What Style is My House?

Cape Cod to Chalet, Art Deco to A-Frame, there are hundreds of classifications, a dozen of which dominate the southeastern region of the U.S.

Everyone knows location, location, location is the number one selling point in real estate. Second to that is home “style,” a catchall term for the distinct historical time period and architectural influence from which your home originates. Cape Cod to Chalet, Art Deco to A-Frame, there are hundreds of classifications, a dozen of which dominate the southeastern region of the U.S. Here, we look at a few popular styles. 


Colonial homes are one of the most prominent and eponymous architectural styles, deriving their name from the English colonists who re-established themselves in America in the 16th century. The primary characteristic of these homes are balance and form, a square geometric base with evenly spaced shuttered windows and a four-over-four, two-story layout (i.e. four rooms on each floor).

  • Dutch Colonial is a sub-genre distinguished by dormers, flared eaves extending over a wide front porch, decorative hood entryway, double-dutch doorway (bisected with top half opening independently), and above all, a barn-like Gambrel or jerkin head roof reminiscent of the thatched-covered theaters of Shakespeare.
  • Georgian Colonial is the the epitome of symmetry. Box shape, center door with a window on each side of the door, and five, evenly spaced windows across the top floor.
  • Federal Colonial, also known as “Adam” style, is the embodiment of wealth. It begins with a simple box shape, but then includes the addition of wings on each side, along with a vast array of more decorative embellishments such as tall vertical columns, grand curved stairway leading to the front entrance, and Palladian windows, a three-part fan-shaped window adorning the top floor.


The cottage home is the quintessence of charm, whimsy, and comfort. Cottages make the scenes of Norman Rockwell paintings and the pages of storybooks. Traditionally, they have an informal foundation, are made of vertical board-and-batten, shingle or stucco siding, contain small balconies and porches, bay windows, dormers to create a cozy second story in place of where the attic would be, a neat manicured lawn, white picket fence, dominant chimney, and gabled roof.


The craftsman bungalow is in the lead for most popular home style on the market. Derived from the Arts & Crafts movement of the 1920s, craftsman homes are in complete rebellion against the cold, concrete facades of the preceding Industrial Revolution. The emphasis is on natural materials, technique, hand-built integrity, and the integration of art and architecture. Craftsmans are known for exterior stonework combined with exposed timber beams, low-pitched roofs, wide front porches with overhanging rafters, square or round columns with stone supports, and original decorative touches.


Once a no-frills, purely functional dwelling to raise livestock, the farmhouse has recently made its way to the top of the most popular, modern home design list. These homes are built on a rectangular foundation with additional rooms annexed on either side. They contain tall and narrow windows, wood siding, steep pitched often metal roofs that run along the length of the house, dormers and gables, and above all, a wide porch that wraps around to the back.

Greek Revival

Take a road trip through the small southern towns that line Interstate 20 where Sherman’s army traversed the 285-mile “March to the Sea,” and you’ll behold a sea of Greek Revival style homes. These structures sprung up throughout the south before and during the Civil War as the plantations of aristocrats and decorated military officials. Greek Revival dwellings are inspired by the solid tenets of Greek democracy. They are large and imposing estates marked by great, rectangular columns, pediments, painted plaster exteriors, horizontal transoms, and decorative cornice moldings and embellishments.

Gothic Revival

Popular in the U.S. from 1840-1880, Gothic Revival homes emulated the great cathedrals and castles of Medieval Europe. They are baroque and extravagant with ornate details and embellishments like steeply pitched roofs with front facing gables, delicate and lacy vergeboard or “gingerbread” wood trim, elaborate buttresses, decorative tracery in leaded glass windows, deep porches and porticos, steep spires, and pointed arches over windows and doors.


Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water was finished in 1939 and is a stunning example of modern architecture. 

Modern homes are essentially inspired by the modernist movement of the 1950s. They embrace simple, geometric lines and the horizonality of landscape. They are minimalist and sleek, eschew ornamentation for form, integrate open floor plans, incorporate natural light, have flat or low-pitch roofs, and utilize the highest-quality materials like marble, stone, wood floors and paneling.


Contemporary homes are modern homes built with innovation in mind. They are sleek, straight, and above all, emphasize efficiency. They are constantly asking, “what is the newest, sustainable material on the market today?”


Thomas Jefferson designed Monticello when he was 26 years old. The building is a Neoclassical masterpiece and is the building on the back of the nickel. It was built in 1772. 

Neoclassical homes take their cue from the government buildings and universities of ancient Greece and Rome. They are instantly recognizable by their red brick exteriors, rooftop balconies, and white columns that scale the full height of the facade. A classic example is Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.


Also known as a Rambler, this is the quintessential modern home of 1950s and 60s suburbia. The traditional ranch is a large, sprawling, single story structure built in on a rectangular, “L,” or “U”-shaped foundation with an attached garage.


The Painted Ladies of San Francicso are a combination of Victorian and Edwardian styles. 

Some of the most iconic Victorian homes in the south can be found in the Inman Park neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. This style of home emerged under the reign of Queen Victoria, and embody many of the same ornamental treatments as the Gothic Revival. They contain massive, complex, multi-faceted and steep-pitched roofs. They are tall, grand, and asymmetrical, marked by gingerbread trim, shiplap paneling, huge porches, grand towers and turrets, fish-scale shingles, and whimsical color combinations.


The Tudor home is instantly recognizable by its trademark, stucco or masonry exterior accented by ornamental half timber frames. Other characteristics include steeply pitched, multi-gabled roofs, massive chimneys, arched entryways, and tall, multi-paned window groupings. 

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