A simple quiz might help you better decide your exterior preference, however, it is important to understand the history and details that make up each style before completely deciding on a floor plan. Overlapping happens quite often with exteriors, as designers and architects frequently draw upon popular elements to spruce up a façade. Often the interior will match the style of the exterior, so by familiarizing yourself with why a home is Craftsman for instance, might also help you decide an interior footprint as well.
Easily one of the most popular design styles is the Traditional home. These homes began in the Colonial period that dates back to historic New England. While there is typically no porch, these two-story homes feature bedrooms on the second level. Southern Colonial homes feature mainly ground-floor rooms with a single-space loft typically reserved for bedrooms. Exterior elements include steeply pitched gables, sometimes with dormers, and brick chimneys. Southern Contemporary Traditional homes still exude a Colonial feel through stately columns, but often feature modern footprints with first-floor master suites.
After the Colonial era a fancier, yet still Traditional style developed and became known as the Victorian era. Featuring balloon framing, Victorian homes simplified complex architectural details such as bay windows and towers, and produced homes with great detail. The Victorian exterior is usually clapboard, and latticework and decorative railing are often used. Most have multiple rooflines and pitches. Ornate details such as octagonal turrets and gingerbread adorn these homes of grandeur.
Many Traditional homes are built with brick exteriors. These layouts most often feature several bedrooms and well-defined common rooms, although in newer floor plans, open spaces are becoming more prevalent.
Country architecture draws upon the days when life was slower and simpler, and retiring to a big front porch with family and friends was the best way to end the day. While this is not always possible today, Country homes are just as popular as ever before, and still feature the same traits that made them so appealing in years past.
Country homes typically feature a large front porch with an open rail, and two or three dormers on the roof. The homes appear to be small and quaint regardless of the actual square footage, and strive to look as good on a suburb streetscape as they would on expansive acreage.
An adaptation of the Country home is the Farmhouse. A wide porch wraps around the Farmhouse, covering the main body of the home. A Farmhouse’s exterior material is typically clapboard, and the roof pitch breaks to a shallower angle at the porch.
Country home footprints are typically designed to involve family, so entertaining spaces are plentiful and often radiate from one main room, like the kitchen. Newer designs strive for an open, contemporary layout.
Modern architecture is eclectic in nature but typically showcases clean-lined design and open spaces. Gaining popularity in the early 20th century, modern designers initially were seeking to reject the ornamentation and complicated-looking designs of earlier periods. Modern design is historically based on the principle that the materials and functional requirements of a home determine the final result of the home or building. Unnecessary details are left out and “form follows function” is the primary motto.
Today’s modern architecture owes most of it existence to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps America’s most famous architect. Developing a series of individual styles, Wright influenced American architecture with his innovative designs known as organic architecture. His style evolved naturally out of the relationship between the site, the building and the needs of the client. Houses in wooded regions made heavy use of wood, while desert houses had rambling floor plans and used stone. Wright’s later work focused on an open area from the kitchen to the common rooms, so women could cook and still able to entertain or watch over children. His influence is evident in current design as more and more plans feature this same concept.
The Craftsman era began in the 1900’s and typically features homes with one-and-a-half stories, low-slung roofs and arched-interior openings. However, it is more accurately a subset of the massive Arts-and-Crafts movement of the early 1900s. Begun as a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, the Arts-and-Crafts movement rebelled against mass-produced technology and focused on creativity and the human touch. It aimed to create new and beautiful environments for people to live in, complete with fine craftsmanship and attractive building materials.
William Morris is often considered the founder of the movement and advocated functional art and architecture. His appreciation for simplicity and quality in craftsmanship typically focused on the use of natural materials. Morris’ early designs aided architects in creating the Craftsman bungalow. Typically featuring wide, overhanging eaves, low-pitched roofs and porches with square columns, Craftsman bungalows also have interior traits of built-in cabinets, shelves and seating.
Some 100 years after taking the world by storm, Craftsman homes are still as popular as they were in the early 1900s. Modern plans possess the same traits of the bungalows from years ago, including large outdoor living spaces, interior built-ins, natural materials such as wood and stone for exteriors, shed dormers and deep porches.
Mediterranean Architecture is an eclectic design style that was first introduced in the United States around the turn of the 19th century, and came into prominence in the 1920s and 1930s. Drawing upon a rekindled interest in Italian Renaissance palaces and seaside villas, Mediterranean architecture can be found predominantly in California and Florida, due to the popular association of these coastal regions with Mediterranean resorts. The often-rambling floor plans, are grandiose yet friendly, full of style and grace.
Mediterranean elements include stucco and tile, featuring balconies and window grilles that are generally fabricated out of wrought iron or wood. Saturated colors and mosaics are common in Mediterranean homes. Ornamentation can range from simple to dramatic, and may draw from a number of Mediterranean references, such as brightly painted doors, and Classical or Spanish details are often incorporated into the design, as are lush gardens.
Wide front doors and courtyards frequently greet guests in a welcoming and friendly manner, while the interiors typically include floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious lanais and water features in the rear. Mediterranean homes are designed to pamper both guests and homeowners, with luxurious private baths and master suites, as well as chef-friendly kitchens.