The basic idea behind the ranch style is that the major room areas in the house flow one into the other, rather than being small divided-up spaces as in other architectural styles. The access from the attached garage flows into the kitchen, to the dining area, to the living area, and to the bedrooms. The feeling of a ranch style house is one of openness and sweeping - sweeping vistas of the out-of-doors through picture windows and sliding glass panels, which open onto patios or porches where much summer living takes place.
Rootedness, simplicity, coziness, tradition, home. All these words describe the fascination for European cottage home plans in this glitzy, alienated, modern age. For people who don't like the idea of living in a cold, inhuman, ranch-style box, the romance of country living in a simpler age has infinite appeal. Originally, during the Middle Ages, cottages were the typical dwellings of farm workers and their families. The word "cottage" meant the home of a cotter, or tenant farmer, who worked on a large manor for a lord. Early cottages were not just small, stand-alone houses but also complete farmhouses with a small yard and a barn for animals. Later on, during the industrial revolution (from the eighteenth century onwards), workers would be housed in miners' cottages or weavers' cottages. Cottages were often built of stone with thatched roofs.
Nowadays cottages are often used as summer or weekend getaways - often by lakes or the seaside - by urban dwellers seeking to escape the noise and rat race. They are often built as rental properties in popular tourist areas. But usually when people think of a cottage they mean a rural dwelling in the traditional English country cottage house plans style with stone or stucco siding, asymmetrical lines, one-and-a-half stories high, and with hip roof and steep gables - the overall impression being a cozy, storybook appearance.
The challenge for the designer today is to produce ecologically-sound buildings without compromising contemporary concepts of beauty. There are plenty of examples of excellence in sustainable design which is soundly built, well-fit for its purpose, and an aesthetic delight. Even small luxury home plans are increasingly ecology-conscious in their choice of materials for conservation of resources and self-sufficiency.