The 7 Most Popular Home Styles in America


When you first begin talking with a realtor about what kind of house you’re interested in buying, she might start throwing all kinds of meaningless words at you. “Mediterranean,” “Tudor,” “Cape Cod” — she might as well be speaking Swahili! These are all styles of homes, and understanding what each style looks like will help you tell your realtor exactly what you love, saving both of you time and frustration. These seven are some of the most popular styles in the U.S. and will help you to visualize your own perfect home style.

  1. Colonial:

    The original Colonial-style homes may have been built in the 1700s, but their popularity still persists, particularly in New England- in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and more are constructed each year. Colonial houses are characterized by high-peaked roofs with very little overhang, large chimneys either in the middle or on the ends, a symmetrical design (though newer ones may have a garage added on), and many small windows.

  2. Ranch:

    Incredibly popular from 1945 all the way up to the ’80s, Ranch-style homes appear in almost every corner of the country. Their simple exteriors may not be flashy enough for every homeowner, but the long, single-story homes have been a favorite for those who value comfortable, affordable living. They have low-pitched roofs, large windows, and simple, relatively open floor plans.

  3. Craftsman:

    The focus of Craftsman-style residential architecture is on local, natural materials and making the handicraft of the work visible. Springing from the Arts and Crafts style in Britain, this style was incredibly popular from the late 1800s to the 1930s and has seen many revivals. In fact, many Craftsman homes are being built today. If you see a home built mostly from wood with thick square columns holding up the front porch roof, low-pitched gabled roofs, decorative details, and stone or brick accents, you might be looking at a Craftsman home.

  4. Pueblo:

    Also known as Santa Fe or Adobe, this style is most popular in the Southwest. It borrows elements from traditional Native American buildings, with rounded adobe walls, flat roofs, and deep-set windows and doors. Though the materials don’t hold up well in earthquakes, they are well insulated, making them perfect for desert-dwellers in Arizona and New Mexico.

  5. Split-level:

    Split-levels are exactly what they sound like: part of the living areas are on one level with the others a half-story higher or lower. This style was incredibly popular in the ’70s — 12% of new homes built in 1975 were split-level — but has since been mocked and seen as out-of-date. A sort of revival, however, is starting to happen. Many older split-levels are getting renovations to fix some common problems such as too-dark living areas and poorly flowing layouts, making them lovely and livable for modern tastes.

  6. Cottage:

    What’s more cozy and whimsical than a cottage? The popular cottage-style home takes style tips from the tiny country cottages of Medieval England. Modern cottage homes may actually be quite large, but they often share characteristics like dormer windows, front porches, and steep roof pitches with cross gables. You might even find one with the romantic white picket fence you’ve been dreaming about!

  7. Contemporary:

    Many homes being built today borrow from a variety of home styles of the past but are still able to capture a sleek modern aesthetic. You’ve probably seen quite a few of these contemporary-style homes popping up in the past few decades. They often have flat roofs, large windows, and use natural or eco-friendly materials. Their lack of ornamentation often makes them dramatic additions to their neighborhoods, with clean lines that can contrast starkly with some of the other styles we’ve described.

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