What Are the Different Types of New England Style Houses?

Mary McMahon

Trends in architecture in New England changed radically over the centuries as colonists settled in the region and built homes that met their needs and tastes. New England style houses can be divided both by the era they were built in and by individual style. Today, variations on designs native to New England can be seen all over the United States in both original homes and new architecture.

Craftman homes can be found in the New England region.
Craftman homes can be found in the New England region.

The earliest New England style houses are known as Colonials, a reference to the era when they were built. Colonial home designs include Saltbox, Cape Cod, Dutch Colonial, and Cottage style houses. These homes have a number of shared characteristics including symmetry and simplicity. They were designed to be built quickly and many were expanded with later additions as households grew. Many of these homes mirrored the simple designs of cottages and modest homes in England and Europe.

The White House is a famous example of a Federal style house.
The White House is a famous example of a Federal style house.

As the new colonies grew more established and design trends changed in England, Georgian style architecture was imported to New England. Also known as Palladian architecture, this style is much more ostentatious and formal than Colonial architecture. Some hallmarks of New England Georgian style architecture include multiple stories, painted clapboards, numerous windows, and large formal windows at the front of the structure, with some classical influences like columns.

With American independence came another trend in New England style houses, the Federal style. Federal style homes are somewhat more severe than Georgian homes, with simpler designs and cleaner lines. Some integrated classical features like columns, referencing Greek architecture and history in a new republic founded on democratic grounds. Greek revival architecture also became popular around the same period. New England style houses built in this fashion usually have columns and porticos, with the White House being an example of a famous structure in the United States that integrates classical design influences.

During the Industrial Revolution, Queen Anne style architecture and Victorian architecture both became very popular in New England. These architectural styles depart from the more traditional symmetry of older designs and are noted for having fussy, ornate design elements including complicated trim and decorative design features like towers and extraneous gables. Finally, New England style houses underwent a renaissance during the 1920s with the development of Craftsman style architecture in the United States, and while this style is not unique to New England, there are some very fine examples of Craftsman homes in this region of the United States.

Keeping rooms are right off of the kitchen in a colonial home.
Keeping rooms are right off of the kitchen in a colonial home.

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Discussion Comments


When it comes to choosing favorite New England style homes, I have to go with the old Queen Anne and the old Victorian style homes. They make great B&B's and rooming houses. I rented a room in one on a recent vacation and staying in the house was the best part of the week.


In the United States there is no place like Cape Cod, Massachusetts if you want to get look at examples of the old New England style house. The area is comprised of a series of small towns, and the architectural designs of the homes are immediately noticeable.

Viewing this area is like stepping back into history. The Cape Cod, Salt Box and Cottage styles are all well represented on the cape.

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