Nowadays architectural soundness has acquired a new meaning, with the advent of sustainable designing. A dwelling sheathed in solar panels has a very different aesthetic than the usual suburban house. Multi-unit housing which eliminates the thermal bridges created by extensive glazing and concrete decks do not share the aesthetic of glass paneled high rise towers. Passive solar designs often borrow elements from local architectural styles to address local climactic conditions.
Also characteristic of the ranch style are open floor plans which permit rooms to serve multiple purposes. Ranch style houses frequently include separate family, living, and dining areas which can be converted as needed into entertaining or hobby areas, or into extra bedrooms when required. Although a single level ranch house plan with front porch or patio is the norm, there are also split level ranch houses and raised ranch houses which have more than one level of space.
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.
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.
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