Most popular architectural styles

May 25, 2016
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A Colonial is an OCD fever dream come true: It’s symmetrical and features an entry door in the middle of the front of the home with two windows on either side; there are five windows on the second floor, with one directly above the entry door. Colonials, which originally rose in popularity in the oh-so-uniform 1700s, are still common around the U.S. They’re usually built of wood or brick, which are perfectly suited to the simple, clean, and boxy style. If you see a hint of ancient Greece and Rome in the style, you aren’t wrong. Looking for distinctive flourishes? Keep looking.


Queen Anne–style Victorians: aggressive whimsy or detail-packed charm?

Did you spend hours with your dollhouse as a kid? Were your parents, teachers, and various health care providers worried? Then the detail-packed Victorian style will probably look familiar. Key features include a complicated, asymmetrical shape with wings and bays in various directions; elaborate trim; shingles or patterned masonry; steep rooflines; and a large, wraparound porch. They are often painted in bright, complementary colors to highlight the painstaking details. Some people are put off by their aggressive whimsy, but plenty consider them perfect houses to grow old in and sip lemonade on the porch.

Love yourself some neutrals or ? Then you’re probably drawn to Tudors, which are built of brick or stone on the first level and complementary stucco and timbering on the second—all of which is inspired by the medieval architecture of Tudor England in the early 16th century. These babies are made to withstand the elements, with deeply pitched roofs and detailed, covered entryways, which is why you’ll see more of them in the chilly northeast.

Blame (or credit, depending on how you feel about this style) the rise of the automobile, not cowboys, for ranch houses. Cars made it possible for families to buy large lots of land outside traditional metropolitan centers—aka “the suburbs”—so people built spread-out ranch houses to take advantage of these new spaces. These homes are one story and often have an L- or U-shaped floor plan surrounding a patio, sliding glass doors, and a carport or garage. Quite possibly the best-known symbol of American housing, the ranch can conjure up images both good and evil, but no doubt you will see lots of them.

These adorable one-story homes are characterized by their low pitched roof and large front porch. Also called Craftsmans, they rose in popularity in the early 1900s during the arts and crafts period and were revered for their—you guessed it—handcrafted details: hand-cut wood, iron and copper work, and masonry. Bungalows hit their peak during this time and became so popular in the early part of the past century, that you could order a complete kit from Sears.

You find a lot of these homes in the South or Southwest (Hollywood is full of them). One reason for their popularity: They’re built from the ground up to take the heat. Clay tile roofs keep the home cool during the hot summer months and extend beyond the walls to provide extra shade, while extensive outdoor living areas, columns, and arched windows and openings take advantage of the breeze.

Mid-Century Modern with sharp angles and void of ornamentation
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