It’s safe to say that homes in Arizona have a unique charm, but what exactly makes up an Arizona home? Today, neighborhoods throughout Arizona are comprised of a mixture of architecture, ranging from ultra-modern and contemporary to traditional, southwestern, country, and territorial.
Early settlers brought several styles of architecture from different regions of the country to build their homes as a reminder and a little piece of home. That’s why, in our historic districts, you’ll find a mixture of Victorian homes standing side-by-side with homes displaying a Spanish Colonial flare.
The most common single-family residential architecture styles in Arizona today include:
- Pueblo Revival
- Contemporary / Mid Century Modern
- Spanish Mission
- Tudor Revival
- Santa Fe / Spanish Colonial
Let’s take a look at these styles individually.
Arizona’s original ranch families needed functional homes for the families, workhands, and stock. Each structure on the property was built along the contours of the land to take advantage of how the water flowed, the sun shined, and the wind blew. As the family who lived there grew, they would connect the other structures to the house, thus creating infill rooms to make a bigger house. Because of these ongoing additions, Ranch houses are U or L-shaped with kinks and angles in the floor plan.
There’re at least 17 varieties of Ranch house architecture. In Arizona, there are five predominant Ranch styles: Traditional/Early, California, Spanish Colonial, French Provincial, and American Colonial. Yet in Tucson, there is a sixth; the Territorial Ranch-style house created by twentieth-century architect Josias Joesler.
Ranch-style homes are a popular architectural style for new construction in the massive subdivisions throughout Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Yavapai, and Cochise Counties.
This style dates back to the 8th century and Pueblo Indians in what is now Arizona and New Mexico. Thick walls of earthy materials or adobe are the reason why they are also called “Adobe-style” homes. Rounded exteriors and flat roofs make this style one of the most unique. Heavy wood doors and exposed wood beams connect the outdoors and indoors. This style became quite popular at the turn of the 20th century. You can find these houses in the Arcadia Historic neighborhood and Coronado Historic District in Phoenix.
Contemporary / Mid Century Modern
Contemporary / Mid Century Modern style is a broad description of homes featuring clean lines, open spaces, and large windows with a minimalist interior. Glass, steel, and flat-panel wood are popular materials. These homes often feature high technology and tend to be more eco-friendly. This style takes inspiration from renowned architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Jack DeBartolo, and Will Bruder. There some new subdivisions in Tucson designed in the Mid Century Modern style.
Popular between 1890 and 1950, Spanish Mission homes often include an enclosed courtyard, clay-tiled roofs with wide eaves, and adobe walls. Baroque pitched roofs and exterior arches also dominate this particular style. This type of home is seen throughout older areas of Phoenix, the Encanto Neighborhood of Tucson, and new-build communities throughout the state.
Influenced by Beaux-arts, Spanish Colonial, and Italian Renaissance, these romantic, exotic, and elegant homes resemble seaside villas. These homes are open style, low-pitched, with a red-tiled roof, and arched or circular windows. This type can also be found in subdivisions throughout the state.
Tudor Revival houses date to the beginning of the 19th century. Many new communities reference this royal English architectural style from the Middle Ages. These homes feature a whimsical, storybook look with large chimneys and high-pitched roofs, stone hearths, dark wood paneling, exposed timber, and some adorned with stained-glass windows. There are some in the historic Phoenix neighborhoods and a few around the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Arizona.
Bungalows offer a simple design with natural elements, a center fireplace, and built-in cabinets. A Bungalow is a small cottage-like home — either single story or with a second, half, or partial story built into a sloped roof. Often distinguished by dormer windows and porches or verandas, this is one of the first home styles to feature an “open floor” plan. You can find Bungalows in the neighborhoods at the center of the creation of cities in towns, such as downtown Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, Mesa, Litchfield Park, and Flagstaff.
Santa Fe / Spanish Colonial
Made of clay-brick, mud, and plaster, the Santa Fe or Spanish Colonial style is more than 3,000 years old and is very common here. These homes tend to feature small windows, a flat roof of latillas and vigas, colorful tiles, arched doorways, wood beams, hard surface flooring, and wrought iron details. This style is a blend of southwestern style with Mexican and Spanish bases from the colonial period.
A Note About Historic Homes
Regardless of the style, if you buy a house in a historic neighborhood, you will likely need a certificate if you want to perform any aesthetic alterations. Don’t alter anything without checking with the local historical society and city/town.