Australian home buyers enjoy a diverse spectrum of architectural options reflecting the influences that have shaped our real estate through the years. This overview of residential architecture introduces the most common Australian home styles and a bit of the history of each. Perhaps you’ll feel a connection with one or two, and that might lead you to a home that fits your unique sense of style.
If you want an iconic Australian design, this is it. Some place the origin of this style as early as the 1820s, and new homes in the Queenslander style are still built, though the style has tapered off since the 1980s. Classic characteristics include:
- Raised construction for ventilation and protection from monsoonal rains
- Large and numerous windows
- One or two storeys
- Timber siding
- Large verandas often wrap around the home, especially in older models
- A roof of corrugated iron, slate or tiles with a notable peak
- Originally built without garages, though a detached garage has often been added
The Queenslander design is ideal for those who enjoy spending time outdoors or staying visually connected with it through the many windows. Buying a Queenslander has been called “a labour of love” due to the high maintenance demands and costs of timber homes and verandahs.
This elegant style dates to the 1860s and the reign of Queen Victoria for whom it is named. Victorian architecture was used on homes of all size to give them an air of class and respectability. The homes are marked by:
- Stucco exteriors, often with a decorative coating
- Appointed with cast iron lacework and/or balustrades
- Double-hung windows with an arched frame
- A roof of slate or galvanised iron sheet
- No garage or a detached garage built later
While the Queenslander has a timeless charm, the Victorian is distinctly a period home. For some, it has classic appeal; others think it’s looks are simply dated.
The Gold Rush of 1875 to about 1890 was the inspiration for this bodacious design. Lavishly decorated to reflect the riches gained in pursuit of gold, Boom Style homes are truly an Australian classic. Common elements include:
- Several complementing colours of brick used
- Slate or scalloped tile roof
- Artistic parapets
- Double-hung timber windows, often with small pillars and brick arches
- Attached or detached brick garages, often with elegant timber doors
The elaborate brick construction was expensive, and these homes sell at a high price today.
Some say this style was imported and call it the American bungalow. It began appearing in Australian suburbs in during the First World War when houses were downsized due to a shortage of tradesmen. The bungalow remains one of the most popular architectural styles. These homes often feature:
- Low-sloped, tiled roofs
- Brick, stucco or rough-cast render
- Front verandas with robust columns supporting the overhanging roof
- Small garages with plain garage doors
These homes were quite plain compared with Victorian or Federation homes, and the style remained popular up to the Second World War.
When introduced in the 1930s, art deco architecture had a distinctively modern look that many embraced while others steered clear of. This style, influenced by the German Bauhaus School of Modern Design features:
- Mainly square and rectangular facades
- Two-storey construction
- A hipped roof without gables, often covered in tile
- Brick, stucco or weatherboard siding
- Matching garages incorporated into the design or detached, with paneled garage doors
This unique and interesting design drives up demand for these homes, and they sell quickly and for a good price.
First built in the 1950s, homes with contemporary style are plain without being austere. Contemporary homes are noted for:
- An exterior of brick, brick veneer, cement or weatherboard
- Large windows
- Low-pitched roofs of steel or corrugated metal
- A garage included in the structure, often with a European-style door of simple but stylish design
Contemporary homes are often grouped together in suburbs, and the style has held up quite well.
Modern architecture began appearing in the 1990s and remains a popular style for new construction. Notable features are:
- Sophisticated designs incorporating steel and glass
- Clean exterior lines
- Single-storey design
- Open floor plans
- Incorporated garages with sleek lines to match the home’s architecture
This design style is likely to remain popular because it emphasizes the use of sustainable materials and makes good use of interior space.
Finding your Style
Whether you want a home with a long history, one that really tells a story, or you prefer something up-to-date, you’ve got a wealth of diverse options. Take time getting to know Australian architectural styles through photos, walking or driving by good examples of each or looking through homes for sale in the style you’re considering. As you do, it’s likely that one architectural design will impress itself upon you as the one that appeals to your sense of beauty. Once you’ve found a style, you are well on your way to finding your next home.