victorian describes an era of architecture rather than a set list of design elements, there are many variations on the Victorian home, including Gothic Revival, Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Folk Victorian, and Queen Anne, among others. Each style offers its own distinctive features.
Cons of a Victorian Home:
- Age: As with any historic home, your Victorian may face age-related issues. They may need frequent repairs, and utilities like electric and heat will likely need to be updated. Historic homes might also contain hazardous materials like asbestos and lead paint.
- Room Size: While Victorian homes tend to be larger overall, the bedrooms and closets are often on the small side.
No matter what type of house is best for you, a licensed and experienced real estate agent can help you find it. When you’re ready to begin your hunt, be sure to call The M.A. Bell Group!.