The Best Home Architectural Styles

find the best architectural styles for your home

The Best Home Architectural Styles

Cardello Architects has been designing luxury homes based on the best architectural styles for over 20 years. As a result, the team has become well-versed in a broad range of architectural styles, from Cape Cod to Shingle style and beyond. Take a look at the best architectural styles our team has worked on over the past two decades.

Colonial Style Homes: Foundation for Expansion

One of the most popular architectural styles in the United States, Colonial-style homes date back to the early 1600s in America. Early Colonial homes were little more than rectangular boxes that relied on stark features like steep roofs and small windows.

Over time, the original form evolved into the sophisticated Colonial styles we know today. Colonial homes typically feature standard floor plans with the living area on the main floor and bedrooms on additional levels. They generally feature fireplaces and woodwork, as well as brick, clapboard sheathing and wood shakes on the exterior.

While the Colonial style’s basic foundation remains consistent, the ability to easily expand the side or back of the house allows homeowners to inject their own sense of style into home renovations. Features of today’s Colonial-style homes tend to include accentuated front entrances, large, open entry porches and open floor plans that merge formerly separated spaces like kitchens and family rooms.

This Darien, Connecticut Colonial style home exemplifies the modern open floor concept that has become increasingly popular in Colonial homes. Cardello Architects combined the kitchen and living room, creating a flow between the two areas. This resulted in the owners simultaneously being together while enjoying the views of the outdoors from either room.

Cape Cod Style Homes: Enduring Charm

Another one of America’s great enduring architectural styles is the Cape Cod, a design that dates back to 1675 and remains popular throughout New England. Inspired by the simple, thatched cottages of England, Cape Cod-style homes offered shelter for early settlers from winter weather.

Cape Cod homes of old were designed for function rather than style. A chimney typically served as the heart of a Cape Cod house, as it provided heat throughout the home. Cape Cod-style homes also tend to feature steep roofs to help shed rain and snow. Cedar shingles helped prevent cold weather from creeping into the home. These homes are fairly small, generally standing at 1 to 1 ½ stories.

Luckily, the Cape Cod style’s enduring structure and inherent charm provide an excellent foundation for additions off the side or back of the house. This traditional Cape renovation in the Noroton Bay community in Darien included an extension off the back of the house, adding more space to accommodate a growing family.

Many modern Cape Cod home mix traditional features with contemporary design elements to fit the homeowners’ sense of style. Today’s standard Cape Cod attributes include a large, central chimney behind the front door with rooms clustered around it. Generally, Cape Cod homes include a steep roof with a shallow overhang, two windows on each side of the front door and weathered gray shingles.

Shingle Style Homes: Trademark New England

Another trademark in New England architectural styles, the Shingle style house became popular in the 19th century and remains beloved in coastal communities. The Shingle style house merges facets of many design structures, resulting in a unique style where classic features blend with an informal setting.

Shingle style homes feature a few common traits. Typically, wood shingles (as the name implies) tie multiple sloped surfaces together into one cohesive design. These shingles are stained brown or gray or allowed to weather, creating a rustic look.

A steeply-pitched roof is another trait typically found on shingle-style homes. They can also feature Gambrel roofs, which have two different pitches.

Shingle style homes are also often defined by a casual, informal feel. Though originally designed for wealthy New Englanders, this design eschews formality in favor of blending in with natural surroundings.

Shingle style homes often feature spacious porches and plenty of large windows, like this Craftsman/Shingle-style home in Darien, allowing homeowners and their guests to enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of their home.

Cottage Style Homes: Vintage Personality

Cottage style homes often conjure images of beachy architectural styles. However, elements of this design can easily translate to inland dwellings, as well. This style came into fashion in the 1800s but remains popular because Cottage house plans leave room for individuality and a cozy feel that accumulates over time. Thus, Cottage style homes often exude a vintage feel. The style mixes casual and authentic furnishing with graceful lines. Plus, designers mix soft colors and home accessories to personalize the home.

Like a beloved beach house, Cottage style home design includes comfort and individuality. This custom cottage built in Rowayton was constrained to a small footprint, yet the living space is comfortable, roomy and punctuated with personality. 

Contemporary Style Homes: Traditional Design, Reimagined

Today’s Contemporary architectural styles are a far cry from the 1960s-era split levels and raised ranches. These visuals, which were once thought to be up-and-coming, no longer reflect a contemporary style. Architects of Contemporary homes draw on classic styles but respond to current tastes and trends. The Contemporary homes of today tend to be based on reimagined traditional styles like Georgian, Colonial, Federalist, and Shingle Style and made modern by incorporating open floor plans and lots of light. The combination of these elements remains well suited for meeting the needs of today’s families and the aesthetic sensibilities of homeowners.

As such, 21st-century Contemporary homes are likely to feature qualities most important to this generation of homeowners. For example, contemporary style leverages ample use of banks of French doors, floor-to-ceiling windows and cupolas. The style includes lots of natural light and open floor plans, which makes for easy entertaining and everyday family life. Plus, contemporary style relies on eco-friendly materials, which means utilities reflect the current generation’s attention to the environment and commitment to healthy lifestyles.

Contemporary architecture is at home in almost any location, but works best when taking advantage of open landscapes and natural vistas, as this Rowayton beach house does.


At Cardello Architects, we pride ourselves on our cultivating architectural styles and designs that meet your needs. Our residential services range from consultation and design development to bidding and construction administration. We work with all types of homes, from Colonial to contemporary, to create the home of your dreams.

If you’d like to learn more about Cardello Architects, contact us to discuss your dream home today.

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