What is a Colonial House? Definition and Inspiration

There’s something timelessly classic about a colonial home. As you can probably guess by the name, colonial architecture rose in popularity thanks to some of America’s first settlers. The fusion of European styles in The States led to colonial homes that vary in architecture. That’s why today, we have Spanish, French, Dutch, and British colonials scattered all throughout. But exactly what is a colonial house? We’ll go over some signatures of this style.


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symmetry colonial home

Before and after of a painted brick Colonial home

Many Colonial Homes Display Symmetry

One telltale sign of a colonial home is balance and symmetry. Many colonial homes display nearly perfect symmetry, but some may have a slightly-off centered door. Side note: We love how this home features real shutters, latch and all. When applied correctly in the right size, shutters can really add balance and symmetry to a home.


dutch colonial home before and after

Dutch Colonial Homes Show Off Gambrel Roofs

Like we mentioned earlier, colonial homes typically feature inspiration from specific European regions. Dutch colonial homes typically have gambrel roofs, which is a roof with two sides that display a shallower slope above a steeper one. This home pictured above could actually be described as a Dutch colonial revival home because it is a newer build. If you own a Dutch colonial home, you can really lean into the style even more by opting for a stylish dutch door.

Before and after of a Colonial home painted off-white

These Homes Usually Feature a Window Above the Door

Going back to symmetry, many colonial homes sport a set of windows a few feet above the front door. This varies from a transom window, which usually only rests a few inches above a door’s frame. Additionally, colonial homes also usually feature equal amounts of windows on either side of the house.


Exterior design of a French Colonial home

You Can Spot a French Colonial by Its Roof and Windows

Take a stroll through neighborhoods in New Orleans, and you’ll see many French colonial houses. These homes usually have a steeply pitched roof and wide overhangs, and all four sides of the roof slope down from the center pitch. French colonial homes often feature tall windows, some of which might be tall and skinny. The home above even has French doors on either side.


Wood and Brick Are The Most Common Building Materials

Historic colonial homes, especially colonial farmhouses, are usually built from easy-to-source materials like brick and wood. While wood siding is a timeless building material, some historic homes with wood siding might need new siding altogether. However, you can still select a replacement siding that matches the home’s style while adding a modern twist, like in the example above.



Before and after of a brick Colonial home painted gray

Their Rectangular Shape Make Them Great Add-On Candidates

Thanks to their simplistic structure, these box-shaped homes are very easy to add on to. Most colonial homeowners choose to build additions on either side of the front, which prevents stealing space from the backyard and further compliments the symmetry. When building an add-on to a historic brick colonial home, you might find it hard to color match brick. If this is the case, you may consider painting your brick.


brick&batten Spanish Med transformation

Spanish Colonials Often Feature Clay Tile Roofs

Spanish colonial homes stand out the most from other colonial homes, and this architecture style is very popular in areas with warmer climates like California. These homes commonly display clay tile roofs and adobe outer walls. You can also usually spot an arch or two on these homes, whether that’s above a door or a window.


Copper gutters, Studio McGee lighting

Many Colonial Homes Have Small Porches

Aside from French colonial homes and colonial farmhouses, most homes built in this historic style only display a small porch or no porch at all. However, you can easily add one on with the help of an exterior designer and some trustworthy contractors. With their expertise, you can even make a portico blend seamlessly into a front porch design.


What is a colonial-style home?

It’s a historic architecture style that celebrates early European influence in America. Many colonial homes sport symmetry, a rectangular shape, and small porches. Some have columns and use brick for a grand appearance.  Overall, there is something timeless and classic about a colonial home that is not easily forgotten.

Before and after of a brick Colonial home with the original brick and modern touches

One perk of owning a colonial home is that they are so versatile. They make great canvases for add-ons, and they can also look great with a modern flair. An exterior home design can help you reimagine your colonial home’s potential. Order a design online by brick&batten to get started on your curb appeal project today!