Types of Residential Design

Depending on when your house was built and where it is located, it may fall into one of more of the main types of residential design. Materials, massing and details are also good indicators of different styles of residential architecture. Learn to distinguish between Classical, Victorian and Spanish style homes, among other types.

Spanish Style Homes

A brightly-colored Victorian home.

Also called Mediterranean style, this distinctive type of home typically features thick stucco, brick or rock walls and red-orange terra cotta roof tiles. It is most popular in the United States in the Southwest and Florida. Other features include arched windows and doorways, carved wooded doors and shutters, interior courtyards and low-sloped or flat roofs. Variations on Spanish style include Mission and Pueblo.

American Colonial Homes

Many modern homes are heavily influenced by Colonial styles, which date from the 1600s to the 1800s, when America was colonized. These traditional homes feature brick chimneys, high-pitched roofs, simple wooden shutters and wood or brick cladding. They draw influence from the architecture of countries such as Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and popular styles include Georgian, Cape Cod, and New England Colonial.

Classical Homes

When you think of Classical, the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome comes to mind. These characteristics have influenced Classical residential architecture for hundreds of years and include porches with pediments supported by columns, stone steps and window sills and symmetry in the overall composition. American Classical residences may fall into several subcategories, including Federal and Adams Style, Greek Revival and Neoclassical.

Victorian Houses

Victorian architecture is easily identifiable, thanks to its brightly painted wood cladding and ornate detailing. Sweeping, curved porches and turrets often mark this type of residential design, and variations include Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, and Italianate style. These styles were popular in America from the early 1800s through the early 1900s.

Craftsman Homes

Following the popularity of the Victorian style, builders went back to basics and paired down the details. From the early 1900s, Craftsman style became one of the most popular residential types in the United States. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement, these homes feature well-proportioned rooms and efficient floor plans, built-in cabinets and molding, and the occasional stained or leaded glass window. Sizes range from intimate bungalows to the large, classic American Foursquare house.

Ranch Style

From the 1940s through recent times, the Ranch style home dominated residential architecture. Most of these homes are single story and linear or L-shaped in floor plan, with rooms arranged along a central hallway. An emphasis is placed on openness, and often the kitchen, dining and living rooms flow together. Variations include Raised Ranch and Split-level or Bi-level Ranch.

About the Author

Dorian Gray has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009. She has written extensively on the topics of architecture and design for national magazines such as "Architectural Record" and regional publications such as "At Home in Arkansas." Gray also writes about the topics of beauty, health, nutrition and travel. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arkansas.

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