What’s Your Style? A Guide to America’s Most Common Home Styles

Styles of houses vary across the country. From the New England Cape Cod to the Victorians of San Francisco, the choices are almost endless. Knowing which style you prefer is one of the basic elements in your hunt for the perfect home.

Following is a quick guide to help you recognize and use the professional terms for many of the most prevalent house styles:

  • Ranch: these long, low houses rank among the most popular types in the country. The ranch, which developed from early homes in the West and Southwest, is one-story with a low pitched room. The raised ranch, which is also common is the U.S.. has two levels, each accessible from the home’s entry foyer, which features staircases to both upper and lower levels.
  • Cape Cod: this compact story-and-a-half house is small and symmetrical with a central entrance and a step, gable roof. Brick, wood or aluminum siding are the materials most commonly seen.
  • Georgian: Popular in New England, the Georgian has a very formal appearance with two or three stories and classic lines. Usually built of red brick, the rectangular house has thin columns alongside the entry, and multi-paned windows above the door and throughout the house. Two large chimneys rise high above the roof at each end.
  • Tudor: modeled after the English country cottage. Tudor styling features trademark dark-wood timbering set against light-colored stucco that highlights the top half of the house and frames the numerous windows. The bottom half of the house is often made of brick.
  • Queen Anne/Victorian: Developed from styles originated in Great Britain, these homes are usually two-story frame with large rooms, high ceilings and porches along the front and sometimes sides of the house. Peaked roofs and ornamental wood trim, many times referred to as “gingerbread,” decorate these elaborate homes.
  • Pueblo/Santa Fe Style – Popular in the Southwest, these homes are either frame or adobe brick with a stucco exterior. The flat roof has protruding, rounded beams called vigas. One or two story, the homes feature covered/enclosed patios and an abundance of tile.
  • Dutch Colonial – the Dutch Colonial has two or tow-and-one-half stories covered by a gambrel roof (having two lopes on each side, with the lower slope steeper than the upper, flatter slope) and eaves that flare outward. This style is traditionally make of brick or shingles.
  • New England Colonial – This two-and-one-half story early American style is box like with a gable roof. The traditional material is narrow clapboard siding and a shingle roof. The small-pane, double-hung windows usually have working wood shutters.
  • Southern Colonial -this large, two-to-three-story frame house is world famous for its large front columns and wide porches.
  • Split-levels: Split-level houses have one living level about half a floor above the other living level. When this type of home is built on three different levels, it is called a tri-level.

These are just a few of the many styles of homes available across the country – some are more prominent in different areas than others. Knowing home style terms will help you zero in on the type of house that will fill your needs and suit your taste.

Classic Home Style

Classic home style is one of the most difficult (and potentially expensive) styles to achieve in home decor as it relies on creating a formal, symmetrical, elegant room using quality decoration, furniture and accessories. This style draws quite a bit of inspiration from history and it is not the history of the poor farm or factory worker but that of the landed gentry and industrial leaders of the day. Hence the expense.

Classic style is, of course, more easily achieved in large rooms with high ceilings with lend themselves to fine furniture and architectural details. Here are some elements to take into consideration in achieving this style.

Quality Counts

In a classic style, the quality of every element is important. Furniture will generally be heavy and made of wood and may be intricately carved. Curtains and window valances should be in a formal style and heavy fabric and other soft furnishings should be in luxurious fabrics such as silk or heavy cotton damask. Solid wood flooring with expensive oriental area rugs will help achieve the classic look at floor level.


If you have some genuine antique furniture then this will lift your room and help your classic look. If it is battered looking get it restored to its former glory.


Classic rooms are normally symmetrical in arrangement so you might have a hall table with two matching lamps, a bed with two matching bedside tables and a living room with two chairs, one on either side of the fireplace! You can of course have different non-matching elements in a room but it is important that they are all in proportion to each other. So you would not have a giant slouchy sofa to go with two upright formal fireside chairs for example.

Architectural Details

If your home is lacking in these you can buy architectural features in plaster or wood to add around door and window frames. Add deep skirting boards around the edges of the floor and cornicing to the ceiling as well as a central decorative plaster rose for your light fitting. If your doors are plain replace them with panelled doors or add faux panelling to the existing doors with wood strips before repainting the doors.

Classic Colors

Classic paint colors are generally subdued in nature. You will not find brilliant white or bright blue in this style of room. Each shade needs to be dulled down a little. Look for paints in genuine heritage colors for a period look.

Dramatic Windows

Classic homes generally had tall windows emphasizing the height of the room. Make yours seem taller by placing a valance or cornice slightly above the usual position hiding the actual top of the window from view. Swags and tails will help provide a grand look.

Use Antiquities to Maximize Your Home Style

Certainly, there are many fantastic ways to decorate the home. One classic, and truly priceless, way to do so is with antiquities. Whether you love Egyptian antiquities, Roman antiquities, or others, you’ll find fantastic uses for each piece with these hands-on suggestions. And while most antiquities are quite costly, you’ll reap the benefits in the praise you receive from guests and the pride you take in your new surroundings.

Step #1: Determining Your Style
First, you’ll need to determine your own style. If you already own a number of antiques, take a look at them and categorize them by style and time period. If you’re just getting into the purchase of antiquities, do your research before investing. Figure out which style and time period you love, and search for antiquities that fit with your preferences. This will guarantee that you create one consistent overall look in your home and that your antiques match with each other.

Step #2: Placement of Antiques
Decide where you want each of your antiquities to be displayed. Don’t overdo it in any one room. For instance, if you have 6 vases and two sculptures from the Hellenistic period, don’t place them all in the same room. Usually, for the best impact, the rule of thumb is to have two to three antiquities in each room. Consider where they will have the most impact and where they will be seen most effectively. Mixing and matching is often quite effective. So, for instance, place two vases and one sculpture in the living room and place another two vases and a sculpture in the dining room.

Step #3: Lighting
While your antiquities may be absolutely breathtaking, they are only as stunning as the lighting that you provide for them. The lighting that you install for your antiquities is almost as important at the antiquities you actually purchase! For this reason, either bring in a lighting consultant to work with you, or give careful consideration on your own to your lighting choices. If you have a painting for the dining room wall, make sure to mount a picture light above it. For a series of lovely sculptures or vases that are displayed on a wall, install track lighting or recessed lighting in that area. Furthermore, select overhead and wall lighting that will blend with the overall look you want to achieve. If you’ve created a Medieval look with your antiquities, you certainly won’t want to hang a modern chandelier alongside your antique selections.

Step #4: Podiums, Display Cases and More
Evaluate your specific needs as you find antiquities for sale and make your purchases. Will you need a podium for the Mycenean terracotta cup that you’ve purchased? Will you want a lovely china cabinet where you can display your Roman bronze sculptures? Will your Egyptian antiquities look best in a well landscaped garden? As you make your purchases, consider how you will want to display each item and where you believe it will look best in your home.

Step #5: Paint Choices
Finally, consider paint accent colors that might best enhance the antiquities you’ve purchased. While you can certainly keep your walls as they are, paint choices highlight and emphasize your interior design choices. As you select the location for each antique, consider accent colors that could enhance the look of each piece. Perhaps you’ll want to paint one wall in the living room a deep blue as a backdrop to the Roman gold ring collection that will be displayed there.

Using these five tips, you should be able to create a refined look of elegance in the home with antiquities. Remember, of course, to consider how you display your antiquities if you have small children or animals in the home. With these tips, you may soon find yourself hooked on decorating with antiquities and searching far and wide for more stunning choices to enhance your home.