New home buyers almost always have an opinion on what style of house they want. They love the charm of the Craftsman style; they long for simplicity of a Ranch; they’ve always dreamed of living in a stately Victorian; or they grew up in a classic Cape Cod and that’s what their heart is set on.
The question is, do any of these potential home owners actually know what makes a house a Craftsman or a Cape Cod or a Ranch?
Home styles are only styles because they share a set of distinct characteristics. If your wish list gets too far away from the natural features of your “dream home style, ” you’ll have a harder time finding the perfect home. House styles can only be modified so much, and home shoppers need to be driven by their desired list of features and how they want to live, not by a style name alone.
To help out today’s house hunters, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most popular and sought-after home designs in the U.S. and explained their main features so home seekers (whether they’re building or buying) can decide which house really is the perfect fit.
We hope this home style guide will help you find the perfect style for you!
The Cape Cod
Though this style first emerged in the 17th Century, it remains one of the most popular styles today and can be found around the country. Cape Cods allow for some floor-plan flexibility, giving homebuilders options for customization within the style.
Defining Features: Simple, rectangular shape; steep gable roof; two to three rooms; one and a half stories; often a large central chimney
Why It’s Popular: Its simplicity, practicality and efficiency as a style are ideal as a starter home, but its form allows it to grow along with the family. Plus, its compact footprint means that with enough land you can add a large, attached garage. For new homebuilders, its floor plan can be easily adapted to be as large and luxurious as you like—while still holding onto its basic roots and look.
Best Suited For: Small families looking for a starter home or older couples who want to downsize but still have some extra space.
As its name suggests, this classic design first became popular in England. Since crossing the Pond, the style has been influenced by Italian Renaissance, Gothic, Greek Revival and other popular classical styles. The Georgian design remains a favorite among homeowners looking for a traditional, stately home, primarily along the eastern seaboard.
Defining Features: Two-story balanced—often symmetrical—design with clean lines; center hall and staircase; paired chimneys or single fireplace; multi-pane symmetrical windows; sometimes a short, often covered porch
Why It’s Popular: Often used by Hollywood to depict the home of well-off families, the Georgian home design has become the embodiment of the quintessential American dream of prosperity. This refined, spacious, freestanding style promises plenty of room for you, the kids and the dog, with enough space left over to comfortably host the whole family for Thanksgiving.
Best Suited For: A family with kids who wants space to spread out.
The Prairie House
Designed specifically to fit the wide-open plains of the American Midwest, this visually appealing design captures attention while blending in nicely with its natural surroundings. Architecture fans will recognize this style from Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs.
Defining Features: Low, flat design that combines boxes of different heights and depths for a visually interesting look; low ceilings; flowing floor plans; broad, overhanging eaves that keep the house shaded and cool; rows of casement windows; one-story porches; low-pitched roof; one or two stories
Why It’s Popular: The Prairie house has attracted homeowners from all across the country due to its open floor plan and appreciation of the surrounding landscape. Original Prairie homes are being restored, and new homes in this style have been constructed—all following the open floor plan and simplistic design of its predecessors that have once again become popular.
Best Suited For: Homeowners who want a modern, open floor plan but classic, timeless curb appeal.
The Queen Anne Victorian
The Queen Anne is one of the most iconic Victorian-style house designs. These ornate, charming homes attract homeowners looking for a regal, romantic feel. While older Victorians can have small, closed-off rooms, more-modern designs retain the look of these homes while providing open floor plans.
Defining Features: Unusual shape; inclusion of towers, turrets, gables and protruding windows; steeply pitched roofs; wraparound porch; often heavily ornamented; most often two or more stories
Why It’s Popular: Victorian houses are ornate and elaborate, offering a sophistication that many homeowners in suburbia (or even big cities) desire these days. Many Queen Anne-style homes are large, offering plenty of space; however, new construction allows for smaller, quainter Queen Anne-style homes.
Best Suited For: Families who enjoy spending time together but don’t mind a little space and separation coupled with old-world sophistication.
This simple but versatile house design fits the needs of many smaller families perfectly. One of the main designs used during the building craze of the 1950s and 1960s, Ranch styles homes are popular throughout the U.S.
Defining Features: One story, sometimes with a basement; long, sometimes L- or U-shaped; open floor plan; large windows; low roof pitch; wide eaves; in-line attached garage; sometimes covered porches
Why It’s Popular: Though for a time Ranches lost popularity to much larger and more elaborate homes, today’s buyers are rediscovering the charm and benefits of this functional floor plan. With the right land, a Ranch-style home can be as large or small as you need, and its rectangular shape makes it easy to add on to. Single-story living keeps maintenance and utilities to a minimum, and the long footprint can easily be used for a modern, open layout.
Best Suited For: Young families and retirees who want the convenience of a single-story living.
Often sought out for its charm and built-in features, Craftsman-style homes couple curb appeal with manageable size. The mixed materials and vintage look often associated with this type of home are extremely popular with today’s potential homeowners.
Defining Features: Compact footprint; clean lines; open layout; efficient floor plan; front porch covered by an extension of the main roof; roof with deep overhanging eaves and gables; multi-pane windows; rafter and roof-bracket detailing; one or two stories; low ceilings in older homes but high ceilings in modern builds
Why It’s Popular: Craftsman-style homes are synonymous with charm and quality. This bungalow-style design is versatile enough to suit just about anyone, giving owners the option of one or two stories. It also provides today’s homeowners with the small touches and quality details often lost in modern homes.
Best Suited For: The Craftsman design works particularly well in cities, as it provides plenty of room but does not require a large lot. If you don’t want to dust a lot of interior architectural features though, this might not be the best style for you.