Although the traditional English style of cottage is most typical in America, cottages can be built in a variety of styles depending upon location and the builder's tastes, ranging from Spanish house floor plan designs of the Southwest, which typically have single stories, stucco exteriors, and tile roofs; to Cape Cod cottages which are usually box-like, timber-framed structures two-stories high, with steep roofs to shed rain and snow.
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.
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.
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.