A Guide to Local Architecture

A Guide to Local Architecture

Are you in the market for Long Island real estate but unsure of what type of house to buy? Long Island is an architectural paradise with many different styles of homes on the market. From single-level property styles, such as ranch style, to multiple-level historical designs, such as Victorian estates, this vibrant New York island has something for everyone. Finding the best type of house for you largely depends on your personal taste, needs, and budget.

If you’re intrigued, here are the various types of Long Island homes you can expect to see when you embark on your house-hunting adventure.


The traditional ranch style of house is a single-level design that features a horizontal profile, overhanging eaves, and a low-pitch roofline. These properties also typically feature expansive windows, an open-concept layout, and a design that’s low to the ground. While the shape of this type of house can vary, most are either constructed in a “U” or “L” shape.

Ranch-style houses are more commonly found in the Southwest; however, they’ve become quite popular throughout the entire country in recent years. In Long Island, you are more likely to find this style of home on The North Shore.

High Ranch

Similarly to the ranch style, high ranch houses are typically built in a simple rectangular shape; however, unlike their more sprawling traditional counterparts, high ranches are built with three or more levels to better utilize the space. Other features of high ranch houses include a few steps leading into a foyer and small landing, an “L” shaped dining room, walk-up steps leading to a living room, and walk-down steps leading to a family room. Most of these houses also have an attached garage and sliding glass door leading to the backyard.

High ranch houses first grew in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s when growing families began moving to the suburbs. Since then, this style of home has become a staple of high-end neighborhoods.


If you’re looking for grand Long Island homes that are sure to impress, look no further than the Victorian style. Named after Queen Victoria, this centuries-old design is an impressive feat of architecture that boasts a colorful facade, multiple stories, and an eclectic mix of windows. The exterior of these homes is typically completed with embellished millwork and glazed bricks. Additionally, the steep, gabled roof is often accompanied by asymmetrical turrets, dormers, and towers.

Once inside a Victorian home, the grandiosity continues. You can expect to find a highly decorated interior that features a closed floor plan and long areas of transition, such as hallways and stairways. The interior is often made complete with heavy crown molding, double parlors with wood mantle fireplaces, and a formal dining room. These areas are typically separated by sliding pocket doors. In terms of lighting, designers of these types of homes usually favor wall sconces and chandeliers to add to the historic, sophisticated look.

Take one look at a Victorian home, and it’s clear why this style is popular among Long Island’s many mansions, all of which command high price points.


Tracing roots back to the Colonial Era in the United States, Colonial homes have undergone a reinvention over the years. While production of these types of homes was stopped after the American Revolution, their framework has remained popular in residential architecture for nearly 200 years.

Colonial homes typically consist of two levels and feature a center hall entry and staircase. The main floor of the house should contain a kitchen, living room, dining room, den, and half bathroom. The upstairs portion of the home is where you’ll find three or more bedrooms and one or more bathrooms. Some Colonials also feature a basement, while others do not. The size of Colonial homes is fairly consistent: one room deep and three rooms wide.

Although the Colonial style sports a plain disposition, the look of this type of design hinges more on the size of the roof over ornate detailing. Colonial houses perfectly blend modern, minimalist, traditional, and historic.


Capes are a popular style of Long Island homes from the 1950s that once fueled the boom for starter houses. Featuring a signature “A” line ceiling in the upper-level bedrooms, capes have remained an affordable and popular design to this day. These types of homes typically have one to two bedrooms located on the main level.

There are essentially two main types of capes: the half-cape and the full cape (also known as the double cape). The half-cape was a popular starter house of its time and quickly grew to become known as a single cape once settlers began adding additions to it. The half-cape or single cape features a front door on one side and two glass-paned windows on the other. In contrast, the full cape features a front door flanked by two glass-paned windows on either side. The full cape, although once rare, has become the most common cape style among homeowners today.


Made popular on Long Island in the 1980s, contemporary homes often pay tribute to modern 21st-century architecture. Since these homes mirror the trends of the time period in which they were built, they can range in design and style. Contemporary architectural trends are constantly evolving and changing.

Although the design of contemporary houses varies, they still share common characteristics. For example, most of these types of homes feature strong lines with striking angles, a unique asymmetrical shape, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Still, while these properties share those same characteristics, they can be built from a variety of materials, including concrete, brick, steel, stone, glass, and wood, which all contribute to each house’s unique look.

Need help with Long Island real estate?

Whether you’re in the market for a ranch-style house or a full-fledged Victorian estate, having a reliable Long Island real estate agent on your side is essential. Given the competitive nature of the local market, your agent can help you determine which style of home is right for you.

Kate Works is a trusted Long Island broker who has helped numerous clients find the homes of their dreams. If you’re in the market for a Long Island home, contact Kate today to start the journey.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Whether you are looking for a new home or thinking about selling your current home, call me today. I will put my expertise to work to provide you guidance and advice on what you need to know to make the best possible decision for your real estate needs.

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