In addition to price, location, condition, year built, and area amenities, one of the most important factors that buyers consider in a home purchase is the architectural design and floor plan. And for good reason: The style and layout of a home make an instant impression and have a significant impact on comfort, flow, spatial organization and overall livability.
So which particular design is ideal for your needs? While the answer is, of course, highly subjective, it’s interesting to consider the findings of a recent study by Redfin. After analyzing around 100 metro areas, Redfin learned that the seven most popular home styles are, in order: (1) ranch, (2) craftsman, (3) townhouse, (4) contemporary, (5) modern, (6) colonial and (7) Cape Cod.
Jesse Colbert Boucher, a Redfin broker/listing specialist in Seattle, says these findings make sense.
“Ranch homes seem to be most prevalent throughout the country, which is probably why it was named the most popular style,” says Boucher. “They are particularly appealing today as more people think about intergenerational living or creating a revenue stream within their home through short-or long-term rentals. And a master bedroom on the main level is important for people who wish to age in place and avoid stairs.”
Timothy Bakke, director of publishing for The Plan Collection in Scarsdale, New York, isn’t surprised that craftsman homes ranked second.
“A craftsman has a master bedroom on the main level, and the style tends to have an open floor plan for living areas in a large kitchen with a walk-in pantry,” he notes. “This design’s use of natural materials and dependence on the handiwork of craftsman speaks to people who appreciate going back to basics, and the rustic appearance of the style telegraphs this aesthetic.”
Because of its attached living design (in which one or two walls are shared with an adjacent property), a multi-level townhouse especially appeals to “people who want to own a home but don’t like the upkeep of a single-family house or a private yard,” says Mark Hall, co-owner of Marietta, Georgia-based America’s Best House Plans. “It can appeal to young executives or empty-nesters who want their own home and prefer a simpler way of life.”
Joseph Dangaran, a partner with Woods + Dangaran, an architectural firm in Los Angeles, says contemporary and modern styles often get grouped together.
“But stylistically, the two are very different. True contemporary designs are eclectic in their design language. Modern design, on the other hand, is about honesty of materiality, tectonic systems, and flexible, open floor plans,” says Dangaran.
Scott Simpson, founder/partner at Northbrook, Illinois-headquartered Scott Simpson Design + Build, adds that” the aesthetics of a modern or contemporary home, like larger windows, are highly desirable for people wanting to bring the outdoors in thanks to expansive, beautiful views.”
Though it’s not as popular today as in the past, colonial homes, whether historic or inspired by history, tend to attract traditionalists.
“Colonial is an ageless style that can be modernized and softened by opening up spaces where possible via kitchen renovation and on-trend interior design,” Boucher says.
And Cape Cods still have a strong following, too.
“These are essentially steep-roofed ranches with bedrooms upstairs that have dormers to improve headroom,” says Bakke. “Cape Cods speak to the traditionally minded as well as those looking for efficient use of space in an affordable package.”
The experts agree that it’s crucial to compare and research home styles carefully.
“Opt for a floor plan that fits your lifestyle,” Bakke recommends. “Is a main-floor master bedroom important? Do you prefer the idea of living areas downstairs and private sleeping areas upstairs? Do you prefer an open floor plan or more traditional rooms separated by at least partial walls? Does future expansion play a part in your preferences?”
Additionally, “consider your climate and weather patterns. A modern home with a flat roof might suit your style, but if you live in a climate with lots of snow, that roof could cause problems down the road,” suggests Boucher.
If you’re planning to build from scratch, Simpson advises working closely with an architect and contractor.
“A good design/build team can seamlessly blend styles to ensure you get the various elements you love under one roof,” says Simpson.