Exterior Design 101

October 20, 2020


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Welcome to the Alma Homes blog! Our team of designers and architects share weekly design cheat sheets, product roundups, and frequent updates on our current projects. Enjoy reading!

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We’ve talked a lot about interior design and the different styles you can incorporate into your home, but we haven’t ever done an overview of exterior design! We decided to do a quick overview of ten of the most common and iconic design styles and their trademarks, so you can identify your favorite style(s)!

Cape Cod

The Cape Cod design is the style the East Coast is known for, and it’s pretty distinctive. The simple, box-like designs, with dormer windows, shingle siding and shutters, are classic, cozy and welcoming.

Photo: Hadar Guibara


Speaking of cozy, how about a cottage? These homes tend to be smaller, but not lacking any charm! Look for dormer windows, arched windows, and front porches – and don’t forget the picket fence!

Photo: Hip Hoods


Exactly what it sounds like, the modern contemporary home is full of sharp, clean angles, glass, and neutral colors. We just built the Minnetonka Modern in this style, and we love how it turned out!

Photo: Alma Homes, Spacecrafting Photography


This one gained popularity relatively recently, and to say it exploded would be an understatement – and it’s easy to see why! These houses are charming, spacious and timeless, especially in white and black. Our Lake Loft is a farmhouse build, and we couldn’t love it more.

Photo: Alma Homes


Ranch homes are typically long and sprawling, and generally one story. They’re simple in design and often do a great job of incorporating the outdoors with sliding glass doors leading into outdoor space. A great option for people who want space without all the stairs!

Defining a House Style: What Is a Ranch Home?
Photo: My Move


Craftsman builds are classic, efficient and simple, often featuring low eaves, front columns, wide front porches and neutral materials and colors. This style originated during the Arts and Crafts movement, and is a longtime favorite for new builds.

Alma Homes: Spacecrafting Photography


Most people would automatically recognize a Victorian home if they passed one. These homes generally include more elaborate details, like towers, turrets, expansive front porches and decorative woodwork. It’s also common to see Victorian homes painted multiple bold colors – these are homes you can’t ignore!

Photo: House Plans

Midcentury Modern

Midcentury modern architecture is definitely distinctive, with flat planes, huge glass windows and long blueprints. Midcentury homes are also known for their integration into nature, often situated in scenic areas where they can blend with the surrounding area.

light grey and wood mid-century modern home, exterior view
Photo: The Rerva Team


Tudor homes are known for their steep gable roofs, decorative wood masonry, chimneys, and embellished doorways (in other words, they’re hard to miss!) These homes often have stucco and brick, and give off a distinctive Renaissance vibe.

Tudoe-Style-House-Exterior - what is a tudor style house
Photo: Elle Decor


Another East Coast staple, colonial homes bring you back to an early America feel, and are typically two story homes with symmetrical design, lots of windows, brick, and a prominent entryway.

Photo: Realtor.com

So there you have it – ten of the most common exterior home styles and their characteristics! We want to know what style home you have (or want!) – let us know in the comments below, and over on Instagram @AlmaHomes, too!

P.S. There’s one more weekend to come see us at the Lake Loft for the Artisan Home Tour! Come by Friday-Sunday from 11-5 and say hi! You can grab your tickets here – or join us for a virtual tour instead!

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