American Houses

Everytime I visit the United States, I am always captivated by the various styles of residential architecture that line the streets. Sometimes a single road will have three or four different styles represented, from Tudor-Revival to Colonial to Shingle-Style. The wide variety of home styles reflects a nation rich in history and one that has been heavily influenced by its diverse geography, as well as its English, Spanish and French heritage. Many of the home styles are ‘revival’ styles, meaning they have borrowed architectural details from historical periods; Greek-revival homes, for instance, are usually white and often feature temple-like pillars at the front entrance, referencing the ancient Greek and Roman monuments. The White House is an example of this form of architecture.

There are at least 23 different home styles that are quite unique to North America: the log cabin, the saltbox, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second-Empire/ Victorian, Queen Anne, Shingle, Richardsonian Romanesque, Folk Victorian, Colonial Revival, Cape Cod, Neoclassical, Tudor Revival, French Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Pueblo Revival, Craftsman, Modernist, International and Ranch/Bungalow.

With the Fourth of July in mind, I’ve shared five of my personal favourite American styles with a description of their distinct architectural features. Happy Independence Day!

1. GOTHIC REVIVAL: 1840 to 1880

Features: Steeply pitched roof with decorated bargeboard and cross gables with spires, arched gothic windows and doors with arched panels, first-floor porch.

The Gothic Revival is another trend that started in England and made its way to the U.S. The style mimics the shapes found on Medieval churches and houses. It is almost always found in rural areas.

2. SHINGLE: 1880 to 1900

Features: Exterior walls and roofs of wood shingles; asymmetrical house shape, often organic to the landscape around it; large porches; intersecting roofs of different shapes, including gambrel.

This style is distinctly ‘seaside’ and was mostly popular along the coast in the Northeast. Shingle houses were usually large, free-form mansions built into the rocks and hills of the shore. Many smaller Shingle homes exist today.

3. SALTBOX: 1607 to early 1700s

Features: Steeply pitched (catslide) roof that reaches to first story in the back; massive central chimney; small windows of diamond-paned casements or double-hung sash with nine or 12 lights.

Most saltboxes existed in and around New England. Their steep roof pitch is a remnant of the days of thatching, but early settlers learned that wood shingles were better at funneling off snow and rain. Few original saltboxes survive today but the style is often copied because of its charming simplicity.

4. ITALIANATE: 1840 to 1885

Features: Hip roof with deep, bracketed eaves; arched 1-over-1 or 2-over-2 windows with elaborate crowns; paired-door entryway with glass in the doors.

Again modeled after a fashion started in England, the Italianate style rejected the rigid rules of classical architecture and instead looked to the more informal look of Italian rural houses.

5. TUDOR REVIVAL: 1890 to 1940

Features: Steep-pitch side gable roof with cross gable and half timbering; double-hung or narrow, multi-light casement windows, some with diamond panes; semi-hexagonal bay windows; walls of stucco or stone (later examples).

More Medieval than Tudor, the style’s details loosely harken back to an early English form. Though the style began in the late 19th century, it was immensely popular in the growing suburbs of the 1920s. A version of Tudor came back into vogue in the late 20th century.


Which style would you choose as home sweet home? Tell us in the comments section below


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  • By: bchhseDianne

    I love #1. Old style homes with porches and old farmhouses. I love the style of Josh and Brent’s home.

  • By: Heather

    My favorite is Greek Revival… for its looks and ideology. With British influence waning after the War of 1812 and the nation rapidly expanding westward, the style was viewed as an expression of America’s triumphant sense of destiny and the sense that our newly formed nation was the spiritual descendant of Greece, birthplace of democracy. My town is named after a Greek city and we have many Greek revival homes in the area. Classic and beautiful.

  • By: Gilbert Hayes

    Dates: 1965 – PresentFeatures: Sense of anything goes, forms filled with humor, irong, ambiguity, contradiction, juxtaposition of styles, blend of traditional, contemporary, and newly-invented forms, exaggerated or abstract traditional detailing, materials or decorations drawn from far away sources. Postmodern architecture evolved from Moderism, yet it rebels against that style. Modernism is viewd as excessively minimalist, anonymous, monotonous and boring. Postmodernism has a sense of humor. The style often combines two or more very different elements. A Postmodern house may combine traditional with invented forms or use familiar shapes in surprising, unexpected ways. In other words, postmodern houses often don’t have anything in common with one another, other than their lack of commonality. Postmodern houses may be bizarre, humorous, or shocking, but always unique.

  • By: Nicki

    Although we live in a mid 19th century Italianate, I really love Shingle Style. That photo above is glorious!

  • By: Barb

    I like #2 shingle the best among these choices. My favorites, though, are actually bungalow and American Craftsman homes. In each of these there is always a nice covered front porch.

  • By: Jill Metcalf

    I live the Italianate homes, but never knew what the style was called. Thank you for sharing!

  • By: Trish

    cottage style. I love to feel cozy and snug with the people I love close around me. I love something informal where everyone feels welcomed and loved.

  • By: margo

    Craftman style for me. But then, I do love the Santa Fe adobe style too.

  • By: Bev Redmond

    I’ve always loved the uncluttered look and feel of the saltbox style of architecture. It’s simple and straightforward, yet at the same time it has an elegance all its own. I’m drawn to the houses themselves and the beautifully simple, handcrafted furnishings of the era when the saltbox came into being.

  • By: Kate

    Choice of the 5 listed? Shingle!
    My favorite? Arts & Crafts bungalow

  • By: Megan R.

    I have always loved the Tudor-style homes for their uniqueness.

  • By: Dorothy Hayes

    Gothic Revival for me. Love the porch. Can see it sitting in a field with a barn and my own small group of goat girls.

  • By: Teri

    I love the Italianate and Gothic styles. Always have!

  • By: leonoras1

    All beautiful in their own way, though it would definitely be Shingle for me – or Craftsman style.

  • By: Brendan

    Can’t I just say yes? I really like Gothic and Italianate achitecture, and Tudor, and Georgian. Basically if it is done well, it is really great. If it is poorly executed, forget it.

  • By: Linda Peterson

    These examples are all so beautiful. I’ve always loved the Tudor but seeing these examples it’s hard to decide on a favorite.

  • By: Nancy

    All homes are beautiful is there’s ~love~ inside. I live in a little cottage at the plowline. I’ve only been here for 9 years, but every single day increases the love I have for this little house. I believe she even breathed a’ sigh’ after I moved in. I respect my home and the land she is built on. It is simple and cozy. The landscaping I’ve done compliments the house and the surroundings. She is not a ‘show-off’ house. But rather an ‘oh, isn’t that a lovely little place’, the house is charming and the gardens rustic and purposeful. Yes, this is the dream the little house had for me.

  • By: Martha

    Shingle for the lifestyle – coast, relaxed. Italianate for the architectural style.

  • By: potterstreet

    Love them all. Lived in a beautiful Italianate, now in a small, charming late Victorian. My next house will be a Craftsman bungalow.

  • By: Jen

    Craftsman style (bungalow) isn’t featured here, but is my favorite.

  • By: Ann Coballes

    It makes me smile just dreaming about having a shingle home right now. Hampton style kind of home. Seaside. Relaxing. Even just to renovate our old home and convert it into that style would fulfill my dream. Love love love dream dream dream 🙂

  • By: Laura talbott

    I live in it now. 122 year old Victorian, I have spent 7 long years working on her.

  • By: Celicia

    I cannot imagine ever living in another home now that I’ve lived in our log cabin. While Rustic style has always appealed to me ~ It’s the heritage that accompanies log cabins that I cherish now. Log Cabins by their very nature represent continuity, stability and independence.

  • By: Jason

    My favorite has always been the Italianate style…

  • By: Beth

    I love homes of all shapes, sizes and styles, but especially old homes. Old stone homes are my all-time favorite…solid and beautiful.

  • By: Sorcha

    I like the simplicity of a saltbox, but the witchy side of me loves the Gothic Revival.

  • By: Ken Newman

    My wife and I lived in a Saltbox for 23 years before moving to our present, circa 1815, timber frame Pennsylvania farmhouse. I’ve always had a fondness for simple lines and strong enduring structures. But I will admit that massive Italianate home is my favorite of this group. My dream home has always been an old stone grist mill.

  • By: rick niznik

    have always dreamed of a yellow or red sided home….trust me, the red one featured here will do just fine!

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