Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 10 American home styles

Top 10 American home styles

Top 10 American home styles, There may be no place like home, but most of the places Americans choose to live have a certain style in common.

Whether it's art deco, Cape Cod or Spanish Eclectic, an architectural style defines where we live.

"Architecture is public art," says Clark Manus, president of the American Institute of Architects and CEO of San Francisco's Heller Manus, one of the nation's most respected architectural partnerships. It's about more than detail: "It's the quality of the thought process behind it that makes a house good or bad," he says.

To give you an idea of the range and diversity of houses, we asked Manus to describe 10 styles that are most representative of homes in the U.S. See if your own home's style is among them.
1. Prairie School
Some U.S. architectural styles imitate those from other countries or reference once-popular styles. Others, such as the Prairie School style, were new and represented a reaction to existing architectural types.

Originating in the United States, Prairie-style houses were designed to blend in with the flat Midwestern landscape. They often feature an earth-tone color palette, wood trim and horizontal board-and-batten siding. Later, Prairie homes used concrete blocks.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was the main proponent of this style, Manus says, "but there were at least a dozen others working in a style similar to his." The style began at the end of the 19th century and gained steady popularity with many houses built in Illinois and other Midwest states into the early 1920s.

Spot it: You can spot a Prairie-style home by its clean, horizontal lines and its balance of ornamentation and simplicity.

Buy a Prairie-style home: Wright's Brandes House, built in 1952 in Sammamish, Wash., is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's for sale for $1.45 million.
2. Victorian/Queen Anne
The Victorian era spans more than 60 years and includes many types of architecture. The Queen Anne style, popularized in the later part of the Victorian era, is one of the most distinctive in this country, Manus says.

It was the dominant style for homes built in the United States from 1880 to 1910. Machine Age techniques and new power tools allowed middle-class American families to adopt all manner of ornamentation and fancy woodwork to embellish front porches and trim.

Spot it: You can tell a Queen Anne-style home by its flamboyant combination of Victorian excesses such as turrets, gables, bays and towers.

Buy a Queen Anne-style home: This four-bedroom, two-bath home in Athens, N.Y., is for sale for $349,000.
3. Cape Cod
When English settlers came to New England, they built houses that emulated the stone cottages they left behind. Lacking stone, they used a material they found in abundance there and elsewhere in the New World: wood.

The house style was simple with little ornamentation. The Victorians ushered in a revival.

"A further progression of the style came in the 1930s, with many (Cape Cods) built in newly developed suburban areas across America," Manus says.

Most 20th-century Cape Cod homes are 1.5 stories tall. Although older Cape Cods have a centrally located chimney, revival Cape Cods offset it to one end of the house. Cape Cods remain a desired home style today, popular because of their finished basements, detached garages, finished half-stories and dormer windows.

Spot it: A Cape Cod-style home is notable for its lack of ornamentation, minimal roof overhang and dormer windows.

Buy a Cape Cod-style home: This three-bedroom, one-bath home in Dennis, Mass., built in 1940, is listed for $724,900.
4. Art deco
Art deco style started at a 1925 design exposition in Paris, which championed the innovations of the modern world. Although the style is a celebration of the future, it often borrows its decorative, geometric ornamentation from ancient civilizations, including the zigzag patterns found in Aztec and Mayan art.

The style may have originated in France, but it really found favor in the U.S.

"It's predominantly urban," Manus says. "You see examples most often in places such as New York City, Los Angeles and Miami."

As a mostly decorative movement, art deco it didn't impose big changes on the interior layout of homes. Although art deco houses were often built with semi-open living areas, they generally preserved older ideas of privacy by keeping bedrooms separated from gathering areas.

Spot it: You can spot an art deco home by its geometric ornamentation, streamlined exterior and symmetrical, repeating patterns.

Buy an art deco-style home: Although it was built in 1992, this four-bedroom, four-bath home in North Miami, Fla., features art deco flourishes throughout. It's listed for $1.69 million.
5. Craftsman bungalow
In the 1880s, the "arts and crafts" movement was under way in England. There, artists and thinkers such as John Ruskin and William Morris celebrated handicrafts and encouraged the use of natural materials.

In the next 30 years, the movement took hold all over the U.S., especially in the West.

"Here in California, the homes built by Greene and Greene are a perfect example of the style," Manus says. The two builder brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, constructed bungalow-style houses in Pasadena, Calif., that are considered to be among the finest examples of the style.

Spot it: You can tell a Craftsman bungalow-style home by its wood, stone or stucco siding, as well as its low-pitched roof and beamed ceilings.

Buy a Craftsman bungalow-style home: This remodeled two-bedroom, one-bath home in Pasadena, Calif., built in 1923, is listed for $420,000.
6. Ranch house
The ranch-style house sprang up with the rise of the huge suburban developments after World War II.

Changing lifestyles were reflected in new floor plans. Eating, entertaining and preparing food were activities that no longer needed to be separated by walls. Distinctions between indoor and outdoor spaces also began to blur, with patios and sliding-glass doors creating new ways to use space.

With communities spreading out and making automobile ownership necessary, the carport and garage become features themselves, often attached or built into the home.

Spot it: A ranch-style home is known for its long, low profile; attached garage or carport; and minimal use of decoration.

Buy a ranch-style home: This three-bedroom, two-bath ranch house in New Caney, Texas, built in 1968, is for sale for $158,100.
7. Spanish Eclectic
Originally known as Spanish Colonial Revival, this style borrows some of its distinctive design features from Spain and Italy.

The opening of the Panama Canal and the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 helped promote all things Latin-American and popularized this Spanish look. The growing influence of Hollywood and the development of Southern California also played roles, as movie stars and executives began to be photographed outside their Spanish-themed mansions.

Manus says of the style: "It's easily recognizable with its clay tile roofs, white stucco and bright Mediterranean colors."

Spot it: Telltale signs of a Spanish Eclectic-style home are its low-pitched roof —often red — stucco siding and arches.

Buy a Spanish Eclectic-style home: With three bedrooms and three baths, this home in Los Angeles' Hancock Park area is listed for $1.17 million.
8. Tudor Revival
The Tudor period in Great Britain was between the late 15th century and the early 17th century. Borrowing from that period, Tudor houses in the U.S. are modern re-creations and are more often known as Tudor Revival homes. Primarily built at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, some refer in style to humble cottages with thatched roofs. More expensive houses were built on a grander scale as vast mansions.

Spot it: You can tell a Tudor Revival home by its visible timber framing, gables, parapets and patterned brick or stonework.

Buy a Tudor Revival home: This four-bedroom, three-bath home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, got a new roof in April. It's listed for $259,900.
9. Colonial Revival
This style became fashionable after an exhibition marking the nation's centennial in 1876. Its popularity grew through the early 1900s.

The style was all about patriotism and a desire to retreat from earlier Victorian excesses and build something more authentically American.

Manus says there's a progression from the simplicity of the Colonial Revival style and similarly stripped-down styles that later became popular, such as the small, no-frills bungalows still seen across the country.

Spot it: You can spot a Colonial Revival home by its symmetrical fa├žade, brick or wood siding, gabled roof and use of pillars or columns.

Buy a Colonial Revival home: A four-bedroom, three-bath home in this style in Plano, Texas, is listed for $269,000.
10. Contemporary
Many homes built in the early 21st century reference design elements from a range of historical periods. They mix styles to create hybrids that are idealized, nostalgic and not rooted in any particular time period.

In addition to reflecting older styles, contemporary home design reflects today's lifestyles, with open floor plans, areas designed to flow into one another and the inclusion of multiuse spaces, such as great or family rooms.

Spot it: It's not always easy to distinguish a contemporary-style home. It could look sleek and modern on the outside, or it may borrow features from other styles.

Buy a contemporary-style home: This new-construction home in Omaha, Neb., has four bedrooms and three baths. It's listed for $483,000.

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