From the earliest period when the first settlers fashioned their colonies of stone shelter homes to the minimalist modern style of today, the variety of home styles in the United States reflect the different forms and distinctive elements that have developed over many centuries. Architectural styles tend to reflect divergent cultural, regional and artistically aesthetic influences. While geographical regions have influenced certain features of homes as they were adapted to the local climate, the styles hold significance and meaning. Whether you are swept away at the sight of an iconic style home or have an affinity for the architect’s expertise, there is good reason why these five architectural home styles remain popular.
Southern Style Homes
What comes to mind when you think of a Southern-style home? A Georgia mansion? A Federal-style design? A grand, columned entryway? All of these and more represent the colonial influence originating in the Northeast in the 1700s. Picture the symmetrical and graceful exteriors; the multi-story, formal appearance of European style architecture. These homes are specifically adapted for the hot, humid climate with large shutters, extended roof overhanging wrap-around porches intended to provide a respite from the heat both from exposure to the sun and as an escape from indoors. Other characteristics include triangular gables, dormers, elevated foundations, arched windows, French doors, decorative cornices and classical columns.
All similar in style and borrowing from the English homes, which were highly influenced by French architecture, are the following:
- Georgian Style—during the period from 1700 to 1776
- Country Style—influenced from 18th century colonists
- Colonial Style—also influenced by 18th century colonists and accented with a decorative pediment or crown supported by pilasters. When this pediment is extended it creates a covered porch.
Victorian and Craftsman Style
The significance of the name of the Victorian-style home corresponds to the rule of Queen Victoria in Britain reigning from 1837 to 1901. The wide variety of Victorian styles relates primarily to the era of industrialization, which brought sweeping innovations to architecture and include the following types:
- Second empire
- Queen Anne
- Richardsonian Romanesque
You can easily spot a Victorian-style house by the steeply pitched roof with its irregular shape and front-facing gables that dominate the asymmetrical façade. A good deal of textured shingles or other devices are used to get away from a smooth-walled exterior. They can be single story or multi-stories even going to a third level. Either a partial or full-width asymmetrical porch may extend along one or both side walls. Victorian-era residential homes in the United States represent a procession of styles collectively borrowed from other countries and historical styles.
In what can be considered a backlash to the industrial age, the Arts and Crafts movement began in Britain flourishing in Europe and North America from about 1880 and continuing through 1920. This movement sought to reform both social and design norms of the time. Essentially anti-industrial, it stood for traditional craftsmanship among craft makers, designers and town planners. It focused on the use of simple forms, reaching back to medieval, romantic and folk styles of decoration.
From this movement came the Craftsman-style home characterized by intricate detail on an intimate scale. Sometimes confused with Victorian-style homes, Craftsman houses are uniquely American creations first appearing around 1905. Considered modern eclectic architecture, they are truly a fusion of the Arts and Crafts movement, the influence of wooden Asian architectural details and the innately innovative spirit of California where these homes first began.
The Craftsman-style home is unique on its own allowing for significant variation in the details of posts and rails, rafter tails and eve brackets, and the many varieties in the use of wood, stone, brick or stucco siding. Primary roof configurations can include front gabled, side gabled, cross gabled and hipped roof. Their extreme popularity resulted in the publication of pattern books and periodicals furthering the study of this unusual architectural style. You could even order kits delivered to building sites from which to build an entire house.
Either on the heels of or replacing Craftsman-style homes, Cottage-style homes evoke design details from the 1920s. The cozy Cottage-style home is typically smaller than other homes but reminiscent of the modern-day Craftsman. The charming appeal of a Cottage-style home is difficult to resist
- Oversized front porch
- Painted woodwork
- Small second story in place of the attic space
- Built-in dining and display areas
Ranch or Rambler and Traditional Styles
First rising to popularity in the 1950s, the Ranch- and Rambler-style homes have become ubiquitous across the nation. These sprawling, single-story, rectangular homes are built in either a “U” or “L” shape with an attached garage. These homes appear long and flat any way you look at them. They are a good example of suburbia, highly popular in the Midwest but seen everywhere. The floor plan is typified by a main central room with the kitchen and bedrooms branching off from there.
Yet another spinoff, the Traditional-style home is but a composite of other styles comprising suburban America. Inspiration for the Traditional-style home pulls from Colonial-, Craftsman- and Ranch/Rambler-style homes. For all of these styles of homes, picket fencing contractors can make an attractive contribution to enclosing the frontage whether the family intends to protect the kids and pets from the outside world or to keep other pets and kids away. The traditional picket fence is suited to front yards increasing the visual appeal of a house.
Synchronous to the Ranch-style home, modern homes appeared on the market making use of straight, flat roof lines and expansive horizontal windows. Large, unadorned fireplaces contribute to the overall feel of a sharp, sleek minimalist aesthetic. Conducive to the prefab market, these homes are typically prefabricated off-site, shipped to their destination and assembled in quick order. Known for the use of such high-quality materials as marble, natural stone, wood paneling and floors, the resulting clean and open feel is attractive to today’s tech-savvy homeowner. The minimalist aesthetic is uncluttered and, for many, offers a peaceful and relaxing environment.
There is a rich history that ties these various styles of homes together. While it is true a home is made by the homemaker, there is no denying the appeal of a style that manages to touch the homemaker’s desires and needs. A touch of history; the flashes of nostalgia; the sense of connecting to the skillful intentions of great architecture; all these contribute to a deeper connection to the style of home one selects.