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Fall in Love with Regional Architecture

By Jordan Koonts, Contributing Writer for The House Designers®

The United States is a place with many vibrant cultures and styles, as people from all around the world have and continue to influence our land. Broken down into five sections—the South, Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, and West—every region of the country has its own unique and unmistakable flair based off of both geographic location and the lifestyles of those who live there.

This has had an immense impact on architecture and the homes that are found in these regions. Regional architecture features designs that pay homage to decades to centuries of cultures and traditions that define the area. By embracing regional-specific architecture, you are choosing a home that is both highly stylish and functional, as well as one that is as unique as America itself, the nation so lovingly referred to as “the melting pot” of backgrounds.

Southern homes such as this one are known for their unending charm and relaxation.

Sweeping front porches are a staple of Southern-style homes and are extremely popular in the region. A great example of a welcoming front porch with some Southern charm is seen here in House Plan 5632.

South

From long summer days spent on the front porch, to taking in those fabled evening sunsets, the South is an area of tradition. A once very aristocratic society, the region’s architecture has many clear influences from the classical designs of England and the stately manors that can be found there. The South has a hot and humid climate, so designing homes with many windows was critical in the days before air conditioning, explaining why many beautiful Southern homes have towering windows and a great emphasis on symmetry today.

The South has seen a large increase in population recently. Gone are the days of massive plantations and acreage, but architecture still pays respect to times past. Colonial homes capture this essence and are popular in the South as they harken back to the antebellum days of high society. Naturally, another popular style in the region is Southern plans, which include elements from more informal farmhouses. Designed specifically for the region, these homes embrace the welcoming, slower-paced nature of the South, while incorporating elements of its past history through things such as wraparound porches and gentle sloping rooflines. Southern homes are a great option no matter the location and provide a bit of the charm that the region is known for.

Spanish and Mediterranean flair is a staple of many Southwestern homes.

Vast estates with hints of Spanish and Mediterranean flair can be found throughout the Southwest region. Make your own with the towering columns and light stucco of the Casa Blanca (THD-9474) plan.

Southwest

A dry, arid climate can be found throughout much of the Southwest region. This area has deserts but also some fairly high elevation, resulting in hot days and cold nights. As a result, many Southwest homes are designed to embrace the climate and utilize features that maximize efficiency. You’ll find open air concepts and traditional materials, such as light stone and stucco, to ensure a breezy home to stay cool even on the hottest days.

The Southwest’s close proximity to the southern border of the US means that this region has had heavy Spanish influence. It features many Spanish homes with beautiful craftsmanship and the style that 16th century explorers brought to North America. More broadly Mediterranean design is also popular in the region. Based off of the sprawling villas around the Mediterranean Sea, these homes offer stately façades with some unmistakable features like red clay tile roofing and high, arched ceilings to catch cool breezes.

From Arizona to Colorado, and New Mexico to Texas, the unmistakable panache of homes from the Southwest region makes them as unique as they are functional. In fact, these styles have become so popular that they can be found across the nation, a tribute to the distinctive style of Spanish colonists many centuries ago.

Cape Cod homes are known for their simple charm as seen here.

Quaint charm and simple design are hallmarks of Cape Cod homes. A subtle, welcoming home, Mount Vernon (THD-5734) features an inclusive layout that is so common amongst Northeastern homes.

Northeast

Another region heavily influenced by the colonial period and classic architecture, the Northeastern US has some of the quaintest, most charming homes that you will find anywhere in the country. Distinct seasons have made this region one of the most popular vacation spots, and it’s home to storied places such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as big cities like Boston and New York City. Much of the residential architecture of the Northeast shows clear English influence, with a focus on simple efficiency.

A popular style across the country, Cape Cod homes find their roots in this region. First built by fishermen and whalers who lived around the Cape Cod and Boston area, these homes were made as straightforward cottages that were resolute enough to withstand even the harshest of winters and coastal weather. Modern Cape Cod homes couple the colonial charm of the past with some modern upgrades, but still pay reverence to their predecessors. Also popularized across the country, various types of colonial homes also have roots here. Straightforward symmetry and design can be seen through things such as brick facades and large front columns, similar to the dwellings of the British colonists and America’s founding fathers.

Spacious floor plans and large footprints are common in Midwestern homes such as this one.

Homes found in the Midwest often feature spacious floor plans and larger footprints, along with Craftsman finishes that mimic the designs favored in the 1800’s. The Prairie Wind (THD-9407) displays a gorgeous façade and an open layout fitting for this region.

Midwest

With rolling hills and open skies, the Midwestern region is teeming with natural beauty as far as the eye can see. An area of ample variety, the Midwest is home to bustling cities such as Chicago and St. Louis, contrasted by vast plains and rural towns. City living aside, some popular styles in this region include Craftsman, ranch, and Prairie-style modern designs. Developed by settlers in the mid-1800’s, much of the style of these homes comes from the hand-built dwellings of the time. But with all that land available, 1900’s design also grew in prominence here.

Common across the nation where populations boomed after World War II, ranch style homes are single-story dwellings with simple, affordable shapes. These homes usually feature open layouts that are spacious and airy. Today’s ranches come in a variety of styles, making them extremely versatile. Prairie homes are often larger and have Craftsman elements, and they offer features such as ornate window framings, arched porticos, and custom woodwork as finishing details. Many Prairie homes offer vast porches, great for looking out over the horizon and enjoying a night under the stars. At the heart of the country, it’s no wonder that the Midwest has taken from and influenced so many styles!

Bungalow floor plans are very popular in the Western US.

Popularized in the Western region of the US, bungalows such as Petersfield (THD-5188) showcase great floor plans with reduced footprints, great for areas where land is limited or expensive.

West

A land of unfettered beauty and a variety of climates and cultures, the West is one of the most diverse areas in the country, as well as one of the most desirable. Influenced by a mix of 19th century settlers and the Victorian, Craftsman, and farmstead styles they brought across the Great Plains, and the Spanish style that earlier explorers brought up from the Southwest, the West has a little bit of everything in its architecture. You’ll find different areas favor different architecture, based on history as well as what’s affordable given the cost of land.

The beauty of bungalows in the West is that they are unique and made to do more with less lot. With areas with high land prices, bungalows are perfect thanks to their reduced footprints and emphasis on efficient design. From more Spanish styles in California, to rustic cottage-inspired facades in Washington, bungalows are both versatile and adaptable. And Victorian style homes are also prevalent around the region, from sweeping mansions where there’s open land to tightly packed rowhouse-style renditions in places like San Francisco. Traditional architecture comes in all sorts of looks in the West!

In a nation of so much history and so many backgrounds and cultures, it is no wonder that each region has its own specific architectural tastes. However, just because a home style originates from one region doesn’t mean that it isn’t adaptable to another. Search our vast collections to make your dream home become a reality, no matter the location. Whether you want a Cape Cod home in the South or a Mediterranean plan in the Northeast, contact us today and we can help find the exact home that you are looking for.