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These Are the Most Popular House Styles – What’s Your Type?

America is not just a great melting pot of people — it’s also home to a wide range of popular house styles. Some come from other regions and cultures and others are quintessential American styles.

house styles

house styles

Of course, preferred home styles are a matter of personal taste, but they also vary by region of the country. For example, the southwestern parts of the US have homes that are distinctive, mainly with a low profile and plenty of stucco on the outside.

A true Cape Cod-style house would look a bit out of place there.

However, you can find examples of the most popular homes styles in every city or region of the country.

Types of Houses

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Types of Houses 1024x1024View in gallery

Before we look at styles of houses, it’s important to consider types of houses. If you’re looking for a new home it will help target your search to know about these.

Apartments

These types of houses are groupings of units in one overall structure. These are typically rental properties and the monthly rent includes a variety of services. These range from maintenance and some utilities to conveniences such as a gym, community room or swimming pool.

Apartments generally include all the maintenance, which is a big benefit. On the other hand, you have less freedom with your unit with regard to alterations. Moreover, you can’t buy the property.

Condo

Condominiums offer the benefits of homeownership and many of the conveniences that many apartments provide. You’re responsible for all the maintenance within your unit. In contrast, the association takes care of general building maintenance.

Indeed, condos require less work than a single-family house. However, they do come with some restrictions on what you can and cannot do to your unit.  

Co-op

You might think that a housing cooperative — co-op for short — is similar to a condo, but it’s really quite different. When you purchase in a co-op, you’re actually buying a share of the building rather than the actual unit. How much square footage your residence covers determines your share of ownership in the building.

To purchase in a co-op, you have to apply and be accepted. Once in, you have joint responsibility for common spaces and your share of the maintenance costs.

Single-Family/Detached Home

Typically, this is what we think of as a house: A structure that’s detached and sits on its own. Most homes in the US are single-family, detached homes. People love these types of houses because they offer a great deal of privacy and more freedom to make alterations and property changes. That said, single-family homes are more expensive to maintain and involve more upkeep.

Tiny Home

Super compact and generally under 400 square feet, tiny homes are more popular these days. Many models are prefabricated but other options are custom tiny homes and DIY types. These types of homes are popular among people who don’t want to be tied to a larger home physically and financially.

Tiny homes are indeed more affordable and can be mobile, but they can be challenging with regard to space. Moreover, they aren’t ideal for families.

Townhouse

A version of a single-family home, a townhouse is a house you own. The big difference is that it shares one or both sidewalls with another townhouse. These types of houses are vertically oriented and have at least two stories and sometimes three or four.

Townhouses are typically cost less than detached homes. However, the tradeoff is less privacy and more restrictions on what you can do to the exterior

Modern House Styles

Global Inspiration

global house style

global house styleView in gallery

When it comes to modern house styles, individuality rules. A great example is this tall, slender mountain cabin that features burnt wood cladding. The design inspiration comes from houses found in the Chiang Mai region of Thailand.

Studio Sher Maker gave this house a rather peculiar geometry. It has a rectangular floor plan but it’s long, narrow and two stories tall. The wood on the exterior walls is all locally sourced and treated with a special technique that involves burning the planks.

Difficult Terrain

Difficult Terrain house style

Difficult Terrain house styleView in gallery

High House, a magnificent contemporary home located in Austin, Texas, is located on a challenging property. In fact, the extreme slope led  RAVEL Architecture to create this boomerang-like shape for the house. They used the natural curvature of the land to shape the home.

First, however, they had to build ar retaining wall to terrace the site. The floor-to-ceiling windows and an angled roof direct attention toward the canyon

Different Styles of Houses

We’ve rounded up the most popular types of exterior house styles. Take a look at these house styles and see which ones are most appealing.

Victorian House Style

Victorian House Style

Victorian House StyleView in gallery

Victorian style houses are easily identifiable with their complex lines, plentiful trim and brighter paint colors. In fact, sometimes they’re called dollhouses or gingerbread houses because of all the fanciful and ornate trim that Victorian builders used to embellish the homes, according to This Old House.

The Victorian era is considered to be 1830 to 1910. The architecture of that era often has steep roof lines and is very eclectic throughout. The interiors most often feature separate rooms and don’t have an open floor plan. 

In fact, according to 5-Minute History, homes built in that era often have architectural curiosities and oddities like doors or stairs to nowhere or windows into other rooms.

Farmhouse house style

Farmhouse house styleView in gallery
Farmhouse styles have crept into suburban areas.

By strict definition, a farmhouse is the main structure for living on a farm. As people started moving off traditional farms, they took the casual and comfortable farmhouse aesthetic with them.

Today’s modern farmhouse style is a bit different as these style homes are as likely to be found in a suburban area as they are in a rural area. Current types combine clean contemporary lines with a cozy farmhouse feeling that is very family-friendly.

Old or new, a farmhouse will have a couple of distinguishing characteristics.

  • The first is a porch that serves as a spot to welcome guests, doff dirty shoes or sit and relax in the shade.
  • Inside, formal and entertaining spaces will be located in the front of the house with the kitchen.
  • More private areas are in the back.

Cape Cod Style

house style

house styleView in gallery

Immediately identifiable, Cape Cod is one of the most popular home styles. Associated with New England where the style took root from building practices brought from England by the Puritans, the Cape Cod is a simple and symmetrical design.

Typically, the style is a single story that is broad, topped by a steeply gabled roof.  Originally, builders did not finish the top floor. By contrast, contemporary versions often use it as a second story, accented with dormer windows.

In addition to the characteristic windows, a Cape Cod house will have a central entrance with a paneled door. It might also have columns or other extra features, according to Antique Home Style,

The beautiful Cottage house style

The beautiful Cottage house styleView in gallery
Cottage style is popular for vacation homes.

Steeped in images of the English countryside, a cottage style home is actually a small house that can be old-fashioned or not. Modern versions of this popular home style are found in suburbs as well as rural areas.

The original definition of a cottage refers to a house that has living space ion the ground floor and bedrooms on an upper floor under the eaves. According to Angie’s List, these types of homes used to be summer homes for upper and middle-class families. This was the case until the 1960s and 70s when they became a popular home style across the country.

Houseplans says that there are several defining characteristics for a cottage house: Picturesque dormers and steep rooflines, arched doorways and a front porch

Colonial

Traditional colonial homes never go out of style.View in gallery
Traditional colonial homes never go out of style.

If you grew up east of the Mississippi, you’ve probably seen plenty of Colonial houses, one of the most popular home styles. While these houses started as Colonial revival style architecture, over time they have evolved into one of the most common styles of homes with contemporary twists.

Colonial houses generally have symmetrical construction and a square or rectangle shape.

Both the front entry door and the main staircase are typically located in the center of the home. Modern colonials still have some of the old-school elements that distinguish this style, such as plenty of brass fixtures and formal entryways.

Spanish

Warm weather areas have many Spanish style homes.View in gallery
Warm weather areas have many Spanish style homes.

Just as some popular home styles are limited to the eastern United States, Spanish style homes are typically found in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Reminiscent of the 18th-century missions in California, they are characterized by terra cotta colored roofs, plenty of stucco and wrought iron details.

Even within this type of house, there are different subsets. In general, these types of homes have roofs that are flat or that slope only gently, arched doorways and asymmetrical construction. Some also call this style Hispanic or Mediterranean, or even Spanish eclectic.

Georgian

Georgian styles are among the most formal-looking.View in gallery
Georgian styles are among the most formal-looking.

Among the most formal of the most popular home styles, Georgian style homes are a classic style of architecture. This type of structure generally has strict symmetry and restrained decorative elements. Overall, the originates in the era of England’s Kings George, I, II and III and the work of architect Sir Christopher Wren.

According to Wentworth Studio, the roofline and placement of the doors and windows are hallmarks of this type of house. While people mainly associate with Georgian houses, it is not uncommon to see other materials used, such as clapboard, stucco or stone.

Barn homes

Barn homes

Barn homesView in gallery

Barn homes are generally one of two things:  A barn that has been converted into a home or a home that has been built with features of a barn. These popular home styles are gaining market share as people look for a “homier” home.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all barn homes are country-cozy. The range of styles is wide and can even be quite modern. Regardless of what style edge it has, a barn home will have some common characteristics, according to Yankee Barn Homes.

Most barns barn-homes are proportioned to look tall, rectangular and have a pitched or gambrel roof. They will use post and beam construction, incorporate barn windows and feature a great room inside.

Ranch

Ranch style homes exploded in popularity as suburban areas grew.View in gallery
Ranch style homes exploded in popularity as suburban areas grew.

Originating in the southwest, ranch style homes are one-story structures that feature an open floor plan and casual ambiance. They became very popular in the 1950s and 1960s as suburban areas started to grow.

These types of homes have a low-pitched roof and eaves that extend out from the house., Usually, they have an attached garage and a large window facing the front yard.

At the start, they had modest size — about 1,300 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom. Recently, the typical ranch home grew bigger, says Angie’s List.

Tudor

Old World Tudor style is still a popular home choice.View in gallery
Old World Tudor style is still a popular home choice.

Tudor is one of the home styles that European architects brought to America from their native region. This type of house is a mishmash of late Medieval and early Renaissance styles, says the Wentworth Studio, and they were the dominant style in the 1920s and 1930s.

Identifying features of a Tudor home include stucco walls, often with decorative timbering, steeply pitched gabled roofs and a masonry chimney.  A Tudor has an entrance that is not symmetrical and typically has an arched doorway. The door is usually board and batten, with pieces of stone in the brick around the opening.

Craftsman

Craftsman style homes have seen a resurgence in popularity.View in gallery
Craftsman style homes have seen a resurgence in popularity.

The Craftsman style of home is a child of the Art & Crafts movement, which had its heyday from 1905 to 1930. These houses have signature low-pitched gabled roofs and broad eaves. Generally, a single story or one and a half stories tall,  these homes have a large front porch.

It used to be that most all Craftsman style homes were bungalows, writes Antique Home Style, but not all bungalows are Craftsman style. The style faded from popularity in the subsequent decades until the 1980s.

Today’s contemporary versions are larger. Typically, they incorporate only some of the features characteristic of this simpler, hand-crafted style.

Tuscan

Tuscan homes have low-key luxury as a focus.View in gallery
Tuscan homes have low-key luxury as a focus.

A suburban house might be thousands of miles from the sunbaked, rolling hills of Tuscany, but that doesn’t mean that homeowners don’t try to capture that warmth and comfort.

One of the most popular home styles, Tuscan houses are distinguished mainly by the materials used in construction: natural stone, terra cotta, stucco and tiles.

Typically, Tuscan homes also have enclosed courtyards and feature taller, narrow windows with shutters — sometimes merely decorative. Somewhat similar to Mediterranean style, Tuscan homes have a rustic vibe, accented with Old World elements.

Mediterranean

Mediterranean style houses have open floor plans.View in gallery
Mediterranean style houses have open floor plans.

The breezy, open floor plan of Mediterranean style houses has made them one of the more popular home styles in the country. While the typical Mediterranean villa might be a bit more rustic, contemporary homes in this style have all the creature comforts combined with the best features of the traditional plans.

These homes can be one story or two and are often more sprawling than other styles that rely on a strictly rectangular footprint. A low-pitched tile roof often comes with a stucco exterior, accented with arched windows and doorways.

Mediterranean homes generally include courtyards or gardens that have a European flair and are ideal for locations that can enjoy a long outdoor season.

Mountain

Mountain rustic house decor 1024x713

Mountain rustic house decor 1024x713View in gallery

The term mountain style might conjure up images of a little cabin in the woods, but mountain-style homes are so much more than that.  Today’s versions make the most of their locations. They also have a refined architectural style.

This means that it puts the focus on nature in every way possible. From using natural and local materials in the construction to the large windows that bring the outside in from all angles, mountain-style homes work with their surroundings to blend in.

Open floor plans maximize the usage and enjoyment of the home and low-maintenance landscaping with native plants make the property more care-free.

Contemporary

Contemporary styles vary widely, from very modern to mixed architectural works.View in gallery
Contemporary styles vary widely, from very modern to mixed architectural works.

Defining contemporary home style can be a bit like trying to nail gelatin to the wall. The range is very wide and can be difficult to pin down. Regardless, contemporary means “of the moment” so current trends can come into play as well as regional preferences.

New contemporary home styles do tend to have some things in common: Energy efficiency is important, sustainable materials play a role and plenty of natural light is a feature. Moreover, contemporary houses all have a spacious feeling, whether they lean toward the modern end of the spectrum or not.

There are so many more types, but these are among the most popular home styles. Read their descriptions and it’s easy to see why they are so popular. You can also see why some are more common in certain geographical areas. Which one is your favorite?

FAQ

What style is my house?

Whether you know what it is or not, your house has a style. Sometimes, if it was poorly renovated, it might have two or more. If you want to know what style is my house, then take a picture of it. Next, compare it to images of typical exterior house styles and narrow down what style(s) it is. If you have trouble pinning down your house architecture style, you might be able to ask a neighbor who has a similar style house.

What is a ranch-style house?

First, the shape and details on a ranch-style house may be different on each one, but they will all be one-story homes. Traditionally, a ranch-style home has a main living space that features an open plan. On the outside, the roof does not have a steep pitch and the facade typically has large windows. At the rear, a ranch-style home will have a patio space.

What is a colonial-style house?

One of the oldest American house styles, a Colonial house is basically a rectangle. Overall, the look is very symmetrical and both sides of the house match up exactly. Most of the time, a colonial-style house has two stories, but sometimes it can feature dormers. The porticos usually have columns and in some regions, they might feature big porches. Inside, the layout can be pretty symmetrical too, with the staircase situated right in the middle. Within this category of house styles, you can find many subtypes.

What is a contemporary-style house?

Just as with contemporary furniture, it can be hard to pin down a definition for a contemporary-style house. Basically, “contemporary” means that it reflects what the popular norm is at the current moment. This means that contemporary homes evolve over time and what is contemporary today will be totally different in a few decades. Overall, contemporary-style houses have some modern twists to their design but they are not actually modern.

What is a rambler-style house?

The rambler-style house grew out of the original California Ranch House

What is rambler style?

Rambler-style homes– which are often lumped in with ranch-style homes – grew out of the California Ranch Style. The name arose because this type of house architecture style has a larger, wider footprint on the landscape than others. These house styles are one-story, have low-pitched roofs with wide eaves, and a very horizontal look. The interiors have an open floor plan and most also have sliding doors leading out to the backyard and patio.

What is the most common house style in America?

Not surprisingly, it’s hard to name just one house style as most popular. People, landscapes and climate vary widely in the US. Even so, most real estate surveys name ranch, contemporary and modern the three most popular house styles. Of those choices, ranch homes top the list — but not in every state. 

What are American houses like?

In general, American houses are often larger than their counterparts in other Western countries and much larger than those in most of Asia. This is mainly because many regions have a good deal of land available. As far as specific styles and features go, it can be hard to quantify: The housing market is a melting pot of styles just as the country is a melting pot of cultures. Typically the average American single-family house has about 2,400 square feet — 60 percent more than in 1973.

What are the 5 types of English home styles?

The main types of home styles in England are very different from those in the US.

  • Terraced houses. These are a continuous row of homes that are attached at the side walls. 
  • Semi-detached houses. A house attached to another similar one only on one side is called semi-detached.
  • Detached house. This is a stand-alone house, not attached to any other house. Typically, it sits on its own lot.
  • Bungalow. This type of house has one story but sometimes has rooms under the roof with dormer windows. Bungalows are disappearing as homeowners build taller home styles.
  • Cottage. These are small houses and are common in the countryside. Cottages originally had small windows and thick, sturdy walls to withstand the wind and weather.   

What is the most affordable house style to build?

Outside of the tiny house trend, ranch homes can be the cheapest and most straightforward build. They are a single-story and typically have a compact and uncomplicated layout. You can find a size and shape for every budget and taste.