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 prevailing trends in what is considered architecturally beautiful are slowly changing as more sustainable buildings are erected. The use of local building materials to reduce transportation costs and providing a greater degree of opacity to enhance energy conservation in cladding materials, are some of the criteria of design which are changing the appearance of buildings.
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.
But the difference between classical and contemporary architecture is that few of the traditional building and ornamentation methods are still being used, since modern architecture has integrated modern technology by embracing new methods of building, new materials, and an accent on functionality rather than embellishment. For example, one common feature in contemporary architecture is the mixture of stone, wood, and brick wall materials on the same surface.