The Top 6 Most Popular Architectural Home Styles in the U.S.

Updated: May 16, 2024

Check the listings on online residential real estate sites, and you'll find six major house architecture styles reign supreme.

1 / 6
Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock


When you think of colonials today, a regal estate may come to mind. If only that Wedding Crashers colonial could be yours, right? This home style dates back to the 19th century, when American settlers began experimenting with architectural design, focusing heavily on symmetry. Colonial architecture has maintained popularity most prominently in the northeast, especially from Maine to Virginia. The house architectural style is characterized by evenly spaced shuttered windows, multiple stories, chimneys and brick or wood exterior siding.

Between 1800 and 1945—the first wave of construction—colonial homes were often professionally designed, featuring intricate architectural details made from highly durable materials. From 1945 on, the home style, which is popular in suburbs, became a more assembled style with a simple aesthetic. Check out these 50 abandoned houses, including a colonial home that would look incredible if restored.

2 / 6


You may remember ranch style homes as the typical settings on your beloved TV shows of the ’60s and ’70s, like Bewitched, The Brady Bunch and Golden Girls.

Ranch style homes are found all across the country. First built in the 1930s, they were modeled after rural Western ranches, utilizing a practical design. The house architecture style features an open floor plan, low roofline and is rectangular or L-shaped. Wood, brick or stucco are the common exteriors you’ll find on a ranch. Today, ranch homes typically feature an attached garage, while single-floor and split-level floor plans are now both common. If you have a ranch that needs a little pick-me-up, check out these home remodeling tips.

3 / 6

Cape Cod

Who’s up for a game of Monopoly? Next time you play, take a closer look at the green house you put on Park Place. Notice that it has a classic rectangular shape, steep roof and central chimney. These are all characteristics of a Cape Cod home.

As you might suspect, this house architecture style can be found in eastern coastal areas, including Cape Cod. The homes date back to the 1600s, featuring one or two stories, a steep roof, wood siding and multi-pane windows. The original design was inspired by Britain’s thatched cottages, though steeper roofs and larger chimneys were implemented as an answer to Northeastern winters. Cape Cod homes now have other notable features like windows flanking the front door, dormer windows up top and cedar shingles. Though Cape Cod homes surely offer a warm and cozy design, they still have usable space on the top floor. Hidden room anyone?

4 / 6


You can thank Queen Victoria for the namesake of this style of home. During her reign (1837–1901), the Industrial Revolution made way for housing booms, resulting in millions of Victorian houses popping up. Romantic details full of rich texture and color, pitched rooves, bay windows and full front porches covered with gables made for homes constructed for beauty more so than functionality. Today, such homes are popular in Louisiana and Utah. Most famously, San Francisco is home to a row of such homes referred to as the “Painted Ladies.” Want to add some Victorian flair to your home? Here’s how to build a Victorian screen house.

5 / 6
Stephanie Braconnier/Shutterstock

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern homes came to life in the 1940s, with a focus on simplicity intermixing with the natural world. This made for open spaces and large glass windows to bring the outside in. This modern home style flourished until the 1980s, with the flat plane design making for a chic and seamless look. Today, more than ever, the mid-century modern look is everywhere. “[Midcentury modern designs] sit very well in contemporary homes and interiors—they still feel fresh today, they still feel modern. A lot of those pieces haven’t been bettered. They still stand the test of time,” explains Joshua Holdeman, Sotheby’s worldwide head of 20th-century design. If this is your style, then you’ll want to check out these 14 iconic mid-century modern decor elements.

6 / 6
Robert Crum/Shutterstock


The result of the Arts and Crafts Movement between about 1880 and 1920, Craftsman style homes have an emphasis on natural materials like wood, stone and brick. They have wide front porches and low-pitched roofs. The most famous example of this style is surely the Gamble House. Now a National Historic Landmark, it was designed by brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene of the architectural firm Greene and Greene. Constructed between 1908-9, it served as the home for David B. Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company.

The Craftsman style boomed during the first 30 years of the 20th century, but was replaced by mid-century modern architecture, including the ranch, soon after. Today, however, the house architecture style is back. Real estate website Trulia commissioned a poll of 2,000, finding that 43 percent of respondents named craftsman as a favorite style. Close behind, ranch and colonial homes came in at 41 percent and 36 percent, respectively.