29 Types of House
John Spacey, July 11, 2019
A house is a structure for human habitation that is designed for individual ownership. The following are common types and styles of house.
American ColonialA collection of architectural styles that were prevalent in America in the Colonial period from 1607–1765 including French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial and Georgian architecture. There is also a special category of American Colonial architecture known as First Period that encompasses the first European settlements in North America. First Period homes typically have steep roofs, small windows, a massive central chimney and, in some cases, rich ornamentation.
VictorianVictorian houses were built during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837–1901. Houses in this period were often ornate and decorative with a tall structure that occasionally included a spire. Rooms and windows were small by modern standards and large homes were often designed to accommodate servants. Victorian architecture often has a revivalist style such as Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Neo-Grec or Queen Anne Revival.
EdwardianA short period of British architecture that corresponds to the rein of King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910. This is usually extended to the start of the First World War in 1914. It is also common for architecture in the United States and the Commonwealth of Nations to use Edwardian to describe houses from this period. From the modern perspective, Edwardian architecture looks much like Victorian architecture. Generally speaking, houses got shorter and less decorative in the Edwardian era. It became less common for upper class families to employ servants. This lead to less rooms and a tendency for rooms to be a little larger.
American CraftsmanAmerican Craftsman was an architectural style that evolved out of the Arts and Crafts movement of 1860 - 1930 that favored original artistic designs and ornate craftsmanship. This can be viewed as a rejection of the revival architecture that was popular at the time that was loosely based on historical architecture. American Craftsman is decorative and bold without pretending to be based on history.
Mid-century ModernAn architectural movement from 1933 to 1965 that can be viewed as the American interpretation of International Style known for its emphasis on industrial materials, minimalism and rejection of ornament and color. Mid-century modern houses often have either a futuristic or organic feel and are often a little less minimalistic than later modern architecture.
ModernModern architecture is an embrace of minimalism and form follows function. It is also a rejection of decoration and color. Modern houses make use of industrial materials such as steel and concrete and often employ truth to materials whereby these materials may be left exposed without any attempt to make them look more pleasant. Modern architecture began in the early 19th century. However, it is most common to refer to the period 1945 - 2010 as modern. More recent structures are currently referred to as contemporary or postmodern houses but it is unclear how these will be viewed in future.
OrganicOrganic architecture is a sophisticated but relatively rare form of modern architecture that attempts to blend a house with its natural surroundings in an interrelated composition. A classic example of this is Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, an earthy home that is fully integrated into a waterfall.
PostmodernPostmodern architecture is a contemporary reaction against the orthodoxy of modern architecture and its embrace of minimalism. Postmodern architecture can be viewed as a return to bold forms, decoration and color.
Cape CodA two-story style of house with a steep pitched gabled roof and a simple symmetrical design with little ornamentation. These practical houses were originally designed by Puritan carpenters in New England to handle the cold climate. In many cases, the 2nd floor was left unfinished and functioned as an attic.bungalow.
Shotgun HouseShotgun house is an American architectural term for a small one-story rectangular home. They often have a small front but run relatively long. These have a simple configuration with a series 2-4 similarly sized rooms laid out sequentially from front to back. In the early 20th century these were often middle class residences. After WWII, shotgun homes became a symbol of poverty as the middle class upgraded to larger and larger homes in a strong economy. In areas where land prices have risen, shotgun homes may be renovated and restored as historical buildings as they have much culture and lore attached to them. For example, in the Southern United States it was believed that ghosts haunted shotgun houses because they can fly straight through them with no obstacles. This was taken so seriously that doors were often staggered to prevent hauntings.
Laneway HouseA laneway house is a house that is constructed in a backyard or other part of the property of an existing home. This occurs in urban locations due to high property values whereby a backyard is suddenly worth great sums. A laneway house has no direct access to a normal street and may have be accessed with a path though the original property or a back laneway. This can become a challenge for urban planners and emergency services. Similar processes have historically occurred in cities that had high land valuations such as Tokyo resulting in high density housing.
Tract HousingTract housing is a large development project that produces dozens or perhaps hundreds of similar houses at the same time. This creates economies of scale that reduces costs. Although efficient, this results in dull conformity of architecture with vast districts devoid of variety or community features such as cafes and parks.
TownhouseA townhouse is typically an independently owned house that is build up against one or two other houses with a shared party wall. The party wall may be structural or it may simply act as a fire and noise barrier. Townhouses can be unique homes designed by different architects at different times. Alternatively, they can be tract housing with many attached units that have similar designs.
ChateauThe English word Chateau, borrowed from French, is used to denote a large French style home. This is more specific than the French word château that may be applied to homes, castles and winegrowing estates.
MansionA grand home that is both large and luxurious such that is specially designed by a reputable architect and constructed with high quality materials and superior craftsmanship. A mansion typically has at least 6 bedrooms, a large entrance area and rooms for entertaining more than 50 guests. Mansions are built on large plots of land with gardens and other landscape features.
Tiny HouseTiny and small houses are houses that may be no bigger than an average sized room. The interiors of these homes are carefully planned and optimized to make efficient use of every square inch. Tiny homes may be used as a vacation home or a primary residence. Advocates of tiny homes include minimalists and various subcultures that see smaller homes as key to sustainable living or freedom from a large mortgage. This can also be viewed as a reaction to the increase in average house size in the United States from around 1000 square feet in 1950 to over 2,500 square feet in 2016.
Floating HouseA floating house, or houseboat, is a boat that has been designed or renovated to be a house. Many aren't functional boats other than the fact that they float while others are capable of navigating waterways under their own power. Houseboats may be seasonal and recreational. Alternatively, they can be permanent residences. The later case may represent an entirely different lifestyle from a regular house on land.
Farm HouseA farm house is a home in an agricultural setting, often in the middle of a field. These may be built in any architectural style. Farm houses are often expanded horizontally over time with additional structures added as a farm becomes more prosperous or as a farmer has time to build out. As such, farm houses may have a wide profile with a collection of interconnected structures that were all built at different times.
Ranch HouseA ranch house is a wide house with a low profile that may feature multiple structures. This is styled after the architecture of ranches, large farms that raise livestock such as cattle or sheep.
Carriage HouseA carriage house, also known as a coach house, is a home in a structure that was originally built to house horse-drawn carriages and related equipment. These may be independent homes or may be converted guest houses on a large property. A carriage house is always a historical building, with many having valuable architecture and heritage.
VillaVilla was a term used in ancient Roman for large upper-class houses in the countryside. The term went on from there to describe a wide variety of houses for several thousand years. In Italy, villas are mostly largish detached houses, particularly those designed for holiday living. In Europe, the term is often applied to detached single family houses of any size. In the Unites States, villa is often used to describe large houses designed for a hot climate including styles such as Mediterranean Revival architecture and Spanish Colonial architecture.
CottageCottage is a British term for a small house in the countryside. Americans and Canadians use the term for holiday homes of any size, particularly those that have a lakefront location. Historically, North American cottages were often small to mid-sized middle class holiday homes. In recent decades, the average size of cottages has greatly increased and cottage ownership is increasingly seen as an upper-class thing.
Log HouseLog houses are a tradition type of structure in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. They are also considered traditional architecture in North America where small log homes known as log cabins were commonly built by early settlers. These were initially simple structures that could be constructed by the homeowner, often with help from the surrounding community. This evolved into more complex architectures such as the Adirondack-style log houses of the mid-19th century.
Timber FramingTimber framing, or post-and-beam construction, are traditional methods of building with heavy timbers. This is associated with German architecture but similar traditions exist in most European countries and these traditions also spread to North America. Timber framing is most noticeable in a home when the timbers are left exposed, a technique known as half-timbering.
Carpenter GothicCarpenter Gothic was a late 19th century North American flavor of Gothic Revival architecture that recreated in wood what Gothic architecture depicted in stone. This is closely related to Stick Style architecture that simulated half timbered designs with decorative wood patterns that weren't structurally significant.
ChaletChalet originally referred to the homes of herders from Switzerland and French Savoy who constructed seasonal farms in lowland pastures that were only used in the summer months. The modern term is associated with holiday homes, particularly those in snowy locations, that have high ceilings, sloping roofs and are constructed with wood interiors and exteriors. It is also common for chalets to be constructed with stone elements.
Japanese HousesJapanese homes are traditionally wood with post-and-lintel construction and distinctive woodworking joints. Interiors rooms often have few or no walls and are instead separated with sliding doors known as fusuma or shoji. This allows for efficient use of space as rooms can be reconfigured on the fly. Other unique interior features include tatami flooring that is soft that enables a lifestyle of eating, working and sleeping close to the floor. Modern Japanese homes often include a single room that has a traditional design.Green roofs make a city more attractive and resilient as they can reduce urban heat islands.
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ReferencesUS Department of Labour, Bureau of Labour Statistics, “New Housing and its Materials:1940-56”US Department of Commerce/US Census Bureau, “2016 Characteristics of New Housing”
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