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Which Architectural Style Is Right for You?

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architecture stylesAre you looking for a starter home? Upgrading to accommodate a growing family? In a market of infinite possibilities, pick one of the common American styles listed below, or hire a contractor to build you something from the ground up. Choose the correct style of architecture based on three main attributes: space, features and locale.

Art Deco

Era: Art Deco originated in the 1920s but left the public eye once World War II began. Designed to be ultra-modern, Art Deco strucutures remain as nostalgic artifacts of the jazz age.

Space: Most buildings constructed during the Art Deco period were for commercial use. Some were later bought and renovated as apartments, and others kept their original size to function as mansions.

Features: Art Deco avoids sensible design. It uses lots of mirrors, geometric trimmings and a drained color palette. It works best for wealthy owners who can invest in the upkeep.

Locale: Find Art Deco architecture near cities, especially New York City, Chicago, Asheville, and Miami.

Pop culture example: Jay Gatsby’s Great Egg estate

Cape Cod

Era: Cape Cods (or cottages) arose in the 17th century as an affordable option to withstand the colder climates of New England.

Space: Cottages are one level with a dormer (an isolated bedroom in the roof's crevice) which makes them most suitable for elderly couples or singles.

Features: Cottages are boxy, symmetrical structures with steep roofs and central chimneys. They conceal inhabitants from bleak winters and harsh winds, so they lack porches, patios or decks.

Locale: Cottages can all be found chiefly in Northeastern coastal towns.

Pop culture example: Monopoly house pieces


Era: Colonial style houses are named for the generation that bore them and their distinct regions: English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Georgian.

Space: Colonials broaden the Cape Cod's style with two stories, making them great for larger families and not as expensive as structurally complex homes.

Features: The focal point is an entryway with pediment. Other Colonial elements consist of shingle siding and a balanced arrangement of windows.

Locale: The architecture had so many revivals that developments pop up in every state. They are mostly scattered in lesser populated suburbs.

Pop culture example: the McAllister residence in "Home Alone"


Era: American bungalows rose to prominence in the late 19th century before and during World War I. The most recognizable variations include Craftsman and Chalet.

Space: Bungalows come in all sizes for small families as well as large. Because they are usually lofts, bungalows accommodate impaired mobility and use of a wheelchair.

Features: Economically built and low to the ground, a bungalow's sparse design always combines a gently sloping roof with an elevated foundation, high windows and a broad veranda.

Locale: Although Southern California possesses an expansive quantity of the American bungalow, they can be found throughout the US.

Pop culture example: the courtyard-connected complex in "Alvin and the Chipmunks"


Era: Folk architecture was influenced by function and affordability instead of aesthetic and conformity. Most farmhouses came into existence as the first colonists established agricultural communities in the Midwest.

Space: Farmhouses boast extensive floor plans with oodles of acreage and are great for multi-generational clans.

Features: A farmhouse's most remarkable aspect is its transitionally elegant porch, level with the ground and held up by structural posts.

Locale: You will be hard pressed to find farmhouses outside a rural landscape.

Pop culture example: the Hess property in "Signs"


Era: Ranchers, the quintessential model home, dominated the market in America's postwar economic boom. Most tract housing is considered ranch-style.

Space: Ranchers, also called Ramblers, feel wide open, because they reduce the normal suburban house to one story. However, larger families might deem the single tier home cramped. Stay away from cheap versions in high volume areas; they lack the land necessary to expand, so you are constrained to the original design.

Features: Ramblers ramble! They stick to basic floor plans with a rather sleek exterior and large overhanging eaves.

Locale: The rancher is favored in southwestern states, because is accompanies a larger plot of land. A frugal initial investment, you can stretch the layout later to add more bedrooms. 

Pop culture example: Kevin Arnold’s neighborhood on "The Wonder Years"


Era: Split-levels took over where ranchers left off as suburbs expanded in the '60s and '70s.

Space: A split-level rearranges the home in a compact and versatile way, so it does not require a great quantity of land for an adequate amount of rooms. Split-levels organize bedrooms in a cluster which is better for small children than moody teenagers.

Features: You enter a split-level home between floors. The opening foyer contains two sets of stairs, with one going up towards bedrooms/common areas and one going down to the finished basement/garage.

Locale: Affordable and efficient, most split-levels appear in dense suburbs, because the structure extends up rather than out.

Pop culture example: the Brady's family house


Era: Prone to heavy maintenance and hefty price tags, historic Victorian homes fell out fashion the same way Art Deco did. The glamorous and elaborate characteristics were too expensive during wartime, and Americans drifted to more patriotic, homegrown architecture.

Space: The medieval inspired homes use an asymmetrical blueprint and sprawl out to cover as much land as you let them. Although Victorian houses deliver tons of space, they usually cost more than an average American family can afford.

Features: Victorians are primarily known for their colossal shape, beautiful masonry and gingerbread trim. They also exhibit ornamental towers and wraparound porches for entertaining.

Locale: Search for Victorian homes around culturally mature cities, especially Kalamazoo (MI), Pittsburgh (PA), San Diego (CA), New Orleans (LA) and Cape May (NJ).

Pop culture example: Monica Geller's doll house

Kelly Martini  Posted by Kelly Martini on October 9, 2018

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