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Home Styles Part I

It’s no news that homes exist in many shapes and sizes. The varying features can help categorize properties into existing styles that help differentiate one from another. Each style has their own notable highlights as well as things that may attract or deter prospective buyers.


Said to be one of the most popular home styles in the United States, the Colonial home first came to existence around the 1700s. Colonists emigrating from Europe brought architectural influences with them, evolving properties into what we now recognize as the Colonial style.

Though size of the home can differ, many share certain characteristics that help identify them.

  • Colonial House

    The home is symmetrical, often square in shape.

  • The main entry door is prominently placed in the front center of the building.

  • Windows are placed on either side of the front door and the space above is filled with windows of the same size lined up horizontally and directly above the first floor’s windows.

  • Colonials can also be seen with paired chimneys.

  • The layout of rooms is typically distinct and not ideal for those looking for an open floor plan.

Victorian HouseVictorian

A style of architecture emerged between 1830 and 1910 during the reign of Queen Victoria. The ways the homes were constructed reflected the Victorian idea that fashion, architecture, and furnishings are more importantly beautiful rather than practical. As such, they are often easily recognized from their many notable features.

  • Victorian homes are large and imposing boasting two or three stories.

  • They are sometimes referred to as “gingerbread” homes due to their elaborate trims.

  • Victorians are often complicated and asymmetrical in shape with wings or bays in many directions.

  • To go along with the idea of luxury and extravagance, scalloped shingles, patterned masonry, or half-timbering made the home look more dressy.

  • One story porches, often wrapping around the home, are especially popular in the Queen Anne style Victorian.

  • More extravagant or high end Victorian styles can feature round or octogonal towers with steep pointed roofs.

  • These homes typically have steep roofs with many gables facing in varying directions.

  • Color is perhaps one of the most notable features of a Victorian home. Before this era of architecture, homes were typically all one color in white or beige. By 1887, bright tones were being commonly used and then branching out to include many hues that are still seen today.

Ranch HouseRanch

Perhaps one of the most simple, some people can mistake the ranch for not even being a style due to the no fuss nature of its design. The ranch is indeed a home style having come to existence in the 1930s and then gaining widespread popularity in the 1950 and 1960s. Its rise in fame is directly related to the expansion of car culture which allowed people to travel farther than had been acceptable before.

  • Ranch homes are one story unless a raised ranch that puts the garage and living or sleeping areas below creating a two story home.

  • Low pitched roofs are typically seen, often hipped.

  • Most ranch homes feature a U or L shaped floor plan.

  • Large picture windows keep the space open as the floor plan dictates.

  • The floor plan for ranch homes are open with an attached garage. They are designed for informal, easy living, escaping more formal home structures previously used before their development.

  • Sliding glass doors leading to same level patios help ensure the transition from indoor to outdoor is accomplished seamlessly.

Cape HouseCape Cod

While most commonly the words ‘Cape Cod’ spark images of the beach laden towns of Massachusetts, this term also refers to a home style. First established in America by early settlers in the 1600s, the Cape Cod was reintroduced during the 1920s as contemporary housing by Boston architect Royal Barry Willis. He reimagined the interior to be better apt for modern living at the time. Today, many Cape style homes that remain were built after WWII when soldiers returning from war needed inexpensive and practical housing for their families.

  • One of the most notable features of a Cape is the large, central chimney. Located behind the front door, the rooms are clustered around the chimney in a rectangular fashion. While the chimney isn't always located in the center of the home, it is easily recognizable in some older structures. 

  • Cape Cod style homes typically have steep roofs that allow snow and rain to easily run off.

  • A full size Cape will have two windows on each side of the front door and often a dormer on each side of the chimney to open up the attic.

  • There can often be what is referred to as a “captain’s stairway” which was extremely narrow and steep leading to a second floor for boarders or seafaring travelers.

  • Shingle siding is one of the most recognizable exteriors, but more modern Cape Cod homes now are built with brick, stucco, and stone.

  • While the original design of the home is compact and space is used efficiently, these homes are perfect candidates for additions.

Tune in next time to learn about more home styles!

Dwell360 is a residential real estate firm based in Newton, Massachusetts, servicing the cities and suburbs of metro Boston. We are focused on our customers and our experience in the residential real estate market is extensive. Search for homes in Massachusetts and then give us a call.

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Wedgeworth, Cicely. (September 23, 2014). Ranch House Style: Defining the Suburbs. Retrieved from
Gray, Liz. Cape Cod Architecture. Retrieved from
Giordullo, Staci. (June 2015). Living in Style. Angie’s List Monthly, June 2015, 10-17.