Great architecture is like great art—it asks you to slow down and observe. And with so many fascinating architecture movements, one of the major joys of traveling is discovering buildings and homes that make you pause, contemplate, and admire. From mid-century modern abodes to Art Deco retreats, here are just a few of the styles to look out for on your next trip—and a selection of properties that exemplify the best of these architectural movements.
Modern: New Canaan, Connecticut and Columbus, Indiana
Modern architecture rose to popularity after the Second World War, and is defined by its clean, geometric lines, open-concept interiors, and flat roofs. Architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Phillip Johnson are synonymous with this style, which can be seen from New Canaan, Connecticut to the Balearic Islands. For travelers, Columbus, Indiana, is a modern architecture treasure trove worth exploring thanks to philanthropist J. Irwin Miller’s investment in local landmarks.
Start and end your excursions in this 14,868-square-foot modern masterpiece in Houston, Texas. The exterior boasts the drama of stark geometry and floor-to-ceiling windows, and with state-of-the-art interior features like geothermal heating and cooling, it lives up to its modern roots.
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Mid-Century Modern: Palm Springs, California
A subset of the modern movement, mid-century design embraces minimalism, and an emphasis on functionality. Complemented by sleek furniture and uncluttered, bright spaces, this architectural style incorporates many materials, from glass to wood to lucite. With its easy appeal, it has influenced design on the West Coast for decades; head to Palm Springs to take in examples of preserved mid-century homes.
The best of mid-century modern is also exemplified in this countryside Connecticut home designed by legendary architect Marcel Breuer. Featuring a juxtaposition of natural materials both inside and out—including a greenhouse in the living room—it’s truly a home for the contemporary mid-century enthusiast.
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Bauhaus: Weimar and Dassau, Germany
Building of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Photo courtesy of Uwe Aranas / Shutterstock Inc
Head to the birthplace of Bauhaus—Weimar, Germany—for a true taste of this architectural style. A design movement born in 1919, Bauhaus’ utility, minimalism, and reliance on geometrical forms can be found in major cities around the world, including London and Tel Aviv.
This four-bedroom villa in Hamburg, Germany demonstrates how the tenets of Bauhaus can elevate a home and give it a pronounced modern feel with the use of high-quality materials. With its lush garden oasis and integrated swimming pond, it’s a true testament to the harmony of natural and contemporary living.
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Art Deco: Miami Beach, Florida
Hotels on Ocean Drive, Miami, photo courtesy of allouphoto / Shutterstock Inc
One of the more eye-catching architectural styles, Art Deco was born in the mid 1920s out of the desire to cast off the past and embrace modern industry. It features notable elements like glass, chrome, and stainless steel, and geometric shapes and lines like chevron. Color is also at play here: yellows, creams, greens, pinks, blues, and reds are not uncommon in the Art Deco aesthetic. Although the style is abundant in major metropolises like Paris and New York—Manhattan’s Chrysler Building is a prime example—Miami actually has the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the United States.
If you can’t get enough of this style, this 11th-floor property in Miami Beach offers unbeatable ocean views, Carrara marble flooring, and easy access to luxury shopping, dining, and beautiful beachfront.
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Craftsman: Pasadena, California
Pasadena, California | Michael B. Bell & Tara Del Bosco, Sotheby’s International Realty – Pasadena Brokerage
For a sense of tradition and an emphasis on quality materials, look no further than a Craftsman-style home. This style’s popularity rose out of resistance to detailed Victorian architecture, resulting in an emphasis on horizontal lines, stately extended roofs, and thick trim around doorways and windows. Inside a Craftsman home, you’ll find abundant wood accents and an attention to comfort. Though Craftsman-style homes are popular in California—visitors should start in Pasadena with the work of Henry and Charles Greene—they can be found all across the United States.
Take, for example, this stone-and-cedar-shake estate in Georgia with its six bedrooms and bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, custom stone fireplace, and saltwater pool. The home’s exposed beams and gabled roof show Craftsman workmanship at its finest.
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Spanish Colonial: Cartagena, Columbia
Colonial buildings of Cartagena, photo courtesy of Jess Kraft / Shutterstock Inc
Brought to North and South America by Medditerranen settlers, Spanish Colonial architecture is found in warmer climates, such as Arizona, Florida, California, Columbia, and Mexico. With characteristic stucco or stone façades and red-tile roofs, this style is easy to spot: this spacious home in Cuernavaca, Mexico is a prime example of the design movement.
Situated on a private, gated estate, this four-bedroom property features an open-air atrium, lush gardens, a swimming pool, and patios and terraces for al fresco dining.
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Let architecture lead your next vacation. Whether you prefer the ease of Craftsman homes or the minimalist elegance of Bauhaus, each architectural movement is attractive in its own right—and if there’s one that causes you linger, perhaps it’s an invitation to move in.
Feeling architecturally inspired? Find out more about popular homes styles from Tudor to Cape Cod.