What Is The Ideal American Home Style?

Molly GraceNovember 29, 2019

There are many different ways to build and decorate a house, and everyone has their own preferences. Some people love the simplicity of the minimalist decor look, while others need lots of different textures and colors, like you’d find with a more eclectic style.

While home style preferences depend heavily on an individual’s likes, dislikes and needs, we wondered: What styles of architecture and decor do people tend to like most, especially across generations and regions? So we asked around, polling 400 current or future homeowners to learn about their preferences.

Let’s take a look at the features and styles Americans like to see most in their homes.

What We Asked

To find out what types of homes people like the most and least, we asked current and future homeowners (those who plan to buy a home within the next 12 months) about their preferences when it comes to both architectural styles and home decor styles. Once we gathered this data, we broke it down by generation – including baby boomers, Gen X and millennials – and by what region of the country respondents are from – West, Midwest, South or Northeast.

For home architectural styles – meaning the building and construction elements that make up the exterior and interior of the home – we asked respondents to identify their most and least favorite styles from the following options: Craftsman, colonial, Victorian, European, ranch, farmhouse, cottage, modern, Cape Cod, Mediterranean and contemporary.

For home decor styles – meaning the design choices made by the homeowner to decorate the interior of the home – we again asked respondents to identify their most and least favorite styles from the following options: Art Deco, bohemian, coastal, contemporary, eclectic, farmhouse, industrial, mid-century, minimalist, modern, rustic, Scandinavian, traditional and transitional.

Because it can also be tricky for the average person to be able to identify exactly what all these different styles look like (seriously, what’s the difference between contemporary and modern?), we also asked about our respondents’ familiarity with all of the options for both architecture and decor.

The Most Well-Known Vs. The Most Obscure

Of the architectural styles we asked about, we found ranch and modern homes to be the most well-known, while European style was the least.

This makes sense, since ranch-style homes are one of the most common and favored home styles. The term “ranch” refers to single-story homes that feature open layouts and low-pitched roofs.

“Modern” might be a little more confusing to some, especially since we included the style in both categories. In terms of architecture, modern refers to a more minimalist, utilitarian (but still aesthetically pleasing) home style with lots of straight lines and big windows.

While you might think that the word “modern” refers to what’s popular right now, it actually refers to the period in the past during which this style was most popular – specifically, the early 20thcentury. In contrast, contemporary style is more fluid and refers to what is currently popular in architecture, as influenced by the styles that came before it (including modern).

If you’re like the 82% of respondents who weren’t familiar with European-style homes, here’s a quick primer: European home architecture utilizes brick or stone and places an emphasis on detailing and multiple steep roof pitches.

Modern style was also among the most recognizable styles in our decor category, along with the traditional decor style. Respondents were least familiar with the transitional home decor style.

As a decor style, modern utilizes lots of neutral or earthy tones and eschews anything too flashy. Traditional, by contrast, is classic and inviting, utilizing dark woods and warm colors.

Transitional style combines the best of traditional and contemporary decor styles. Homeowners or designers use this style by picking and choosing elements that complement each other, so that the old and new come together for a fresh new look.

Favorite Architectural Styles

What we found from polling respondents on their favorite home architectural styles is that modern-style homes were listed as a top favorite among millennials and Gen Xers, with ranch style a close second. Boomers seemed to greatly prefer ranch style homes, with modern coming in at a distant second.

Geographically, the Midwest, South and West prefer ranch-style homes as their top choice, while the Northeast prefers modern style. Craftsman style, characterized by natural materials, covered porches and tapered columns, was another popular style.

Least Favorite Architectural Styles

Among our research on least favorite styles, the most standout data came from the regional differences.

Though the ranch style was listed as a top favorite in the West, it also ranked highly as a least favorite in that region, making it somewhat of a divisive architectural style. According to our findings, those in the West and Midwest also aren’t big fans of the farmhouse style (which you would recognize by its big porches, exterior siding and spacious layouts). Colonial architecture (think symmetrical, multi-story homes in whites and grays) is also unpopular in the Midwest.

Perhaps surprisingly, Cape Cod home styles (cottage-type homes with shingle siding and window shutters) were a least favorite in the Northeast, along with ranches. The South also dislikes the Cape Cod style.

Favorite Interior Decor Styles

Among all the generations we surveyed, modern and traditional decor styles seemed to be the most popular. Splitting the data, it appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to prefer modern style over traditional.

While modern style was a top favorite among millennials, followed by traditional, our findings were more even among Gen Xers, who seem to slightly prefer modern to traditional. On the other end of the spectrum, boomers greatly prefer traditional to modern decor.

Modern and traditional decor styles also appear to be a favorite across the U.S., with both earning a top spot in the Northeast, while modern was listed as a favorite in the West and Midwest, and traditional listed as the favorite in the South. The farmhouse decor style, with its natural textures and light colors, was also popular in the both Midwest and South. Contemporary, which favors looks that are both sophisticated and inviting, was also popular in the West.

Least Favorite Interior Decor Styles

There’s very little love for Art Deco across the West, Midwest and South. Art Deco is a very distinctive style, characterized by bold patterns and metallic colors.

Additionally, minimalist decor was too minimal for the colorful West, the woodsy rustic look was unpopular in both the Midwest and Northeast (which also listed traditional as a least favorite), and industrial, known for its utilitarian metals and neutral colors, was a least favorite in the South.

What’s Your Ideal Home Style?

Though there are definitely some trends in what the general population tends to like and dislike, beauty is in the eye of the homeowner. Whether you’re hunting for your next dream home or thinking about how you want to revamp your home’s decor scheme, remember that the most important thing is that you’re happy with the place you call home.

Whether you’re searching for a colonial or a Cape Cod, we can help you find the home that’s the best fit for you. Start your home search on Rocket Homes℠ or get matched with one of our Partner Agents who will guide you every step of the way.

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    Molly Grace

    Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.