There’s no eHarmony for house hunters, but with knowledge about the styles and features of houses on the market, you can meet your match—and reach a buying decision more easily. We spoke with Houlihan Lawrence associate brokers Miriam Lipton and Deborah Glasser to get the lowdown on what’s selling and on the home styles most prevalent in Westchester.
“With the emphasis on ready-to-move-in and turnkey, you’d think that brand-new construction would fit the bill the best, but the fact is, there’s not a lot of land available in lower Westchester,” Lipton says. “Some of the most glorious housing styles are the older ones. It’s exciting to see how our older homes are being preserved, respected, appreciated, and reinterpreted for modern living.” What follows is our rundown of the quinessential architectural styles that typify Westchester’s beautiful and eclectic residential real estate market.
We’re seeing a renewed interest in the contemporary homes of the 1960s and ’70s and midcentury,” Lipton says, “partly because of the way the rooms flow into each other. The idea of seamless space, where there aren’t as many compartments, is very appealing to buyers.” Some have flat roofs, and windows may be dominant, creating a real connection between indoors and out. There’s simplicity in form and design, with linear elements and exposed beams. These homes appeal to those who want an open living plan and a proximity to their natural surroundings.
This style refers to homes built during the reign of Queen Victoria, between 1830 and 1910. They may have ornate details and decorative trim. Distinctive features of these asymmetrical homes are the different parlors, where people would entertain and receive guests. Some have wraparound porches. One drawback to this style is that the rooms are typically smaller and lack closet space. Victorians are particularly prevalent in Westchester’s Rivertowns.
A medley of Medieval and Renaissance styles brought from Europe, Tudors became popular in the late-19th century and first half of the 20th century. These asymmetrical homes are architecturally distinct from each other and made from a variety of materials, including wood (with decorative half-timbering), brick, and stucco. Tudors have steeply pitched gable roofs, often with dormers, and casement windows, sometimes with diamond-shaped windowpanes. Elegant arched entryways add to the curb appeal. Often well-built houses with good bones, Tudors embellished with detailed woodwork and masonry may be pricey to maintain.
Also called California ranches, classic ranch houses are designed for living on a single level and have long, low rooflines. A ranch typically incorporates a built-in garage and features big picture windows and sliding doors to a patio. The simple, open floor plans are geared toward casual living and can appeal to those who want a contemporary aesthetic. Variations include split-level or raised ranch, with levels of living space a half-story down and a half-story up from the entry. Because land is at such a premium in our area and ranches may occupy a larger footprint, there are less ranches than the other styles of homes listed here, but they are still present in Westchester. Looking to expand? Builders like working with ranches because they are well-suited to second-floor additions.
Long Island is better known for its Capes (the style was made popular in Levittown, where a large development of Capes became emblematic of post-World War II suburbia), but they’re here in Westchester, too. Most are straightforward, less-expensive to build, one or one-and-a-half stories, and have a roofline that slants down to the first floor. When there are bedrooms on the second floor, there are often dormers, and there’s no attic above that level. Usually finished in shingles, Capes tend to be less spacious than other styles of homes.
“These are often regarded as the traditional American home,” Glasser says. Colonials are usually rectangular in shape and very symmetrical, with double-hung windows. With bedrooms on the second floor, some older Colonials also feature a first-floor maid’s room, which can be turned into a home office or bedroom. Look for a classic Colonial to have a mostly clapboard exterior with some masonry embellishment. In Westchester, however, there are also handsome Colonials made of solid stone and brick (Brick Georgians). The simple floor plans of older Colonials, with rooms branching off a central hall, make them well-suited for reinterpretation and contemporary furnishings. A variation is the Dutch Colonial, with gambrel roofs with flared or curved eaves; inside, the living space is similar to the traditional Colonial.