Home Style Guide

When shopping for a new home, the industry lingo can be a bit daunting. Knowing your home styles will make your hunt easier, and just might turn you onto a layout you didn’t know existed. This guide provides an overview of the most common home styles found in the greater Portland area. Each style boasts many features and nuances, with the broad strokes outlined in the following guide. With this as your starting point, you’ll be equipped to swiftly narrow your search to find the perfect fit. Let me know your favorites and I’d be happy to go into greater detail with you!

Bungalow homes are renowned for their economy and charm. They often feature an open floor plan, with the majority of the space in the living room. Instead of fewer, large bedrooms, bungalows favor numerous smaller bedrooms. The majority were built between 1900 and 1950, and sit at one or one and a half stories tall.

A mid-century modern home features open living spaces, a good view of yards and patios, exposed beams, and high-tech kitchens. These homes were constructed mostly from 1940 to 1975. The design came from a focus on modern lifestyle, resulting in a clean simplicity.

Ranch homes ascended to the height of their popularity in the 1940s to the 1970s, often the choice of the booming middle class during the post-war period. In profile, a ranch home is close to the ground, long, and uses a minimum of decoration on the interior or exterior. Most often, they are single-story with an open, simple floor plan.

A daylight ranch mixes things up, featuring many of the same characteristics as a ranch home. However, it also boasts a daylight basement. That simply means that the basement mirrors the floor plan of the main level, while having windows that allow in daylight. Daylight basements often offer doors to yards or patios.

Portland Foursquare homes claim a boxy, square design. They typically stand two and a half stories tall with four square, large rooms to a floor, framed on the top and bottom by a center dormer and front porch with stairs. The unique shape of foursquare homes allows them an amazing amount of interior space – an important goal for city lots.

Different styles of homes fall under the term “traditional.” Colonial homes, along with certain Cape Cod or Victorian homes can all be considered traditional. Instead of a set type of home, traditional homes are defined by their characteristics. Straight lines, lots of medium or large windows, and two story height all distinguish traditional homes.

Contemporary homes strive to defy definition. They often feature geometric shapes, plenty of asymmetrical designs, and large windows. The shape of the home itself can incorporate outdoor space, with shapes like L, U, or T being common. A large amount of contemporary homes employ eco-friendly materials and green, energy-conserving design.

Craftsman homes incorporate natural materials like wood, stone, brick, glass, and tile to create a comfortable, timeless home. They often boast gabled roofs, exposed beams, overhanging eaves, substantial porches, and stone chimneys. Interiors feature earthy and wood tones, wood trim with natural finishes, and many windows to allow plenty of natural light.

The townhouse brings another classic option to the table. Common in cities, townhouses are vertically oriented, narrow, and tall, often three stories. Townhouses are independent and often individually owned, while being adjacent to other townhouses, forming a row.

The Allure of Modern Homes

Style travels in waves, lapping at the shore of our social consciousness only to ebb and return on the next tide. The modern architecture style is especially well-suited to Portland and its appeal never leaves the forefront here for long.

You tend to know mid-century modern homes when you see them because they look like you’d be living in an episode of Mad Men. Evolving from the aftermath of World War II industrial construction efforts, architects could now incorporate steel and plywood into their designs. But this wasn’t simply an application of new materials. Mid-century modern architects truly embraced the artistic power of their profession, their signatures boldly emblazoning Portland neighborhoods to this day.

Modern architecture is an echo of modernist philosophy. It was a rejection of the traditional in favor of embracing the present (and the future) as it presents itself. Unnecessary flourishes and artifice were thrown out in favor of clean, unbroken planes. When you can look up at the naked functionality of a post-and-beam ceiling, you see the structure of your home for exactly what it is.

This design’s unfiltered acceptance of reality extends to Nature as well. Floor-to-ceiling windows invite the outside in. As children grow up in these homes, they don’t have to wait to be tall enough to peer out a window, but are face-to-face with the world as soon as they can crawl. Some modern home designs even feature an atrium, truly treating Nature as a member of the household.

Ensconced in the enviable landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, many of Portland’s contemporary builders are still employing the modern style in today’s homes for its aesthetic appeal. Not only do these properties love the camera lens, but their owners love living in a work of art.

Portland Roars in the 1920s – Our Home History

1926 – Opening of Burnside Bridge

1926 – Sellwood Bridge

1924 – Delivery Truck

1920 – Street Car

Portland Roars in the 1920s – Our Home History

” …Portlanders were on the move! “

The dawn of 1920 saw Portland 258,000 citizens strong and along with gaining 50,000 more souls, the next ten years would prove to be an unparallelled decade of expansion for the City of Roses. 1926 marked the construction of the Burnside, Vista and Ross Island Bridges to complement the Sellwood Bridge, which was previously the only Willamette River crossing for miles in either direction. That same year, Portland achieved the progressive honor of having more cars per capita than Chicago or New York, widening her streets to accommodate the bustling traffic. Combined with the already thriving street cars, Portlanders were on the move!

1929 – Aerial of Harbor Wall (Waterfront)

This freshly-embraced mobility promoted an unprecedented population migration from rural areas, and this youthful generation was nothing if not modern. In addition to embracing technological advancements like the refrigerator and vacuum cleaners now with disposable bags, these new homeowners and their contemporary sensibilities gave birth to the American Craftsman.

In the aftermath of World War I, the Victorian construction style (and lifestyle) was in sharp decline. The thriving middle-class abandoned the foregoing generation’s Old World flourishes in favor of uncluttered practicality. Ceilings were lowered, porches simplified and accommodations for a domestic serving staff vanished in the light of new homemaking amenities.

1920’s Craftsman-era Home Floor Plans

” …the Craftsman introduced the breakfast nook… “

Armed with these advanced appliances, the Craftsman-era housewife shaped the footprint of the home. She had been transformed into a one woman army responsible for all the housework in addition to raising the children. Kitchens were integrated into the main home, built with open eyelines to the living spaces and the back yard. While the Victorian lifestyle demanded a separation between food preparation and dining, the Craftsman introduced the breakfast nook and with it a communal place for the family to gather while the housewives of the day practiced their multitasking art.

1929 – SE Portland Houses

Built to endure, Portland is still populated by these beautiful, practical, hardy homes. Whether updated with today’s amenities or retaining all their classic features, Portland’s craftsman constructions stand as distinct reminders of an exciting chapter of our history.