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.
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.
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.
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.
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