A Gallery of House Styles - What Style Is It?

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German Village House

Painted brick house in German Village, Ohio
Painted Brick House in German Village, Ohio Painted brick house in German Village, Ohio. Photo courtesy the homeowner

House Style Workshop: Help us identify architectural styles

Most houses are difficult to describe. They don't fit neatly into a single, identifiable style. They may have features of many different architectural styles. Or, architectural features may have been lost during years of remodeling projects.

The photos in this gallery show houses that are especially baffling. Can you describe the styles? For help and resources, follow the links that you will find on each page.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Here's a painted brick house with flared eaves and other traditional German details.

Zonia from Ohio writes:

County records show that this painted brick house was built in 1910. It has flared eaves, a front facing chimney and a wrap-around porch.

The house is located in the South Columbus, Ohio region known as German Village. An influx of German immigrants settled in the area in the mid-1800s. Most of the men worked as stone masons, tradesmen and brewery workers. Workers often operated businesses out of their homes, converting tiny parlors into workspace and shops.


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Railroad Home

Home for Railroad Workers
House Style Workshop: Railroad Home Home for Railroad Workers. Photo courtesy of the homeowner

This simple home was constructed for railroad workers in the mid-1800s. What style is it?

Charles from New Jersey, USA sends us this house style challenge:

"My home in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey was built in 1845. It was built to house railroad workers who were constructing the Central Railroad of NJ.

It has two portions which form the current 'L' shape. The original part was rectangular and had two floors (+ attic & basement). The size of this building was 25' long by 16' deep. There were two front doors (on center) and each floor had only two rooms, one on the left and one on the right. The picture shows the front (original portion) of the house and the one remaining door (notice it is off-center).

I see many of these long but narrow houses with two doors in my area and wanted to know if there is a name for the style. "

Find photos of similar homes in A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester. Hint: Remember that this home was built during the expansion of the railroads.

Our Readers Respond:

  • Houses for Transients: You basically answered your own question by stating that the house was built to house railroad workers. These men were transients, and most lived out of steamer trunks. Taking everything they owned with them from location to location. So a house built to house these workers would normally have two doors to allow the easy bringing in and taking out of large trunks. If you visit homes in New England, you will see a lot of very old home that have the two door front entrance, upon inquiring about the origin of many of these houses, you will be amazed to see that a large number of these homes started out as mortuaries or funeral homes. And we all know you need a lot of room to take a casket out to the waiting hearse!—Victor
  • Casket Doors: Victor is correct that there are numerous older homes with the double door configuration. Central PA where I live has many of them. I understand that some older houses did have a "Casket Door" but these were often smaller and off in a corner of the room and not in line with the main entrance. These were normal residences but the door was provided to move a casket in and out of the front room where the deceased family member lay "In State" during viewing hours or the wake. Most of the double doored houses I have seen do not have a center front hall. The double doors functioned as the main everyday entrance to the working side of the home and the other was a guest entrance into the best front parlor and was only used on special occasions such as when the minister came to call. The best parlor was kept closed with the shades drawn except during the visit!—Guest Don M.
  • Many Homes Had Double Doors: I am sure there are a lot of old funeral homes which required wide doors, but a lot of other homes had double doors also. I have heard plenty of stories about double doors, coffins and 'waking the dead' at home. But I think the best explanation for most of these double doors lies in the fact that many front doors, especially in city rowhouses, opened to narrow halls or tiny vestibules which would not accommodate a single, larger door. Form follows function and it soon became fashionable even for houses with larger halls. I think your house is a simple, vernacular form of the Greek Revival. A good example of which is Lincoln's house in Springfield, Illinois.—Guest Bobby
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Southern Cottage

Victorian Cottage in Atlanta, Georgia
House Style Workshop: Southern Cottage Victorian Cottage in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo courtesy the homeowner

Columns give this cozy cottage a formal air. What style is it?

Michelle from Atlanta, Georgia sent us this house style challenge:

I am in the process of purchasing this old house in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The house is not in the greatest shape but my husband and I are looking forward to fixing it up. It was originally built along the railroad tracks in a neighborhood with many similar style homes, although this is the only one that has columns. I have been told by the city's historic preservationist that the style is Colonial Revival.

The house has one story with a large porch across the front. The columns are composite. The ceilings inside are 12' high. It has 2 sets of working pocket doors, 4 fireplaces, and a built-in cupboard/piesafe.

I have two questions for you: Do you agree that the style is Colonial Revival or feel that it is some other style? Also, there is a room in the back of the house that is an interior room original to the house but has 2 exterior doors (on interior walls) and an exterior window on one of the interior walls, and another exterior door that leads out to the back porch. I was wondering if perhaps this room would be a sleeping porch. It's very odd to have an interior room have so many exterior wall features.

We plan to fix up the house and use it as a facility to conduct Victorian tea parties, bridal showers and weddings. We would greatly appreciate any information you could give us about this house.

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Cottage With Columns

Cottage With Columns
House Style Help: Cottage With Columns Cottage With Columns. Photo © Forum Member "Karnye2004"

Question: I'm wondering what type house my house would be considered. Built in 1920, the house is somewhat reminiscent of a bungalow." ~ Karnye2004

To answer this question, let's look at a variety of house styles:

I'd say it's a great example of a Colonial Revival Bungalow.

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Teardrop Window

Teardrop Window on a Victorian House in Northern Pennsylvania
House Style Workshop: Teardrop Window Teardrop Window on a Victorian House in Northern Pennsylvania. Photo © Forum Member "JoyALau"

Two "teardrop windows" like this one are on a Victorian house in northern Pennsylvania.

The homeowner asks, "Has anyone seen these types of windows before and could possibly better date our house?"

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1929 Kansas City Estate

1929 Kansas City Estate
House Style Workshop: 1929 Kansas City Estate 1929 Kansas City Estate. Photo © Forum Member Lstrnad

How can the owners research the history and style of this lovely Kansas City home?

A visitor in our Discussion Forum writes:

A friend of mine and I are researching her family home in Kansas City, Missouri. It was built around 1928-1930 in the Country Club District/Meyer Circle.

Can you give us some direction on the home style? Is it French-inspired? I would appreciate any insight you have. We are trying to be descriptive so we can make a family video/scrapbook to pass down. It is a beautiful home with so many originals. The inside includes original toilets/sinks in the bathrooms with ornate tile work. Absolutely lovely.

Any descriptive terms/feedback on the inside or outside is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Here are some clues:

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Old, or Very Old?

The home may have been built on a foundation that's even older.
House Style Workshop: Dating an Old House The owner is trying to determine the age of her old house. Photo contributed by Forum Member "KatieBeth980"

The owners of this historic home wonders whether it's old... or very old. How can they find the age?

"The year of my house is listed as 1900. It appears to have an additional old house from that time frame added to the back of it along with an additional bathroom. I just went and pulled up every deed for the property and discovered that the first deed was made in 1882 when a family gave the lot to their son. It wasn't until the 1930s when the family that had the house before we bought it that another deed was listed.

"There's a deed in 1882 for the lot, then a deed was issued in 1934 to the family we got it from where they bought it, then in 1944 when they got an additional adjoining piece of property from a widower, then when they gave it to their children in 1964. The last two deeds were in 2002 when the house was then transferred to wife and then to a daughter.

"I'm confused now because the house was listed as 1900 but the family that had passed it down until we bout it didn't obtain it until 1934. I have a sneaking suspicion that the original house may have been built in the 1880s or at least in the late 1800s. I'm not sure, but the house that was moved onto the back of the original part seems to have most likely been moved from where they bought the widower's property. I was wondering if anyone could tell me anything to look for so that i could get an Idea about how old the houses are.

"So far we have discovered a double-sided fireplace that goes straight through the wall between the kitchen and the living room. You can put a person squatting in front of it on each side and wave to each other. Behind the dry wall and the paneling that we actually took down so far, we discovered wood siding in the kitchen and in the living room. The siding in the kitchen is painted a teal color, and the siding in the living room appears to have been white washed and then later covered with some sort of a very old wall paper."

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Curious Square House

Knowing the architectural style can help with decorating and remodeling decisions.
House Style Workshop: Curious Square House The owner would like to remodel this hilltop house. Photo contributed by Forum Member "StephZee"

Before decorating the interior, the owner would like to know the style of this curious square-shaped home. What do you think?

Knowing the architectural style can help with decorating decisions. The owner of this hilltop home has this dilemma:

  • "I purchased my house about 2 years ago, and am finally getting down to the remodeling part of it - yea! Trouble is that I haven't decided on a style to go with. I really have no preferences whatsoever when it comes to home furnishings. All I know is that I really don't care for anything called modern or stuff with crazy Swedish names. (but I am partial to old medieval stuff...)

    "Since I am unable to make a decision about a decorating style, I was hoping to let the house make the decision for me. I live in a big brick house in (Northeast) Youngstown, Ohio. The house was built in 1927 (least that is what the tax office shows) and it doesn't really fit any of the styles that are posted on the Internet.

    "The house is square, and built on a hill. The garage is attached to the house- behind it- and the man door enters into the basement. The garage roof is flat and has a french door that leads on to it from the room behind the dining room. There is a large stone fireplace in the front room (living room maybe?) and the windows there are the swing in type 12-panel glass with arched windows above them.

    "Upstairs are 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. From the outside the upstairs looks like a dormer, but the ceilings throughout the house are all 10 foot high. Oh, there is also some kind of plaster cove moulding in the dining room and front room.

    "I have no idea what kind of house it is or what to decorate it like. Any help about period pieces would be helpful, or any assistance about the style would be appreciated as well."

  • See House Styles
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Florida Shutters

Florida Home With Shutters
House Style Workshop: House With Florida Shutters The turquoise shutters aren't original... What should go in their place?. Photo © Forum Member "bofusmosby"

The owner wants to change the shutters on this Florida home, but what should the shutters look like on this type of house?

The turquoise shutters will be the first thing to go when the owner restores this 100-year-old Florida home. But, what should he put up in their place? "Down here in Florida, it looks like there will be a lot of storms to get ready for," the owner says. "I plan on making my own shutters, and would like to come up with the correct style for the time period."

For ideas, see these similar styles:

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Shingles and Arches

Victorian or Craftsman Style?
House Style Workshop: House With Shingles and Arches Shingles and Arches characterize this New York home. Photo © Forum Member "Riverinlatvia"

Shingles and Arches characterize this New York home. Is it a Victorian?

"We are trying to figure out a way to pay for this house and still have some $ around for renovations and the inevitable," writes the new owner, "but meanwhile, I am obsessing about what might be..."

Located in Warwick, New York, the house is sided with clapboard on the first floor. The second story is shingle-sided. Could this house be an example of the Victorian Shingle style? "I'm particularly curious about the first floor half-moon window," says the owner. "Do you think it was always there, and if not, what was?"


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Seattle Cottage

1942 Cottage in Seattle, Washington
House Style Workshop: Seattle, Washington Cottage 1942 Cottage in Seattle, Washington. Photo © Forum Member "yzzi"

Built in 1942, this cottage in Seattle, Washington has some features of the Cape Cod style. But is it a Cape Cod or more like a Minimal Traditional?

Helpful Resources

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Maine Farmhouse

Farmhouse in Maine
House Style Workshop: Maine Farmhouse Built in 1860, this simple farmhouse in Maine has a cut stone fireplace and an usual curved wall. Photo © Forum Member "danaschwaab"

This simple farmhouse in Maine has tall cross gables and looks larger from the street than it actually is. What style is it?

After searching the Internet, the owners still haven't found any homes quite like their gabled farmhouse.

Helpful Resources:

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Restoring a Folk Victorian

Folk Victorian House
House Style Workshop: Restoring a Folk Victorian House The porch on this Folk Victorian house certainly isn't original. Photo © Forum Member "BethanyHensley"

This tidy little home appears to be a Folk Victorian, but what's going on with the porch?

The owners would like to restore their Victorian home and they wonder:

  • What type of porch did the house used to have?
  • What colors would be appropriate for this style Victorian?
  • Does the house need more architectural trim?

Helpful Resources:

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Hip Roof Victorian

Victorian House with a Hipped Roof
House Style Workshop: Hip Roof Victorian Hip Roof Victorian House. Photo © Forum Member "GreedyGriffon"

Built in 1890 in a small Alabama town, this home doesn't seem to fit any of the common Victorian styles. What style is it?

This Alabama home is square and symmetrical with a pyramid-shaped roof. Find more clues:

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Is She a Queen?

Victorian house
House Style Workshop: Victorian House Style The owner asks whether this simple Victorian home is a Queen Anne. Photo © Forum Member "SadieCO2"

Rumor has it that this Victorian house is a Queen Anne, but the owner isn't so sure. What do you think?

Find clues about this Victorian home:

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California Western House

California Western House
House Style Workshop: California Western House California Western House. Photo © Forum Member "graphik41"

According to legend, WC Fields once stayed at this 1927 California home overlooking Wildwood Canyon. "I am sooooo curious about the style," the owner says.

Find clues about this California home:

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What Style Victorian?

1880 Michigan Home
House Style Workshop: Michigan Victorian House 1880 Michigan Home. Photo © Forum Member "OilPull"

Built in 1880, this Michigan home is certainly a Victorian. But there were many very different house styles in the Victorian period. What style is this home?

Find clues about this Michigan home:

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House With Square Tower

House With Square Tower
House Style Workshop: House With Square Tower This Victorian home has a square tower. Photo © Forum Member "Amadeo312"

This Victorian house has a square tower. What style is it?

"I am curious as to exactly what style my home is," writes a visitor to our Forum. "I have asked many folks and gotten many different answers! " The house was built by a local merchant in about 1897 or 1898. The square tower is unfinished on the inside, and it can be reached only through a small opening in the attic.

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Louisiana Cottage

Louisiana Cottage
House Style Workshop: Louisiana Cottage Louisiana Cottage. Photo from Architecture Forum Member "Redbirds1234"

The owners of this quaint Louisiana cottage are perplexed. They know the house was built in the late 1800s, but what style is it?

Find clues about this Louisiana cottage:

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19th Century Brick

19th Century Brick Home
House Style Workshop: 19th Century Brick House This stately brick home was built in the 1800s. Photo from Forum Member "liyanj"

The owners of this handsome brick home know it was built in the late 1800s, but they aren't sure about the style. What do you think?

This 19th century home is rectangular and symmetrical, with simple details. The entrance is at the center with a small portico topped by a pediment.

Which of these three styles best describes the home?

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Butchered Bunaglow

Bungalow House Photo
House Style Workshop: Butchered Bungalow Remodeled Bungalow. Photo contributed by Forum Member 4harold

This home is a bungalow, but it has been remodeled many times. What did it used to look like?

This little bungalow has gone through many remodelings, with the interior space chopped up to create apartments. The new owners want to restore the house, but they're not sure where to begin. How can they figure out the original floor plan?

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Southern Cottage

Photo of a Southern USA cottage
House Style Workshop: Southern Cottage Tennessee Home. Photo contributed by Forum Member Falmee

This Tennessee cottage was built in the early 1900s. What style is it?

Why is it that the name "Colonial" gets hung on so many houses... houses that don't resemble places built during colonial times at all? This Tennessee home was built in the early 1900s. Although the Realtor called it a Colonial, it's really something else. What is it?

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Mutt House

Photograph of a 1915 home
House Style Workshop: Mutt House 1915 Home. Photo contributed by Forum Member Nadjavox

The owner of this 1915 home calls it a "mutt" because it seems to be a blend of several styles. What style is it?

Can a house built in 1915 be called a "Victorian"? Does the shingle siding make this a Shingle Style home? Or, is the house something else?

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Porch Re-do

House with enclosed porch
House Style Workshop: Restoring a Porch 1925 home in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo contributed by Forum Member Lausie0

The owners want to restore the porch on this Baltimore home, but first they need to know how it looked originally. What style is this house supposed to be?

This 1925 home in Baltimore, Maryland is about to get a whole new look. The owners plan to expose the original wrap-around porch and paint the siding using period colors. But first, they'd like to do a bit of research. What style is the house? How did the porch look in 1925?

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Old House, New Siding

Old House Photo
House Style Workshop: Old House With Modern Siding Newer siding makes it difficult to determine the style of this old house. Photo contributed by Forum Member "Schanter"

Newer siding and other remodelings make it hard to determine the style of this old house. How would you describe the style?

Newer siding and other remodelings make it hard to determine the style of this old house. The shape is foursquare, but the porch and gables have a Victorian flair. What is it?

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1926 Cottage

1926 Cottage Photo
House Style Workshop: Old Cottage 1926 Cottage in Westchester County, NY. Photo submitted by Forum Member "chuckynhl"

This little house poses big questions. What style is it?

Located in Westchester County, New York, this charming cottage was built in 1926. Neighbors call it a Colonial (or, more aptly, Colonial Revival). But notice the front facing gable and long front porch. Could this little house be something else?

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Neoclassical or Victorian?

Classical home with a round turret
House Style Workshop: Neoclassical or Victorian House This unusual home has both Queen Anne and Neoclassical details. Photo © Forum Member "Hollibugg"

The Realtor calls this unusual house Neoclassical. But, how do you explain the round turret? What's the style, really?

In spite of what your realtor may tell you, any house you might be about to purchase is probably not one single style. The joy (and horror) of home ownership is in remodeling, and older homes have had time to be played with. The institution of historic districts and historic building designations is often in response to oddly remodeled houses and developers removing the beauty of history for the more pragmatic new construction. The more you know....

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California Duplex

California Duplex
House Style Workshop: California Duplex California Duplex. Photo from Forum Member "cawaps"

This duplex house in California has an odd shape. What style is it?

Built in the early 1900s, this tall house has many fine Victorian details. It also has a somewhat unusual shape... The rear of the house is wider than the front facade. Have you seen similar homes? How would you describe the style?

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Victorian House Plans

Victorian House Photo
House Style Workshop: Victorian House Plans House Helpline. Photo from Forum Member "SenoraMango"

The owner of this Victorian house wants to restore the interior. But first she needs some important information.

The owner knows her house is Victorian,but what style? And, how old is the house, really? Is it possible to find the original blueprints?

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1928 Cottage

Cottage in Iowa
House Helpline Photo Gallery: Iowa Cottage 1928 Cottage. Photo from Forum Member "se200"

This Iowa cottage was built after the Victorian era. Can it still be a Victorian?

Neighbors are calling this Iowa home a Victorian, but it was built in 1928 -- too late for the Victorian era! The interior has lovely woodwork, an open stairway, and other nice details. What style is it?

Check Out These Period Styles:

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Is this a Colonial?

Identifying a Colonial or Victorian House
House Style Workshop: Identifying a Colonial or Victorian House Is this a Colonial?. Photo from Forum Member "delli449"

Can a house be both Colonial and Victorian? What style is this house?

The Realtor who sold this home called it a "Colonial," but the new owners aren't sure. Can a house be a Colonial and a Victorian, too?

Learn More:

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A Square Colonial

House Photo
House Style Workshop: Colonial House With a Pyramid Roof This home has a Colonial look, but it's square with a pyramid-shaped roof. Photo from Forum Member ChrisUsher

Built in 1918, this home has a Colonial look, but it's square with a pyramid-shaped roof. What style is it?

How would you describe the style of this square-shaped home? What is style?

Sometimes it's best NOT to put style labels on houses. Instead, describe the features and architectural details of the structure. Become familiar with American Home Styles and study House Style Photo Galleries to become knowledgeable and know what you're talking about.

Although some houses are difficult to label, no house defies description.

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Canadian Cottage

Canadian Cottage
House Style Workshop: Cottage in Canada Canadian Cottage. Photo submitted by Forum Member "Jillobot"

It's easy to find houses like this one in Vancouver, Canada, but not so easy to describe the style. What style is it?

"Are some houses too ubiquitous to have a style designation?" asks a visitor in our Discussion Forum. It's easy to find houses like this one in Vancouver, Canada, but not so easy to describe the style. What do you think?