Even if your house is brand new, its architecture draws inspiration from the past. This index traces important housing styles from Colonial to modern times. Learn how houses have changed over the centuries, and discover interesting facts about the design influences that helped shape your own home. For more information about residential architecture, be sure to also visit our house styles picture dictionary.
1600s - 1800
When North America was colonized, settlers brought building traditions from many different countries. Colonial architecture includes a wide range of styles, including New England Colonial, German Colonial, Dutch Colonial, Spanish Colonial, French Colonial, and, of course, the ever-popular Colonial Cape Cod.
1840 - 1900
Mass-production and factory-made building parts made large, elaborate houses more affordable. A variety of Victorian styles emerged: Italianate, Second Empire, Gothic, Queen Anne, Romanesque, and many others. Each style had its own distinctive features.
The rise of Industrialism brought the period we know as the Gilded Age. Business leaders amassed enormous wealth and built palatial, elaborate homes.
Named after primitive thatched huts used in India, bungaloid architecture suggested comfortable informality. However, not all bungalows were small, and bungalow houses often wore the trappings of many different styles, including Arts & Crafts, Spanish Revival, Colonial Revival, and Art Moderne.
Early 20th Century House Styles
1930 - 1965
During the Great Depression, Americans moved toward increasingly simple housing styles. Affordable Minimal Traditional, Ranch, and Cope Cod houses became the mainstay of the expanding suburbs. As soldiers returned from World War II, real estate developers raced to meet the rising demand for inexpensive housing. The era brought a flurry of innovations, from the metal prefab Lustron houses to the eco-friendly geodesic domes.
Modernist houses broke away from conventional forms, while postmodernist houses combined traditional forms in unexpected ways.