Explore 10 of America’s Favorite Residential Architectural Styles Today

On the West Coast, the legacy of the California bungalow looms large. This spin on the traditional American Craftsman–style home was popular in the early 20th century, with its emphasis on efficient floor plans and single-story living, and it’s still sought-after nowadays. Today’s version of the California bungalow is somewhat refined in comparison to the more blocky language of early examples, but the strong indoor-outdoor connection remains. “It combines the scale and formal elements of the traditional California bungalow with modernist ideals such as open plan spaces, floor-to-ceiling glazing, easy-to-maintain materials, and functional layouts,” explains Rebecca Rudolph, of Design, Bitches, of the style. Her cofounder, Catherine Johnson, notes that color also plays a part in today’s California bungalow: “I would add that there is often a variety of material textures and interesting color combinations, sometimes playing on monochromatic schemes with varying values ​​and saturation.” With the multiplicity of challenges facing our world today, it’s no wonder the bright and sunny optimism of California living still has a hold. “We’re particularly drawn to the broad overhanging roofs of California bungalows, which evoke a sense of cozy domesticity, and the generous use of porches, which fosters a connection to nature,” adds John Ike, of Ike Baker Velten, a member of the AD PRO Directory.

9. Clean green

The Mill Valley Cabins by Feldman Architecture boast multiple sustainable credentials, including green roofs.

Joe Fletcher Photography 2011 ©

Today it could be argued that the best design is the most sustainable one. Homes across the country are increasingly incorporating green elements, like solar PV arrays and geothermal heating. However, instead of being tacked on as a late addition, these sustainable aspects are integrated into the overall architectural design. “One trend emerging in our work and resonating with an increasing number of clients is design that directly responds to the climate crisis,” says Jonathan Feldman, of Feldman Architecture. “It’s where issues of ecology, resources, and human and ecological wellbeing are embedded in the design, rather than an afterthought.” Increasingly, clients are asking for zero-carbon designs—homes that carefully calibrate their energy consumption both in their operation and in the materials used to construct them.

10. Small but mighty

This ADU by Ike Baker Velten is one of many similarly sized units recently completed in California.

Photo: Richard Powers

A great number of new homes in urban settings today are being built not on empty plots, but rather on lots already containing homes. These small auxiliary buildings—often under 1,000 square feet—are referred to as ADUs (short for Accessory Dwelling Units) or DADUs (Detached Accessory Dwelling Units). Because property is at a premium in many urban centers like Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago, homeowners are increasingly turning to these compact structures to maximize value and add livable area to their homes. “DADUs provide a nice way for homeowners to invest in their property and create rental income while also opening up the opportunity for more density in historically less dense areas of cities,” says Robert Hutchison, of Robert Hutchison Architecture. “Architecturally, the typology also gives us the opportunity to consider interesting spatial and formal expressions that don’t necessarily have to relate directly to the existing house on the property, and to define new exterior spaces between the DADU and the original home.” Whether functioning as rentable spaces for added income or as auxiliary living areas for art studios, guest rooms, or home offices, DADUs of every shape and form are popping up in backyards across the country.