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House style is one of the key things people look for when home hunting. Considering that America is a great melting pot of people — it also has a wide range of popular house styles.

House Style

Some come from other regions and cultures and others are quintessentially American architecture.

Of course, preferred house styles are a matter of personal taste, but they also vary by region of the country. For example, the southwestern parts of the US have homes that are distinctive, mainly with a low profile and plenty of stucco on the outside.

A true Cape Cod-style house would look a bit out of place in that region.
House Style
However, you can find examples of the most popular house styles in every city or region of the country.

Types of Houses

Types of Houses

Before we look at styles of houses, it’s important to consider types of houses. If you’re looking for a new home it will help target your search to know about these.


These types of houses are groupings of units in one overall structure. These are typically rental properties and the monthly rent includes a variety of services. Items included range from maintenance and some utilities to amenities such as a gym, community room or swimming pool.

Apartments generally include all the maintenance, which is a big benefit. On the other hand, you have less freedom with your unit with regard to alterations. Moreover, you can’t buy the property.


Condominiums offer the benefits of homeownership and many of the conveniences that many apartments provide. You’re responsible for all the maintenance within your unit. In contrast, the association takes care of general building maintenance.

Indeed, condos require less work than a single-family house. However, they do come with some restrictions on what you can and cannot do to your unit.  You might not be able to implement all your ideas.


You might think that a housing cooperative — co-op for short — is similar to a condo, but it’s really quite different. When you purchase in a co-op, you’re actually buying a share of the building rather than the actual unit. How much square footage your residence covers determines your share of ownership in the building.

To purchase in a co-op, you have to apply and be accepted. Once in, you have joint responsibility for common spaces and your share of the maintenance costs.

Single-Family/Detached Home

Typically, this is what we think of as a house: A structure that’s detached and sits on its own. Most homes in the US are single-family, detached homes. People love these types of houses because they offer a great deal of privacy and more freedom to make alterations and property changes. That said, single-family homes are more expensive to maintain and involve more upkeep.

Tiny Home

Super compact and generally under 400 square feet, tiny homes are more popular ideas these days. Many models are prefabricated but other options are custom tiny homes and DIY types. These types of homes are popular among people who don’t want to be tied to a larger home physically and financially.

Tiny homes are indeed more affordable and can be mobile. However, they can be challenging with regard to space. Moreover, they aren’t ideal for families.


A version of a single-family home, a townhouse is a house you own. The big difference is that it shares one or both sidewalls with another townhouse. These types of houses are vertically oriented and have at least two stories and sometimes three or four.

Townhouses are typically cost less than detached homes. However, the tradeoff is less privacy and more restrictions on what you can do to the exterior

Modern House Styles

Global Inspiration

global house style

When it comes to modern house styles, individuality rules. A great example is this tall, slender mountain cabin that features burnt wood cladding. The design inspiration comes from houses found in the Chiang Mai region of Thailand.

Designers Studio Sher Maker gave this house clean lines with a rather peculiar geometry. It has a rectangular floor plan but it’s long, narrow and two stories tall. The wood siding on the exterior walls is all locally sourced and treated with a special technique that involves burning the planks. Timber framing emphasizes the use of natural materials for this architectural style.

Difficult Terrain

Difficult Terrain house style

High House, a magnificent home located in Austin, Texas, is located on a challenging property. In fact, the extreme slope created difficulties for the designers. RAVEL Architecture ended up devising this boomerang-like shape for the home. They used the natural curvature of the land to create the shape of the home.

First, however, they had to build a retaining wall to terrace the site. The floor-to-ceiling windows and an angled roof direct attention toward the canyon and open up the space.

Popular House Styles

We’ve rounded up the most popular types of exterior house styles. Take a look at these styles and see which ones are most appealing.

Victorian House Style

Farmhouse house style
Farmhouse styles have crept into suburban areas.

Victorian-style houses are easily identifiable with their complex lines, plentiful trim and brighter paint colors. In fact, sometimes they’re called dollhouses or gingerbread houses. This is because of all the fanciful and ornate elements that Victorian builders used to embellish the homes, according to This Old House.

The Victorian era is considered to be 1830 to 1910, mainly coinciding with the reign of Queen Victoria in England. The architecture of that era often has steep roof lines and is very eclectic throughout the interior design. The interiors most often feature separate rooms and don’t have an open floor plan. 

In fact, according to 5-Minute History, homes built in that era often have architectural curiosities and interior design oddities like doors or stairs to nowhere or windows into other rooms.

Farmhouse style

Farmhouse house style
Farmhouse styles have crept into suburban areas.

By strict definition, a traditional farmhouse is the main structure for living on a farm. As people started moving off traditional farms, they took the casual and comfortable farmhouse interior design aesthetic with them.

Today’s modern farmhouse style is a bit different as these style homes are more likely in a suburban area than in a rural area. Current forms of this structure type combine clean contemporary lines with a cozy farmhouse feeling to create is a very family-friendly space.

Typical characteristics

Old or new, a farmhouse will have a few distinguishing characteristics.

  • The first is a porch that serves as a spot to welcome guests, doff dirty shoes or sit and relax in the shade.
  • Inside, formal and entertaining spaces will be located in the front with the kitchen.
  • More private areas are in the back.

Cape Cod Style

Cape Cod Style

Immediately identifiable, Cape Cod is one of the most popular house styles. It is associated with New England where the style took root. The Puritans brought building practices from England, leading to Cape Cod-style homes. These have a well-known simplicity and symmetrical design.

Typical characteristics

Typically, the style is a single story that is broad, topped by a steeply gabled roof.  Originally, builders did not finish the top floor. By contrast, contemporary versions often use it as a second story, accented with dormer windows.

In addition to the characteristic windows, Cape Cod-style homes will have a central entrance with a paneled door. They might also have columns or other extra features, according to Antique Home Style.

Beautiful Cottage house style

The beautiful Cottage house style
Cottage style is popular for vacation homes.

Steeped in images of the English countryside, a cottage style home is actually a charming option that can be old-fashioned or not. Modern versions of this inspired popular style of architecture are found in suburbs as well as rural areas.

The original definition of a cottage refers to a house that has living space on the ground level

and bedrooms on an upper level under the eaves. According to Angie’s List, these types of homes used to be summer homes for upper and middle-class families. This was the case until the 1960s and 70s when they became a popular style across the country.

Typical characteristics

Houseplans says that there are several defining characteristics for a cottage house: Picturesque dormers and steep rooflines, arched doorways and front porches. Casement windows are also common among cottage-style homes.

Colonial style

Colonial style
Traditional colonial homes never go out of style.

If you grew up east of the Mississippi, you’ve probably seen plenty of Colonial style homes, one of the most popular styles. While these houses started as Colonial revival style architecture, over time they have evolved. They are now one of the most common styles of homes with contemporary interior design twists and plenty of room.

Typical characteristics

Colonial-style houses generally have symmetrical construction and a square or rectangle shape. They commonly have siding or brick on the exterior.

Both the front entry door and the main staircase are typically located in the center of the home. Modern Colonial-style houses still have some of the distinguishing old-school elements, such as plenty of brass fixtures and formal entryways.


Warm weather areas have many Spanish style homes.

Just as some popular house styles are limited to the eastern United States, Spanish-style homes are typically found in southern California, Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Typical characteristics

The 18th-century missions in California are the inspiration for these Spanish-style homes. The homes have terracotta-colored roofs, plenty of stucco on the exterior and wrought iron details.

Even within this type of house, there are different styles. In general, these types of homes have roofs that are flat or very low pitched roofs, arched doorways and asymmetrical construction. Some also call this style Hispanic or Mediterranean, or even Spanish eclectic.


Georgian styles are among the most formal-looking.

Among the most formal of the most popular home styles, Georgian style homes are a classic style of architecture. This type of structure generally has strict symmetry and restrained decorative elements. Overall, it originated in the era of England’s Kings George, I, II and III and with the work of architect Sir Christopher Wren.

Typical characteristics

According to Wentworth Studio, the roofline and placement of the doors and windows are hallmarks of this type of house. While people mainly associate brick with Georgian-style homes, it is not uncommon to see other building materials used, such as clapboard, stucco or stone.

Barn homes

Barn homes

Barn homes are generally one of two things:  A barn that has been converted into a home or a home that has been built with features of a barn. These popular home styles are gaining market share as people look for a “homier” home with some rustic details.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you would describe all barn-style homes are country-cozy. The range of styles is wide and can even be quite modern, especially for the interior design. Regardless of what style edge it has, barn homes will have some common characteristics and similar features, according to Yankee Barn Homes.

Typical characteristics

Most barn-style homes are proportioned to look tall, rectangular and have a pitched or gambrel roof. They will use post and beam construction, incorporate barn windows and feature a great room inside. They are most often clad in wood.


Ranch style homes exploded in popularity as suburban areas grew.

Originating in the southwest, ranch style homes are one-story structures that feature an open plan and casual ambiance. They became very popular in the 1950s and 1960s as suburban areas started to grow.

Typical characteristics

Ranch-style homes have a low-pitched roof and eaves that extend out from the house. Usually, they have an attached garage and a large window facing the front yard. The interior design is typically open and has free access to the yard through a sliding glass door. It may also have a porch at the front.

At the start, they had modest size — about 1,300 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom. Recently, the typical ranch home grew bigger for more living space, says Angie’s List. If you’re house hunting, you’ll find that these are a very common type of existing home.


Old World Tudor style is still a popular home choice.

Tudor is one of the home styles that European architects brought to America from their native region. This type of house is a mishmash of late Medieval and early Renaissance styles, says the Wentworth Studio, and they were the dominant style in the 1920s and 1930s.

Typical characteristics

Identifying features of a Tudor-style home include stucco walls, often with decorative wood timbering. Other characteristics include steeply-pitched gabled roofs, stone accents and a masonry chimney.  A Tudor has an entrance that is not symmetrical and typically has an arched doorway. The door is usually board and batten, with pieces of stone in the brick around the opening.


Craftsman-style homes have seen a resurgence in popularity.

Craftsman style homes grew out of the Art & Crafts movement, which had its heyday from 1905 to 1930. It used to be that most all Craftsman style homes were bungalows, writes Antique House Style, but not all bungalows are Craftsman style. The style faded from popularity in the subsequent decades until the 1980s.

Typical characteristics

These houses have signature low-pitched gabled roofs and broad eaves. Generally, they are a single story or one and a half stories tall. Also, these homes have large front porches and distinctive interior design.

Today’s contemporary Craftsman versions are larger with more space. Typically, they incorporate only some of the features that are characteristic of this simpler, hand-crafted style.


Tuscan homes have low-key luxury as a focus.

A suburban house is thousands of miles from the sunbaked, rolling hills of Tuscany. Still, that doesn’t mean that homeowners don’t try creating that warmth and comfort.

One of the most popular home styles, Tuscan style houses are distinguished mainly by the materials used in construction: natural stone, terra cotta, stucco and tiles.

Typical characteristics

Typically, Tuscan-style homes also have enclosed courtyards and feature taller, narrow windows with shutters — sometimes merely decorative. Somewhat similar to Mediterranean style, Tuscan homes feature a rustic vibe, accented with Old World elements. The interior is inspired by the colors and climate of the region.


Mediterranean style houses have open floor plans.

The breezy, open plan of Mediterranean-style homes has made them one of the more popular styles in the country. Typical Mediterranean-style homes might be a bit more rustic. However, contemporary homes in this style have all the creature comforts combined with the best features of the traditional plans.

Typical characteristics

These homes can be one story or two. They are often more sprawling than other styles that rely on a strictly rectangular footprint. A low-pitched tile roof often comes with a stucco exterior, accented with arched windows and doorways.

Mediterranean homes generally include courtyards or gardens that have a rustic European flair. They are ideal for locations that can enjoy a long outdoor season.



The term mountain style might conjure up images of a little cabin in the woods, but mountain-style homes are so much more than that.  Today’s versions make the most of their rustic locations. They also have a refined architectural style.

Typical characteristics

This means that mountain-style homes create a focus on nature in every way possible. From using natural and local materials in the construction to the large windows that bring the outside in from all angles, mountain-style homes work with their surroundings to blend in.

Open plans maximize the usage and enjoyment of the interior. Low-maintenance landscaping with native plants makes the property of mountain-style homes more care-free.


Contemporary styles vary widely, from very modern to mixed architectural works.

Defining the style of contemporary home can be a bit like trying to nail gelatin to the wall. The range is very wide and can be difficult to pin down. Regardless, contemporary means “of the moment” so current trends can come into play as well as regional preferences.

Typical characteristics

New contemporary-style homes do tend to feature some common things. Energy efficiency is important, sustainable materials play a role and plenty of natural light is a feature. Moreover, contemporary houses all have a stylish architecture with a spacious feeling, whether they lean toward the modern end of the spectrum or not.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What are the 5 types of houses?

The five types of houses include a single-family home, condominium (condo), townhouse, multi-family home (apartment) and co-op.

What is the most common house style in America?

Not surprisingly, it’s hard to name just one house style as most popular. People, landscapes and climate vary widely in the US. Even so, most real estate surveys name ranch, contemporary and modern the three most popular house styles. Of those choices, ranch homes top the list — but not in every state.

What house style is most popular?

Out of the most common types of houses, the ten most popular styles are Cape Cod, French Country, Colonial-style homes, Victorian-style homes, Greek Revival, Contemporary Craftsman-style homes, Cottage-style homes, Mediterranean style homes, Transitional and Modern-style homes.

What style is my house?

Whether you know what it is or not, your house has a style. Sometimes, if it was poorly renovated, it might have two or more. If you want to know what style is my house, take photos of it. Next, compare it to photos of typical exterior house styles and narrow down what style(s) it is. If you have trouble pinning down your house architecture style, you might be able to ask a neighbor who has a similar style house.

What particular style home is most in demand today?

Hands down, ranch-style homes are most in-demand today. Their popularity boomed during the 1950s and 1960s, and hasn’t faded yet. The architecture has a simple, one-story plan, low-to-the-ground look, and a number of other features common to this iconic type of house.

What style are most suburban homes?

In suburbs across America, Cape Cod homes are very common. Originating on the East Coast, this type of architecture spread across the country. It’s a charming style that fits the needs of many families.

What is the most affordable house style to build?

Outside of the tiny house trend, ranch homes can be the cheapest and most straightforward build. They are a single-story and typically have a compact and uncomplicated layout. You can find a size and shape for every budget and taste.


There are so many different types, but these are among the most popular house styles. Read their descriptions and it’s easy to see why they are so popular. You can also understand why some are more common in certain geographical areas and get some ideas for your own home purchase. Which one is your favorite?
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