American colonial is a type of architecture that embodies a mixture of styles that came into being start the 1600s and 1700s, when America was under colonial rule and those who settled in the colonies brought their own techniques and styles of building. The influences came from English, Dutch, French and Spanish settlers who essentially had to adapt their native styles according to the availability of local materials, climate and weather conditions. Georgian Colonial is one of the most popular, characterized by its rectangular, symmetrical and formal style. Georgian homes find their roots in both Italian Renaissance and the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Colonials are most notably found in the Northeastern states, including New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

What To Look For: Boxy, symmetrical shape; side-gabled roof; chimneys on both sides; five windows across the second story; pedimented dormers jutting from the roof and dentil moldings — with their characteristic toothlike blocks — along the eaves. A gabled or flat-roofed portico with columns is often dominant.


Tudor architecture refers in part to the period between 1485 to 1558 when craftsmen built sophisticated two-toned manor homes with a combination of Renaissance and Gothic design elements. This transitional style continued to pop up in villages throughout England until Elizabethan-Tudor architecture took over in 1558. In the 1920s and 1930s, several European-trained architects made this style home a staple of more well-to-do families. Purchasers and admirers of Tudor-style homes even coined the term "Stockbroker Tudor" as an homage to the people who built houses with their newfound wealth from the stock market.

What To Look For: Brick and/or stucco walls; a facade dominated by one or more front-facing gables; a steeply pitched roof that is usually side-gabled and has eaves that may plunge almost to the ground; massive chimneys often topped with decorative chimney pots; tall and narrow multi-paned windows often in multiple groups; and decorative half-timbering — a signature characteristic.


It's generally accepted that the characteristics of contemporary architecture include non-linear and unadorned structures. But while there is no clear definition of what constitutes contemporary architecture, it comprises a range of present-day building styles that often look radically different from one another and sometimes from anything that has come before. This is thanks to myriad innovations in building materials and techniques that have made contemporary architecture possible in all its infinite iterations. Unlike some other architectural periods, contemporary isn’t a movement, but a style reflecting the trends of the time a home is built. Characteristics of Contemporary Architecture include, innovation, sustainability, passiveness, asymmetry, open-floor plans, emphasis on nature, lots of natural light and minimalism.

What To Look For: Unique or imbalanced façades, geometric shapes, composite or recycled materials such as concrete or broken glass, natural elements such as sustainable bamboo flooring, flat or grass-planted roofs, hanging gardens, large windows and skylights, open floor plans, outdoor living areas, sliding doors, movable walls or partitions.


Ranch style homes became popular after World War II as demand for quicker and cheaper housing grew. Cliff May was one of the first architects to design in this style in California in the 1930s. May told The New York Times in the 1980s: “'I rebelled against the boxy houses being built then. The ranch house was everything a California house should be—it had cross-ventilation, the floor was level with the ground, and with its courtyard and the exterior corridor, it was about sunshine and informal outdoor living.” Inspiration was drawn from cattle ranches and Spanish Colonial style homes, which combined with traditional features led to the overall term “minimal traditional”. Ranch style homes developed shortly after, building upon the same ideas while being slightly less minimal.

What To Look For: A long, low horizontal orientation; single-floor living; asymmetry; floor plans that are U-shaped, L-shaped or rectangular; hipped or gabled roofs; flowing interior spaces; large picture windows; an emphasis on the back yard; an attached carport or garage.

Midcentury Modern:

Mid-century modern architecture started in the twentieth-century characterized by clean lines, muted curves, a lack of ornamentation, large windows, interior design based in functionality, and open floor plans intent on making indoor and outdoor living spaces complement each other. Part of a wider artistic movement encompassing architecture, graphic design, and product development, mid-century modern design had its heyday in the post-war period of the 1950s and ’60s and enjoyed a recent resurgence of popularity with the advent of shows like Mad Men (2007) depicting that period. 

What To Look For: Flat or vaulted roofs, large plate-glass windows, open floor plans and a feeling of the inside and outside blurred into one — thanks not only to walls of glass and large glazed doors that slide away but also to the continuation of the same materials outside as inside, especially flooring. (Think slate, terrazzo or travertine.) Other cues are carports, clerestory windows, atriums and large stone or brick fireplaces which anchor the whole house.


Although Mediterranean architecture initially drew its inspiration from Italy, Portugal, Spain, and other countries around the Mediterranean Sea, over time, influences from France, Greece, and Morocco, as well as other countries, joined into the mix. Mediterranean architecture has had so many cultural influences, it can also be referred to as Spanish Colonial, Morrocan, Mission Revival, and Neo-Mediterranean, among other names. Despite differences in influences and styles, all Mediterranean-style homes are meant to be a relaxing retreat that connects the homeowner with nature. Featuring large windows and doors that access patios, terraces, or balconies, Mediterranean homes are designed to blend in with their natural surroundings and make homeowners feel at ease.

What To Look For: Symmetrical façades, stucco walls, red tile roofs, arched windows with grilles and balconies made of wood or wrought iron. Lush gardens often appear, as do courtyards. Other flourishes range from large, heavy wooden doors with ornate carvings and articulated surrounds to multicolored tiles for the risers of staircases


A craftsman-style house is a residential structure that incorporates elements of exterior and interior design inspired by the arts and crafts movement of the early 1900s. Although craftsman homes, or craftsmans, are similar in style to bungalows, the latter term originated from seventeenth-century Indian cottages, known as bangala. So although craftsman and bungalow home styles resemble each other in size and structure, they differ in architectural inspiration.

What To Look For: Low-pitched roofs with wide eaves and triangular bracketing, a dominant chimney and porches with thick square or round columns atop tall or wide bases. Exposed beams are common, too, outside on porches and inside in rooms, which typically also feature built-in furniture and built-in light fixtures. Craftsman’s more open floor plans were a reaction, too, to the smaller, boxier rooms of other styles.


Hailing from the French countryside, French Provincial architecture is a term used to describe the massive manor houses and chateaux homes built by French aristocrats beginning in the 1600s. Many French Provincial homes were built during the reign of King Louis XIV and were actually inspired by the grand stylings and furnishings of Versailles—on a much simpler, more rustic scale, of course.
Although many French Provincial homes that dot the countryside were, indeed, manor homes or summer houses for wealthy families, others were used as business centers for the surrounding farms, and lodging for the people who worked on them.
After World War I, American soldiers brought French Provincial style to the United States

What To Look For: Symmetrical façades, symmetrical one- or two-story wings, brick or stucco walls, tall hip roofs of slate tiles or wood shakes, tall front doors set in gently arched openings, tall mullioned windows with wooden shutters and second-story windows whose tops often break the cornice line. Detailing is usually minimal, perhaps just some decorative masonry around the entry or quoins at the house’s corners.


Gothic architecture started in Europe in the mid-12th century, and is a style of architecture that values height and exhibits an intricate and delicate aesthetic. The term "Gothic architecture" originated from renowned itailian artist Giorgio Vasari. Though its roots are French, the Gothic approach can be found in churches, cathedrals, and other similar buildings in Europe and beyond. The style was originally referred to as “French Work” (Opus Francigenum), and was used extensively by religious bodies, especially the Roman Catholic Church. The Gothic style was an evolution from Romanesque, which was marked by its many arches, vaulted ceilings and smaller stained glass windows. The Gothic style took these features and exaggerated them, increasing the scale of arches and the magnitude of the windows.

What To Look For: The most fundamental element of the Gothic style of architecture is the pointed arch. In addition, vaulted ceilings, and small stained glass windows rib vaults, flying buttresses, and ornate decoration are common themes amongst gothic architecture.