Sugar Shacks: Architecturally Compelling Gingerbread Houses

Victorian_Queen AnneWith Christmas just around the corner and a craving for gingerbread, I collaborated with my good friend to whip up some decorated gingerbread cookies for the first time. Although they turned out okay, I would characterize them as one would amicably describe an old house in need of work …“charming” or perhaps even “quaint”. Nonetheless, they’re still recognizable as a gingerbread cookies.

The whole experience, with icing in my hair and all, made me appreciate those who have masterfully evolved from simple 2D cookie production to the lofty construction of gingerbread houses. Impressed that they merely remain intact, some are so well-conceived and diverse in design, they can offer a condensed lesson in architectural styles (albeit “sugar-coated”) .

Here’s a light-hearted look at some terrific examples:

Castle: Characterized by turrets, shingled roofs, modest window openings and surrounded by a protective moat.



Federal Style: Exterior is typically brick or clapboard. Design focuses on balanced proportions, including symmetrical window placement. Decorative pediments and quoins (decorative brickwork at corners) are common.

Federal Style via Martha




Log Cabin: Construction comprised of whole logs and chinking, or natural insulation between the logs consisting of mud, grass and moss.

Log Cabin2

Log cabin

Cottage: Cozy abode of Hansel and Gretel, characterized by thatched or shingled roofs, thick walls of straw or wattle and daub, arched doors, shutters, and small multi-pane windows.







Swiss Chalet: Identified by a gabled roof with wide eaves and steep pitches, prominent roof tiles, balconies, wood shutters, decorative carvings and exterior trim, which are often painted.

Swiss Chalet via Wedding Toppers and Gingerbread

Tudor Revival: Characterized by half-timber framing filled with wattle and daub, covered by stucco. Steeply pitched roofs and prominent chimneys are typical.

Tudor Style

Victorian-Queen Anne: Known to have complicated, asymmetrical shapes with front facing gables, steep roofs, round or square towers, wrap-around porches, ornamental spindles and brackets, and 3-sided projecting bay windows.

Victorian-Queen Anne2



Victorian-Second Empire: Features tall, narrow windows, mansard roofs with wrought iron galleries or “crests”.

Victorian_Second Empire with mansard roof

Greek Revival Row House: Identified by simple and bold architectural elements, some imitating Greek motifs, rectangular front door are often flanked with grand entrance pilasters.

Greek Revival Rowhouses

Craftsman: Known to have low-pitched gabled roofs with wide eave overhangs and false brackets, front porches made of stone or wood,  exterior chimneys, columnar porch supports, and wood shingle siding.


Modern: Characterized by simplicity in form and function, bold, flat roof lines, and overall strong linear elements.



Marvelous Modern Gingerbread House Design Ideas Flat Roof

Tropical Vernacular: Typically utilize simple construction methods made of locally found materials, such as bamboo and palm fronds. Structures are often raised to accommodate for seasonal flooding.



Thank you for viewing and Merry Christmas!

Note: Image sources are identified when known.


  1. Love these!

  2. Those ginger bread houses are amazing. Some people are so creative!

  3. how beautiful and creative!

  4. Thank you for sharing. Those houses were lovely, and many architecturally influential!!

  5. I love how you identified all the different architectural styles! Such a fun and creative assortment of houses.

  6. Those houses are beautiful and they are architecturally perfect.

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