15 Popular Architectural Styles for Your Home

Despite this country’s relatively short history, a myriad of architectural styles has influenced home design from coast to coast. Design terms like “cottage” and “farmhouse” vary locally, but fixed features and principles can identify these popular architectural styles. We’ll show you 15 popular home styles, including Cape Cod, Colonial, Tudor, Mediterranean, ranch, and contemporary, to help you find your favorite style.

1. Beach

Beach houses, also known as seaside houses, are often raised-up and appropriate for oceanfront locations. Most beach homes are designed to have either the front or the rear face the waves,  and almost invariably feature outdoor spaces that face the water. Popular characteristics include the wide and eclectic wooden porches or decks, and the raised main living area above the waves to keep the home safe from floods and hurricanes.

Tidewater houses are also a version of this style, and they have been adorning America Southeast coasts even before the 1800s, designed for either hot or wet climates.

2. Cape Cod

cape cod house

With roots dating back to 1675, the Cape Cod is a classic home style. Original Cape Cod style homes were small, and were created after the colonists arrived in New England and modified an English House hall and parlor house to counter it from the country’s disruptive stormy weather. 

Most popular for homes built in the 1930s, Cape Cods are typically one story and feature a steep roofline, wood siding, multi-pane windows, and hardwood floors. 

3. Colonial

The Colonial-style—dating back to 1876—is one of the most popular home styles in the United States. Settlers built these historic homes with steep roofs and symmetrical features. The classic floor plan has the kitchen and family room on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second floor.

Colonial homes are especially prevalent in the northeast, from Maine to Virginia, and typically feature multiple stories, balanced window displays, chimneys and fireplaces, and brick or wood facades.

4. Contemporary

Originally, the term “contemporary” referred specifically to architect-designed homes built from around 1950 to 1970. Today it has come to describe a wide range of houses  that concentrate on simple forms and geometric lines. 

Many contemporary homes feature lots of glass, open floor plans, and inventive designs. Void of elaborate ornamentation and unnecessary detail, drama on the flat-face exteriors of contemporary homes often comes from a dynamic mix of contrasting materials and textures, exposed roof beams, and flat or low-pitched roofs.

This architectural style also tends to emphasize energy efficiency, sustainable materials, lots of natural light, and the use of recycled non-toxic materials.

5. Country

country french

Country French-style homes date back to the 18th century when France occupied much of eastern North America. French building traditions started to fade after Jefferson purchased Louisiana in 1803 but continued in New Orleans and other areas for another half-century.

Country 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 stands out and often feature stunning landscapes and driveways. 

6. Craftsman

craftsman house

The Craftsman bungalow (also known as Arts and Crafts) was a popular house style between 1905 and the 1930s, and it’s making a comeback today. 

One distinguishing feature of the style is a large amount of interior woodwork, such as built-in shelving and seating. As for the exterior, Craftsman-style homes 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.

7. Farmhouse


The term “farmhouse” doesn’t refer to style, but rather to the location and function of the house. They were initially built on rural land with an emphasis on an agrarian lifestyle. 

Many farmhouses were modeled after popular architectural styles at the time they were made, such as Victorian and Colonial. But, farmhouses were built for need rather than design, often featuring functional porches as a transitional space creating a much more informal and inviting exterior.

8. Greek Revival

Inspired by Greek architecture and democracy, the Greek revival style flourished in America in the 1830s and 1940s. Tall columns, painted plaster exterior, symmetrical shape, bold moldings, and embellishments are all keys to the style. Large and imposing, this home style is commonly found on large estates and historic plantations

Greek Revival homes have very prominent exterior features. Thick, often white, columns flank the front entrance and support a porch that spans the width of the house.  Some Greek Revival homes have porches that wrap around the sides of the home or a second-story front porch.

The most common materials used are stucco and wood, and occasionally the homes also have stone. They are often painted white or given a faux finish to resemble stone or marble. 

9. Log

Log homes originated as small cabins in the 1600s. Originally, they were built as one room using no nails, but now many log homes function as large luxurious getaways. Log homes can now be made in any location, but are most often found in a rural setting. However, the climate of the surrounding area dictates the type of wood that should be used to build the home.

10. Mediterranean

The Mediterranean architectural style flourished in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s with neutral shades on the building and a bright red roof.

These homes often feature a low-pitched red tile roof, arches, and stucco or adobe exterior. Mediterranean houses often have ornamental elements like heavy doors, bright tile, or wrought iron too. 

The typical U-shape Mediterranean floor plan is oriented around a central courtyard and fountain, making the garden an extension of the living space. Rooms open to the yard, promoting cooling cross-ventilation and the flow of fresh air.

11. Modern

Modern and contemporary styles tend to get confused. Modern architecture refers to the design inspired by the historical art movement of modernism. Most classic examples of modern architecture are more than 50 years old, which makes it a little easier to tell a modern-style home from a contemporary-style home. Open living spaces, clean, geometric lines, and function-over-form are critical elements of the style.

12. Prairie

Developed in the Midwest by architectural trailblazer Frank Lloyd Wright, the prairie style was built based on the idea that a home should serve all practical needs without being embellished or showy. It was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement and featured many of the same concepts, such as built-in furniture, simple materials, and open floor plans. But prairie-style homes also feature long flat roofs, rows of windows, horizontal lines, and organic patterns.

This specific style appears mostly in the Midwest. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House embodies the horizontal lines and “organic architecture” of the movement.

13. Ranch

First built in the 1930s, ranch homes were initially modeled after rural Western ranches. Ranch architecture bears a slight resemblance to the modern style with open floor plans and easy connections to the outdoors. Focused on practicality, most ranch homes also feature an attached garage. Exterior details may vary, which allows for personalization. Single-floor and split-level floor plans live under the ranch style.

Found across the country, from Alaska to Tennessee, ranch homes are known for being a single story with features like a low roofline, open floor plan, rectangular or L-shape, and either stucco, brick or wood exterior. 

14. Tudor

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 re-inventions that are loosely based on a variety of late Medieval English prototypes.

Characteristic features of Tudor style homes include a steeply pitched roof, prominent cross gables, decorative half-timbering, and tall, narrow windows with small window panes.

15. Victorian

Homes of the Victorian Era, 1860 to 1900, 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 materials and colors. Traditional and modern can be combined nicely in these houses.

Victorian homes often feature a steeply pitched roof, a dominant front-facing gable, patterned shingles, cutaway bay windows, and an asymmetrical facade with a partial or full-width front porch.

Which architectural styles do you love the most? Share your picks in the comments below!

Which architectural styles do you love the most?

If you’re inspired to design your dreams and build a future that you will enjoy for decades to come, contact Unified. Whether your ideal home, addition or renovation is a multi-million dollar luxury estate or a new bonus room over the garage, we work with you to provide a plan to get to your dream.