Eaves are usually large and overhanging. Small ranch house plans tend to be simple rectangles; but there are larger designs which can be have L or U shapes surrounding a courtyard in the center visible from the living areas. Frequently there are sliding glass doors which open onto patios, or large picture windows in the living and dining areas. The design often includes an attached garage as well as patio area. Also, the exteriors are usually of brick, wood, or stucco with simple or rustic interior décor and exterior trim.
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.
Ranch style homes are usually long and low with a bare minimum of interior and exterior decoration. The idea is to create a casual and informal lifestyle, usually with access to the outdoors via large plate glass windows, sliding glass doors, and patios or decks. Ranch style home plans normally imply a single story construction with a low and long roof line, with a cross- or side- gabled or hip roof.
In fact, cottages - by which is meant small, asymmetrical, (usually) rural dwellings of one or two stories and stone, brick, or stucco exteriors, come in a large variety of architectural styles. European-type cottages can incorporate design traits from Tudor, Georgian, French, and Italian architectural styles, with open rooms and high ceilings, fireplaces, and even luxurious elements such as gourmet kitchens, formal dining rooms, private master bedrooms, and French doors. What all cottage styles have in common is their livability - their human scale and design for relaxing, unstressful enjoyment of life.