If you're in the market to buy a house (or about to begin), you're likely to be engaging in a crash course in home styles. Do you go Craftsman, which, according to Houseplans.com, continue to be among the most popular style of home sold in the third quarter of 2014? Or go Traditional, which is more popular in the Northeast, Midwest and Mountain region. Meanwhile, the Southwest seems to favor Ranch-styles.
Why, though, are Craftsman homes so popular? "The Craftsman is all about a boxy nature and reviving beautiful decorative art. It's well-designed, well-crafted, " Marika Snider, of Snider Architecture, and a member of the American Institute of Architects' Custom Residential Architects Network, told The Huffington Post.
But let's back up a second. What do all of these home style terms mean exactly? How do you tell a Modern home from a Southern home, for instance? Or a European from a Mediterranean? Luckily, Snider broke it all down for us so you'll never have to wonder again.
Courtesy of Houseplans.comAccording to Snider, Craftsman style homes are reminiscent of the early 20th century arts and crafts movement. The arts and crafts movement began as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution; artists and designers sought a return to uniquely-crafted decorative arts in a time when most things were becoming heavily mass-produced. Craftsman homes feature exteriors that are usually a combination of stone and wood. The houses are often bungalows but may be of any shape so long as they emphasize a relationship with nature and the craft of construction.
Courtesy of Houseplans.comCountry style homes are mostly likely an update of the popular "Colonial style." The colonial home is - you guessed it - influenced by 18th century colonists bringing European styles with them. They're probably most recognizable for featuring two windows on either side of the front door and five windows on top, with the middle window directly above the door. Country houses aspire to be warm and inviting. They generally have wide porches, shutters, dormers, and wood detailing, according to Snider.
A Traditional style house is similar to Country style. Traditional houses differ from Country houses in that they pay more attention to historically accurate details than trying to create simple charm, says Snider.
European style homes typically evoke styles from France, Italy and sometimes England. There's an emphasis on elements looking old but durable, such as plaster walls, marble or high-quality stone floors, and massive fireplaces. European exteriors may include complicated rooflines, stone, and even copper roof elements.
Courtesy of Bud Dietrich, HFD Architects
Ranch homes are a regional style from the West and Southwest but are now found throughout the country. Originally used as housing on ranches, the term has come to mean any single story house, Snider explains. Because the entire house is on one floor, Ranch houses can be sprawling. The Ranch house became the quintessential modern house in the 1950s and '60.
Farmhouses are found throughout much of the country. The foundations are rectangles usually with one or more additions; roof lines are also simple. Farmhouses follow many 19th century designs, including tall, narrow windows laid out for cross breeze, large porches, wood siding, and may even include a metal roof.
Cottages are smaller houses or bungalows with details that evoke the 1920s, when a typical cottage would have a generous front porch, with a second story typically tucked into the attic. According to Snider, the interior might include built-ins like window seats, display cases or dining booths. The Cottage style is similar to the Craftsman except that the details are simpler, less expensive, and the woodwork is usually painted.
Modern homes reference a style popular in the 1950s and '60s. Modern houses use flat or lower slope roofs, horizontal windows and large, undecorated fireplaces. They embrace the horizontality of the landscape and automobile culture. Modern houses eschew fussy details and often employ high-quality materials such as marble, wood floors/paneling, and stone, Snider said. The overall effect creates clean lines..
The Southern style home is a regional style developed in reaction to the hot, humid Southern climate. Southern houses typically include elements to take advantage of cool breezes such as elevated main living levels, wrap-around porches, large operable shutters, wide roof overhands and verandas. Southern style homes might also have 19th century details found in Plantation houses like monumental columns at the entrance, Snider adds.
Mediterranean style houses evoke homes in southern Spain, France, and Italy. They typically focus on patios, courtyards and verandas as ways to extend the house outdoors. The outside of these homes usually have few details and have plaster walls. Roofs are flat or low slope and might be tiled, says Snider. The interior detailing is simple and may include decorative tile or exposed wood beams.