13 Popular Types Of Architectural Styles

13 Popular Types Of Architectural Styles

When out-of-towners think of Southern-style homes, they might think of a big white farmhouse in the middle of a field with a wide and gracious front porch. [Kids, dogs, and chickens might also speckle the imagery if they’re feeling particularly cliche.] But the truth is, the architectural styles present in the South are just as varied as its people. We’re a melting pot of bungalows, ranches, and Victorians. Our streets are lined with split-levels, Colonial-style homes, and even Cape Cods, which all can be rather easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. Here we’re breaking down the most popular and enduring architectural styles, plus the characteristics that define them. 


1. Bungalow

bungalow is typically a smaller, one-story home, oftentimes appearing to have balanced proportions with a sloped roof, lots of porch space, and big front windows. Inside, the floor plan is typically more open, with one living and dining space leading to another. The American bungalow was a product of the Arts and Crafts movement, but its popularity is still going strong today. 


Credit: Southern Living


2. Cape Cod

While a Cape Cod-style house certainly has New England beachy appeal, you can find homes with this architectural style all over the country, including both inland and in the South. They will typically have shingle siding and a square- or rectangular-shaped exterior. There are three main Cape Cod styles: the quarter-, half-, three-quarter, and full-Cape Cod. The quarter-Cape Cod features an exterior with a window and one bay window, the half-Cape Cod has a door on one side with two windows on the other, the three-quarter Cape Cod has the front door situated with one window on one side and two on the other, and the full Cape Cod has a central front door with two windows on each side.


Credit: Laurey L. Glenn


3. Colonial-Style Home

This architectural style typically features a rectangular- or square-shaped façade and centrally placed front door, oftentimes with side lights. If you prefer a more symmetrical aesthetic, Colonial-style architecture will likely appeal. Steeply pitched roofs and windows with many small panes are two characteristics that add to the classic appeal.


Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller


4. Craftsman

The manageable size and wide front porches of the Craftsman make it a beloved and enduring style that can be found from the West Coast to the South. Craftsman-style homes typically call on natural materials like stone, wood shingles, or paneling, and other design choices that rely on natural stone and wood elements. And, in order to bring even more nature to play, Craftsman homes will often feature large windows including a mix of double-hung and picture.


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5. Farmhouse

The farmhouse is taking on new meaning in the year 2023, but traditionally it would feature two stories and an asymmetrical design. A large gable is the focal point in the otherwise simple details that characterize this architectural style. Wraparound porches and open floor plans are two big draws for the farmhouse movement as homeowners are looking for less walls and more outdoor living. 


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6. Federal

The beauty of a Federal-style home is in its simplicity. They’re usually two- to three-story homes that are square or rectangular in shape and feature very little ornamentation aside from an entry or porch flourish such as a fanlight above the door or special moldings to emphasize cornices. The windows in a Federal-style home are isolated—never grouped—and are vertically symmetrical. When it comes to the roof, simplicity is still key. Federal homes often feature hip roofs where all slides of the roof slope down toward the wall, or simple gable-style shapes. 


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7. Georgian

On first glance you’ll notice the unfaltering symmetry present in Georgian architecture. The façade can utilize stucco or stone but brick is the most popular material choice. The roofline will be either hipped or side-gabled with a triangular gable or pilasters decorating the entry. A transom window above the front door is yet another hallmark of this style.


Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller


8. Greek Revival

Greek revival architecture was inspired by Greek temples and features low-pitched roofs either in gable or hipped style and wide trim with heavy moldings. Its overall structure isn’t ornate, relying on a symmetrical appearance with entablatures (group of horizontal moldings above a column), columns, triangular gables, and cornice returns. They will oftentimes have evenly spaced windows with multi-panes and a front door set off by side lights and a rectangular transom window just above.


Credit: Getty Images


9. Ranch

The one-story ranch is a suburban gem with its emphasis on outdoor living, horizontal sprawl, and architectural simplicity. From the street, you’ll notice a pitched or flat roof, single story, and either a carport or attached garage. The split-level is a product of the ranch and still can hold the title, though it has grown to its own acclaim too. 


Credit: Carmel Brantley Styling: Matthew Gleason


10. Shotgun

Shotgun-style architecture is often found in warmer climates as this style is designed to allow for maximum air circulation. They are devoid of hallways with one room simply leading to the next. With this layout, the front and back door can be opened to allow air to flow from one end of the house to the other.


Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez


11. Split-Level

Low-pitched roofs and large picture windows in the main living space are two calling cards of the split-level. With a split-level, the bedrooms and living spaces are typically separated by a short flight of stairs. It can have stairs within the entryway that lead both up and down, forgoing any idea of the entryway as gathering space, though not all split levels feature this foyer dilemma as stairs can be located elsewhere. One benefit of a split level is a basement that sees natural light thanks to sitting slightly above ground—which is why split levels also sometimes appear to have a row of windows at porch-level.


Credit: Laurey W. Glenn Styling: Shannon Gini


12. Tudor

This is one of those architectural styles that can be easy to spot. Tudors feature tall windows, steeply pitched roofs with lots of gables, and a primarily brick exterior but can also have timber framing. The chimney and front door are notable characteristics as well, the former taking a prominent position and the latter lending elegant-fortress appeal.


Credit: Alison Miksch


13. Victorian

The Victorian-era saw a variety of home styles, all that can be categorized simply as Victorian, but are more fittingly described as Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, or Romanesque—to name a few. Victorian homes are highly ornamental, with extensive woodwork, color plays, and an asymmetrical shape. They are usually three stories and also feature a wraparound porch.


Credit: Mike Swartz


Source: 13 Popular Types Of Architectural Styles Southern Living (June 20, 2023) Patricia Shannon