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7 Architectural Design Styles

7 Architectural Design Styles

and How to Take Them Up a Notch

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One of the great things about Boulder County is the myriad of architectural styles around town, and often just on one block! No matter what style your home is, there’s always a way to punch up the style and put your own fingerprint on the design. Here’s a look at seven styles found around Boulder County and ideas to take them to the next level.

American Bungalow

This architecture design style was extremely popular from the early- to mid-1900s. This style strays from industrial materials and emphasizes the use of natural materials like wood, stone and brick. Many of the arts and crafts style homes have front porches and low-pitched roofs and built-in cabinets, shelves and seating. They have efficient floor plans with the living area in the center of the home and connecting rooms with no hallways. The exteriors of these quaint homes are generally characterized by a front porch with tapered pillars, sometimes with brick bases. They often have cedar shingles on the gables and clapboard siding in the rest of the home. Wide front stairs invite neighbors up to the front porch.

Take it up: Add curb appeal by covering brick pillar foundations with a modern stone façade.

“Craftsman Redux” Boulder, CO

Melton Design uild - Custom Home Exterior Photo at Sunset


Contemporary design refers to the style of the current times, or today’s building styles. We see an insistence on connecting the indoors and outdoors achieved by large windows and use of glass as a building material. Often times, the large windows or glass doors will open up to a private courtyard that provides effortless access to the outdoors. Today’s contemporary homes also have an emphasis on home energy efficiency, sustainable materials and recycled or reclaimed materials.

Take it up: Accentuate the sleek lines of your home by adding an exterior horizontal wood treatment that ties into a low-lying linear deck.

“Contemporary Collaboration” Boulder, CO

Mid-Century Modern

This style was constructed out of new ideas and forward-thinking between 1945 and 1980. World War II provided the United States with new building materials to the forefront of architecture and design, such as steel and plywood. This design style looked to maintain simplistic design and integration with nature. These homes feature flat planes, large glass windows and open spaces. The popularity with this design trend inspired many ranch homeowners to plan a home remodel. Common mid-century modern homes in Boulder feature a carport and a one-car garage that has often been remodeled into an extra room.

Take it up: Convert the carport area into a mid-century style outdoor living space, complete with period furnishings and vintage colors.

“Modern Chautauqua Farmhouse” Boulder, CO

Queen Anne

You can spot the occasional Queen Anne around Boulder—especially in the Mapleton neighborhood. These homes have asymmetrical shapes with steep roofs and round or square towers. They feature wrap-around porches, bay windows and decorative shingles.

Take it up: Add hints of black to the paint palette to make subtle colors pop. It gives an intricate paint scheme a bold finishing touch.

“Historic Building Office” Boulder, CO

Mountain Rustic

Native to Colorado, mountain rustic style is often heavy on wood and stone features. These homes are often designed to blend into the natural surroundings using dark woods and heavy beams. They often have grand entryways laden with beams and stone pillars. The interiors can feature soaring ceilings and heavy stone hearths. Wood floors can be found throughout the main public areas. Incorporated outdoor living spaces are equally as rustic as the interior spaces. Slate tile is common, as is Colorado buff stonework.

Take it up: Add corrugated metal accents to the roof or exterior walls. The metal will rust, giving it a rustic patina.

“Rustic Refresh” Boulder, CO

Mountain Modern

Another popular Colorado style is mountain modern. These homes typically blur the line between indoors and out to capture the Colorado lifestyle and enjoy the 300+ days of sunshine. They generally take one of two forms— either a truly modern style with sleek lines and progressive shapes or a clean-lined version of a rustic mountain home, heavy on wood and stone.

Take it up: Throw metal into the design mix on your mountain modern home. Heavy metal beams and deck railings with extensive use of glass gives the home a pseudo industrial feel.

“On the Boards” Arvada, CO

Raised Ranch

Boulder has many of these 1950s through 1980s raised ranch homes. The lower level is partially below grade, but often feature large windows high on the wall that keep the area from feeling too dark and basement-like. These homes have attached garages with a low-pitched gable roof. They often feature large picture windows and sliding glass doors leading to the backyard. These homes are generally not decorative, but they offer a blank slate for personalizing and making your own.

Take it up: Give your raised ranch an updated look by covering up dated architectural details.

“Split Level Suite” Boulder, CO

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