Colonial Architectural Style – Meaning, Characteristics, Pros, & Cons

Architectural Styles, Blog

The story about the emergence of the Colonial architectural style is one that is pretty much known to the majority. It emerged under colonial rule, which was between the 1600s to mid-1700s. The colonial settlers that dwelled in America brought with them their own techniques and styles of building houses.

The home-style was influenced by various settlers who had to make do with the availability of local materials, climate, and weather conditions. This birth the Colonial architectural style, which reflects the multicultural influences of early settlers in the United States. Today, it remains one of the most popular architectural styles in the United States.

Want to learn more about this architectural style? Read this article to see the defining characteristics, pros, and cons associated with this home style to determine if it is worth the hype. Let’s get started, shall we?

What makes a house Colonial-style?

American Colonial or the Colonial architectural style is an architecture that encompasses a mixture of styles. These styles came into being throughout the 1600s and 1700s when the United States of America was under colonial rule.

Over the years, this architectural style was reinvented around new modern materials, technologies, and building techniques to improve its functionality and durability. With its features and simple and minimalist rectangular shape, the Colonial architectural style remains in fashion.

What are the defining features of Colonial homes?

Here are some defining features of the Colonial architecture;

1. Two or three floors

Most Colonial homes feature two stories or levels, and in some cases, such as luxury custom homes, may feature 3 stories instead. In most cases, they have rectangular profile exteriors with steep roofs. The bedroom is often located on the upper floor, with living spaces and kitchen located on the lowest floor.

2. Symmetrical floor plans and exteriors

As I have mentioned in the section above, most Colonial homes have rectangular profile exteriors or a square symmetrical structure. This is made immediately evident by the front door, which is located at the center of the house. Upon entering, you will find a large fireplace or two fireplaces on either side of the home.

3. Steeply pitched gabled roofs

Colonial homes also feature steeply pitched roofs designed to allow heavy snow loads to slide off. This is particularly beneficial to homeowners in cold weather locations. The gabled roof can also provide extra space in the form of an attic for homeowners to utilize, but is somewhat susceptible to damage.

4. Multi-Paned Windows

Colonial homes also feature multi-paned windows placed symmetrically across the home’s frontal facade. The multiple pane forms a larger window, creating a grid-like appearance, and adding beauty to the home. Bay windows are also another popular option, as they work in harmony with the symmetrical design of the home.

Other key characteristics of Colonial-style homes include;

  • Plain exteriors and minimalistic embellishment
  • Built with wood, stone, or brick
  • Central chimney or two chimneys, with one located on each end of the home
  • Muted neutral color painting
  • Natural hardwood flooring

What are the advantages of Colonial-style homes?

1. Room to spare

Colonial homes have ample amount of square footage to spare, so space is not an issue with this home style. There is room for multiple bedroom options, several areas of socialization, and even storage space. They are built for large families and can even accommodate household staff. So, if you need a large home to fit your family’s needs, this might just be the right choice for you.

2. Appealing architectural features

Another major advantage of Colonial homes is that they boost a minimal yet wonderful curb appeal. They are detailed, aesthetic, and well-partitioned. It is also simple to decorate, reinvent, and upgrade further, given the straightforward layout of the home.

3. Timeless appeal

New and modern Colonial homes come with timeless appeal. They are built to function at optimal levels and tend to be very durable. This can play a huge role if you plan on reselling the home, as the timeless appeal aids resale.

What are the disadvantages of Colonial homes?

1. The layout might not be the best for people with mobility issues

Two stories or three stories might not be the best for all homeowners. Especially if there is an elderly in the family or someone with mobility issues. Accessing the bedroom on the upper floor and accessing the kitchen on the lower floor might be really challenging for them.

2. Costly to maintain

Colonial homes require extra maintenance in order to ensure their stability in the long run, and this might be costly. There is also the issue of energy bills; the generous room volume means you will spend more on energy bills in the long run.


Why are Colonial-style homes popular?

They are so popular because of their unique curb appeal and modular shape that makes them easy to work with if you plan on redesigning.

What are the essential characteristics of Colonial architecture?

The essential architectural characteristics of Colonial-style homes include a symmetrical front and rectangular shape.

Where did the Colonial style architecture come from?

The Colonial architectural style was influenced by techniques and styles from England, as well as other traditions contributed by other settlers from various parts of Europe.


American Colonial homes date back to the 1600s and remain an iconic part of the American architectural landscape. They never seem to go out of style, and they continue to be built by developers throughout the United States today. It has even seen a revival and has been revamped, carrying modern technologies and additions.

Fascinated with the Colonial Architectural style? Who wouldn’t? Make your dream a reality today, get in touch with us today, and let’s get you your own Colonial architectural-style home.

Thanks for reading.

About Samkins

Samkins Construction Inc specializes in custom home building, general contracting, design-build, architectural design, construction management, and real estate services.


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