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House Styles, Types, & Terminology

1912 Bungalow - Ladies Home JournalWhat Style Is My House?

We get a lot of questions from readers about the style of their home, especially when it doesn't conform clearly to descriptions they read in books, magazines, or on the Web.

What is a cottage? What is a bungalow? Is it Craftsman style or is it something else? And what in the world does it mean when someone says your house is eclectic?

The way houses were laid out — that is, the floor plan — changed dramatically from 1900 to 1960. At the turn of the century in 1900, the Queen Anne style was waning and the old style organization of interior space was changing too. Bedrooms were still called chambers, many homes were built without bathrooms, and reception halls excluded visitors from the inner sanctum. Modern plans like the free flowing, open bungalow (of which the Prairie style was considered a part) did away with small, closed off, boxy rooms. But that isn't the whole story.

American residential architecture during the 20th century is a story about comfortable tradition vs. edgy modernity, craftsmanship vs. mass production, and simplicity vs. complexity.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion about what constitutes each style. We offer you our opinion and a few guidelines for defining the essential characteristics of your home. You'll find that there are dozens of different ideas about what "style" is and how it's categorized.

The one thing we stand firm on: Like there are no really ugly babies, (well, occasionally there are) there are only homes with feature flaws. Sometimes those flaws need some work, but almost every home deserves to be loved.

When the home reaches the end of its practical life span, it can be recycled. Often, interesting old bits and pieces can be salvaged for use in other old homes ... it just takes a little ingenuity and knowing under which rocks to look. Check Interior, Exterior, and Landscaping directories for more information.

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