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By Michelle Adams | Agent in Austin, TX

Residential Architecture Styles

Residential Architecture Styles


These narrow, rectangular one-and-a- half story houses originated in California during the 1880s as a reaction to the elaborate decoration of Victorian homes. The style then moved eastward to the Midwest in the early 20th century, where it remained popular until the Great Depression. Bungalows have low-pitched gabled or hipped roofs and small covered porches at the entry. The style became so popular that you could order a bungalow kit from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. The name "bungalow" has its origins in India, where it indicated a small, thatched home.


Some of the first houses built in the United States were Cape Cods. The original colonial Cape Cod homes were shingle-sided, one-story cottages with no dormers. During the mid-20th century, the small, uncomplicated Cape Cod shape became popular in suburban developments. A 20th-century Cape Cod is square or rectangular with one

or one-and-a-half stories and steeply pitched, gabled roofs. It may have dormers and shutters. The siding is usually clapboard or brick.


You know them by their odd-sized and often tall windows, their lack of ornamentation and their unusual mixtures of wall materials—stone, brick and wood, for instance. Architects designed Contemporary-style homes (in the Modern family) between 1950 and 1970 and created two versions—the flat-roof and gabled types. The latter is often characterized by exposed beams. Both breeds tend to be one-story tall

and were designed to incorporate the surrounding landscape into their overall look.


Popularized at the turn of the 20th century by Architect and Furniture Designer Gustav Stickley in his magazine, The Craftsman, the Craftsman-style bungalow reflected, said Stickley, "a house reduced to its simplest form...its low, broad proportions and absolute lack of ornamentation gives it a character so natural and unaffected that it seems to...blend with any landscape."


This American style originated in homes built by German, or "Deutsch," settlers in Pennsylvania as early as the 1600s. A hallmark of the style is a broad gambrel roof with flaring eaves that extend over the porches, creating a barn-like effect. Early homes were a single room, and additions were added to each end, creating a distinctive linear floor plan. End walls are generally of stone, and the chimney is usually located on one or both ends. Double-hung sash windows with outward-swinging wood casements, dormers with shed-like overhangs, and a central Dutch double doorway are

also common. The double door, which is divided horizontally, was once used to keep livestock out of the home while allowing light and air to filter through the open top. The style enjoyed a revival during the first three decades of the 20th century as the country looked back with nostalgia to its colonial past.


Born out of the fundamental need for shelter, National-style homes, whose roots are set in Native American and pre-railroad dwellings, remain unadorned and utilitarian. The style is characterized by rectangular shapes with side-gabled roofs or square layouts with pyramidal roofs. The gabled-front- and-wing style pictured is the most prevalent type, with a side-gabled wing attached at a right angle to the gabled front. Two subsets of the National style,

known as "hall-and-parlor family" and "I-house," are characterized by layouts that are two rooms wide and one room deep. Massed plan styles, recognized by a layout more than one room deep, often sport side gables and shed-roofed porches. You'll find National homes throughout the country.


In suburban Chicago in 1893, Frank Lloyd Wright, America's most famous architect, designed the first Prairie- style house, and it's still a common style throughout the Midwest. Prairie houses come in two styles: boxy

and symmetrical or low-slung and asymmetrical. Roofs are low-pitched, with wide eaves. Brick and clapboard are the most common building materials. Other details include rows of casement windows; one-story porches with massive square supports; and stylized floral and circular geometric terra-cotta or masonry ornamentation around doors, windows, and cornices.


Sometimes called the California Ranch style, this home in the Modern family originated there in the 1930s. It emerged as one of the most popular American styles in the 1950s and 60s, when the automobile had replaced early 20th-century forms of transportation, such as streetcars. Now mobile homebuyers could move to the suburbs and into bigger homes on bigger lots. The style takes its cues from Spanish Colonial, Prairie and Craftsman homes, and is characterized by its one-story, pitched-roof construction, built-in garage, wood or brick exterior walls, sliding and picture windows and sliding doors leading to patios.


A subset of the Modern style, Shed homes were particular favorites of architects in the 1960s and 70s. They feature multiple roofs sloping in different directions, which creates multigeometric shapes; wood shingle, board or brick exterior cladding; recessed and downplayed front doorways; and small windows. There's virtually no symmetry to the style.


Legend has it that if you fire a shotgun through the front doorway of this long, narrow home, the bullet will exit directly through the back door. The style is characterized by a single story with a gabled roof. Shotguns are usually only one room wide, with each room leading directly into the next. Exterior features include a vent on the front gable and a full front porch trimmed with gingerbread brackets and ornamentation. Mail-order plans and parts for shotgun homes were widely available at the turn of the century,making it a popular, low-cost structure to build in both urban and suburban settings.


Most common in the Southwest and Florida, Spanish-style architecture takes its cues from the missions of the early Spanish missionaries—such as the one at San Juan Capistrano in California— and includes details from the Moorish, Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. The houses usually have low-pitched tiled roofs, white stucco walls and rounded windows and doors. Other elements may include scalloped windows and balconies with elaborate grillwork; decorative tiles around doorways and windows; and a bell tower or two.


A Modern style that architects created to sequester certain living activities— such as sleeping or socializing—Split Levels offered multilevel alternatives to the ubiquitous style in the 1950s. The nether parts of a typical design were devoted to a garage and TV room; the midlevel, which usually jutted out from the two-story section, offered "quieter" quarters, such as the living and dining rooms; and the area above the garage was designed for bedrooms.


By Anitanonymas,  Tue Apr 22 2014, 12:46
Before I decide to buy my first home, it's a good idea to learn more about the different styles of homes available. I know that I've lived in a split level, a ranch, and a bungalow. It's fun to see the different options.

Anita Mas
By Fred Hutchinson,  Tue Jun 17 2014, 17:29
I am starting my own small business. It is a home and yard design service. I love learning about new styles, thank you.
Fred Hutchinson | http://tbcarchbuild.com/index.php
By garypuntman,  Wed Sep 3 2014, 13:59
I am going to be building a new home. I want to brush up on my knowledge of different styles. I want to make sure that my home matches the style I like. http://www.slaterarchitects.com.au/about.aspx

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