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Which Architectural Style Is Right for You?

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Planning to build a home may leave you equal parts excited and overwhelmed. Building means making hundreds of choices on the way to your move-in date. The first, of course, is the type of home you’ll build. Architectural style is almost as unique as the families that live within the home, so it’s a deeply personal decision. Good design is the combination of two factors: aesthetics and function. Find the perfect balance between what looks great and what works for your family, and you’ve got a dream home in the works.

Not sure where to start? Understanding the most common architectural styles helps you narrow down your choices. With a general style in mind, your architect can create the perfect plan. Here are some of the most common styles and what makes them stand the test of time.

Cape Cod

If affordability is on your mind, a simple Cape Cod style might be the right fit. Cape Cod homes are pretty simple: They’re usually rectangular with open floor plans. The main living area consists of a kitchen and living room, with a few bedrooms off of the main space. Cape Cod homes are easy to maintain, with wood as the main material. On the outside, steep gables and symmetrical lines offer a simple look with plenty of curb appeal.

Blue-gray craftsman style house with green grass lawn

Joe Schmelzer / Getty Images


If you love a home with charm and character, a Craftsman home is perfect for you. Craftsman homes focus heavily on the little features that make a home unique. Gorgeous woodwork, handmade railings and exposed beams give Craftsman homes a warm, cozy vibe. And their characteristic open floor plans mean they’re a great choice for families. Typically made with wood materials, craftsman homes are bright, natural and simple.

Exterior view of a modern villa

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Clean lines and sophisticated style set modern and prairie homes apart. Ideal for the eco-conscious family, modern homes let the landscape be the star. Expect flat roofs and clean lines with little in the way of woodwork. Modern homes often feature glass and tile, along with sustainable materials and energy sources. Large, open indoor spaces allow for plenty of natural light. It’s an uncluttered, streamlined approach to design that appeals to the unfussy individual.

American traditional center hall colonial revival brick home with dormers.

Greg Pease/ Getty Images


There’s something nostalgic about a traditional home, and Colonial design gives you that classic look. The architectural style has been around since the 1600s, so it doesn’t rely on ever-changing trends. Instead, it’s about solid construction and symmetrical architecture. Evenly spaced windows, shutters and porches stand out in Colonial homes. This is made easier by keeping the home rectangular, with simple square rooms inside. It’s an ideal fit for a family that values classic style over flashy trends.

Caucasian family walking on driveway

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French Provincial

Fancy a stroll through the French countryside? That’s the sentiment behind French Provincial architecture. American homeowners love the grand feel of French homes, which have gained popularity in the last decade. Large features like oversized fireplaces, luxurious bathrooms and gorgeous gardens offer plenty of space without sacrificing on style. Matching windows accent tall ceilings, and stone is the material of choice both inside and outside.

Victorian farmhouse home with lawn and large front porch in summer, Maple Leaf Inn, Barnard,Vermont, USA

Jon Lovette/ Getty Images


Farmhouse style is having a moment, and for good reason. As a highly functional design style, it allows homeowners to have their cake and eat it too. Farmhouse homes are highly stylized, with exposed beams and shabby chic finishes. The actual architecture, however, is pretty simple: large, open rooms. This allows growing families to enjoy their space in an unfussy home meant for living. Favoring function over design, farmhouse style offers more livable space and a casual aesthetic.

Laurie LaPorte/ Getty Images


One of the most cost-effective architectural styles, ranch design usually means efficient layouts. Since most ranch-style homes are one-story, flow and lifestyle are two important things to consider. Ranch homes are perfect for families that require more accessibility, and the one-floor layout gives easy access to the outdoors. What’s more, most ranch homes include large attached garages, so they’re a tinkerer’s dream. With open floor plans, they’re also good empty nester homes.

Choosing an architectural style isn’t just about what looks nice. It requires careful consideration of everything from your family size to your lifestyle and budget. Talk to your architect about your needs, wants and style inspiration. Together, you can choose a design style that works for a home that’s really meant for the way you live.

Have you identified which type of architectural style appeals to you most? Tell us all about it below!

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