Defining Home Styles

Home buyers often confuse a style of home for another. When searching for your next home or tying to determine the style that matches your needs, it’s important to know the different styles of homes available and on the market. Below is a break down of the many styles and their descriptions.

Bi-Level: A bi-level style home is typically a one story floor plan that has been raised above ground level where another level of living such as a basement or additional rooms resides. They are often considered ranches or split level homes. In fact, when you enter the front door and have to climb stairs to get to the kitchen or main living space, you’re typically in a bi-level style home.

Bungalow: A bungalow style home is a compact 1-1/2 story house that contains smaller rooms. There will typically be 2 or more bedrooms on the main floor along with a bathroom and living space. Bungalows often have basements that can be finished for additional living space and an attic space that may also be finished for 1 or more bedrooms. Bungalows often have bay windows as an accent and a front porch. Those looking for first floor living with additional options on other levels may be best suited for a bungalow.

Cape Cod: A cape cod style home is similar to a bungalow but will usually have a distinctive peaked roof, central front door, shutters, and will usually have an A frame construction. Cape cods also have first floor bedrooms and often times feature a bit more living space such as a dining room or larger second floor bedrooms with baths optional.

Colonial: Colonial style homes are traditional in America and have a rectangular design. Many have centered front doors and a center entry way to the home. Typical colonials will have all the main living space on the first floor such as living room, dining room, possible den or family room and kitchen. The second floor is usually reserved for the private quarters such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Most will have a basement and an attic that may or may not be finished living space. Colonials are spacious and great homes for those needing privacy or living space.

Duplex: A duplex is two properties that are joined by one common wall. Often mistaken for a double.

High Rise: A high rise apartment or property is any multiple-floor building that has ten or more floors.

Manufactured home: A manufactured home is all or a part of a dwelling unit that is built in one location and placed in another.

Mobile Home: A dwelling unit that is built with wheels attached and can be moved from one location to another.

Ranch: A ranch is a home where all the rooms are on a single floor. One floor living. Ranches are often rectangle or L shaped. Rooms are typically spacious and open and every areas of a ranch is utilized for its space. Ranches may or may not have basements.

Split Level: A split level is designed to effectively and efficiently use all areas and floors. Splits will have three floors of living all tied in with a few stairs leading to each floor. The main living area which consists of the kitchen, living room and dining room will have a few stairs leading up to the bedrooms and baths and a few stairs leading to the lower level, (Rec room, family room, mechanicals, and utility room)

Town House: Town houses or homes generally have two or more floors connected to other units via party walls. Similar to a duplex, town homes are typically a part of a developed community of condominiums, clusters or single family homes in a planned community. Town homes will typically have home owner’s association fees which may include common ground upkeep, recreation areas and amenities.

Tudor: A Tudor style home will look like an old English home. Gables and half timbered exterior walls along with brick or stucco are usually what greet you. Windows are tall and diamond paned. Popular features are arched doorways and windows. Room sizes and lay out will vary widely and character and unique design are common. Bedrooms may be on the first or second floors and many will offer basements or dormers.

Victorian: A Victorian style home is often found in older cities and communities and they will typically offer hard wood, high ceilings, stained glass, dramatic stairways and crown molding, multiple paint colors on the exterior, and an eclectic collaboration of design and architecture. Many modern Victorian homes will have gutted redone kitchens and baths while still holding on to the original elements and character.

From DC, How Do Raleigh Home Styles Compare?

In the DC suburbs (Northern Virginia and Maryland) you’ll commonly see vinyl and brick homes. Traditional styles are very common in Raleigh from new construction homebuilders. But what you don’t still see a lot of in the DC area are bungalow style homes like those found in the historic areas of Raleigh. Although if you go to the rural areas and older neighborhoods of the outskirts of the DC Metropolitan area, you’ll still find them. The older homes sprinkled throughout Raleigh and the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) are mostly all bungalow style. They have porches or screened in porches. Usually these neighborhoods have more mature trees. Magnolia trees are very southern.

What about townhomes?
In the city areas of DC, there are a lot of row houses. In the suburbs of DC you see a lot of three story brick townhomes. You can find these urban rowhouse styles in Research Triangle Park and in downtown Raleigh. The three story townhomes are all over Raleigh and they’re mainly vinyl with some brick exterior. Traditional townhomes still have 3 bedrooms in both areas.

What about basements?
They’re more popular in the DC suburbs than Raleigh, but there are basements especially on sloped yards. Many of the homes in Raleigh have natural beautiful surroundings including lakes and trees. The soil, water and conservation people did a good job of preserving those areas. Even some apartment buildings run around parks and lakes. It’s very common.

Also in Raleigh you’ll see a lot of contemporary homes. Some have employed green energy efficient components. New and newer Condos are very common close to the hip areas like downtown, shopping areas, and Research Triangle Park.

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Classic Regional American Log Home Styles

Log homes come in a wide variety of styles, many of them vernacular, or particular to their region. Vernacular styles are those that evolved in given locations due to traditions in building, available materials, climate and other factors. Learning about vernacular architecture can help you decide what style of home to build. You don’t have to follow the traditions of your area, but it can be helpful to understand why log homes look different in different parts of the country.

American log home styles can be roughly divided into Eastern and Western. Eastern styles include Appalachian, Adirondack and Early American. Appalachian log houses are typically mountain cabins found in the Southern and Southeastern United States. Adirondack houses are the type found in the upstate New York mountains. And Early American homes, found all over the East Coast, evoke the colonial era.

Appalachian style homes offer a connection to the outdoor landscape. They usually have long, covered porches. Some are built around dogtrots, where two smaller log buildings are connected by a roof with an open space, or a “dogtrot,” in between.

Adirondack style homes look like wealthy camp cabins. The original Adirondack cabins were opulent and grand, emphasizing the use of natural materials. The handcrafted logs used to build them are round with intersecting corners. Sometimes, small logs, twigs and branches are used as pillars, railings and mantelpieces. Adirondack homes usually have porches, either open or screened, and gable roofs with dormers. Many original Adirondack houses were built in the Arts and Crafts style, with heavy, squared off doorways and banisters.

Early American style homes were quaint and rustic, usually featuring square logs with light chinking showing in between. Often, new Early American-style log homes are made from salvaged logs from old cabins or barns. These homes tend to be boxy in shape and simple in design. The homes are small and have rooflines of simple dormers or plain eaves. Roofs are wood-shingle or metal, and windows have rectangular grids dividing them into small panes. Old, salvaged doors and hardware can be used to complete the look of an Early American-style log home.

Western style is what most people envision as the typical log home. The three main types, which are the ranch house, mountain house and Southwestern-style house.

The ranch house is similar to what the Western pioneers built, made of stacked round logs with dovetail notches to connect them. Ranch style log houses are rugged and basic, and they can hold a crowd. Usually, they are single-story homes with long roofs and horizontal lines, making them well suited to flat land. The homes are large, welcoming and communal, usually featuring wraparound porches.

Mountain-style homes in the West are made from huge, handcrafted logs similar to those of the Adirondack style. They tend to look like Alpine hunting lodges, with steep, heavy roofs and shallow porches. Usually, there are many large windows, often grouped together, to maximize the mountain views.

Southwestern log homes are typically built with log beams and adobe. The roofs are made of ceramic tiles, either flat or shallowly pitched. Most Southwestern-style homes show heavy Spanish influence, with wrought iron railings, carved doors and central courtyard spaces.

Finally, Mission or Arts and Crafts style, popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, appears in both Eastern and Western log homes. Square logs and tall, narrow windows characterize this style. Asian motifs, natural materials and hand-made hardware are important to this style of home.