The American dream of homeownership comes in all shapes, styles, and sizes. So we decided to take a look at six of the most popular home designs in the United States today. Is your first, next, or dream house one of these styles?

Colonial Revival

Colonial Revival houses became popular after the 1876 centennial and were based on the homes of America’s Northern European colonists. Colonial Revival houses are two-story brick homes with pitched roofs. Their most striking architectural feature is their symmetry. The front door is in the middle of the house and is flanked by an equal number of evenly spaced windows with shutters. Sometimes the front door is decorated with pillars or fancy windows. These houses frequently have dormers (or “rooftop windows”), as well as chimneys and columned porches.

You can find Colonial Revival houses all around America and particularly in the eastern United States. Runner Up: Cape Cod houses.


As you can guess by the name, contemporary houses are more recently built. These homes combine many different styles, but they tend to feature simple designs, clean lines, open floor plans, and large windows that let in plenty of natural light. Contemporary houses don’t have a lot of decoration – their roofs tend to be flat and they are often built with sustainable materials that are designed to be energy efficient.

You can find Contemporary houses in cities and newly built or rebuilt neighborhoods throughout the country. Runners up: Modern and Mid-Century Modern houses.


Mediterranean style or Mediterranean “Revival” homes were first built in the early 20th century. The architecture of these houses combine elements from Spain and Italy and are distinctive for their white stucco walls, their use of arches, and their low-pitched red tile roofs. Mediterranean style houses feature large windows and roofed patios (also called “loggias”) to catch cool breezes and create lots of shade. Lush gardens are often planted around them.

Mediterranean style houses are popular in Florida and California where they are an excellent fit for the warm weather and their association with Spanish history. Runner up: Southwestern style houses.

Ranch Houses

An American classic! Inspired by ranches out west with a nod to modern design, the peak years for these homes were the middle of the 20th century. Ranch houses are single story houses with low-slung rooflines and attached garages. Their layouts tend to be L-shaped, U-shaped, or asymmetrical rectangles. They have open floor plans and sliding glass doors that open to patios because easy access to the outdoors is an important feature of these homes.

Ranch houses place a premium on practical living spaces and they are the easiest of all homes to upgrade with additions and personalize with exterior details. You’ll see beautiful examples of them throughout the South and the West, and they can be found in the suburbs and country everywhere in the United States. Runner up: None. Ranch houses are an excellent category all to themselves!


Townhouses have been built for more than 200 years. They are an elegant solution to a practical problem – which is how to create good living spaces on small lots.

Townhouses are long and deep, with two or more stories, side hallways, and small lawns. They are built right next each other, share “party walls,” and often share foundations, too. Because they are less expensive to build than single family homes, townhouses can be affordable choices for families.

From stately Federal-style homes to sturdy row houses to contemporary styles, you can find townhouses in cities everywhere as well as suburban developments. Runner up: The condominium, a practical choice for downsizers.

Victorian Houses

We finish up with the most romantic of all American house architectural styles, the Victorian. These homes hit peak popularity in the decades following the Civil War. Victorian houses are a feast for the eyes with a variety of rooflines, turrets, bay windows, porches, and asymmetrical and irregular design elements. They are rich in detail and color with plenty of decorative trim.

The word “Victorian” embraces a wonderful range of styles including the popular and affordable Victorian twin house. They are found in places where America enjoyed rapid growth in the later 19th century such as the East, the Midwest, and the coast of California. Runner Up: the American Craftsman or a Bungalow-style house.

Did we get you dreaming of your dream home? Are you ready to go running out your door to find it? If you are, let’s get practical for a moment. Be sure to check out these Questions to Ask a Realtor When Buying a Home.

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