Common House Designs in the 1940s & 1950s

Written by andrine redsteer
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Common House Designs in the 1940s & 1950s
The Cape Cod was popular in the 1940s and 1950s (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The postwar era is associated with the expansion of suburbs and a focus on the nuclear family. An extensive highway system began to emerge, allowing commuters to live outside of cities, thus giving birth to subdivisions and projects like Levittown. During this era, three particular domestic architectural styles became popular. Today, these housing designs are still associated with the 1940s and 1950s.

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Cape Cod

The Cape Cod became popular during the 1930s and its popularity continued through the 1950s. The Cape Cod was mass-produced, economical, spartan in appearance and commonly built in suburban developments. This style typically had one story, a steep roof, a small roof overhang and a central chimney. Cape Cod homes were usually made of wood and covered with clapboard or shingles; shutters were also a common design element.

Colonial Revival

Colonial Revival homes became popular due to a growing interest in the American colonial period. These homes were known for being rectangular in shape, formal and symmetrical. Common design elements included a centred front door, columns and double-hung, mulitpaned windows. Colonial Revival homes were typically covered in clapboard or brick, and were usually one to three stories tall.


The ranch-style home is often associated with 1950s American suburbs. Common design elements of ranch homes included long, horizontal footprints and asymmetrical facades. In the 1940s, ranch homes were less adorned; however, by the 1960s many had attached garages and large picture windows. The evolution of the ranch home was heavily influenced by the advent of American automobile culture.

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