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  • Writer's pictureSpotlight Real Estate Group

Housing Styles - An Overview

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

There are many different housing styles in our local market. The most common styles in our area: Colonial, Ranch, Cape Cod, Contemporary and Split Level. If you're looking for something more unique, you can also find Bungalow, Dutch Colonial, Tudor, Victorian and more!

Read a brief overview of each style, plus local information, a sketch of each style and photos of local properties that are a good example of the housing style.




America's colonial period encompassed a number of housing types and styles. For more information about Colonial styles, see Cape Cod, Saltbox, Georgian, and Dutch Colonial. However, when we speak of the Colonial style, we often are referring to a rectangular, symmetrical home with bedrooms on the second floor. The double-hung windows usually have many small, equally sized square panes.

During the late 1800s and throughout the 20th century, builders borrowed Colonial ideas to create refined Colonial Revival homes with elegant central hallways and elaborate cornices. Unlike the original Colonials, Colonial Revival homes are often sided in white clapboard and trimmed with black or green shutters.

BY THE NUMBERS: Colonial homes make up approx 65% of the local real estate market.

LOCATION: Chester County sells the most Colonial homes every year.

277 Flintstone Dr, North East, MD 21901

8 Herbst Lane, Perryville, MD 21903



Sometimes called the California ranch style, this home in the Modern family, originated there in 1930s. It emerged as one of the most popular American styles in the 1950s and 60s, when the automobile had replaced early 20th-century forms of transportation, such as streetcars.

Now mobile homebuyers could move to the suburbs into bigger homes on bigger lots. The style takes its cues from Spanish Colonial and Prairie and Craftsman homes, and is characterized by its one-story, pitched-roof construction, built-in garage, wood or brick exterior walls, sliding and picture windows, and sliding doors leading to patios.

BY THE NUMBERS: Ranchl homes make up approx 18% of the local real estate market

LOCATION: Ranch homes are 2x more popular in Cecil County than Chester County.

1243 Elk Forest Rd, Elkton, MD 21921

1106 Windon Dr, Wilmington, DE 19803


Split Level

A Modern style that architects created to sequester certain living activities--such as sleeping or socializing--split levels offered an multilevel alternative to the ubiquitous style in the 1950s. The nether parts of a typical design were devoted to a garage and TV room; the midlevel, which usually jutted out from the two-story section, offered "quieter" quarters, such as the living and dining rooms; and the area above the garage was designed for bedrooms.

Found mostly in the East and Midwest, split-levels, like their Ranch counterparts, were constructed with various building materials.

BY THE NUMBERS: Split Level homes make up approx 6% of the local real estate market

2410 Lanside Dr, Wilmington, DE 19810

1107 Wilson Rd, Wilmington, DE 19803


Cape Cod

Some of the first houses built in the United States were Cape Cods. The original colonial Cape Cod homes were shingle-sided, one-story cottages with no dormers. During the mid-20th century, the small, uncomplicated Cape Cod shape became popular in suburban developments.

A 20th-century Cape Cod is square or rectangular with one or one-and-a-half stories and steeply pitched, gabled roofs. It may have dormers and shutters. The siding is usually clapboard or brick.

BY THE NUMBERS: Split Level homes make up approx 5% of the local real estate market

38 Kerfoot Farm Rd, Wilmington, DE 19803

102 Edgewood Rd, Wilmington, DE 19803



You know them by their odd-sized and often tall windows, their lack of ornamentation, and their unusual mixtures of wall materials--stone, brick, and wood, for instance. Architects designed Contemporary-style homes (in the Modern family) between 1950 and 1970, and created two versions: the flat-roof and gabled types. The latter is often characterized by exposed beams. Both breeds tend to be one-story tall and were designed to incorporate the surrounding landscape into their overall look.

BY THE NUMBERS: Contemporary homes make up approx 5% of the local real estate market

1319 Elk Forest Rd, Elkton, MD 21921

14 Cinnamon Dr, Hockessin, DE 19707



These narrow, rectangular one and one-half story houses originated in California during the 1880s as a reaction to the elaborate decoration of Victorian homes. The style then moved eastward to the Midwest in the early 20th century, where it remained popular until the Great Depression.

Bungalows have low-pitched gabled or hipped roofs and small covered porches at the entry. The style became so popular that you could order a bungalow kit from Sears and Roebuck catalog. The name "bungalow" had its origins in India, where it indicated a small, thatched home.

307 Georgetown Ave, Wilmington, DE 19809

607 W Miner St, West Chester, PA 19382


Dutch Colonial

This American style originated in homes built by German, or "Deutsch" settlers in Pennsylvania as early as the 1600s. A hallmark of the style is a broad gambrel roof with flaring eaves that extend over the porches, creating a barn-like effect. Early homes were a single room, and additions were added to each end, creating a distinctive linear floor plan. End walls are generally of stone, and the chimney is usually located on one or both ends. Double-hung sash windows with outward swinging wood casements, dormers with shed-like overhangs, and a central Dutch double doorway are also common. The double door, which is divided horizontally, was once used to keep livestock out of the home while allowing light and air to filter through the open top. The style enjoyed a revival during the first three decades of the 20th century.

304 Hances Point Rd, North East, MD 21901

126 Rose Valley Dr, Townsend, DE 19734



This architecture style was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and continues to be a mainstay in suburbs across the United States. The defining characteristics are half-timbering on bay windows and upper floors, and facades that are dominated by one or more steeply pitched cross gables. Patterned brick or stone walls are common, as are rounded doorways, multi-paned casement windows, and large stone chimneys. A subtype of the Tudor Revival style is the Cotswold Cottage. With a sloping roof and a massive chimney at the front, a Cotswold Cottage may remind you of a picturesque storybook home.

721 Blackshire Rd, Wilmington, DE 19805

510 N Walnut St, West Chester, PA 19380



Victorian architecture dates from the second half of the 19th century, when America was exploring new approaches to building and design.

Advancements in machine technology meant that Victorian-era builders could easily incorporate mass-produced ornamentation such as brackets, spindles, and patterned shingles. The last true Victorians were constructed in the early 1900s, but contemporary builders often borrow Victorian ideas, designing eclectic "neo-Victorians." These homes combine modern materials with 19th century details, such as curved towers and spindled porches. A number of Victorian styles are recreated on the fanciful "Main Street" at Disney theme parks in Florida, California, and Europe.

504 W Union St, West Chester, PA 19382

1898 Flint Rd, Chester Springs, PA 19425


Information for the blog post came from BrighMLS and Realtor Magizine:

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