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For homeowners seeking an open-concept living space with a traditional southern exterior—not to mention plenty of space for indoor and outdoor entertaining—Acadian-style houses are a popular choice. Sometimes called Cajun-style homes, Acadian homes were originally built by French settlers in Canada and Louisiana, and their elegant-yet-functional design still rings true in modern builds.
What Is an Acadian-Style House?
A traditional Acadian-style house has a steep sloped and gabled roof and one to one-and-a-half stories of living space, often with a central staircase and rear kitchen. Typically, Acadian homes are constructed of brick or stone, and they often feature covered front porches and window shutters.
Not all Acadian-style homes are the same, but many of them share similar core elements. Here’s everything you need to know about Acadian-style homes, including their history and characteristics, according to Massachusetts-based architect Kevin ten Brinke.
Meet the Expert
Kevin ten Brinke, principal at KT2 Design Group, is an architect based in Sudbury, MA.
What Makes a House Acadian Style?
Acadian style has evolved over the last few centuries, and modern Acadian-style homes may not have all the trademark features of the original design. Still, you can expect a few characteristics in an Acadian-style home, many of which were once rooted in practicality and easy maintenance.
For example, Acadian homes generally have a steep, sloping roof with gables, which allows for moisture to easily slide off the roof. Acadian homes are considered a variation on the ranch or cottage style. As such, they typically have one to one-and-a-half stories, though some Acadian homes are two levels. Depending on the location and climate, they may also be built on piers to protect the home from flooding.
Inside an Acadian home, you’ll find much of the living space is on the first floor, often in a fairly open-concept layout. Acadian-style houses typically contain a central staircase and hall, a rear kitchen, and a main bedroom and bathroom, which are often set away from the primary living area.
Larger Acadian-style houses may also have additional square footage in an upstairs bonus room, which can be used for living or storage. Outside, you may find a covered porch in front, plus extra space in back for outdoor entertaining.
In short, here are some of the key features you can expect from an Acadian-style home:
- A steep, sloping roof with gables
- Asymmetrical design, with the garage on one side and entrance on another
- Pier foundation to avoid flooding
- Covered front porch, with the addition of a back porch or patio space
- Entry arches
- Large bay windows
- Brick, stone, or stucco exterior
- Window shutters
- Attached garage
- One to one-and-a-half story living space
- Central staircase, often with a hall and chimney
- Rear kitchen
- First-floor main bedroom and bathroom
- Upstairs loft area or “bonus room,” used for either living or storage
- No basement
Because they typically have first-floor main bedrooms, Acadian-style houses are a great pick for those seeking a “forever home” to age in place.
The History of Acadian-Style Homes
The history of Acadian-style homes goes back to the 18th-century Acadians, who were descendants of French settlers that migrated from France through Canada. The first Acadian-style homes originated in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, their sloping roofs making them a popular choice in the snowy, moist climate.
In the mid-1700s, Acadians began settling in swampy southern Louisiana. Along with their traditional pole frames and sloping roofs, ten Brinke says builders often constructed Acadian-style homes on piers to avoid moisture and insect issues for homeowners, who likely lived in flood-prone swamps.
While many Acadian-style homes are historic properties, builders continue to pay homage to the design today, often adding features sought by modern homebuyers. For instance, original Acadian homes were often made of cypress wood, but over time, builders chose stone, brick, or even stucco as a more durable alternative.
Newer Acadian-style homes may also be larger or more ornate than the original Acadian houses, which were typically simple, cottage-style homes with one or two rooms. “As these homes evolved, they often became more substantial in size, often including a front and rear porch that allowed for a taller roof,” ten Brinke says.
What Are the Different Types of Acadian Style Houses?
As the Acadian style began to grow popular, ten Brinke says, different versions of this style home were established. For instance, many modern Acadian-style homes are larger than the original design, with more rooms than the historical Acadian home to accommodate larger families. Many newer Acadian homes also have more expansive back porches, which allow for outdoor relaxation and entertaining.
Two-Story Acadian-Style Home
While Acadian-style houses are usually one or one-and-a-half stories, some two-story homes contain Acadian design elements. For example, new two-level builds may also have the sloped, gabled roof, covered front porch, and rear kitchen on the interior.