Architectural Style Guide

What Style Is My House?

Homes in the Washington, DC metropolitan area (and across the country) are as unique as the people who live in them! There are a lot of different architectural styles and variations of those styles, from ranch to bungalow to Queen Anne.


But how do you distinguish between the styles? What are defining characteristics of each one? Whether you want to know what architectural style your own home is or you just want to learn more about architecture, the Wentworth team can help! Use the guide below and discover what gives a home character and history.


American Bungalow

Bungalows as we know them were first built in India in the mid-nineteenth century by the British. Built low to the ground, the structure had large porches sheltered by wide overhanging eaves, a perfect way to deal with the country’s hot, sunny climate. The American version of the bungalow did not appear until around the turn of the century—it was the dominant style in the United States between 1905 and 1930.

Common characteristics of this architectural style include:

  • Front porch (often with columns)
  • Low sloping gable roof
  • Clapboard or shingle siding


Colonial Revival

Colonial Revival is the single most popular architectural style in the United States. The name of the style reflects the late-19th-century fascination with homes built by the early English and Dutch settlers, an affection that intensified through the World War I and II years before peaking in the mid-1950s.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Columns or pilasters
  • Simple gable or hip roof
  • Double-hung windows
  • Clapboard or shingle siding



The Federal, or Adam, style dominated the American architectural landscape from roughly 1780 to 1840, having evolved from Georgian, the principal design language of the colonial period. Indeed, many historians today think of the Federal style as merely a refinement of the Georgian style.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Pilasters
  • Double-hung windows
  • Geometrical design elements—elliptical, circular, and fan shaped motifs



The Georgian style, with its long history in America, is among our country’s most consistently popular styles. Admired for its symmetrical design, classic proportions, and decorative elements, it is commonly associated with the reigns of England’s King Georges, I through III.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Rigid symmetry (especially in window and door placement)
  • Hip roof
  • Entrances with pediments, arched tops, and ogee caps


Greek Revival

Greek Revival is an excellent example of a style that gained popularity by exploring parallels between an earlier culture and the present day. Popular from 1825 to 1860, in more isolated parts of the country, the style was prevalent right up to the Civil War.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Transoms and sidelights
  • Columns and pilasters
  • Cornices, pediments, and unadorned friezes



The Italianate style derived from Italy’s rambling farmhouses, usually built of masonry, with their characteristic square towers and informal detailing. By the 1830s, Italianate had spread to the United States, where architects began to transform it into something truly American with only hints of its Italian origin.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Richly ornamented windows (often arched or curved) and doorways
  • Flat window hoods
  • Wide projecting cornices with brackets
  • Parapets


Queen Anne

The peak period of the Queen Anne style was 1880–1900, although the style persisted for another decade. The style was named and popularized in England by the architect Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912) and his followers.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Gable roof
  • Elaborate motifs on gables and other flat surfaces, like dormers, gables, turrets, and roof towers
  • Eclecticism, asymmetry, and contrast


Richardsonian Romanesque

The eclectic Richardsonian Romanesque style is Romanesque Revival architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson. It was inspired by the ancient Romans (1066 – 1200) and Richardson’s fascination with all things medieval.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Rounded towers
  • Wide rounded arches, especially around windows and doors
  • Rough-faced, squared stonework


Second Empire

As its name implies, the Second Empire architectural style can be traced to France, specifically to the reign of Napoleon III, 1852-1870. At the peak of its popularity in the United States (roughly 1855-1885), the style was considered both fashionable and a contemporary statement of modernity.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Mansard roof
  • Ornate elements such as decorative brackets, window hoods, and iron cresting on roofing
  • Towers



Appearing on the American scene between 1880 and 1900, the Shingle style is distinctly American in its wood construction typically blending into natural surroundings. Although indisputably of American origin, Shingle architecture borrowed liberally from other Victorian styles.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Cedar shingles, often textured
  • Stone foundation
  • Extensive porch
  • Numerous windows



European-trained architects, influenced by Old World styles, brought the eclectic, asymmetrical Tudor style to America toward the end of the nineteenth century. In the Washington, DC, area, Tudor homes made up one of the largest portions of homes built during the 1920s and 1930s.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Decorative half-timbering—exposed wood framework on masonry or stucco
  • Steeply pitched gable roof and front gables (often with elaborate masonry chimneys)
  • Embellished doorways and groupings of casement or double-hung windows


Mid-Century Modern

Modern houses, often referred to as mid-century modern, are finding new respect among homeowners. Typically grouped into two categories—ranch and split-level, these homes date from 1935 – 1975.
Common characteristics of this architectural style include:
  • Stone veneer and wood siding
  • Low-pitched hip or gable roof
  • Linear window designs
  • Recessed and covered front entryway