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We talk about “curb appeal” all of the time when we drive through neighborhoods, look at television shows, or enjoy postings on Pinterest or home blogs.  But, do you know the names for the different types of architectural styles that you enjoy the most? Here is a mini primer on the most popular American architectural styles. Nancy Atkinson from Charlotte Urban Home magazine did a great deal of the research and this is a summary of her article, “American Architectural Style.”


The style grew popular in the early part of the 20th century and can be seen in institutional settings like universities and government.  Look for symmetry, tall Doric columns, elaborate doorways and evenly spaced windows.


The gingerbread trim and multiple colors help these homes resemble a doll house.  Look for homes that are two or even three stories and almost always with a wrap around porch.


This style began in 1945.  It is known for flat planes, large glass windows, and open space.


This style was born in the 1600’s and early 1700’s.  Look for cedar shingles on the roof and even on the sides, dormers on the second story,


I quote from the article by Nancy Atkinson, “The Dutch Colonial is easily recognized by its broad gambrel look which gives it a barn house look.  Georgian is the most common type of Colonial home and features strict symmetry, five windows across and flattened columns.  The Federal Colonial is modeled after Roman classicism with decorative embellishments, tall columns, grand curved steps, fan shaped window topping the door with long windows placed symmetrically on either side of the door.


These homes are made from brick, stone, stucco, lap siding and usually have steep pitched roofs arched doors, casement windows.


The half timber framing is a main feature of the Tudor.  Also look for steeply pitched roofs, fancy chimneys, multi-gabled roof lines.


There are influences from Spain, Italy, Portugal.  Look for red tiled roofs, stucco, balconies, tiles.


Long porches, a simple exterior and a rural setting are standard.


Look for leaded glass windows, low pitched roofs, square columns, corbels.


Made popular by Frank Lloyd Wright, a prairie style home hugs the land.  It features horizontal lines  with long flat roofs.


Tall second story windows, brick stucco, stone exteriors.  Elongated windows with arched tops, steeply pitched roofs.



You will see large planes of glass, right angles, lack of ornamentation, flat roofs.

Do you have a favorite?

Look at these homes by Barnes Vanze Architectural firm in Washington D.C. See if you can figure out what style they are.

New French Country Cottage by Barnes Vanze Architects, new house inspired by old french country cottages:

Shingle-style house designed by Barnes Vanze Architects - “Curved porches extend from each of the three stories:

Stone Georgian Home - traditional - exterior - dc metro - Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc:

Lakeside Family Cottage by Barnes Vanze Architects:

Barnes Vanze Architects - Traditional Architecture, Renovations and Additions:

Spring is just around the corner.  Really!  Think about sprucing up your curb appeal.  Paint the front door, add a pot of flowers, plant roses if you have a cottage, and add topiary on either side of the front door if you have a neoclassical style.  Victorian homes love to have ferns hanging from the porch and French Provincial will be happy with boxwood and closely cropped bushes.  A farmhouse looks good with a swing on the front porch.

Create and be happy!