Home Architecture Styles & Trends from the 1960s to Present

The past 50 years of residential architecture and construction have showcased a wide variety of trends, changes and improvements. This makes sense when we consider how the concept of “family” has changed, and the nature of our lives and experiences together has developed. How our homes were utilized then, and are designed now, reflects our changing ideals, interactions, priorities and expectations. Let’s take a look back, decade by decade, to see how home design has evolved into what we see today.


The 1960s – Ranch Homes Still Very Much in Style

Continuing a trend from the 1950s, most new homes built during this decade were single-floor, ranch style constructions. However, as the years went by, residential home building started to see some changes.

  • Different Levels: The split-level or multi-level home began to gain popularity. Homeowners recognized the appeal of having bedrooms on an upper floor, away from where they lived their daily lives and entertained guests.
  • Residential Living for an Aging Population: It was during the 1960s that the first residential development dedicated entirely to retirees was built. These developments are tailored to homeowners of a certain age who no longer wanted to maintain the big home that they’d lived in while raising a family. Many retirees also felt they would enjoy living in a community geared toward meeting the needs of their age group.

During the 1960s the “nuclear family” was still very much a common trend, with family members living together until children moved away for college, got a job and secured a place of their own. Multigenerational homes were common; Grandparents often lived in the family home with their children and grandchildren, as residential homes were only just being built, as detailed above.


The 1970s – Homes with Different Levels Gain Popularity

During this decade, home builders constructed residences with multiple layouts that featured separations between living space, entertainment areas, and sleeping quarters.

  • Levels, Levels and More Levels: The split-level, multi-level and split-entryway became increasingly popular as the 1970s progressed. This trend gave family members the privacy and space they needed to continue living together in comfort.
  • The Raised Ranch: This combination of styles featured an entry foyer that either led up to the bedrooms and living area, or down to the basement/rec room or entertaining area. Some builders included kitchen areas on both levels, and the lower floor frequently became a living space for elderly parents or in-laws.
  • Designated Areas in the Home: The concept of multi-use rooms had not yet taken off in American homes. The kitchen was still for cooking, the living room for TV and the dining room for, well, dining.
  • Government Regulations: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began issuing rules and regulations governing not only building safety codes, but also standards of affordable housing.
  • Building Up: Individuals seeking more independence and their own space led to an increase in demand for apartments and condominiums.

As the 70’s turned into the 80’s, smaller homes became more sought-after.  Singles and couples without children realized they didn’t need all the space of a large, family home. This trend began impacting residential design and construction trends.


The 1980s – Varying Needs Led to Variety in Design

The ’80s was a time of change. Concepts of society, family and the home shifted during this decade. Architects, designers and builders began offering different styles of exterior construction and interior layout to meet changing homeowner needs.

  • One Room, Many Uses: The ’80s ushered in the era of the multi-purpose room. Previously known as a den or rec room, the “Family Room” gained popularity as both a hangout for kids, entertainment area for adults and an everyday space for relaxing.
  • The Condo Craze: Individuals and couples looking for home ownership without the responsibility of yard maintenance created demand for condominiums. One and two-bedroom condos were built in high-rise buildings and in townhouse or duplex-style settings.
  • Big Homes on Small Lots: New wealth allowed many homeowners to tear down the older home in which they were living and build a new, much larger home. The era of the tear down paved the way for the “McMansion,” as homeowners pushed lot line limits with the construction of new, bigger homes.

These changes led to certain challenges. The tear-down craze forced many municipalities to re-examine building and zoning regulations to try and provide some relief to residents who felt the new, bigger, two-story homes being built were encroaching on their lives.


The 1990s – The Bigger the Better

As far as the homeowners of the 1990s were concerned, the bigger the house the better. New homes were designed and built with skylights, vaulted ceilings, and two-story foyers.

  • Large, Open Design: The bigger homes mentioned above were often built with open plan layouts; a design concept that also appealed to those looking for a wealth of living space.
  • The Island: The kitchen island became hugely popular during this decade, and remains in demand even to this day.
  • Rooms that were Great: The trend towards bigger houses throughout the 1990s led to the introduction of the Great Room, a big and comfortable gathering place for family and friends.
  • Bigger Homes Equal Larger Master Suites: The Master Suite really gained popularity during this decade. Few new homes were built without a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom featuring dual sinks and a separate toilet area.

The housing boom took off during the 1990s. Big, two-story homes with full basements were built to meet the demands of buyers. Entire residential communities of large homes were designed and constructed.


The 2000s – Doing More with Less

As the new millennium arrived, it was once again time for a change. New home construction was geared toward smaller homes. Some trends introduced in the previous decade continued, including the preference for open floor plans and versatile design.

  • Smaller Room Sizes: Homeowners still wanted (and needed) space for their families to grow, but the large houses that were built during the previous two decades proved to be too expensive. Rooms, homes and plots became smaller.
  • Bathrooms Were Still Prioritized: Despite the demand for smaller homes, residents still placed significant importance on having multiple bathrooms. The design and construction of new homes with 2.5 baths remained the norm.
  • Going Green: Homeowners took an increasing interest in environmental home appliances and green living solutions. Energy efficient water heaters, lighting and other utilities were appearing on the scene.
  • Making Improvements: Rather than tearing down their homes to build new ones, owners preferred to take on home improvement projects to enhance the comfort and value of their home.

There’s no doubt that home design and construction has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. What the next 50 years will bring is anyone’s guess!

No matter the design or changing trends, you can always count on the professional expertise of Reliable Home Improvement. We’re here to help you accomplish all home remodeling projects, and build new home additions. We have been providing luxury home remodeling services in Chicagoland for over 50 years – that’s right, we’ve seen changes like these first-hand, and won multiple awards for our work. If you’d like to improve your home with a remodel, increase your usable square footage by finishing your basement or add to your home, we’re the professional design and construction team you’re looking for. We’ll help you identify your own unique interior design style, and create a space tailored to your lifestyle.

You’ll find the latest design and remodeling trends at our home remodeling showroom. To get started with your remodel, contact Reliable Home Improvement today.

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