Favorite Architectural Styles for First-time Home Buyers

Home buyers in search of a distinctive starter home should look for classic styles dating from the mid-20th Century to find maximum space, function and value.

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Favorite Architectural Styles for First-time Home Buyers

Posted by Gary Ashton on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019 at 10:51am.

Find Architectural Appeal in Classic, Older Starter HomesModern families prefer open floor plans, large windows and bright interiors, great kitchens with eat-in space, and a private back yard. But, without the need to renovate, what home styles offer these features?

Statistics show modern Crieve Hall home buyers often anticipate spending money to update or remodel, but is it always necessary? Some home styles boast plenty of appeal just as they are. Although it might take some effort to find one, the search can be rewarding and cost-effective.

Mid-Century Modern

The mid-century aesthetic features unrestricted interior view lines, often integrating living, dining and kitchen space with soaring ceilings and few walls, or perhaps half-walls to delineate room function. Characterized by large expanses of glass and sliding-door access to patios and landscaped yards, such homes also allow light to penetrate interior spaces from clerestories and windows placed high on the walls. Mid-century modern is all about function, clean lines, and minimal decoration. In moderate climates, the homes only have carports, perhaps with an end wall of outdoor closed storage rather than full garages. They're most often constructed on slabs with no basement or attic. The homes date from the latter 1940s to the early 60s, and are currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity and commanding prices.

Contemporary or Art Moderne

Homes termed contemporary today typically were built to supply family housing needs after World War II, and they are in some ways similar to mid-century modern style, although art moderne homes are more often two-story or split-level homes. They can be compact with few distinguishing characteristics, or they might be "block-style" with glass block accents, porthole windows and railings of industrial metal. The style is typically unfettered and functional, with flat or only slightly pitched roofs and little trim. Although not as appealing as mid-Century modern, they adapt well to modern lifestyles, and are often easy to renovate or enlarge, making them a desirable alternative to higher-priced new construction.

Ranch Style

Sprawling single-story homes were popularized in the West and Southwest and in suburban communities when land was plentiful and inexpensive. Ranch-style homes can be found throughout the United States and reflect no particular cultural roots. They often feature distinct interior rooms; open floor plans came later. Traditional ranch homes were built when formal living room, dining rooms, entry halls and separate dens and kitchens were popular. Because of the defined rooms, interior spaciousness suffered, even though the homes boast adequate square footage. Some ranch homes feature a separate wing with several bedrooms and bathrooms, opening off a long hallway, while others have a "split plan" separating the master suite from other bedrooms.

Mediterranean or Southwest

Representing a specialty form of ranch style, these styles are found throughout the southern states, and, in the case of tile-roofed Mediterranean architecture, in Florida and other southern states. Often with stucco exteriors, in desert states they tend to blend easily with surrounding terrain, but they can also be colorful and embellished with tile or wrought-iron accents. Homes may feature an interior courtyard, a walled entry court or an expansive walled back patio. In large part, it is the merging of interior and outdoor spaces making them so appealing. They are typically single-story, but may be multi-level to conform to land contours.


In the Rockies and high-snowfall areas, A-line homes with steeply pitched roofs are not uncommon. Interiors can be expansive and dramatic, with large fireplaces, open living space and secluded sleeping lofts. While such homes are not a mainstream style, a rustic A-line might be perfect for a first family home in a unique setting.

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