The United States is a melting pot. Not just ethnically, but culturally and socially. What that means in terms of architecture is Americans enjoy an eclectic mix of designs and styles from around the globe.
But, like all art, architectural trends come and go in the United States. What was popular twenty years ago may have gone out of style, while what was popular seventy years ago is considered retro chic. It all depends.
Whether you are moving to a new city or are just curious about what’s in and what’s out, we’ve got you covered. What are the most popular types of houses in the United States?
- Cape Cod Houses
- Ranch Houses
- Colonial Houses
- Contemporary Houses
- European Houses
- Tudor-Style Houses
- Queen Anne Houses
- Mediterranean Houses
- Prairie Houses
- Mid-Century Modern Houses
Cape Cod Houses
As the name suggests, Cape Cod types of houses originated in the waterfront peninsula of Cape Cod. The houses look especially attractive perched on or near the sand and water. Cape Cod-style features a low, almost squat, sort of look with a single-story frame wooden shutters and a fairly steep, pitched roof. Perhaps the main feature of the Cape Cod-style, though, is the large, centrally located fireplace. If you are wondering if the home you are looking at is in the “Cape Cod” style (among other things), look for a chimney sticking somewhere out of the middle!
While the Cape Cod-style was originally associated with rather small homes of only a few rooms (as fishermen and simple merchants owned many of them), they have since been expanded. Some have even been turned into full-blown mansions. You can now see Cape Cod-style homes around the United States in places like the Hamptons and even far away from the beach in middle-America and elsewhere.
Cape Cod Houses make the perfect style for small families as well as those looking for a waterfront style that is quaint, but not opulent. Simplicity and minimalism are the keys when it comes to Cape Cod-style homes.
Ranch House Style
Ranch types of houses are making a come back in a big way. The main features of ranch-style houses are their single-story frame and sprawling, open floor plan. Ranch style homes also typically have very high ceilings, which affords them ample room for opulent additions like chandeliers.
Originating back in the 1930s Ranch style homes first became popular in rural areas of the United States, where it was more affordable for the wealthy to build big homes on large amounts of land without breaking the bank. Most of the Ranch style homes that are selling today were built in the 1950s, which is the last time the style resurged in the real estate market after their initial explosion onto the scene in the 1930s. You can now find ranch style homes throughout the Midwest and in many parts of the South and Southwest.
As far as home buyers go, Ranch types of houses are great for buyers who want a lot of space as well as for elderly homebuyers who can afford help but do not want the burden of climbing up and downstairs, as all genuine ranch style homes are only one story.
While original Colonial types of houses can be hard to come by, “revival” colonies mimic their designs in a modern way.
Whether original or revival, Colonial types of homes feature two-story floor plans and brick building materials that were popular among early settlers in the United States, mainly in the 1700s. Colonial style homes are noted for their symmetry and often feature many rectangular windows with the same number appearing on both the first and second floors. Bay windows, grand entryways, and verandas are also popular features of colonial-style homes.
As shown through their longevity, the Colonial-style design is quite versatile. That not only means that it has continued value in the marketplace, but also that you can build a colonial-style home almost anywhere in the United States and, odds are, it will look attractive and hold its value. Yes, in some places, the colonial-style stands out, but that is usually in a good way.
Colonial types of houses make the perfect home for large families that require a large number of rooms organized on both the upper and lower stories, which offers both privacy and comfort.
Contemporary Types of Houses
“Contemporary” is a variable term that includes many different types of houses featuring a mix of design styles. The thing about contemporary architecture is that you often simply know it when you see it as the homes have a distinctly “modern” vibe without any one individual style. What contemporary homes do have in common is they typically feature open floor plans and a lot of natural light.
Other popular features of Contemporary style houses include large master bedrooms and kitchens with light cabinetry and countertops.
Contemporary homes are perfect for virtually any large family or couple looking for a lot of space. One of the keys to contemporary homes is that they often look good best in multiple-story floor plans with a lot of square footage, which puts them outside of most people’s price range. With that said, there are some smaller contemporary types of houses sold in California, Florida, New York, and several other states around the United States.
Original European style homes are back in style, and they do not come cheap (so plan on figuring out how to pay your mortgage quicker) . Like colonial types of houses, there is a “revival” trend spreading more affordable European styles around the country. Still, though, many of the European calling-cards are inherently expensive. These include massive fireplaces and marble or stone floors.
Because of their opulent nature, European types of houses are not necessarily the best style for raising kids. That’s not to say it can’t be done. But the style is certainly more tailored toward singles, couples, or, perhaps, empty nesters.
Tudor-style houses have become increasingly popular in the past decade or so. Coming straight out of early 1600s England, modern Tudor types of homes feature single-story floor plans, very steep roofs, cross gables, and tall, narrow windows.
While the Tudor homes are undoubtedly English, at first glance, you might say they look almost Swiss. Much like Cape Cod houses, original Tudor homes were small but have since been expanded. Still, Tudor-style houses make a perfect style for small 2-3-bedroom families who want to make the most out of relatively little space.
Tudor-style homes can be seen and bought in the Southeast United States as well as, still, many parts of the United Kingdom.
Queen Anne House Style
With multiple stories, large turrets, and interesting spindle work, Queen Anne homes are nothing if not unique. Queen Anne homes initially became popular in the United States following the Civil War and have remained so in that they have a timeless design that never fails to excite.
Like many types of houses from the time, Queen Anne homes have many rooms and are well suited for large families. Since many Queen Anne houses are older, though, they may require you to have knowledge of home building or repair (either that or the money to afford help); otherwise, you could be opening up a can of worms. The last thing you want to do as a homeowner with a family is to spend every weekend fixing a new issue on your high-maintenance house.
Mediterranean Types of Houses
Mediterranean types of houses have spread from Spain and Italy and landed solidly in the United States. Famous throughout warm-weather climates, Mediterranean style houses can be purchased mainly in California and Florida.
Mediterranean types of houses are very versatile and have no particular set size. They can range anywhere from 2-3-bedroom single-family homes to multi-story 10-room mansions. When of the key features of Mediterranean style homes is their red tile roofs. Mediterranean homes are great for everything, from raising a young family to retiring.
Prairie Types of Houses
Prairie types of houses came into style under the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They remain popular today.
Prairie houses are still especially popular in the Midwest and make great family homes. Why? Because they can be big or small and blend with the Midwest aesthetic regardless of their size.
Mid-Century Modern Style of Houses
Featuring large glass windows and a timeless, yet retro look, mid-century modern houses are as popular today as they first were when they came onto the scene in the 1950s. Many of the best Mid-Century types of houses have sharp lines and blend well into nature.
Stylish homeowners often pair Mid-century architecture with the same style interior design to complete the look and create something straight out of AMC’s Mad Men.
Mid-Century is not particularly great for families or parents of young children. But they wonderful Bachelor of Bachelorette pads—if, that is, you can afford them.
Home Buying Resource Collection
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Moving Resource Collection
Browse all our guides for moving and packing:
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- How to Move a Mattress
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- How to Move a Piano
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Other helpful moving resources:
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- Change of Address Checklist
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There you have it, some of the most popular types of houses around the United States. Whether you choose a Cape Cod or a Colonial, the important thing to remember when it comes to finding your dream home is its purpose. Remember why you are buying the house and purchase something that is best for everyone who’ll be living and spending time in it.
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