The Ultimate Guide to Popular Architectural Styles

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One of the first things that capture a home shopper’s attention is the house’s architectural style. In the United States, a plethora of designs exist. Some styles are region-specific, others are nationwide. As you are browsing for your dream home, here’s the ultimate guide to popular architectural styles:

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Mid-Century Modern

This style is characteristic of the ’50s and ’60s. These homes sprang up in the mid-1940s. This design is known for its simplicity. These homes typically include flat planes, geometric lines, large windows, walls of glass, open floor plans and varied elevations throughout. These homes integrate with their natural surroundings.

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An earthship home is found mostly in sun-baked areas, like New Mexico and Arizona. These homes are primarily built from recycled automobile tires filled with compacted or compressed soil, and other natural and recycled materials. These homes are designed to collect and store their own energy, meaning big savings on your electric bill.

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Best known for their symmetry, Colonial-style houses evolved in the 13 U.S. Colonies of the 1700s. Common characteristics include a square floor plan, chimney, medium-pitched roof, and a door located in the center first floor of the facade. Typically, the same number of windows are situated on either side of the front door.

Across the country, the Colonial blueprint evolved to meet the needs and tastes of specific regions. These variations include the Georgian Colonial, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, and Southern Colonial houses.

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Cape Cod

Cape Cod homes do, in fact, get their name from the vacation destination off the coast of Massachusetts. Originally designed to withstand harsh winters, these homes have their steep, slanted roofs and central halls with equal space on either side. Traditional Cape Cod homes rarely have built-out porches or other exterior ornamentation.

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The original two-story carriage houses were popular in the northeastern United States. They served dual purposes; horses were housed downstairs, and their caretaker upstairs. Today, people convert carriage houses into garages with the residential area sitting above it, or to include an adjacent building for extra space.

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patio home is an attached dwelling with a shared wall and at least one other unit. These homes look similar to townhomes and condos. Patio homes typically max out at one or 1.5 stories.

These home came into fashion in the 1970s, as gated communities sprang up. A patio home is ideal for those who don’t want the maintenance typically associated with owning a home with a large yard.

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If you romanticize about setting foot in Spain, France, or Italy, a Mediterranean-style home might be right up your alley. These homes are found primarily in warm-weather states.

This most distinctive feature is a low-pitched, terra-cotta-tile roof. Other common characteristics include big windows, stucco exterior, arched openings, columns and courtyards.

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Often referred to as “Hansel and Gretel” or “fairy-tale” homes, storybook homes were inspired by Hollywood film studios in the 1920s.

Most storybook cottages are asymmetrical and contain 1 to 2 stories. Common features include arched or half-round doors, decorative fireplaces, stucco siding, cross-gabled roofs, decorative chimneys, turrets, towers, half-round or ached doors and tiny windows.

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Cape Dutch

Originating in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Cape Dutch style first became popular during the 17th century, when Dutch settlers colonized the area. Today in the U.S., only 2 true original Cape Dutch–style homes are available for sale. These homes are often H-, T-, or U-shaped. Distinctive features are a thatched roof and central, rounded gable. These homes feature large wooden sash cottage panes, external wooden shutters and green detailing.

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