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Looking for a home is about more than just location and price. While we often count the bedrooms and bathrooms, measure the kitchen space and pay close attention to the backyard amenities, we rarely look into the style of home we’re after and what features it might offer us. As you’re on the hunt for a new home, consider these popular styles in Canada and how each offers a unique look and experience:
Modern homes tend to be very functional and place a lot of emphasis on the architectural design of the interior and exterior spaces. Typically, modern homes are centred around the kitchen and often have an open concept living area that encapsulates the kitchen, dining room and living room, while bedrooms tend to be tucked away on another floor. You’ll likely find more luxurious materials incorporated into the design like marble or natural stone. Modern homes tend to be more compact and focus on the essentials, so if you don’t have a lot of possessions or heavy heirloom furniture to make space for, a modern home could be the right fit for you.
Ranch-style homes are categorized by their long facades that remain ground level with very little elevation of the base (unless a basement has been created). These homes are designed to be warm, welcoming spaces that are very open floor plan that focuses on one level. Typically, wood is very common in structural and design elements. If you’re looking for a more naturally inspired space that doesn’t require any stairs, a ranch style home may be an ideal option.
In colder areas of Canada, cottage-style homes are very popular due to their smaller size and interior warmth. They’re generally very traditional in appearance and don’t include any of the bells and whistles from the other styles as their focus is on simple and humble design. They’re often loaded with wood features, as the material is used for the floors, walls and even ceilings. If you’re OK with living in a smaller space and prefer to keep things simple and cozy, a cottage-style home is a great option.
Old country-style homes used to be built in areas with lots of land and space. They tend to have very big floor plans and sit on large plots of land. They’re often a mix of wood and other materials on the exterior to make the home appear very large. They feature big windows and tend to be decorated more simply so you’ll find less modern wall decor and fancy furniture, and more crafty upholstery and traditional wooden pieces. If you have a big family and like simple, traditional design, this style of home may be a good fit.
Craftsman Rustic Style
Focused on the use of natural elements, Craftsman rustic-style homes often include wood, stone and uncoated bricks. Unlike their counterpart, the Craftsman-style homes, they are a lot more low-maintenance as they lack the ornate details and finishes. They have an unspoken old-world charm and are built to last, so if you’re on the hunt for something more practical that still oozes charm, this may be a good choice.
Inspired by castles and cathedrals in the Middle Ages, the facades of these homes are often stone or brick with gabled roofs that are sharply peaked and feature ornate woodwork detailing at the top. One of the most iconic Canadian buildings in Gothic Revival style is Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. If you’re looking to see some Gothic Revival style homes in person, Summerside PEI is where you’re likely to find the most in one concentrated location.
Born in the Italian Renaissance, this style of home became a staple in Canada between 1840 – 1885. The rich and successful began to adopt pieces of these lavish Italian elements in their own way. As time passed, this style would go on to inspire many commercial and retail buildings across Canada.
If you’re curious to see the details for yourself, virtually every main street in Ontario is home to an example of an Italianate-style home. They’re particularly commonplace in Brampton Ontario as many single-family dwellings have survived there and remain as beautiful as they were in the late 1800s. With classic elements often crafted from wood or metal, these homes were characterized by extended eaves with heavy cornices that are supported by large wooden brackets. They feature large, tall windows (often in pairs) mimicking the style or Italian homes.
If you’re looking to have a new home built but you’re on a budget, a farmhouse-style home is a great option. Very casual in design and focused on an open concept living area, these homes use a lot of reclaimed wood, barnboard, wrought iron and simple vintage accessories so you won’t have to worry about the price increase on more modern materials/elements. There’s also a lot of flexibility with the size and style of farmhouse homes.
West Coast Style
In areas like West Vancouver where the terrain is very rough and not ideal for building homes, there needed to be a lot of innovation in regard to how a home could be built to fit within these limitations while still looking beautiful. The result was complex geometric forms and open layouts with rooms that were more multiuse and functional. Many West Coast-style homes use wood posts/beams and large glass windows to bring the beautiful outside view, inside.
Tudor Revival Style
From the late 1800s to the 1940s, Tudor Revival elements were very common for Canadian homes. They were inspired by styles seen in the U.K. and continental Europe hundreds of years ago. When trying to spot a Tudor Revival-style home, look for tall, slim (often leaded) windows, a recessed front entry, stone facade, copper roof, ornate ironwork and the trademark Tudor-style gables (modern interpretations can be described as a half-timbered appearance of a structure with gaps filled in by plaster).
If you’d like to see these homes in person, this style is quite common in two areas in Alberta: Inglewood and Calgary.
High Victorian Style
Victorian homes are notoriously sought after and loved by many. While the original homes include period plumbing, wiring and plaster walls, High Victorian is often a blend of a few styles and features many ornate wooden elements, brick and metal, contrasting stone and colourful details. Once commonplace between 1840 – 1900, the trademarks of High Victorian homes like the gothic motifs, stained glass, bay windows and more, have lived on to this day. If you love the look of old-world charm but are looking for a more modern home, High Victorian style could be the best compromise for you.
Most common in Quebec City, QC, Chateau-style homes are very fancy and ornate. Known as one of the few uniquely Canadian architectural styles, Chateaus were popular from 1887 – 1930 and were a style borrowed from the old country but blended with Scottish Baronial turrets and towers with steep, elegant roofs around the Loire Valley of France. This was a style typically reserved for civic buildings and hotels, but it also played a part in inspiring many homes in the early 1900s. You can find the best examples of this style in Quebec at the Quebec City Armoury, in Ottawa at the Confederation and Justice Buildings and Canadian Pacific Hotels built throughout the country including the Royal York in Toronto, the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, the iconic Chateau Frontenac Hotel in Quebec and Banff Springs in Alberta.
Born from the American Arts and Crafts movement that was widespread throughout California, this style of home is most common on the West Coast, especially in Strathcona BC. The focus of these homes was to show off the quality craftsmanship of every beam and joint. They feature heavy cobblestone bases with oversized front porches which are typically supported by large, exposed timbers and ornate woodwork. While Craftsman style homes were most popular from the 1800s to the early 1900s, they’re still very sought after today in many areas.
No matter which province you’re house hunting in, there are plenty of different home styles, each with their own charm and functionality. Knowing the different types of homes available in your desired areas will help you better understand the qualities they offer and whether or not they’re a good fit for your lifestyle and family. Do your homework to learn more about your options, and your hunt for real estate will become a lot more focused and manageable.