A Definitive Guide to Architectural Lingo

Have you ever wondered what architectural style your current home is? Or that of your dream home? Is architectural lingo seen in real estate listings confusing? If so, read along for a breakdown of some of the most common architectural styles and where you can find them in Greenville County!


A very popular architectural style today, the original bungalow dates back to the early 1900’s, and is characterized by its low-pitched roof and large front porch. Also called Craftsmans, this style rose to popularity during the Arts and Crafts period and is known for its handcrafted details: hand cut wood, iron and copper work, and masonry. At one time, they were so popular that you could order a complete set from Sears!

Cape Cod:

Named after the dreamy New England vacation destination – Cape Cod in Massachusetts—where they first became popular, these homes were constructed modestly and economically by early Colonial settlers. Cape Cods have steep roofs that reach the first floor and second-story dormers. Original Cape Cods used unfinished cedar shingles which were perfect for weathering harsh East coast winters.


While there are no historically significant Cape Cods in Greenville, there are some beautiful examples of this architecture in most every neighborhood.

  • Downtown Area Neighborhoods to scout: Augusta Road, North Main


If you love symmetrical architecture, then this maybe the architectural style for you. Mainly known for the symmetry, Colonials feature an entry door in the middle of the home with two windows flanking each side. The second-floor features five windows with one placed directly above the entry door. Arising in popularity in the 1700’s, Colonial and Colonial Revival architecture are still very sought-after styles. Primarily constructed of brick or wood and feature a simple, clean and boxy style.

French Country:

The French Country/Provincial style is inspired by the rustic manors of northern and southern France built in the mid-1600’s. The Revival style that you see today first became popular in the 1920’s and 1960’s and is still common in new construction. These homes have a square, symmetrical shape with windows (often double and/or balconies) balanced on either side of the entrance, a steep hipped roof, and are most often constructed of stone, stucco and brick.

Mid-Century Modern:

Mid-Century Moderns – sometimes referred to in real estate as “modern” or “contemporary” feature sharp angles and are void of ornamentation. These 20th century style homes offer flat or shallow-pitched roofs and lots of glass windows. Most often incorporate the surrounding outdoor space via decks and balconies. While these homes became most popular in the 1950’s, the timeless style has become quite popular today – especially among nature and art lovers as they offer a great backdrop for both.

  • Notable Neighborhoods to scout: While this is a rare find in Greenville, you can find a few cool examples in North Main, Parkins Mill, Green Valley/Furman and Paris Mountain areas.



Ranch homes became popular when the rise of automobiles made it easier for families to move away from city centers and buy larger lots in “the burbs.” These spread-out homes allowed owners to take advantage of their sprawling tracts of land. Ranches or “ranchers” are one-story and often have an L- or U-shaped floorplan surrounding a patio, sliding glass doors and a carport or garage. This style home can be found in almost every neighborhood in Greenville County.

  • Neighborhoods to scout: Green Valley/Furman Area, Gower, Parkins Mill and Pelham Road.


When you think of Spanish style homes, Florida and California immediately come to mind. These unique homes are built from the ground up to take up the heat. During the hot summer months, clay tile roofs cool and extend beyond the exterior to provide shade, while outdoor living spaces, columns and arched windows and openings take advantage of the breeze.

  • Notable Greenville Homes: Drive down Jones Avenue and Augusta Road and see if you can spot the two super-cool Spanish style homes!


Inspired by the medieval architecture of 16th century Tudor England, Tudor-style homes are constructed of brick or stone on the first level and complementary stucco and timbering on the second level. Additional characteristics include deeply-pitched roofs and detailed covered entrances.

National Register of Historic Places in South Carolina


Think dollhouse and you’ve got it! Key features of ornate Victorian-style architecture include a complicated, asymmetrical shape with wings and bays in various directions, elaborate trim, shingles or patterned masonry, steep rooflines and a large wrap-around porch. They are often painted in bright, complementary colors to highlight this detailed craftsmanship. The style is quite whimsical and intriguing at the same time.

  • Notable Greenville County Homes: Visit the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District for a whole slew of Victorian (primarily Queen Ann-style) homes, plus some Craftsman, Gothic Revival, Colonial Revival, Italianate and even Prairie (more on these styles to come.)