architectural design styles


When it comes to building a custom home, one of the biggest decisions is determining what architectural style you want your home built in. Every style has its own characteristics that set it apart from others. Certain neighborhoods or cities favor styles but usually, it comes down to personal preference, especially when building a luxury custom home. To make life easier for you and your residential home builder, we’ve laid out the most popular architectural home designs.

Cape Cod Style

Steep roofs that feature side gables and chimneys characterize Cape Cod homes. They also host wide clapboard, wood shingles or brick siding. The front door is usually centered and plainer than other styles. Hardwoods are common in these homes and they typically feature a center hall floor plan. The style is completed with multipaned windows framed by decorative shutters giving an extra level of charm.

Colonial Style

This architectural style is one of the most popular thanks to its classic and stately appearance. It’s typically characterized by its multiple stories with high-pitched roofs, usually with multiple dormers. Chimneys and narrow clapboard siding, occasionally brick, are also typically in colonial homes. Colonial style homes are also symmetrical, with multipane windows hung in pairs placed on both sides of a central door. Decorative crown molding and columns complete the colonial look.

Contemporary Style

Contemporary styles are unique in that they aren’t as defined as other styles yet they’re the most easily recognizable. They typically use natural siding materials like stone or wood and feature cathedral ceiling or flat roofs. Odd and irregular shapes aren’t uncommon either. The contemporary style is most noticeable for its lack of ornamentation, open floor plan and tall, large windows.

Cottage Style

Ontario is known as cottage country, but cottages are more than just lake houses, they’re a distinguished style of home. They’re often built in garden or wooden settings (there’s a reason we call lake homes cottages up here). They feature stone chimneys, peaked roofs, and large multipane windows. The siding is often wood. The special garden features like a meandering walkway to the front door, climbing plants and window boxes add to the charm of these quaint homes.

Craftsman Style

Craftsman is a popular home to this day and rose out a movement that emphasized natural materials and simple forms. Low gable roofs featuring exposed beams and rafters are a notable feature of this style. Wide porches supported by square columns and wood, stone or stucco sidings make up the outside. Craftsman styles also feature windows grouped in twos or threes. Open floor plans and built-ins are the most popular aspects of this style.

Farmhouse Style

Just because you live in a farmhouse style home doesn’t mean you live on the farm. This style is often called the simple Victorian. It’s characterized by an asymmetrical plan with dormers and gables. Tall windows and a large wraparound porch with some details finished up the style.

Greek Revival Style

If you need a good example of the Greek Revival style look no further than the White House. This style of home is usually found on larger lots and has a square look with tall windows. The roof is typically pitched shallowly and the siding is often white or white clapboard. The most notable features are the large columns holding up a front facing porch.

International Style

The International style, or European style, can be summed up by the phrase “less is more”. Industrial materials, open concept space, and limited clutter are characteristic of this style home. The roof is typically flat and the home features geometric shapes, neutral colors and extensive use of glass. Raw materials such as wood, steel, and concrete are commonly used in these homes.

Mediterranean Revival Style

Inspired by the southwest and Spanish colonialism, these homes feature flat or low-pitched roof with clay tiles, balconies with black, iron railings and terra-cotta pavers. Inner courtyards are common and warm colors such as oranges, tans and yellows are common.

Ranch House Style

Ranch houses are noticeable by being single story and rectangular in shape. They are simple, with attached garages, sliding glass doors, and low floors. Their open floor plans are what make them popular for families with small children

Southern Colonial Style

Southern colonial style, also known as southern plantation style are popular among large homes. They often have steep roofs and are symmetrical in shape. The front door and windows match the symmetrical style. The most noticeable feature of this architectural style are the wide front porches that can appear at the top levels as well.

Tudor Style

Tudor homes look more like they belong in a fairy tale than real life. The style features steep roofs with massive chimneys and wide gables. Contrasting colors such as cream and brown, or darker natural colors like green, are typically used for the outside. Narrow windows finish off the fairy tale feeling.

Victorian Style

Victorian style homes are even more storybook than Tudor homes. Steep roofs, lacy gingerbread like woodwork and tall, narrow windows add to the look. Special, unique features like columns, turrets, and porches make them feel even more fairytale like. Bright colors, multiple colors, decorative woods and other unique features make this style of home stand out from the others.

Discuss the pros and cons of each style that appeals to you with your custom home builder. Special features, layouts and design aesthetic of these styles will all impact your choices when it comes to making further design choices on both the exterior and interior. Your residential home builder should be able to design the perfect house for you, fitting in architectural preference to best reflect you in your home.