What Is a Colonial House? American Architecture Appreciated Across the Country

A Colonial house is an architectural style that can be found in neighborhoods all across the United States. From California to the Carolinas, different iterations of the Colonial house still capture the eye of buyers with an appreciation for classic, historic American architecture. But how do you know you’re looking at the real thing?

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a Colonial house, how to distinguish one type of Colonial house from another, and what makes Colonial houses so popular today.

If you have a hankering for traditional Americana, a Colonial house might be perfect for you, says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency of Portland, OR, and Seattle.

Evolved from the simple log cabin, Colonial houses rose up in the days of the 13 original American colonies (hence the name) because they were “simple to build, efficient to use, and easy on the eyes,” Riordan says. “The style was heavily favored by early colonists and often made of wood, a resource that was readily available.”

Colonial houses are perhaps best known for their symmetry.

They “usually have a door right smack in the center first floor of the facade, with the same number of windows on the left side as the right,” Riordan explains. “They tend to have two or two and a half stories, but I have seen one-story Colonials, although these tend to be ranch houses with Colonial facades.”

Of course, not every single Colonial house looks the same. Builders across the U.S. have taken the basic Colonial blueprint and applied regional twists to them—variations that make the architecture appropriate for the different climates around the country. These “subsets” of the Colonial, as Riordan calls them, have the basic symmetry, along with other characteristics that set them apart from their “cousins.”

Go here to see the ‘Cousins’