Defining a House Style: What Is a National Home?

The national house is one of the oldest architectural styles to be found in the United States, but we still see these houses – and their descendants – being built. If you've ever wondered what the style of this style has stood the test of time, you've come to the right place. This post deals in greater detail with houses in national style. Read below to find out what this type of architecture is about.

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Houses in national style date from the first settlers. Image: Romakoma / Shutterstock

History of the national house

National houses are perhaps the earliest style of architecture to be born in North America. Early settlers mixed the structure of a traditional English house with some aspects of the Indian design. The narrow profile of a national house, with steep angled roofing, is similar to a teepee and lean-to construction and was better suited to withstand tough New England winters.

This style, however, got its name because, with the arrival of the railroad, it eventually reached New York beyond all areas of the country. Each region could then give its own twist to the style. For example, midwestern versions usually have two stories, while those in the south usually have a large veranda.

It is thought that houses in national style are the forerunner of many of the more common architectural styles we see today, especially colonial and federal houses.

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national house

There are three subtypes of national houses. Image: Ppa / Shutterstock

Types of national houses

With all that expansion, it is no more than normal that there are a few different subtypes of houses in national style. We have listed the three most common ones below:

Hall-and-salon house

The hall-and-salon house is the earliest configuration of national houses. The houses were made up of two rooms, which stood next to each other with a wall that separated them. The largest of the two rooms was the & # 39; hall & # 39; or the main living space. It took about two-thirds of the house and was where the family spent most of their time. The remaining third was the & # 39; salon & # 39; or sleeping space. It was usually at the back of the house and a bit more private.


The I-house is similar in structure to the house of the hall and saloon, because it is two rooms wide and a room deep. This time, however, the house is two floors long. In addition, in more modern versions, there is a separate rear wing for the kitchen. These houses received their name in the 1930s when Fred Kniffen, a cultural geographer, noted that they were common in rural farmlands in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa – all states beginning with the letter I.

Abused house

The term "massive house" refers to national houses that are more than two rooms deep. This type of house usually also has a large façade on one side and a porch with a canopy.

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Houses in country style have simple decorations. Image: Karen Culp / Shutterstock

Defining features of the national house

Despite the differences in floor plans and regionality, there are a number of different characteristics that connect all houses in national style. They are as follows:


  • Narrow profile
  • Rectangular or square shape
  • Pyramid-shaped roof
  • Steep curved roof
  • Facades
  • Simple decoration


  • One to two stories
  • Rectangular or square floor plan
  • Side-by-side room layout

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