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Interior Design

What Style Is Your House?

Whether remodeling, building an addition or just giving your home some extra curb appeal, knowing the style of your house can help you design a successful plan. The following slides offer ideas for 10 familiar house styles. 

Cape Cod Homes

With roots dating back to 1675, Cape Cod was a popular style for homes built in the 1930s. Typically one story or sometimes one-and-a-half stories, the Cape Cod style features a steep roofline, wood siding, multi-pane (often dormer) windows and hardwood floors.

Original Cape Cod homes were fairly small. If you’re in need of more space, consider adding on to the side or back of the house, depending on the site. Many original Cape Cod-style homes did not have a finished space upstairs, so you may find that the upstairs area is either incomplete or previously remodeled and can easily be changed to fit your needs.

Country French-Style Homes

Country French-style homes in the United States date back to the 18th century, when France occupied much of eastern North America with settlements scattered along the principal waterways, such as the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes and Mississippi valleys. French building traditions started to fade after Jefferson purchased Louisiana in 1803, but continued in New Orleans and other areas for another half-century.

Country French homes are often one story with many narrow windows and paired shutters, steeply pitched roofs (either hipped or side-gabled), stucco walls and a half-timbered frame.

Colonial-Style Homes

Dating back to 1876, the Colonial style is one of the most popular in the United States. Colonial homes usually have two or three stories, fireplaces and brick or wood facades. The classic floor plan has the kitchen and family room on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second floor.

Colonials are easy to add on to at the side or the back. A brick facade may be difficult to match, but a builder or designer can help you find complementary siding materials. Look for reproduction Colonial-style materials, such as divided-light windows, to help you make a smooth exterior transition.

Victorian Houses

The Queen Anne style is one example of several home designs common during the Victorian period, which lasted from about 1860 to 1900. Homes of this era were romantic, distinctive and abundant with detail, from the fabrics and patterns to the colors and textures. These houses often feature a steeply pitched roof, a dominant front-facing gable, patterned shingles, cutaway bay windows and an asymmetrical facade with a partial or full-width front porch.

Contemporary Victorian house designs retain the traditional characteristics but use more modern fabrics and colors. Traditional and contemporary often pair effortlessly in these houses.

Tudor-Style Houses

The name of this style suggests a close connection to the architectural characteristics of the early 16th-century Tudor dynasty in England. However, the Tudor houses seen today are modern reinventions loosely based on a variety of late Medieval English prototypes.

Common features include a steeply pitched roof, prominent cross gables, decorative half-timbering and tall, narrow windows with small windowpanes.

Craftsman Houses

Also known as the Arts and Crafts style, the Craftsman bungalow was popular between 1905 and the 1930s—and is making a comeback today. A distinguishing feature of the style is the large amount of interior woodwork, such as built-in shelving and seating. As for the exterior, Craftsman-style homes often have low-pitched roofs with wide eave overhangs, exposed roof rafters, decorative beams or braces under gables and porches framed by tapered square columns.

Craftsman bungalows often have unfinished but usable space in the attic, making it a great spot to renovate.

Cottage-Style Homes

Medieval styles of the English countryside inspired American architects to design these charming and cozy houses which became popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Common features include a warm, storybook character, steep roof pitches and cross gables, arched doors, casement windows with small panes and brick, stone or stucco siding.

Mediterranean-Style Houses

Mediterranean styles of architecture such as Spanish Colonial Revival (also known as Spanish Farmhouse or Spanish Eclectic) flourished in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s following a noteworthy appearance at the Panama-California Exposition of 1915.

Spanish-style homes often feature a low-pitched red tile roof, arches, grillwork and a stucco or adobe exterior. The typical U-shape floor plan is oriented around a central courtyard and fountain, making the garden an extension of the living space. Rooms open to the courtyard, promoting cross-ventilation and the flow of fresh air.

Traditional Ranch Homes

Traditional ranch-style homes usually have simple floor plans, attached garages and efficient living spaces. The style dates back to 1932, and was one of the most popular styles in the suburban home-building boom of the 1950s and 1960s.

Although they may appear plain on the outside, ranch-style homes offer great potential for additions. Bi-level and tri-level homes evolved from the ranch style and were built during the same era. They’re great houses to upgrade with additions.

Contemporary-Style Homes

Referring specifically to architect-designed homes built from about 1950 to 1970, the term “contemporary” has come to describe a wide range of houses that concentrate on simple forms and geometric lines. Many contemporary homes feature lots of glass, open floor plans and inventive designs. Void of elaborate ornamentation and unnecessary detail, drama on the flat-face exteriors of contemporary homes often comes from a dynamic mix of contrasting materials and textures, exposed roof beams and flat or low-pitched roofs.

New Home Additions

Mixing building materials and window shapes creates architectural intrigue between this home and its addition. Although they were built at different times and feature radically contrasting elements, they are connected by a playful use of angles and a strong sense of geometry. You will often see elements of various styles combined in one house—a result of one era moving into another while retaining some features of the previous period. Once you understand the style of your existing home, you can thoughtfully move forward with your design.


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