Find your exterior style!
Having a deeper understanding of popular home exteriors is probably the quickest way to help you decide what kind of plan will best suit your taste. With all of the different styles available, however, it can often be hard to differentiate between one facade and another. We take the guesswork out of choosing your favorite exterior style and present four of the most popular types of homes: Traditional, European, Craftsman and Country.
Traditional homes offer a sense of timelessness and are one of the most popular design styles. Traditional 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 known as the Victorian style. Featuring balloon framing, Victorian homes incorporated 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 trim 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.
European architecture is quickly finding itself at home in America, as many new homes assume the popular characteristics of European design. While certain façades instantly imply European, it is the style of the home, not just its exterior materials, that really give it a European feel.
Typically featuring a hipped roof or double gables, European homes use a lot of stone and stucco and reflect a look that commands drama. They often include turrets and usually feature architectural detail including high ceilings and open, welcoming rooms. Almost every European house plan evokes the royal treatment - a grand foyer, a breakfast nook, brick fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen, a private master suite and a private bath.
A popular subset of European architecture is the Mediterranean style. Mediterranean 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. The often rambling floor plans are grandiose yet friendly, full of style and grace.
Mediterranean elements include stucco and tile and feature 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. Classical or Spanish details are often incorporated into the design, as are lush gardens.
Wide front doors and courtyards 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.
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 focused on the use of natural materials. Morris’ early designs aided architects in creating the Craftsman bungalow. Featuring wide, overhanging eaves, low-pitched roofs and porches with square columns, Craftsman bungalows often have interior extras such as 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.
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 such is not always possible today, Country homes are just as popular as ever before, and still feature the same details 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 look just as good on a suburban streetscape as they do 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. Exterior material is typically clapboard, and the roof pitch breaks to a shallower pitch 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.
Examples of each of these styles are found in our plan pages, aptly divided into architectural-style categories. So feel free to flip through the pages and find your dream home now that you have a better understanding of each design style.