Top Colonial Architecture Trends

Top Colonial Architecture Trends

Colonial architecture dates to the early 1600s in America. Throughout New England, the earliest Colonial-era examples of the style were little more than rectangular boxes that relied on medieval forms—rustic huts, cottages, and folk dwellings—and features: steep roofs, massive central fireplaces, small windows and unadorned facades.

Along the Eastern seaboard, a sprinkling of original Colonials, like Appleton House in Lennox, Massachusetts and the H.A.C. Taylor House in Newport, Rhode Island, stand the test of time as landmarks and popular architectural tourist attractions.

But contemporary Colonial homes are a far cry from their distant relatives. Over the centuries, the original form evolved into a range of increasingly sophisticated styles. For example, Dutch Colonial, Garrison Colonial, French, Georgian and Federal all embody colonial architecture design. Today’s custom-built Colonials tend to reference and expand upon the best of classic architecture. 21st century living in a Colonial-style home offers homeowners space, flow, along with the expected conveniences and comforts of today.

Colonial Architectural Features

Typically, not unlike other styles, colonial architecture involves standard floor plans with the living and public spaces on the main floor. However, Colonials typically include bedrooms and private spaces on the second and frequently third floors. Brick, clapboard sheathing and wood shake on the exteriors remain staples of Colonial design. Plus, inside the home generally features fireplaces and lots of woodwork. However, the form is flexible enough for architects to express clients’ personalities and serve clients’ needs. Features increasingly tend to include:

  • Accentuated front entrances decorated with pediments (triangular overhangs). These entrances are supported by columns or pilasters (column-like piers flush with the façade).
  • Large, open entry porches.
  • Central doorways flanked by a symmetrical placement of windows.
  • Gambrel, gabled or hipped roofs.
  • Dormers with a shed or gabled roofs.
  • Open floor plans to merge formerly separated spaces like kitchens and family or great rooms and bedrooms, dressing rooms and baths.

Colonial architecture today also feels free to combine classic details to enrich and ennoble new houses. The classic details include pendants, carved pineapples, transom windows, and ornamented friezes. The results are eclectic Colonials that serve the present while paying tribute to the past.

Colonial Architecture Trends

The bones of historic Colonial architecture remain in many new homes because the style adapts to time and changing tastes. Working together, architects and homeowners can draw on both classic and contemporary concepts and materials to create highly personalized Colonials.

Inviting Entryways


Nothing says “welcome” like an entryway that clearly announces itself and is inviting enough to draw visitors and guests. As a first impression, a grand entrance in scale with the structure also introduces the house and its owners to all who see it. This effect is often achieved through the use of ample doorways that showcase deep pediments and generous uses of decorative woodwork, along with broad porches and landscaped paths from the driveway or street. This Colonial in New Canaan, Connecticut, for example, features a generous front porch with slender white columns that accentuate the doorway. For this project, the homeowners requested more space and a strong connection to the outdoors. Cardello Architects added numerous windows, which provide a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape from the most rooms in the house.

Open Spaces


Early Colonials kept rooms small and segregated, and ceilings low, for privacy as well as to conserve heat in the harsh New England winters. Today, however, families want large, open rooms with plenty of light and flow for more active and engaged lifestyles. In this Darien, Connecticut Colonial style home, Cardello Architects combined the kitchen and living room so that the owners can be simultaneously together and apart while continuously enjoying views of the outdoors from indoors.

Gambrel Roofs


One element of early Colonial architecture that hasn’t gone out of style is the gambrel roof, which is ridged with two roof angles on either side In this example, Cardello Architects was tasked with designing a home that fit into an older neighborhood. Given that the site sits high from the street, the gambrel roof anchors the house to the street and enhances its presence in the neighborhood. Inside, meanwhile, the crisp, clean, contemporary design contrasts with the traditional nature of the exterior.

At Cardello Architects, we look forward to the opportunity to provide people with their dream homes. We pull from all architectural styles in order to achieve that goal, and we are confident you will enjoy working with our team.

Robert A. Cardello Architects designs singular, high-end residences that pay tribute to the great homes of the past while paying close attention to clients’ individual styles and dreams. To learn more about our services or to arrange an appointment, please contact us today.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.