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.
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.
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.
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.
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