There are many different styles of houses across the United States, from the colonial architecture that first flourished in New England to the colorful Victorian-style homes that make San Francisco’s skyline so distinct. Of course, different styles of houses reflect the different tastes of their owners, the architectural influence of their times, and the climate and materials of their region.
Whether you want to learn about your own home’s architecture or get ideas for your dream home, here’s a look at eight different styles of houses that Americans call home.
Although the U.S. is known for many different styles of houses, colonial homes have been around since our nation’s origins. You can recognize them by their simple yet formal rectangular design, attention to symmetry, steep roofs, and central doorways. A variation of the colonial house style can be seen in Cape Cod-style architecture, with its distinctive shingle siding, and in Colonial Revival-style homes that reflect the colonial aesthetic while incorporating later styles.
With their decorative trim, asymmetrical layouts, steep and varying rooflines, and vibrant colors, the Victorian aesthetic has influenced many different styles of houses, from Queen Anne to Shingle. Victorian homes have very distinctive architectural features, from bay windows and sash windows to iron railings, slate roofs, and stained glass.
Craftsman-style architecture was popular in the early decades of the 20th century, where it emerged out of the Arts and Crafts movement. When it comes to different styles of houses, these distinctive homes stand out with handcrafted interior elements like built-in cabinets, shelves, and seating. Exterior features often include low-pitched gable roofs, exposed rafters, columned porches, and long vertical panes of glass incorporated into the door and window design.
Of all the different styles of houses out there, you’ll probably recognize this one right away. That’s because ranch homes were one of the most popular styles being built from the 1940s through the 1980s. Today these one-story dwellings still grace countless suburbs with their rectangular, L- or U-shaped floor layouts, low-pitched roofs, long and open layouts, and front-facing garages.
When it comes to these two different styles of houses, it’s not enough to be beautiful—they also have to be cool. Southwest and Mediterranean-inspired homes are designed specifically to endure hot climates, and you’ll recognize both architectural styles by the materials they use, like tile and stucco.
If it has a flat roof, clean lines, wide windows, and a sleek, uncluttered aesthetic, it’s most likely an example of modern architecture. In a modern home, minimalist design spotlights luxurious materials like marble, stone, and wood, letting their quality and craftsmanship say it all. Modern houses like Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House became very popular in the 50s and 60s, as architects pushed the boundaries of what different styles of houses could look like.
Contemporary homes incorporate many different architectural elements, and they’re as varied as their owners’ tastes. However, some defining features of contemporary homes include energy-efficient design, open floor plans that let the light in, and the use of sustainable materials like bamboo or reclaimed wood.
This traditional 19th-century home style typically features a rectangular layout with a large, welcoming front porch, windows designed to capture and circulate the breeze, and wood siding. You’ll spot many of these farmhouses across the United States: they’re often easy to pick out with their white painted siding and durable metal roofs.