Historic Homes Style Guide


An architectural emblem of the American dream, bungalows are traditionally one or one-and-a-half story dwellings of horizontal orientation that combine style with simplicity and sound construction with affordability. The bungalow boom took off around the turn of the century, when the burgeoning West brought notions of American independence, health, respectability and importantly, a prevalent architectural style apart from aristocracy.

Images courtesy of the Colorado Historical Society. Visit their “Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture and Engineering” to browse through more architectural styles.

Echoing the features of the Prairie architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the American Foursquare style is as boxy and spacious as it name suggests. Allowing for roomy interiors no matter the lot size, a Foursquare will likely feature a simple box structure, two-and-a-half stories, a low-hipped roof, full-width porch, dormer and for exterior materials—brick, stone, stucco, concrete or wood siding.

Dutch Colonial
With its debut in Pennsylvania in the 1600s when German settlers set the stage, the Dutch Colonial style evolved into a linear floor plan as original single-room homes expanded outward via additions on either end (with chimneys typically taking up residence on one end or the other). Other notable features include a broad gambrel roof reminiscent of a barn, double-hung sash windows with outward opening wood encasements and a central horizontally divided doorway (so livestock stayed out and fresh air wafted in). When nostalgia for colonial times set in during the beginning of the 20th century, Dutch colonial styles enjoyed an encore appearance.

Referring to the set of styles popular between 1720 and 1840 and named for the succession of British monarchs named (not surprisingly) George (I-IV), this style celebrates symmetry, proportion and balance. Mathematical ratios were used to designate windows, and classical modes of architecture were referenced through decorative touches from ancient Greece and Rome. Red brick walls, white trim and portico entrances are among the Georgian style’s distinctive features.

Mediterranean Revival

A renewed interest in Italian Renaissance palaces and coastal villas inspired the arrival of this style in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century, with a boom in the 1920s and ‘30s in Florida and California, thanks to their spot along the seaside. What makes it distinct? Multi-story rectangular floor plan, stuccoed walls, flat or low-peaked terra cotta and tile roofs, arches and a lavish application of Spanish baroque details in the decoration of balconies, cornices, openings and patios. Just think the Alamo…or booming early 20th-century Miami.

Among the Tudor style marks are oriel windows—a bay window that emanates from the façade of the building is supported by brackets and does not touch the ground—paired strikingly together with the famous Tudor arch, a flattened pointed arch drawn from four centers and revising its predecessor, the steeply-pitched Gothic arch. It all came to be during the reign of the Tudor dynasty in England (1485-1603) to suit the tastes of conservative college patrons, then merged into the initial rumblings of the Gothic Revival style. Today, behold the Tudor style’s regal aura found in some of the academic buildings of Cambridge and Oxford.

Curious about what these numbers mean? Browse through the Colorado Historical Society’s “Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture and Engineering.”

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