Custom Homes: Make It More Than A Shelter

Over the centuries, mankind has come up with a number of different styles and forms for housing. Today’s luxury homes meet a lot of needs above and beyond simply providing shelter to its occupants. Yet, for the millions of homes constructed each year, there are only a handful of basic designs from which homeowners choose.

When it comes to custom homes, there are a number of options and details that make a home unique. However, those are all modifications to those basic choices. Five of the most popular styles for custom homes include:

The Colonial

The style which is known today as Colonial was actually displayed in 1876 as a way to celebrate a century of growth of the relatively new United States. It quickly became the most popular home style ever introduced in the country and remained so until the mid-1950s. While many architectural experts claim the style is actually Victorian, it remains uniquely American to most. Some of the characteristics of a colonial include:

  • Rectangular shape
  • Gabled roof
  • Center entry hall
  • Living areas on the first floor with bedroom on the second
  • Fireplaces

The Federal

The Federal is the then-dominant design the Colonial replaced. Its look originated in England and was an update of the Georgian style with many details such as garlands and swages. American adaptations include Palladian or elliptical windows, recessed arches and oval-shaped rooms. Primary details of the Federal style include:

  • Low-pitched or flat roofs
  • Semicircular fanlight over the front door with narrow side windows
  • Decorative crown or roof over the front door
  • Oval arches and rooms

The Ranch

The quintessential American look of the ranch home originated in southern California in the early 1930s. The idea and design caught on quickly and was the most popular style that inspired booming post-war construction. The large lots of the day accommodated the expansive style of the ranch, or the rambler as some were called. Its popularity spread from California to the east coast in a matter of years.

The key theme of a ranch-style home is openness. This is achieved by the use of as few interior walls as possible and a modern efficiency of interior design. While the exterior look many be influenced by a range of looks, including Colonial, Tudor and Craftsman, it has an identifiable spread out appearance. Key elements of a ranch home include:

  • Low-pitched, gabled or hipped roofs
  • Large picture windows
  • An attached, disguised garage
  • Shuttered windows of similar size across the front

Contemporary or Modern

The essence of a modern design is a minimum of decorative or superfluous details and an open, flexible floor plan. Modern materials allow innovative construction techniques and looks, with most of these homes being multistory.

Sleek is a word used by many to describe contemporary custom homes and the focus is on form and function. A custom home in the contemporary style will:

  • Use materials such as glass, concrete, large expanses of glass and other nontraditional home construction materials
  • A lack of exterior ornamentation
  • Use of unusual, stark lines
  • A flat or unseen roof


With the influence of seaside villas, the custom homes of a Mediterranean style are heavily influenced by Spanish and Italian details. These designs make use of:

  • Balconies
  • Decorations of wrought iron and wooded grilles
  • Large windows, sometime making up entire walls
  • Open areas and wide expanses
  • Large, extended front doors and side decorations
  • Large patios and gardens with easy access from the home
  • Use of tiles, stucco and other southern European materials

When choosing a custom home style, homeowners will also dictate significant details that seek to create their own unique look.

+Ken Uhrich likes custom homes. In fact he lives in one. You can drop him a line at the Custom Home Group website.