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Do You Know Your Home Styles?


May 28, 2020 by Barbara Zito

How well do you know your home styles? You don't need an architecture license to have an affinity for certain types of houses. If you're in the market for a new property, here's a quick overview of 10 common home types you'll find among the real estate listings.

  1. Cape Cod. The most telling aspect of this home is its slanting rooflines, first built to withstand the heavy snowfalls of 17th-century winters in coastal Massachusetts (yes, Cape Cod, to be exact). Those original Capes had just one floor, though modern-day versions often have a second, small floor for the bedrooms. You might see dormers with large windows on the upper level in the front or the rear to build out extra space.
  2. Country French. These homes became popular in the 18th century, when the French settled in the eastern part of the country. These homes also have pitched roofs with narrow windows and shutters. The style can run the gamut in homes, from a quaint farmhouse to an elegant chateau.
  3. Victorian. This home is a nod to the Victorian Era (1860-1900). If the home looks like it was taken out of a children's storybook, chances are it's a Victorian. This kind of home features towers, dormers, turrets, and a porch, but not just any porch -- it's usually a wraparound that spans at least two sides of the home. This, plus the many bedrooms on the multiple levels inside, are what makes this style a hit with large families and bed-and-breakfast owners.
  4. Ranch. When you hear "ranch," you might first think of dusty roads leading up to farmland and horse corrals. But rural areas aren't the only place you'll find these one-level homes. What makes this house style unique is its long, low profile -- some can be downright sprawling. The living space, including bedrooms, is all kept to that one main floor, which is why a finished basement comes in handy. A high ranch might have two floors, but again, the majority of home life happens on that main upper floor.
  5. Tudor. This style of home dates back to the reigning family dynasty of the same name in 16th-century England. You can't miss a Tudor, with its highly pitched roofs (yep, there are multiple) and gables, plus that rich, dark brown half-timbering -- the exposed wood beams on the exterior with spaces filled in with beige or white stucco. You'll see this style on modest homes as well as stately mansions.
  6. Colonial. Like its name suggests, this style of home was first made popular during the Colonial period in America in the 1600s, though the term Colonial style that we use today refers more to homes built during the latter part of the 19th century. No matter which century you choose, colonials have common characteristics, like symmetry and clean lines. Count on these two- or three-story homes to have an equal amount of windows on one side of the house as the other, with the entrance right in the middle (hence the term center-hall Colonial). True to its early roots, you'll likely find a fireplace somewhere in the center of the first floor.
  7. Contemporary. This term is used in particular for homes built between the 1950s and 1970s (if you know The Brady Bunch, you'll know a contemporary home). Simple lines are the name of the game, along with large windows and wide-open living spaces. With flat roofs and exteriors made of various contrasting materials, some of these homes might first look like attractive commercial buildings instead of residences.
  8. Craftsman. Also known as Arts and Crafts, this home is known for intricate interior design elements, like handcrafted shelving and seating. On the outside, you'll spot a Craftsman by its low, wide roof with exposed rafters and gables supported by beams. There will likely be a porch, and if so, expect to see square columns.
  9. Cottage. The word itself might evoke a tiny home tucked away in some small town, but they are found elsewhere and can actually be quite large, too. As with Tudors, you'll find steep roofs, cross gables, and small-paned windows. But one feature that sets a cottage apart from the other homes is the arched doors, which make it feel like you're stepping into an adventure tale.
  10. Mediterranean. Also known as Spanish Colonial, you'll find these gorgeous homes quite a bit in Southern California. That's because they seem to come alive in the bright sunshine that highlights the red tile roof and the light exterior made of stucco or adobe. A courtyard or garden is often part of the home, adding a refreshing outdoor living space. You'll see these Mediterranean-style homes elsewhere in the country, often by bodies of water, but even they seem to know they feel most at home in warm-weather climates.

Houses come in all shapes and sizes. Which type do you most want to call home?

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