by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers
If you’ve been looking for your dream home recently, chances are you’ve noticed that a few certain styles keep popping up in your search. What is this growing fascination for these key genres of architecture, and will one of them end up providing the best house for your family? We want to help you find the perfect home, so here is an introduction to the most in-demand house styles and why everybody just seems to love them. You might realize that one of them has exactly the vibe you’ve been looking for!
Today’s Popular House Styles
A shift toward traditional exterior styling has brought Craftsman homes, first seen in the late 19th century, back into prominence. It’s hard to miss the defining features of a traditional American Craftsman—ornately decorated with natural materials, a home with this architecture automatically invokes thoughts of simpler times, and in extreme examples can even seem like it has been taken from a fairytale storybook. Its appeal is widespread and it comes in many shapes and sizes, so it comes as no surprise that families across the country and from many backgrounds are choosing to build Craftsman homes.
The second most popular house style at The House Designers is country; it is particularly suited to the Great Plains and the South, but also comes in different regional flavors so everybody can appreciate its humble, crisp details. The most defining feature of country houses is that they incorporate porches, which can be in the front, back, and/or wrap around the home’s entire perimeter. Exteriors are generally simple in design, but inside, you’ll find that the kitchens are large, exceptionally functional, and perfect for hosting eat-in meals for the busy family that doesn’t always have time to sit down at the dinner table.
Coming in third is a broad category—cottages. While plenty of cottages have the defining characteristics of both Craftsman and country houses, like natural ornamentation and porches, they are specifically designed to be quaint and cozy. Expect hearths, intimate living spaces, and informal outdoor areas that merge the best of interior and exterior arrangements. The standard cottage is smaller than the average new home, but you’ll also find that there are a number of larger house plans that fit the other requirements and are thus included under this heading.
The overall trend is clear: people are favoring the classics. Make no mistake about it—these popular house plans seem unassuming at first, but they still come fully loaded with today’s most up-to-date features. Combining classic beauty and modern practicality, they offer the best of both worlds, and our customers are noticing.
The Increasing Focus on Exterior Elements
As new construction picks up with the recovering economy, aspiring homeowners are making their wants known. Of course, this has led to the recent influx of sales for Craftsman and country homes, but it has also generally made people more conscious of exterior design and emphasizing curb appeal. The reason is simple—they can afford the finer details post-recession, and they want to invest in them so they can enjoy the beauty of their homes and help make them stand out when it comes to resale.
Of course, the Craftsman style is well known for its generous use of millwork and other decorative touches, but that doesn’t mean that the less ornate country farm house is lacking. The final executions are very different, but they tend to share the same basic pieces. While a Craftsman uses more elaborate gable pediments and brackets to draw the eye and thick trim to frame windows and doors, a country home relies on understated pieces that are typically thinner, so they don’t define the house itself.
It’s not just the overall style that gets noticed, because practicality comes in strong, too. This is where country homes and their porches make their statement. A good porch to relax on during a warm evening is one of life’s simple pleasures. Outdoor living spaces are in high demand as people seek connection to the environment and want to get out of the house without abandoning its comforts. Far from outdated in the age of central air conditioning, porches offer great transitional areas that give homes character and give you more ways to enjoy living in them.
The Move Toward Homey Interiors
Not all homes that look alike are laid out alike inside. You’d be surprised by how flexible the connection is between floor plan and exterior design, but you’ll love that that gives you more options. Now that the popular open floor plan—which has long been our best-selling specialty collection—isn’t monopolized by modern architecture, you can enjoy it in whichever style you prefer. And as we’ve seen, it is taking off in the classics.
Perhaps owing to their focus on informality—think how laid-back a Craftsman home is compared to a Victorian—our best-selling styles make fantastic use of the contemporary open floor plan. Removing interior partitions makes more space visible and usable at any given time, and it is a step away from highly divided formal layouts that have been favored throughout much of history. Instead of having a defined dining room, living room, parlor, isolated kitchen, etc., merging these spaces gives the impression of more square footage, helps to give a home a flowing atmosphere, and better serves our modern lifestyles, too.
All of this boils down to an arrangement focused on comfort and functionality. For example, the kitchen is put on display rather than being hidden away, and that often comes with the benefit of an eat-in design that incorporates island seating or at least has enough room for a table to limit the distance from preparation to serving. And a great room makes sure nobody feels disconnected when using communal spaces—in many cases, somebody cooking in the kitchen still has a view of the television across the great room!
New Technologies Support Older Styles
If these homes have lengthy histories behind them and are so well loved today, was there ever a reason that they experienced a lull in demand? There are many factors that contribute to the boom and bust of the general public’s regard for different types of housing, but the simplest answer is yes; consider the amount of time and energy required to construct and maintain a home with rustic style and the enormous post-war surge in suburban housing that saw a handful of affordable, easy-to-construct homes mass-produced to form neighborhoods practically overnight, and it becomes clear that there was a time that Craftsman and country homes weren’t feasible.
Luckily, this is but a memory. Our appreciation for beautiful extras never really went away, and now that suburbs are well established and there isn’t a dire need to build for quantity rather than quality, homeowners are gravitating back to what they want. And since technology has developed with time, it is possible to complete more complex houses than before!
Think of all the painstaking attention to detail necessary to cut and carve wood into porch rails and balusters, shutters, and all the types of decorative millwork that people want to see. Now imagine how quickly an order of the same pieces could be filled using moulds and polyurethane—which will produce the same look at a fraction of the cost and virtually eliminate upkeep. Want a more efficient door that looks great and comes with glass options to personalize it to your home? Look for fiberglass that has the look and heft of wood, but can promise so much more. Divided windows used to be made with multiple panes because it was impossible to make a single large piece of glass, but now you can get the classic, old-time look with sturdier construction. You can choose synthetic shingles to eradicate insect and fire concerns and still get a charming, natural look. And for the interior, select hardy flooring that offers the best of manufactured durability with the handcrafted appeal that matches the ambiance you’re going for. Now that we have made great strides in producing the most tricky and expensive parts of a home, it is so much easier to get exactly what you want than it used to be.
So, see if one of these time-tested house styles is for you. We think you’ll like them for what they are and what they can offer, and we’re sure you’ll love calling them home! Thousands of people already have.