Aug 05 2018
American Home Architecture 101
Posted in All Blog Posts, Architecture, Home Buying
The average person doesn’t need to know much about the different architectural styles to determine whether or not they like a home. We’ve all heard likely heard of ranch and colonial style homes, and could probably identify them without much help.
However, America is filled with homes that are inspired by numerous cultures, their styles spanning centuries of innovation. America is a melting pot and its houses are no exception. As a result, many homes are a blend of styles.
Some style blends are more successful than others. The term “McMansion” has been used to describe a type of large house that is being developed across the country. These houses typically are an assortment of features that can’t really be called a cohesive style. Another way to think of a McMansion is like choosing items off of a dollar menu–they might not fit together in a particularly tasteful way, but they’re all things you crave.
That being said, there are many styles that share similarities with McMansions that architects consider to be postmodern or “New American.” These homes are often a combination of Traditional style homes and other styles such as Greek Revival and cottage style.
Style isn’t just for looks
The style of early American architecture was heavily inspired by factors like climate and available resources. New England colonial houses were and still are built with steep roofs to shed the heavy load of snow in the winter time.
In the southwest, homes were built with adobe, or sun-dried bricks, due to the lack of other building materials. But also, adobe stays cool even on the scorching summer days faced by the southwest region of the country.
In architecture, as in all sciences, form follows function. So, it’s a good idea to keep these factors in mind when you’re shopping for your next home.
The most common styles
We’ve only just scratched the surface of the hundreds of home styles that are to be found across the country. Building such a list would require a full-length book. So here, we’re just going to mention some of the most common house architectural styles throughout the United States.
- Cape Cod. This early colonial home style has changed a bit over the years, becoming bigger and incorporating additions and garages. However, one aspect that most Cape Cod houses have in common is the symmetry between the doors and windows. Cape style houses have two windows on the left, a front door in the center, and two windows on the right. The siding was traditionally made from wooden shingles, but in modern day they can be made from a number of materials, including stone, brick, and vinyl.
- Revival. Revival houses attempt to bring back certain characteristics of historical buildings. Greek revival is common in affluent suburbs of the United States. They are typically painted white, include large white columns at the entry way, and are at least two floors. Gothic Revival omits the columns and adds ornate trim along its steep roof edges. They are typically made from brick, especially dark red in color.
- Dutch Colonial. The most obvious indicator that you might be looking at a Dutch style house is the roof which usually has two different pitch angles and flared eaves. These homes originated in New York and New Jersey but have since spread across the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas of the United States.
- Craftsman. Originating in Southern California, the craftsman style home is a bit trickier to identify than more traditional styles. However, they’re making a big comeback due to their notable interior designs. This includes exposed roof rafters, detailed interior woodwork, and large, single-paned windows that let in lots of natural light.