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What is a Traditional Style House?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 16, 2024
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A traditional style house typically does not adhere to one particular genre, but instead possesses many features and designs. Traditional style homes combine practicality and accessibility with a classic look. Functionality is one distinguishing feature of the traditional house — another unmistakable characteristic is its simplistic design. Most often, this house will have few embellishments on the exterior. These styles of traditional architecture are the most prevalent in the structure of American homes.

The most common materials that are used for the exterior of a traditional style house are brick, stone or stucco. Many traditional house styles are constructed entirely in brick. Others homes combine brick with other materials. Some traditional homes will be seen with a covered porch, but more frequently, the design will not include a functional front porch.

For a prospective buyer who is interested in purchasing a traditional style house, some considerations might be the Victorian, colonial, Cape Cod or ranch. These are all designs which can be classified as traditional style homes. Although each has its own uniqueness, all four share common characteristics. Victorian designs are the oldest, dating back to the late 1960s.

Colonial homes are mostly two-story with steep roofing and paired chimneys. The front door is typically framed with painted wood, and the top is often crowned as well. A Cape Cod style of house is generally smaller in size to accommodate a smaller family, and these homes are typically more affordable. Ranch-style homes feature one-story floor plans. Many say this style of house originated in the US state of California.

Floor plans of the traditional style house are generally basic, yet flexible, as this home is designed to accommodate family life. It is common to find a large family room or den, as well as up to four bedrooms. The exception to this rule might be the cottage-style house. Although cottage styles are still considered to be traditional designs, they are typically smaller, with less living space. Many of the cottage homes are one- or two-bedroom plans.

There are varying aspects to the interior design of a traditional style house. Some of these homes may feature a foyer or entryway. Most will include a separate laundry room, although some of the older homes will house the washer and dryer in the basement area. The majority of the modern traditional style homes will include an attached garage. Some of the larger colonial styles will feature a two-car or double garage.

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Discussion Comments
By KoiwiGal — On Apr 25, 2013

@MrsPramm - You never know. As long as you don't intend to build the house you can sometimes come across some bargains, particularly as traditional houses have been around for long enough to fall into disrepair and need someone to buy them cheap and fix them up.

On the other hand, it can often work out cheaper to just build a new house, but I'd hate to demolish something with real promise and history. Not to mention that's really wasteful in terms of materials.

It's all very subjective and depends on the area and what you want out of it. But, I do think it's possible in some places for the average person to afford their dream home, even if it is a traditional style house.

By MrsPramm — On Apr 24, 2013

@pastanaga - Well, even if some of the things are Western, I think that the general idea of a simple house, with few outside embellishments is probably fairly universal when it comes to calling something traditional.

Personally, I've always thought that a ranch style house would be ideal, but I know I could never afford it. Plus it's probably the worst kind of house to heat and cool since it tends to sprawl. If you went for something more compact it could work I guess.

By pastanaga — On Apr 23, 2013

I was thinking this was a bit Western-centric but then I realized that "Traditional style" must be an actual type of style rather than just a general description of homes, particularly since it seems like several different types of houses fit under the general term.

It sounds like the kind of house that I would personally prefer, although I'd need to really look at some traditional style house plans before making a decision, because there is always going to be a few things that can't be negotiated in a person's dream house.

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