How To Identify Different House Styles

There are hundreds of different house styles. Some have distinct characteristics and others are a blend of a few styles. In this post, we wanted to help you identify six common house styles in the U.S. and their unique characteristics.

House Styles

  Some homes have very defining characteristics that make them easy to identify. Others features are more subtle. Let’s get started.




    Craftsman homes were part of the Arts and Crafts movement that happened between 1880-1920. These homes were created in reaction to the industrial revolution. There are four types of craftsman home, prairie, bungalow, mission revival, and four-square. We're going to focus on the more traditional craftsman style which is bungalows. 


A craftsman characteristics are as follow below:

-Usually made of stone or wood

-Wide porches supported by masonry or wood pillars

-Low-pitched gable roof with unenclosed eave overhang with decorative supports

-Full or partial-width front porch, sheltered beneath the main roof or under a separate extended roof 

-Tapered columns resting on stone or brick piers that support the porch roof

-Partially paned door. Original versions have glass in the upper part of the door and paneled below with thick trim

-Multi-pane windows that are grouped together and cased in a wide trim

-Earthy, nature-inspired colors

-Single dormers (vertical window projecting from a slanted roof

-A mixture of materials such as wood siding, stone, brick, concrete block, and stucco

-Exposed rafter tails and beams under deep roof eaves

-Prominent fireplaces

-Nooks and window seats

-Built-in storage

craftsman house

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A farmhouse was originally referred to the houses that were built on farms. They were built to house the people who owned or worked the farm. The farmhouse style came to be through the details and elements of the materials, décor, etc. that were used on the original designs.


A farmhouse characteristics are as follows:

-Reclaimed wood

-Rectangular shape

-One and a half or two stories

-Side gable end roofs, soffits, and porch columns

-Dominant fireplaces

-Big porches. Sometimes the porches are wrap around porches

-Dormer windows

-Neutral palette

-Horizontal siding or board and batten

-Simple roof structure

-Right angled outer walls and 45-degree roof pitches


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Cottages are usually small homes set in a rural area. The word cottage comes from the architecture of England that referred to a home with a ground floor living space and a second floor that had one or more bedrooms. These homes became popular in the U.S. during the 1920’s-1930’s. 


A cottage characteristics are as follows:

-Usually small in size

-Oversized front porch

-Painted woodwork

-Arched doorways

-Dormers/steep rooflines

-Built-ins in the interiors

-Storybook character

-Cross gables

-Casement windows with small panes

-Brick, stone, or stucco siding

-Decorative half-timbering


Image found via Pinterest

-Ranch House

   Ranch style homes were first built around the 1920’s. Then in the early 20th century, the style come to the U.S. They have many names such as American ranch, California ranch, rambler, and rancher. Their style inspiration came from Spanish colonial architecture that was used in the southwest of America. 


A ranch house characteristics are as follows:

-One story

-Low pitched roof that is hipped or gabled

-Moderate or wide eave overhang

-U or L shaped floor plan

-Large picture windows

-Modest exterior décor

-Generally an open floor plan that allows rooms to flow together

-Brick, wood, or stucco exterior siding

ranch house

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    Many people think contemporary and modern homes are the same. However, they are actually very different. Modern homes refer to modernist architecture of the early and mid-twentieth century. Contemporary homes keep modernist architectures devotion to connecting the indoor and outdoor spaces.



Contemporary homes characteristics are as follows:

-Natural, sustainable components

-Recycled, nontoxic materials

-Natural lighting

-Large geometric forms (cubes, etc.)

-Flat roofs

-Frameless windows

-Transparency through large glass walls, blending rooms together

-Dramatic facades

-Modern interiors

-Beach House

   Beach or coastal homes, are designed to stand against the weather of the climate they’re in. They use a special paint that lasts longer against the climates conditions. Beach houses are most popular in California, Jersey Shore, Long Island, and Florida.



Beach house characteristics are as follows:

-Often have raised foundations

-Porches or decks that wrap around the house

-Simple cottages to multi-level homes

-Open floor plan blending rooms together

-Large windows to showcase coastal views

-Shingles, stucco, board and batten siding

Each home has its own unique design. This can make choosing a house style fun and at times difficult. Architects are there to help you determine your style and what would fit best with your day to day activities. Schedule a consultation now to get started on your dream home!