When it comes to running a successful bed and breakfast inn, the style and character of the property play a crucial role in attracting and captivating guests. Bed and breakfast inns come in many architectural styles, each with its own unique charm and appeal.
From historic Victorian mansions to modern-day styles, the variety of house styles available allows guests to find a B&B inn that perfectly suits their tastes. We will explore 33 different architectural bed and breakfast inn styles. We discuss 1) the time period the architectural style is/was most popular, 2) the specific characteristics that make that style unique, and 3) how common and/or useful that style is for bed and breakfast inns.
Time Period : Primarily found in the southwestern United States and Mexico; originated in prehistoric times and still used today.
Characteristics : Adobe architecture is prominent in Southwestern regions, drawing inspiration from Native American and Spanish influences. It features thick, earth-colored walls made of adobe bricks, rounded edges, flat roofs with parapets, and wooden elements like vigas and latillas.
Attractive Inns : Adobe-style B&B inns can be found in the American Southwest, particularly in states like New Mexico and Arizona. They offer guests a unique cultural experience, blending traditional and rustic elements with a warm
Time Period : Popularized in the mid-20th century (1950s-1970s). Gained popularity in the mid-20th century, and are associated with modern and vacation home architecture.
- A-Frame houses have a distinctive triangular shape resembling the letter “A.”
- They typically have steeply sloping roofs that extend down to the foundation.
- A-Frame houses often feature large windows that provide abundant natural light.
- They are known for their simple and minimalist design.
Attractive Inns : A-Frame buildings have become increasingly popular as unique and charming B&B inns. Their distinct architectural style and cozy interior make them an attractive choice for travelers seeking a memorable and picturesque accommodation experience. Moreover, A-Frame B&Bs often capitalize on their scenic locations, such as mountains, forests, or waterfronts, to offer guests stunning views from the large windows.
Time Period : Predominantly seen in the 1920s and 1930s.
Characteristics : flat roof, geometric shapes, often accented with bold or pastel colors, elaborate ornamentation, streamlined and symmetrical designs, white stucco walls with rounded corners, use of materials like glass, chrome, and terrazzo, decorative motifs.
Attractive Inns : Art Deco-style B&Bs can be found in urban areas or historical districts. These inns exude elegance, luxury, and glamour, attracting guests who appreciate the artistic and nostalgic qualities of the style.
Time Period : Popular during the late 19th century (mid-1800s to early 1900s). The brownstone pictured can be found in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia.
- Constructed with a type of sandstone called brownstone, which gives the buildings their name.
- They often have a stoop or steps leading up to the main entrance.
- Brownstones are known for their distinctive architectural details, such as ornate facades, decorative ironwork, and large windows.
- Typically found in urban areas, particularly in cities like New York and Boston.
- They usually have multiple floors with high ceilings and narrow layouts.
- Many brownstones feature fireplaces and original woodwork.
Attractive Inns : Brownstones are popular choices for B&B inns in urban settings due to their charm and historic appeal. The multiple floors provide ample space for accommodating guests, and the architectural details create a unique and inviting atmosphere. In fact, their central location in bustling cities makes them attractive to travelers seeking a convenient and culturally rich experience.
Time Period : Gained popularity in the early 20th century (1900s-1930s).
Characteristics : predominantly single-story, small size and square shape, narrow-pitched roofs, full or partial front porch, front-facing gables, open floor plans, efficient use of space, handcrafted details, natural materials, cozy and intimate atmosphere, large picture windows
Attractive Inns : Bungalow-style B&Bs offer a charming and intimate setting for guests seeking a home-like experience. Thus, they often are located in residential neighborhoods or near natural attractions, providing a cozy and welcoming retreat.
Time Period : Emerged in the late 17th century and remained popular through the 18th century.
- Originating from New England, Cape Cod architecture is simple, symmetrical, and practical.
- Typically one to one-and-a-half stories high with a steep roof, central chimney, and clapboard or shingle siding.
- The front entrance is usually centrally located and adorned with a small porch or portico.
- Multi-pane windows with shutters and dormer windows are common features.
- Interior spaces are designed to maximize functionality and efficiency.
Attractive Inns : Cape Cod style B&B inns are popular in coastal regions and historic towns in the northeastern United States. The style’s cozy and traditional aesthetics, along with its association with New England charm. Thus, it is a favored choice among B&B owners seeking a quaint and welcoming atmosphere for their guests.
Time Period : Primarily seen during the 17th and 18th centuries (1600s-1700s).
Characteristics : Symmetrical design, two stories, rectangular shape, pitched roofs, centered front door, columns or pilasters, double-hung windows, minimalist appearance
Attractive Inns : Colonial-style homes are popular choices for B&B inns, particularly those situated in historic areas. The simple elegance and historical significance of Colonial architecture make it appealing to many guests.
Time Period : Ongoing style that reflects current architectural trends and designs.
Characteristics : Contemporary architecture emphasizes clean lines, simplicity, and functionality. It often features open floor plans, large statement windows, and an integration of indoor and outdoor spaces. Contemporary designs may incorporate various materials, including concrete, glass, and steel. Similar to modern style but more playful.
Attractive Inns : Contemporary-style B&B inns can be commonly found in urban or modern settings. They attract guests who prefer a sleek and minimalist aesthetic. Thus, they value a design that reflects current architectural trends.
Time Period : Popular from the late 19th century to the early 20th century (1900s-1930s).
Characteristics : single story or partial second story, low-pitched gable roofs with overhanging eaves; exposed beam, brackets & rafters; distinctive arts and crafts-style windows, wide front porches supported by tapered columns, handcrafted details, use of natural materials, built-in furniture, cozy and warm interiors
Attractive Inns : Craftsman-style B&Bs are popular for their craftsmanship, attention to detail, and cozy atmosphere. They can be located in historic neighborhoods or areas known for their architectural heritage, attracting guests who appreciate the craftsmanship and nostalgia associated with the style.
Time Period : Originated in the 17th century and remains popular today.
Characteristics : typically painted white, functional design, gabled roofs, wide wraparound porch, vertical board and batten siding, practical layout, exposed beams, minimal detailing, rustic touches
Attractive Inns : Farmhouse-style homes are commonly converted into B&B inns, especially in rural or countryside locations. Their cozy and rustic charm, combined with nostalgia, attracts guests looking for a peaceful and homey retreat.
Time Period : Dominant from the late 18th century to the early 19th century (1780s-1820s).
Characteristics : symmetrical design, simple form, brick or stone construction, fanlights, elliptical or arched entryways, decorative moldings, low-pitched roofs, similar to Georgian but narrower and taller, often with smaller annex or extension added on, multiple chimneys
Attractive Inns : Federal-style homes are occasionally converted into B&B inns, particularly in historic areas. Moreover, their refined elegance and historical significance can appeal to guests seeking a classic and sophisticated experience.
Time Period : Evolved during the 18th and 19th centuries in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
- Originating from the French colonies in the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast, French Creole architecture features a blend of French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences.
- Typically characterized by a raised foundation, large windows, and spacious verandas or galleries.
- Often constructed with materials like brick, stucco, or wood.
- Elaborate wrought ironwork, decorative columns, and steep hip roofs are common features.
- Open floor plans and ample natural light contribute to a breezy and tropical atmosphere.
Attractive Inns : French Creole architecture can be seen in bed and breakfast inns located in regions with a strong historical connection to French colonial influence, such as Louisiana and parts of the Caribbean. Thus, the style’s charm, elegance, and distinctive features make it popular among B&B owners looking to create a romantic ambiance for their guests.
Time Period : Influenced by rural French architecture, popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Characteristics : symmetrical, two or three stories, steep pitched roof or mansard roof; tall, arched windows and doorways; decorative balconies, turrets, towers, finials, & chimneys, quoins, stucco or stone exteriors, ornate details.
Attractive Inns : French Provincial-style B&Bs offer a romantic and elegant atmosphere, reminiscent of the French countryside. In fact, they are often situated in picturesque locations, providing guests with a luxurious and sophisticated experience.
Time Period : Prominent during the 18th century (1700s).
Characteristics : symmetrical façade, formal design, brick or stone construction, classical motifs, elaborate entrance doorways, like Colonial but more embellished, side-gabled or hipped roof, dormer windows & decorative window headers, grand entrance with columns and pediment
Attractive Inns : Georgian architecture is less commonly found as B&B inns, primarily due to its formal and imposing nature. However, Georgian-style mansions or larger properties may be converted into luxury B&B establishments.
Time Period : Flourished in the mid-19th century (1830s-1860s).
Characteristics : Pointed arches, windows, & gables; steeply pitched roofs; decorative tracery; gargoyles; ornate details; asymmetrical; two stories; extensive use of vergeboards; often red brick with white ornamentation
Attractive Inns : Gothic Revival styles are less commonly found as B&B inns due to their elaborate and often grandiose architectural features. Thus, they may not lend themselves well to the functional needs of a modern B&B.
Time Period : Predominant in the mid-19th century (1820s-1850s).
Characteristics : Symmetrical design, two stories, low-pitched hipped roof, double height columns (Doric or Ionic) and pilasters, triangular pediments over wide porch entry, balanced proportions, front-facing gables, friezes, classical motifs
Attractive Inns : Greek Revival architecture is less commonly found as B&B inns, but it can be seen in historic locations or areas with a strong architectural preservation focus. Moreover, the grandeur and classical appeal of Greek Revival homes may attract certain B&B guests.
Time Period : Popular in the mid-19th century (1840s-1880s).
Characteristics : symmetrical, two or three stories, low-hipped roof with overhanging eaves; tall, narrow, & arched windows, elaborate cornices, decorative brackets, balconies, grand entrances; ornamental detailing around windows, doorway, and roofline; often has a tower or square cupola.
Attractive Inns : Italianate-style B&Bs can be found in historic districts or areas with strong architectural heritage. These inns provide a touch of elegance and grandeur. Thus, they attract guests who appreciate the opulence and historical significance of the style.
Time Period : Associated with early American settlement and pioneer times; varies across different time periods.
Characteristics : asymmetrical, full or partial second story, made from horizontal logs with plastered joints, prominent front-facing gable, large wrap around deck, rustic appearance, exposed logs, heavy timber beams, stone chimneys, wide porches, typically found in more rural locations
Attractive Inns : Log houses or cabins are often transformed into charming B&B inns, particularly in scenic and nature-oriented destinations. The rustic and cozy ambiance of log houses offers a unique experience for guests seeking a retreat in natural surroundings.
Time Period : Originated in the late 19th century and gained popularity in the early 20th century (1900s-1930s).
Characteristics : Mediterranean architecture draws inspiration from the coastal regions of Spain, Italy, and Greece; more elaborate than Spanish. Key features include tan-colored stucco walls, red clay barrel roof tiles, arched windows and doorways, wrought-iron accents, and lush courtyards. The style often incorporates elements of the outdoors, such as terraces, balconies, and pergolas.
Attractive Inns : Mediterranean-style B&B inns are popular in areas with warm climates and coastal or Mediterranean landscapes. They evoke a sense of relaxation, luxury, and exoticism. Thus, this makes them ideal for vacation destinations or coastal towns.
Time Period : Popular from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Characteristics : asymmetrical, clean lines, flat or low-sloping roofs, floor to ceiling windows, open floor plans, integration with nature, use of innovative materials, minimalist design, typically single story
Attractive Inns : Mid-Century Modern-style B&Bs attract guests who appreciate the architectural style of the mid-20th century. These inns often offer a stylish and retro ambiance, appealing to design-conscious travelers seeking a nostalgic experience.
Time Period : Modern architecture emerged in the early 20th century. Reflects contemporary architectural styles and is ongoing.
Characteristics : one or two stories embraces simplicity, clean lines, and a connection with nature, often features open floor plans, large windows, flat or low-pitched roofs, and the use of industrial materials such as steel, concrete, and glass
Attractive Inns : Modern-style B&B inns can be found in both urban and natural settings. They cater to guests who appreciate a sleek, contemporary design and a seamless blend between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Time Period : Contemporary style inspired by mountainous regions; ongoing.
Characteristics : Mountain modern architecture combines elements of contemporary design with natural materials and textures. It often features large windows to showcase scenic views, exposed beams, stone or wood accents, and a blend of modern and rustic aesthetics. Often has a dramatic roofline, asymmetrical, two or three stories. Located in alpine areas.
Attractive Inns : Mountain modern-style B&B inns are popular in mountainous regions, ski resorts, or areas with breathtaking natural landscapes. They cater to guests seeking a luxurious yet cozy retreat, with a focus on embracing the surrounding natural beauty.
Time Period : Emerged in the late 19th century and remained popular into the early 20th century (1890s-1920s).
Characteristics : two stories with single-story porch, strong horizontal emphasis, low-pitched roofs with extensive overhang, long and narrow ribbon windows, open floor plans, integration with the surrounding landscape, emphasis on natural materials (stone, wood, or brick)
Attractive Inns : Prairie-style B&Bs are often situated in scenic locations, such as countryside or areas with expansive views. These inns provide a harmonious blend of architecture and nature. Thus, they offer a tranquil retreat for guests seeking a connection with the outdoors.
Time Period : Prominent during the late 19th century (1880s-1910s).
Characteristics : Steep roofs, wrap-around porches with columns and trim, decorative spindles, ornamental brackets, asymmetrical forms, two stories, turrets, varied wall textures, stained glass windows, more embellishments than Victorian style, bold colors and accents
Attractive Inns : Queen Anne style is frequently used in B&B inns. Its whimsical and picturesque elements, such as turrets and wrap-around porches, provide a unique and charming setting for guests.
Time Period : Popular from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Characteristics : asymmetrical, rectangular shape, single-story, low-pitched hipped or gabled roof, open floor plan, attached garage, large picture windows, simple exterior design, often with a patio or porch.
Attractive Inns : Ranch-style B&Bs can offer a cozy and unpretentious atmosphere with a focus on indoor-outdoor living. They are popular in rural or suburban areas. Moroever, they provide a relaxed and comfortable stay for guests.
Time Period : Predominantly seen in the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Saltbox houses have a long, sloping roof that slopes down to the back, resembling a box used to store salt (hence the name).
- They typically have two stories in the front and one story in the back.
- The front of the house often features a central chimney.
- Saltbox houses commonly have symmetrical facades with simple, clean lines.
- They were prevalent in colonial New England and are associated with traditional American architecture.
Attractive Inns : Saltbox houses can make charming and cozy B&B inns. Their unique roofline and colonial-style architecture attract visitors looking for a historic and traditional ambiance. Moreover, the symmetrical design and smaller size of these houses lend themselves well to creating an intimate and welcoming space for guests.
Time Period : Flourished in the late 19th century (1880s-1900s).
- Shingle style architecture emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction to excessive ornamentation.
- Features a façade covered in wooden shingles, giving the structure a rustic and textured appearance.
- Irregular rooflines with intersecting gables, gambrels, and hipped roofs are common.
- Large, expansive porches and balconies, often with decorative railings.
- Abundant windows, including bay windows and picture windows, allow ample natural light.
Attractive Inns : Shingle-style B&B inns are often found in coastal regions, particularly along the northeastern and northwestern coastlines of the United States. The style’s connection to seaside resorts and its harmonious integration with natural surroundings make it a popular choice for B&B owners, aiming to provide guests with a serene and picturesque setting.
Time Period : Influential from the 1910s to the 1940s.
- Clay Tile Roofs : add a rustic and authentic touch; these tiles, often in warm earth tones, enhance the architectural beauty and offer durability & insulation
- Stucco Exteriors : providing a smooth and textured finish; creates a visually appealing & cohesive appearance
- Arched Doorways and Windows : add elegance and a sense of grandeur; these arches are often adorned with decorative accents, such as intricate wrought ironwork
- Courtyards and Patios : these outdoor spaces provide a tranquil retreat; courtyards often incorporate elements like fountains, colorful tiles, and lush greenery, enhancing the Mediterranean ambiance
- Ornate Details : Spanish style houses are known for their attention to detail; elaborate tile work, decorative iron grilles, and carved wooden doors add character & authenticity to the architecture
Attractive Inns : The allure of Spanish style houses extends beyond private residences and has become increasingly popular for B&B properties. Here are some reasons behind this trend:
- Unique Aesthetics : the combination of earthy colors, warm textures, and intricate details creates an enchanting atmosphere that is inherently appealing
- Authenticity and Heritage : this authenticity appeals to travelers looking for an immersive and culturally significant experience during their stay at a B&B
- Indoor-Outdoor Flow : the emphasis on courtyards, patios, and outdoor spaces in Spanish style houses aligns perfectly with the desire for a seamless indoor-outdoor flow; these outdoor areas offer additional spaces for enhancing the overall guest experience
- Versatility and Adaptability : Spanish style houses are well suited to the needs of B&B owners due to their versatile layouts; the spacious interiors and interconnected living areas provide opportunities for creating multiple guest rooms, communal spaces, & private quarters for the owners
Time Period : Popular in the mid-20th century (1950s-1970s). Gained popularity in the mid-20th century, and are associated with modern and contemporary architecture.
- Split-level houses typically have three or more levels staggered.
- They often feature short flights of stairs that connect each level.
- The design allows multiple living areas and distinct zones within the house.
- Split-level houses are known for their versatility and efficient use of space.
Attractive Inns : Split-level houses can work well as B&B inns, especially for owners who desire separate guest quarters. The distinct levels provide privacy for both hosts and guests. Thus, the open and flexible layout of split-level houses allows for comfortable and private guest accommodations, while maintaining a sense of spaciousness.
Time Period : Varies across different cultures and time periods. Stilt houses can be any architectural style.
- Stilt houses are built on raised platforms or stilts, usually above water or uneven terrain.
- They are often found in coastal areas, marshes, or flood-prone regions.
- Stilt houses are designed to protect against flooding and provide an elevated living space.
- They can be made of various materials, including wood, concrete, or metal.
- Stilt houses offer excellent views and natural ventilation.
Attractive Inns : While stilt houses are not as commonly found as B&B inns compared to other architectural styles, they can be ideal for certain locations. Stilt houses situated in scenic coastal areas or near bodies of water can provide a unique and picturesque experience for guests. Thus, the elevated position and stunning views can attract travelers seeking a tranquil and waterfront retreat.
Time Period : Varies across different cultures and time periods. Traditional homes are the most common architectural style found in the United States today.
Characteristics : Traditional architecture is rooted in classic design principles and varies based on regional influences. It typically features balanced proportions, symmetrical facades, formal entrances, and a mix of materials like brick, stone, or wood. Traditional styles may include Colonial, Georgian, or Victorian designs. One or two stories. Covered front porch and front facing gables.
Attractive Inns : Traditional-style B&B inns have a timeless appeal and can be found in historic towns or areas known for their architectural heritage. Thus, they cater to guests seeking nostalgia and a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.
Time Period : Predominant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890s-1940s).
Characteristics : Tudor architecture originated in England during the Tudor period. It is characterized as two stories with half-timbered exteriors, steeply pitched gabled roofs, decorative chimneys, and casement windows. The style often incorporates elements of Gothic or medieval architecture.
Attractive Inns : Tudor-style B&B inns are popular in areas with a rich history or a charming, storybook ambiance. Their distinctive and picturesque appearance attracts guests who appreciate the Old World charm and cozy, intimate settings.
Time Period : Prominent during the mid-19th to early 20th centuries (1830s-1910s).
Characteristics : Elaborate ornamentation (towers, turrets, & vergeboards), asymmetrical shapes, multiple gables, ornate detailing, textured shingles, oriel and bay windows, decorative trim, wood siding with shingle accents & rounded angles, wraparound front porch
Attractive Inns : Victorian architecture is highly popular for B&B inns. The intricate detailing and romantic charm of Victorian homes create an inviting and nostalgic atmosphere that many B&B guests seek.
In the realm of bed and breakfast inns, the house style of a property is not merely an architectural choice, but an essential aspect that sets the tone for the entire guest experience. The diverse styles available ensures that there are B&B inns to suit every guest.
Whether it’s the elegance of a Victorian mansion, the rustic charm of a farmhouse, each house style creates unique accommodations that appeal to different types of guests. Bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers can create an inviting and memorable experience for their guests.
With such a variety of house styles to choose from, the world of bed and breakfast inns offers endless possibilities for creating enchanting and unforgettable stays. Looking to buy or sell attractive inns? Contact Rob Sales, of B&B Consulting, today!