architectural style

Architectural Styles: Personality in Design

December 14, 2017 • By THIRDHOME


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The late Sir Winston Churchill once said “We shape our buildings thereafter they shape us.” It’s no secret that a house and its architecture are often a reflection of those who call it home. Architecture can say a lot about societal values, history, art and culture. The most important question to ask when evaluating the architectural style of a home is this; does the home serve form or function? In other words, how much am I willing to sacrifice for home aesthetic versus home utility and vice versa. These are things to consider not only when buying a new home, but when experiencing someone else’s home…

Architectural style can have a major impact on your experience. Which one is right for you?

As connoisseurs of second homes we at ThirdHome will walk you through architectural styles and movements using homes from our extensive and luxurious portfolio of member properties. Find your style below by exploring some of the styles you’re sure to encounter when browsing for your next home purchase, home exchange or rental trip.

classical architectural style


For reference, Villa Blanca, pictured above, has many Classical features. Western architecture is heavily influenced by the classical civilizations, Rome and Greece. Roman architect Vitruvius set forth three principles of great architecture that would go on to influence the Classical style: durability, utility, and beauty. Classical architects prioritized form and function equally, while their durability can still be seen in structures like The Coliseum. Classical architects thought they could achieve beauty through math and symmetry (i.e. The Golden Ratio). The home above has many classical features including columns (though not classical) supporting a simple entablature, symmetrical layout, materials like marble or stone and a facade with a decorative pediment. A home like this may seem to achieve both form and function in equal measure, but other schools of architecture have posed alternatives. Nevertheless, a house like this is sure to make you feel like a Roman Emporer.

contemporary architectural style


This New Zealand Lake House is a wonderful example of Contemporary architecture. Simply put, contemporary architecture is the architecture of today (not to be confused with modernism). It has no predetermined rules or guidelines, although it has tended to favor the use of straight lines and unique building materials. This does not mean that any building built today is considered contemporary. A new home could be built with another architectural movement in mind. Contemporary architecture strives to buck the tradition of older movements and create something new. The property pictured above primarily uses straight lines to achieve creative living spaces and harmonious relationship with the surrounding landscape. Large and unique windows are also regularly found in contemporary houses. The next time you book a stay at a home with contemporary features take notice of the asymmetrical patters, building materials and natural lighting.

critical regionalism architectural style

Critical Regionalism

A style of architecture that was formulated as a response to the lack of character found in modernist styles (not to be confused with contemporary), critical regionalism sought to incorporate the context of culture, landscape and history into its buildings. Seeing as this style is dependent on location and context, no two buildings look alike. Pictured above, is a home in Iceland that was built with the Northern Lights in mind. Floor to ceiling windows, a crescent-shaped layout and outdoor space that eases into the natural landscape make for a home that lends itself to spectating natural wonders. If it were located anywhere else in the world it might just be considered a contemporary home. But its attention to regional context puts it into the exclusive club of critical regionalism.

expressionist architectural style

Expressionist (post-modernist)

Expressionism can be traced back to architects living in the first few decades of the 20th century. This is a style that favors form over function (although both can be accomplished). The primary features of an expressionist home is a distortion of form to achieve an emotional response, a proclivity toward symbolic models over pragmatic design and a unification of building materials to create the impression of a monolith. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous examples of this type of architecture. It’s sparsely used in residential design, but when done with creativity in mind, a home such as the Bavarian Chateau above can appear to be from a different world. If you want an escape from reality book an expressionist home.

farm architectural style

Farm style

A farmhouse or country house label speaks more to the function of the house than the form. Farmhouses tend to emphasize the simplicities of rural lifestyles and the nature that surround them. Symmetry, efficient use of space, horizontal siding, a fireplace and plenty of porch space are the characteristics of a farmhouse. Pictured above is an abnormal farmhouse, but a farmhouse all the same. In lieu of an extended porch and a flared roof, this home incorporates the functionality of the porch into the midsection of the home. You will notice that American styles were influenced greatly by readily available resources and classical ideas of architecture. Note the widely pitched timber roof and the pediment it forms. The beauty of the great outdoors comes directly to your doorstep in farm and country-style homes.

georgian architectural style


Named for King George I, II and III who all reigned over the English colonies where this style of home became popularized, this style of home is known for its classical features and heavily ornamented interiors. They were a common style of home for the wealthy denizens of London during the 18th century. Interiors usually feature vaulted ceilings, window pediments and even more columns. Georgian style differs from place to place, but most maintain these central features and a propensity for overdecorated interiors. If you want to feel like Barry Lyndon, look no further than an opulent Georgian spectacle like the Balbirnie House pictured above.

international architectural style


This was a style was adopted post-World War II to help maximize space in rapidly growing cities. Its flat rectangular features transcended location and were often criticized by architects who valued regionalism (spurning an offshoot of the post-modern movement that birthed Critical Regionalism). But International design did have its appeal. It favored flat planes, open spaces and glass and steel. Ornamentation is sparse in International style, but it could be argued that the clean geometric design lent to a beauty all its own. If you enjoy clean open concept living consider International style, like White Villa pictured above, for your next homestay.

italianette architectural style


Another brief return to classical styles (but with less rigidity in design), Italianate architecture was a 19th-century modernization of Italian Renaissance architecture. These homes feature the facade symmetry and columns of classical styles and also favor a low-pitch or flat roof. Although the front of the house by appearance his very symmetrical, the actual layout of the house can be an “L” or “U” layout. The inviting facade of the house has pediments in the doors and windows, bay windows, wide eaves supported by corbels and balconies. They share many features with Georgian style homes but are less heavily ornamented. Italianate was popularized in the UK and the East Coast of the United States. If you want to feel like you’re staying in a Tuscan countryside villa with the comforts of an updated home, consider an Italianate house for your next stay.

log cabin architectural style

Log cabin

The modern log cabin style came into fashion after Swedish immigrants settled the American West in the late 19th century. Frontier cabins were sparse and incredibly utilitarian, but the modernized version of these cabins have become much more pleasing to the eye, as seen in the Tahoe Nevada Log Home above. Timber and stone are the mainstays of this architectural style. Although they are typically very functional they adhere to form and beauty more than the American Farmhouse style. Wood carved interiors, timber frames, high-pitched roofs and plenty of outdoor space make for homes that seem to be an embodiment of surrounding mountains.

Mediterranean architectural style


Influenced by early Spanish, Italian and Portuguese styles, Mediterranean style homes are easily identifiable. Red tiled roofs, stucco exteriors, curved parapets, decorative tile and ironwork, archways, terraces and balconies are all notable features of the Mediterranean style. It’s very likely that you’ve stayed at a Mediterranean style home given their popularity in vacation destinations and warmer climates. They often have low and wide roofs with far-spread eaves to offer shade in sunny locations. If you stay in a Mediterranean home like the one featured above, you may feel like a Spanish viceroy given the style’s Old World feel and delightful rusticity.

modernist architectural style


Remember International Style? Flat planes, open spaces, the simplicity of form and no ornamentation are also features of the Modernist style. International style was the global adoption and adaptation of the original German Modernist style that was conceived in the 1920’s. After the Nazi regime condemned the Modernist style, the thought leaders behind the sleek style traveled to the United States. The “Tower House” pictured above was inspired by a late modernist, Tadao Ando, who was a Japanese architect that integrated both Eastern and Western styles into his buildings. This home is vertical by design, unlike the more horizontal International style, but still, features many of the core components of Modernism. Try booking a stay at a Modernist property, like the Tower House above, to buck your perception of the traditional home layout.

neoclassical architectural style

Neoclassical (Beaux Arts)

You’ll see this return to the classical style in many buildings in Chicago, given its popularity during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Featuring heavy surface ornamentation, symmetrical design, flat roofs, a raised first story and a hierarchy of space, Beaux Arts style was the classical response to the rise of International and Modernist styles in the early 20th century. Identifying a Beaux Arts style from other classical styles can be tricky, but try looking for excessive embellishment in plasterwork, decorative mascarons and ornate scrollwork. Sculptures and other artwork are typically incorporated into the architecture to lend a unique personality to each and every building. In the home above, you’ll notice a great amount of detail in the cornices, entablature, molding and sculpture work. If the modernist style doesn’t resonate with you then maybe a neoclassical approach will.

pueblo architectural style

Pueblo style

Pueblo revival spawned from the cultural recesses of New Mexico and Arizona in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Emulating the styles of the Puebloan tribe, specifically the city of Taos, New Mexico, the pueblo revival featured rugged earth tones and rounded designs that integrated into the surrounding desert landscapes. These houses typically have flat roofs, stucco walls, exposed beams, oddly shaped parapets and decorated corbels. More modern interpretations, as shown above, share the spirit of cultural regionalism while updating the functional aspects of the home. The next time you’re exploring the American Southwest, explore the regions culture by staying in a Pueblo revival home.

sustainable architectural style


Also known as eco-friendly architecture, this style has no set boundaries and is lumped in with the uncategorized masses of contemporary architecture. These homes emphasize leaving small ecological footprints by way of creative use of building materials, energy efficient design and incorporation of eco-friendly fixtures such as solar panels or rain collection devices. Villa Punto Vista pictured above, and recently featured in The Best Job on the Planet, was designed by ThirdHome member David Konwiser. His website says the following about his eye toward sustainability, “Once the structure was completed we then incorporated as many recycled and locally-sourced building materials as possible. Recycled glass was utilized on the villa’s exterior and innovative roofing tiles made from recycled plastic bags were selected. Only sustainably-harvested teak wood was sourced for every artisan-crafted wood element and detail throughout, as was locally quarried rose-sandstone.” If ecological preservation is important to you then try booking a sustainably designed home on your next trip.

victorian architectural style


And one last trip to classical revival styles! Following the reign of Georgian architecture, Victorian arrived with a more of a Gothic twist. They’re especially known for their wrap-around porches, towers and turrets. Unlike the uniform facade design of Georgian homes, Victorian homes, like The White House pictured above, favored asymmetrical design and unique roof lines. You’ll also find decorative roof trimming and corbels on the facade, making for an elaborate entrance. Extravagance was key to this architectural style but it features less overt structural ornamentation than Beaux Arts or Georgian styles, relying more on uniqueness in layout to build its personality. If you want to visit a house where each room is a character in itself, try booking a Victorian home.

There are far too many architectural styles to cover in one blog post and the list continues to grow. As architecture evolves, creating innumerable style choices, one or two are bound to fit any personality. So, what is your style? A little classical with a hint of post 20th century modern? Contemporary through and through? You can only own so many homes and styles in a lifetime, but with a second home you can visit countless examples of moments in architectural history by way of a ThirdHome.

Click here to see all the architectural styles available for your next trip. 

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