Home may be where the heart is, but the façade has certainly changed throughout the years. Whether it’s a small bungalow, an Italianate mansion, or a Victorian home in all its gingerbread glory, your home’s style is most likely a product of the time in which it was built. Want to know the history of your home? Read on to learn more about the different styles of American homes, and how the times influenced how we built them.


The average home is only 950 square feet, with two or three bedrooms. A two-story floor plan was the most typical, and if there was a bathroom (this wasn’t a given back then), there would only be one. The more formal parlor of the Victorian and previous eras was giving way to the more informal living room. Electricity is becoming more widely available in the early 1900s, resulting in many homes being retrofitted to accommodate this technology. Built-in closets are still a few years away; the wardrobe dominates the storage scene, and sleeping porches are a popular feature. However, modern conveniences that we now recognize, such as electric irons and automatic pop-up toasters begin to debut.

The 1920s

Houses are starting to become mass-produced, and new house plans are including electricity into their designs. The breakfast nook becomes a popular concept, while the kitchen moves to the back of the house, with the living room moving to the front. The radio takes center stage as the center of home entertainment.

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The 1930s

Art Deco dominates, which leads to the intricate geometric patterns that you often will still find on older flooring and walls. Coved ceilings and arched doorways are popular. This decade also sees the advent of the washing machine that doesn’t use wringer rolls (a huge safety hazard) and the clothes dryer.

The 1940s

World War II defines this decade. Homes begin to get larger, with three to four bedrooms becoming more standard. Approximately 50 percent of homes now have a full bathroom that includes a bathtub, toilet, and sink in the same room. 

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The 1950s

A post-war housing boom takes place in the 1950s, and the average home in the U.S. is now 1,100 square feet, and costs $7,354.  Most new homes are only one story. The color TV makes its debut, replacing the radio as the living room centerpiece.

The 1960s

The average cost of a new home jumps to $11,900 in the 1960s.  A significant portion of a home’s floor plan is now given over to the garage. Built-in furniture and hideaway entertainment centers are in vogue. The major appliances that we depend on now are all readily available by the 1960s (think dishwasher, refrigerator, TV).

The 1970s

More than half of U.S. homes now have air conditioning, and homes continue to get bigger—the average square footage of a home in the 70s jumps to 1,500 square feet, and will cost around $17,000.  Exposed brick walls and wood paneling are very popular.

The 1980s

Family sizes start to decline in the 80s compared to decades past, but square footage continues its upward trend.  The average new home in the 1980s is almost 1,600 square feet, and runs about $47,000. The carpeted bathroom becomes popular, as do finished basements.  For décor during this time period, think lots of florals and mirrors.

The 1990s

Kitchens become significantly bigger, and walk-in closets are a must-have. If you’re in the market for a new home in the 90s, you’re looking at an average cost of $79,100. The average square footage of a new home in this decade hits nearly 2,000.

The 2000s

Bigger windows and skylights are very trendy, as are hardwood floors (after all those decades of carpet). The cost of an average home is now $199,600 and totals at about 2,266 square feet.

The 2010s

For the first time in 100 years, new houses are smaller than in previous years, holding steady at 2,169 square feet. They’re still going to cost you, though—the average for this decade is $272,900. Increasingly, houses have more bathrooms (2.5 on average), and open floor plans see a surge in popularity.

What’s Next?

Future trends can be hard to predict, but it’s a safe bet that smart technology is going to play an ever-increasing role in the American home. What won’t change about the average home? The need to protect it. When it comes to home insurance, our agents can help guide the way. Ask your Farm Bureau agent what you can do to protect your home—no matter what decade it’s from!


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