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The Federal Colonial

Federal Colonial Home

The popularity of the Adam and Federal house plans coincided with the end of Colonial America. Federal style house plans present a formal, rigorously balanced face to the street. Rooflines can be peaked with little overhang, although larger versions sometimes feature a flat roof flanked by a decorative balustrade. Design details are small but telling, providing a formal feel to the living areas inside. Their close cousin, the Colonial Adam/Federal house (named not for the president but for three brothers who specialized in the style in the Colonial era) also presents an elegant and balanced façade. The homes have an airy, delicate feel, with carefully thought-out – but not ostentatious – detailing. Interior design mirrors the home’s exterior symmetry, with large open rooms well-lit by numerous windows. The modern Federal-style house abounds with closets, pantries, and supplemental work areas for laundry, home offices and the like, lending a flexibility to the interior despite the often formal and symmetrical interior design.

General Characteristics

  • Symmetrical exterior, with central door
  • Two or more stories, often in townhouse layout
  • Side-gabled roofs
  • Often a plain brick or clapboard-style façade
  • Low-pitched roof, or flat roof with balustrade


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