What Style is Your Dream House?

A home's style can be described as the outside look and feel of the home. Sometimes a certain style of home will just appeal to you more than others. Sometimes it the functionality of the home that appeals to you more than the the outside look. Other times it's the location that makes it your dream home. Knowing what's important to you before you start househunting will make your search easier for you and your real estate agent.

Of all the styles to be mentioned, there are several variations of each style. Additionally, most homes today are a combination of styles, having been customized to fit the lifestyle of the owner, hence the term "custom" when referring to the style of some homes.

Not sure what your syle is? Let's review the most common styles prevelent in the Northeast to help determine what your preference would be.


The Colonial home is one of the most popular styles of home in the United States, according to "Better Homes and Gardens." The Colonial style evolved from European influences, which started in the 1600s. In the Capital District area of New York State the Dutch Colonial style is evident due to the early settlers of the region.

Regardless of the size of the home, Colonial-style homes share several characteristics. Many Colonial-style homes exhibit a soothing visual symmetry. Inside, you'll likely find a mirror-image setup from one side of the house to the other, particularly on the main level. A Colonial home usually features an entry door that can be found in the middle of the front of the home. The style also features two windows on either side of the entry door, with five windows on the second floor, with one directly above the entry door. Other characteristics include paired chimneys, a medium pitched roof to provide drainage in rainy weather and a stairway that is usually directly behind the entry door and leads to a hallway that bisects the middle of the second floor.

Cape Cod                                           

With roots dating back to 1675, Cape Cod was a popular style for homes built in the 1930s. Typically one story--sometimes 1-1/2 stories--the Cape Cod style features a steep roofline, wood siding, multi-pane windows, and hardwood floors. Original Cape Cod homes were fairly small. They often boast dormer windows for added space, light, and ventilation.

Modern day Cape Cod houses share many features with their Colonial ancestors, but there are key differences. A modern-day Cape will usually have dormers, with finished living space on the second floor, and the chimney is often placed at the side instead of the center. The shutters on modern Cape Cod houses are strictly decorative; they can't be closed during a storm. There is likely a garage or additional room attached to one side or the rear, expanding the living space. Modern-day Cape Cod architecture often mingles with other styles. It is not unusual to find hybrid houses that combine Cape Cod features.


The Victorian style developed and was quite popular from about 1820 to the early 1900's. Victorian homes are most commonly two stories with steep roof pitches, turrets and dormers. Porches are often large with turned posts and decorative railing. Decorative gable trim, corbels, and a variation of exterior finishes. Homes of the Victorian Era were romantic, distinctive, and abundant with detail, from the fabrics and patterns to the colors and textures. Queen Anne is a sub-style of of the late victorian era, with multistory floor plans, often include projecting wings, several porches and balconies, and multiple chimneys with decorative chimney pots. Wooden "gingerbread" trim in scrolled and rounded "fish-scale" patterns frequently graces gables and porches. Massive cut stone foundations are typical of period houses.

Contemporary Victorian house design retains the traditional characteristics but uses more modern fabrics and colors. Traditional and contemporary can be combined nicely in these houses.

Victorian homes often feature a steeply pitched roof, a dominant front-facing gable, patterned shingles, cut-away bay windows, and an asymmetrical facade with a partial or full-width front porch that usually partially wraps around the home's exterior.


The style dates back to 1932 and is still being built today. It was one of the most popular styles in the suburban home-building boom of the 1950s and 1960s. The styling of a ranch house is very simple and rectangular in shape. Ranch style homes generally have shallow pitched hipped roofs that extended across a single or double car garage. A ranch house features single floor living. There are no stairs to a second floor, although there may be stairs into a basement.

The addition of a garage and porch takes away from the cookie-cutter, rectangular look of the ranch home. This syle home also easily allows for additions in the form of wings from the home, thus being termed as a "rambling ranch". The single floor living lends nicely to those with disabilities or for our aging population to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

Spin-offs from the original Ranch inclued the Raised Ranch and Split Level Ranch.

Bungalow / Cottage      

These narrow, rectangular one and one-half story houses originated in California during the 1880s as a reaction to the elaborate decoration of Victorian homes. The style then moved eastward to the Midwest in the early 20th century, where it remained popular until the Great Depression. Bungalows have low-pitched gabled or hipped roofs and small covered porches at the entry. Usually the living room is at the center, there are connecting rooms without hallways, always an efficient floor plan and built-in cabinets, shelves, and seats. The Craftsman style is but one form of the American Bungalow.

The style became so popular that you could order a bungalow kit from Sears and Roebuck catalog. The name "bungalow" had its origins in India, where it indicated a small, thatched home.


Known for their often irregular shapes and odd-sized, often tall windows, their lack of ornamentation, and their unusual mixtures of wall materials--metal, stone, brick, and wood, for instance. Architects began designing Contemporary-style homes between 1950 and 1970, and created two versions: the flat-roof and gabled types. The latter is often characterized by exposed beams. Both breeds tend to be one-story tall and were designed to incorporate the surrounding landscape into their overall look. Contemporary homes are still relatively popular today, lending themselves to the minimalist style of decor.

Submitted by:

Jaymie Denny

Licensed Real Estate Agent                                                                                                                       Coldwell Banker Prime Properties                                                                                                             518-610-5428


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