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The Defining Features of Pacific Northwest House Architecture

House Designers Capture the Character, Diversity, and Lifestyle of the Region


A style where architecture does not get in the way of nature, Pacific Northwest designs accent the region’s natural beauty and landscapes. Whether it’s a rustic cabin, a bungalow, an Arts & Crafts or Craftsman, a Queen Anne, a modern contemporary home, or a houseboat, the Pacific Northwest home is built to work and adapt to its environment.


2-story, 4-bedroom Bungalow style home with covered front porch

This attractive 2-story, 4-bedroom Arts & Crafts style bungalow has a roomy covered front porch. The roof is of asphalt shingles and the exterior walls are of wood siding with stone accents. Notice the deep roof overhangs typical in a Pacific Northwest home (Plan #161-1001).


While homes around the country are built mostly on flat plots, Northwest homes are constructed on hilly slopes and along the coast. With the mountains, forests, valleys and coastlines surrounding Washington State, Oregon and British Columbia, architects built simply designed homes with very little exterior details - that fit the region’s varied terrain and climate. What emerged is a style that connects the outdoors with the indoors and is sensitive to the environment.

Open design kitchen in 3-bedroom Ranch style home

Glass windows provide a great picture of the outdoors from this spacious kitchen/dining area of a 3-bedroom ranch (Plan #176-1012).


Characteristics of the Pacific Northwest Home

In an area where there is so much rain throughout the year, homes are designed with an eye toward capturing sunlight and providing shelter from the elements.

1.  Open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling glass windows capture the sunlight. Wide glass windows open up walls and invite the outdoors inside the home.

2.  Exposed structural components like rustic wood beams

Vaulted ceiling of a Great Room with rustic charm

Soaring ceiling and fireplace of Country style Great Room

Two views of the Great Room of a two-story, four-bedroom Craftsman home shows high ceilings with exposed rustic wood beams and an open floor plan. Large windows capture natural sunlight and provide a peek into the outdoor living areas (Plan #153-1781).


3.  Deep overhangs provide shelter from the elements; trees, shrubs, trellises give shade and protection from the sun and wind

This 1-story, 5-bedroom Craftsman bungalow gets a lot of shade from the large trees on the property. A deep overhang protects the glass windows from the abundent rain of the Pacific Northwest (Plan #115-1434).


4.  Simple exteriors and interiors made mostly of wood

This 2-story, 5-bedroom bungalow with a classically simple exterior façade has a gable roof and wood shakes on its exterior walls (Plan #119-1221).


Wooden staircase to the second floor in roomy open-plan home

Upper landing with wooden railings in open-plan home

This gorgeous wooden staircase (top) to the second floor living quarters (bottom) is a wonderful display of hand-hewn craftsmanship (Plan #115-1000).


5.  A combination of muted yellow, red and orange hues are used to brighten up the homes against the sometimes gray skies

Arts & Crafts home with exterior of muted orange and red

A splash of muted tones of red and orange makes this two-story Arts and Crafts home a delightful sight – especially in the rainy Pacific Northwest (Plan #115-1000).


Architectural Styles in the Pacific Northwest

Given the unique terrain and climate of the Pacific Northwest, what kind of architectural plans can one expect to find in the region? A variety of architectural styles exist in Pacific Northwest neighborhoods. However, some are more popular because their basic designs and structures are more adaptable to the landscape, geographical characteristics and weather of the area.


Arts & Crafts

The stone foundations and wood exteriors of the Arts and Crafts style homes are very attractive to residents of the Pacific Northwest. The gabled roofs, wide porches and exposed rustic beams are always a welcome sight. Add the bright exterior colors and you have a home that offers a great contrast to the often gray skies.

Beautiful example of modern transitional Arts & Crafts style home

This 1-story, 3-bedroom Arts and Crafts style home has an inviting front porch and gorgeous picture windows. Check out the exquisite detailed stone and woodwork of the exterior facade (Plan #161-1073).



The Craftsman style, with its use of local materials, especially wood and stone, is another appealing choice – because of the abundance of natural resources in the Pacific Northwest. Like the Arts and Crafts style, Craftsman homes have exposed beams, foundations constructed of rock and large porches wrapping around the home. Simplicity and functionality merge into the style and the result is a classic architectural beauty that blends into the Pacific Northwest’s landscape.

This is a photo this 109-1013 house plan.

This transitional Craftsman home with rock/stone exterior features a covered porch that leads to the spacious dining and family areas. Overhangs protect the home from excessive rain (Plan #109-1013).


An offshoot of the Craftsman and Arts and Crafts style is the Bungalow house. Typically one level, some bungalows may feature one-and-one-half stories of living space. They are have low-pitched roofs, covered porches, and large stone/brick bases – again ideal for the climate in the Pacific Northwest. The bungalow also features colorful exteriors like the Arts and Crafts design.

Bungalow style home that has many design features appropriate for the Pacific Northwest

This bungalow designed for Pacific Northwest living has a wood-siding exterior, gable roof, covered porch, wide windows for lots of natural sunlight, and trees to provide shade and shelter against the rain (Plan #115-1370).


Victorian Style

The Victorian style, which flourished in the 1900s, continues its timeless appeal across all regions and populations. With its turrets, dormers, towers, balconies, and colorful decorative features the Victorian plan stands out against a backdrop of mountains and coastlines in the Pacific Northwest.

Main image for house plan # 7019

This 2-story, 4-bedroom Contemporary interpretation of the Victorian style home comes with a porch topped by a metal shed roof and lots of windows for a profusion of natural light. The gable and hip roofs, stone chimney, and colorful siding add personality to the home (Plan #136-1001).



In a place with mountains, forests and valleys, it makes sense to have a cottage or a log cabin. Easy to build and with readily available materials, cabins are more common in rural areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Handsome cabin finished in natural wood that suits Pacific Northwest living

A cabin with an open floor plan is ideal in most coastline areas of the Pacific Northwest. This 2-story, 2 bedroom vacation cabin features a fireplace in the Great Room and a spacious rear deck – great perch for stunning outdoor views (Plan #160-1012).


Modern and Contemporary Styles

Styles of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Contemporary and Modern styles find their way in every region of the country. Attractively simple with clean lines, the Contemporary home is usually designed with a hip roof and large windows. The exteriors may be of wood, brick, rock, or stucco. The Modern style typically has a flat otr extremely low-slope roof with lots of metal, glass, and materials like stone or brick.

Contemporary style home with stacked stone, smooth stone, and stucco exterior

This classically simple Contemporary style home comes with an open floor plan and two to four bedrooms. The low-profile home ia a good example of contemporary treatment of Prairie style (Plan #194-1014).


Modern style with large glass windows

Modern style home on a lot that slopes away from the 3-car garage

This Modern style home, built on a sloping lot, features a roof of asphalt roll roofing and a rock/stone and wood exterior. Large glass windows typical of Modern homes give the house plenty of light and a breezy, airy feel (Plan #100-1278).


The beauty of the Pacific Northwest style is not in the design itself – but in how it fits into the beautiful natural surroundings. If you’re ready to adapt to the Pacific Northwest aesthetic, there are great architectural styles waiting. Search our entire collection of Pacific Northwest homes here.



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