What are Colonial-Revival Style Homes? History, Characteristics

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Colonial-Revival style homes are modern versions of the classic American colonial architecture popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries.

These homes are often characterized by their symmetrical façade, classic details, and timeless appeal.

They have become popular in recent years for their traditional look and character, as well as their simple yet elegant design.

Brief history of Colonial-Revival style homes

history of colonial revival home

The resurgence of interest in colonial architecture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to the development of the Colonial-Revival style.

This style was inspired by the prominent New England colonial architecture of the era, with its recognizable symmetry, simple lines, and elegant details.

The revival of this style was largely driven by the American Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia, which featured many prominent colonial-style buildings.

The popularity of this style continued to grow in the early 20th century, as architects and designers sought to revive the traditional look of American colonial homes.

This was further spurred by the spread of the Colonial Revival movement, which saw the public embrace this classical style of architecture. The movement culminated in the formation of the Colonial Revival Association in 1918.

The resurgence of interest in colonial architecture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was also driven by a renewed appreciation for traditional Americana and the nostalgia associated with this style of architecture. This sentiment was further reinforced by the Great Depression, which saw many Americans turning to classic architecture for financial and emotional stability.

Characteristics of Colonial-Revival Style Homes

colonial revival home

Symmetrical facades

Symmetrical facades are a hallmark of Colonial-Revival style homes. The facades of these homes typically feature centered entryways with flanking windows that are symmetrically balanced in size and shape.

This symmetry is further enhanced by the use of decorative elements like shutters, columns, and pediments, which create a balanced and orderly appearance.

Additionally, the use of brick, stone, and wood siding in combination with these decorative elements adds texture and depth to the facade.

Gabled or hipped roofs

Gabled or hipped roofs are another common feature of Colonial-Revival style homes. As opposed to the low-pitched roofs of traditional colonial homes, these homes typically have steeply pitched roofs with minimal overhangs.

This allows the home to have a more modern, updated look with a more dramatic appearance. Gabled roofs are characterized by two sloping sides that meet in the center, while hipped roofs feature four sloping sides that meet at the top.

Both of these roof types are generally made from either wood or metal and are often adorned with decorative elements such as dormers and cupolas. Both types of roofs are designed to be extremely durable and are able to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Classical columns and pilasters

Classical columns and pilasters are a prominent feature of Colonial-Revival style homes. These elements are heavily inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture and provide the home’s facade with a dignified, stately look.

The columns and pilasters are typically made of wood or stone and may be painted or left in their natural state. They are usually accompanied by decorative elements such as balustrades, pediments, and moldings which further enhance their classical appearance.

The columns and pilasters used in Colonial-Revival style homes are often used to add structure and strength to the facade. Flanking the entryway, these elements often help to define the space and draw attention to the centered entryway.

Additionally, they provide the home with a more dynamic and interesting look, while also adding to the home’s overall sense of proportion and balance.

The classical columns and pilasters of Colonial-Revival style homes are sure to create a timeless, elegant look that will stand the test of time.

Multi-pane windows

Multi-pane windows are a characteristic feature of Colonial-Revival style homes. These windows feature two or more equally-sized panes, often divided with muntins, which allow for more natural light to enter the home while providing extra insulation.

These windows can be either single or double-hung and are often arranged symmetrically in an aesthetically pleasing and harmonious manner.

Additionally, multi-pane windows can come in many different shapes and sizes which can vary depending on the size of the window opening.

Multi-pane windows of Colonial-Revival style homes are usually made of either wood, metal or vinyl and are designed to be highly durable and energy-efficient.

Additionally, these windows can often be adorned with decorative elements such as grids, shutters, and frames to further enhance their look.

Typically, these windows are painted in a neutral white or off-white color and can often be stained with a wood finish in order to create a more rustic appearance.

Central entrance

The central entrance of a Colonial-Revival style home is typically characterized by a prominent front door, often accompanied with a decorative pediment or portico.

This grand entrance serves as a focal point for the home, drawing attention and creating an inviting ambience. Furthermore, it serves to welcome visitors into the home and give them a sense of entrancement and security.

The pediment or portico of a Colonial-Revival style home typically features a variety of classic architectural elements such as columns, pilasters, and balustrades.

These elements help to define the space, while also adding a sense of gracefulness and elegance.

The entrance door itself is usually made of solid wood and may be adorned with decorative features such as moldings, carvings, and/or glass panels. The front door may also feature a fanlight or sidelights to further increase the home’s sense of grandeur.

Also commonly found at the central entrance of a Colonial-Revival style home are decorative accessories such as lanterns, wreaths, and wooden signs.

These accessories can help to complete the look of the home’s entrance by adding a warm and inviting touch. Additionally, they can also serve to further enhance the home’s classic and timeless aesthetic.

Traditional materials

Traditional materials used in Colonial-Revival style homes typically include brick, wood, or stone exteriors.

Brick is often used as the primary material, providing a timeless look to the home’s façade. It is also a durable material that is able to withstand the elements and maintain its beauty for years.

Wood is also commonly used for exterior surfaces, such as for the front porch, windows, and trim. In some cases, wood can be stained to create a more rustic finish, while also providing additional protection against the elements.

Stone can also be used to provide a classic and timeless look to the home. It is a particularly popular choice for the home’s foundation, as it is able to provide a secure and stable base for the entire home.

Additionally, stone can also be used on the exterior walls of the home to provide more texture and visual interest.

Sub-Styles of Colonial-Revival Homes

Georgian Colonial Revival

georgian colonial revival

This style of Colonial Revival home is known for its symmetrical façade, featuring a central door with a large pediment above it. The windows are often double-hung, with shutters on each side. The roof is usually a hip or gable style.

Other features of this style of home include shuttered windows with fan-shaped decorations, dentil molding, and decorative quoins at the corners of the house. The roof line is also a common feature, with a box cornice and a central cupola.

Inside the home, there are often hardwood floors, wide moldings, and a grand staircase. This style is often seen in larger homes, usually with classic details like high ceilings, large fireplaces, and elegant chandeliers.

Dutch Colonial Revival

dutch colonial style home

This style of Colonial Revival home has a distinctive roof shape, featuring two slopes on each side of the roof, which creates a gambrel shape. The eaves of the roof are often flared, and the roof itself typically features decorative brackets.

The walls of the house may be covered in decorative shingles and clapboard siding. The windows are often double-hung, with shutters on each side. Another common feature of Dutch Colonial Revival homes is a large central chimney.

Inside the home, features may include wide moldings, hardwood floors, and fireplaces with decorative mantels. This style is usually seen in larger homes, with classic details such as high ceilings, built-in cabinets, and elegant chandeliers.

Federal Colonial Revival

Federal Colonial Revival homes are characterized by their focus on simplicity and symmetry. The roof is typically hip or gable, with shuttered windows, and a box cornice. The walls are usually covered in clapboard siding, and the windows are often double-hung, with shutters on each side.

The decorative elements are often restrained, with plain moldings, and a central door with a pediment above it. Inside the home, the floor plan is usually symmetrical, with high ceilings, wide moldings, and fireplaces with mantels.

The fireplace mantels are often adorned with classic architectural details such as dentil molding and fluting. Elegant chandeliers and built-in cabinets may also be seen in larger homes.

Spanish Colonial Revival

Spanish Colonial Revival homes typically feature stucco exteriors, with red tile roofs and arched windows. The walls are often painted in bright colors, and the windows are often arched, with shutters on each side.

The doors are usually large and ornate, and the roof is often a low-pitched hipped or gable roof. Inside the home, decorative elements include ornate moldings, colorful wallpapers, and hand-painted tiles.

Ceiling beams and wrought iron fixtures may also be seen. Fireplaces are usually made of brick, with mantels adorned with intricate carvings and arched openings. The floors are often made of terracotta tiles, and the overall design is often symmetrical and refined.

Interior Design Elements of Colonial-Revival Homes

Traditional floor plans

Traditional floor plans of colonial-revival homes typically feature a center hall layout. This layout includes two formal living and dining rooms on either side of a grand hallway or entryway.

This is a common design element of colonial-revival homes, as it is intended to create a sense of grandeur and formality. The formal living and dining rooms are often separated by double or pocket doors, allowing them to be closed off or opened up as needed.

The center hall provides a sense of symmetry and balance, while still allowing for a degree of flexibility in how the space is used.

Additionally, many colonial-revival homes feature a staircase at the center of the hallway, further enhancing the grandeur of the design.

Woodwork and moldings

Woodwork and moldings are a defining feature of colonial-revival homes. Ornate crown molding typically accents the ceiling, as well as the walls and door frames throughout the home.

Wainscoting is also prevalent and is used to adorn the walls, often with intricate designs and motifs.

Chair rails can be found running along the walls, adding further detail to the design scheme.

Additionally, paneling and raised or beamed ceilings may be used to incorporate further detail and texture. The overall effect of these elements is to create a sense of grandeur and sophistication.


Fireplace is an important design element in colonial-revival homes, serving as a focal point in the main living area. Fireplaces often feature decorative mantels, typically with ornate carvings and motifs.

Mantels are usually made of wood or marble, and may be further decorated with intricate crown molding.

Furthermore, a fireplace may be framed with a tile surround, adding further texture and detail to the design.

The use of a mantel in a colonial-revival home serves to create a sense of grandeur and sophistication, creating a beautiful and inviting space.

Hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are a traditional flooring material used throughout colonial-revival homes. A classic choice for these homes, hardwood floors typically feature an ornate pattern, with intricate inlays or borders around the edges.

The effect of this classic flooring is to create a sense of grandeur and sophistication in the home. Hardwood floors also offer a degree of flexibility, as they can be refinished and stained in different colors to match the home’s aesthetic.

Furthermore, hardwood floors are durable and easy to maintain, making them an ideal choice for the colonial-revival home.

Landscaping and Outdoor Features of Colonial-Revival Homes

Formal gardens

Formal gardens are a signature feature of Colonial-Revival homes. With their symmetrical shapes and geometric patterns, these gardens are designed to convey a sense of order and beauty.

They also act as a pleasing focal point for the home’s exterior. Traditional Colonial-Revival gardens feature paved pathways lined with low hedges or borders of shrubs, often leading to a central sundial or fountain.

A variety of colorful flowers and plants are often planted in beds that are centered around the central focal point. Floral and leafy designs are arranged in a perfect balance to create a relaxing atmosphere for the homeowner.

Additional features, such as trellises and gazebos, can be added to enhance the formal garden’s beauty.

Stone or brick walkways

Stone or brick walkways are another distinctive feature of Colonial-Revival homes. These pathways are often used to link areas of the property and provide an attractive entrance to the house.

Traditional materials such as flagstone, slate, brick, or bluestone are used to create a formal, symmetrical look for the entryway.

Wide stone steps or winding brick pathways can lead to the main entrance, and often large planters filled with colorful flowers line the sides of the walkway.

This type of pathway can be used to create a beautiful transition from the outdoors to the interior of the home, creating a welcoming atmosphere for family and guests.


Fences are an important element of a Colonial-Revival home, providing both security and an aesthetic look. The style of fencing used will often depend on the overall look of the home, but two of the most popular types of fencing for colonial-revival homes are picket fences and wrought iron fences.

Picket fences are a classic choice, providing a simple yet charming look for the home. Typically constructed from wood or vinyl, they feature evenly spaced vertical boards with pointed tops, creating a neat, finished look. Picket fences are also a great option for keeping pets in and unwanted visitors out.

Wrought iron fences provide a more modern look and are often used to encircle large properties. These fences are made from metal and can be either painted or left bare, depending on the homeowner’s preference. Wrought iron fences are a great way to add both security and a touch of elegance to the home.

The Popularity and Significance of Colonial-Revival Style Homes

Connection to American history

Colonial-revival style homes have a strong connection to American history, as they reflect the nation’s pride in its colonial past. These homes were first introduced in the late 19th century as a form of nostalgia for the country’s colonial beginnings.

The revival of these home designs was popularized by the Colonial Revival Movement, which was a reaction to the rise of the industrial revolution and mass production of homes.

Colonial-revival homes are based on traditional colonial-era American architecture, which was built during the 1600s and 1700s.

This style of home is characterized by its simple lines, symmetrical facades, and decorative details such as shutters, columns, and gables. These features evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past and a celebration of the nation’s rich history and heritage.

Colonial-revival homes have become increasingly popular in modern times, as they provide a classic and timeless style of architecture.

These homes are often seen as a symbol of pride in the country’s colonial past and a reminder of what it means to be an American. Today, they are a popular choice for homebuyers looking to make a statement about their love for their nation’s history.

Timeless appeal

The timeless appeal of colonial-revival homes lies in their classic and timeless design.

These homes are built using traditional colonial-era American architecture, with features such as simple lines, symmetrical facades, and decorative details such as shutters, columns, and gables.

These features have remained popular over time and evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past and a celebration of the nation’s rich history and heritage.

Colonial-revival homes also offer a unique style that is not seen in other forms of architecture. For example, they often feature a central hall that allows for an open floor plan and a spacious, airy interior.

These homes also tend to have two chimneys, one on either side of the home, adding a sense of grandeur and sophistication to the look and feel. Additionally, colonial-revival homes are often built with spacious porches, creating the perfect environment for outdoor entertaining.

The timeless appeal of colonial-revival homes is also seen in their ability to blend in with other architectural styles.

This allows them to fit perfectly into a variety of neighborhoods, from historic colonial-era streetscapes to modern suburban developments. This can also provide an interesting contrast that can give a home a unique and individual flair.


Colonial-revival homes are well-known for their adaptability. While staying true to their timeless and classic design, they can be easily adapted to incorporate modern amenities. This means that homeowners can enjoy the beauty of the traditional architectural style while still having access to the latest in modern conveniences.

For example, these homes can incorporate modern technologies like central heating and air conditioning, as well as updated electrical and plumbing systems. Additionally, homeowners can also add modern luxuries such as granite countertops in the kitchen and updated fixtures in the bathroom.

Colonial-revival homes also have an advantage when it comes to decorating. While the traditional style of these homes can be a great backdrop for antiques and family heirlooms, they can also be updated with modern furniture and accessories. This allows homeowners to create a look that is uniquely their own, while still preserving the classic colonial-revival charm.


For many Americans, Colonial-Revival style homes represent the perfect blend of traditional Americana and modern design.

They offer a timeless appeal, classic details, and symmetrical façade that is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a home with a classic yet contemporary look.

With the renewed appreciation for colonial architecture, these homes continue to grow in popularity, making them a desirable option for many today.


What is a Colonial-Revival Style Home?

Colonial-Revival Style Homes are a form of revival architecture that celebrates the historical origins of the United States of America. These homes are inspired by the architecture that was popular during the colonial period of the U.S. and feature many distinct characteristics such as symmetrical shapes, gabled roofs, large windows and doors, and a prominent front entrance.

Where Can I Find Colonial-Revival Style Homes?

Colonial-Revival Style Homes can be found in many US cities and states that have an older, more traditional architecture. Many areas in the Northeast, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, contain many colonial-style homes. Additionally, these homes can often be found in older neighborhoods throughout the country.

What Are the Common Features of Colonial-Revival Style Homes?

Common features of colonial-revival style homes include symmetrical shapes, gabled roofs, large windows and doors, and a prominent front entrance. Additionally, these homes often feature dentil moldings, classical columns, and decorative shutters.

Are Colonial-Revival Style Homes Energy Efficient?

Yes, colonial-revival style homes are energy efficient. Many of these homes were constructed to be energy efficient from the ground up, featuring high-quality insulation, energy efficient windows, and other energy-saving features. Additionally, modern renovations and updates can also help make them more energy efficient.