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.
This style of architecture became quite popular in the United States between the 1890's and 1940's. Interiors, because they are small, can give a cluttered but utterly functional appearance, with artistic niches and nooks, and knick-knick decor. Cottages are designed for a relaxed, simple lifestyle - places to come home to, kick off your shoes, and flop on the furniture. They are not designed to impress other people, but to make their owners feel good. Cottage living often involves gardening, and most cottage owners spend their weekends and vacations outside in their backyards, digging in the dirt and growing flowers and vegetables.
For example, in the southern United States sunshades and louvers as well as light colored building materials for roofing and cladding help to reduce the heat gain. Sustainable design also means that every inhabitant has access to outside views with natural light and natural ventilation. This sometimes results in narrower floor plans, or articulated plans which expose interior areas to several exposures. The contemporary house plan is designed with the goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption, and providing a healthier and relaxing environment.
There was a time, quite recently in fact, when the most important attributes of buildings were their aesthetic qualities, fitness for the intended purpose, and structural integrity. However sustainability objectives - paying closer attention to the soundness of the architecture from the perspective of the environment - are quickly becoming the overriding factors in contemporary home plans.
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