Aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, and it depends upon the prevailing tastes of the time. A building's functionality, or fitness, is a matter of how well it accommodates the purposes for which it was built. Its structural integrity means soundness - will the building last over time? Historically speaking aesthetics has usually trumped fitness as the overriding factor in architectural design. Classical architecture was preoccupied with articulating features on walls and facades. Modern architecture is equally concerned with aesthetic formalities, such as form following function.
Eaves are usually large and overhanging. Small ranch house plans tend to be simple rectangles; but there are larger designs which can be have L or U shapes surrounding a courtyard in the center visible from the living areas. Frequently there are sliding glass doors which open onto patios, or large picture windows in the living and dining areas. The design often includes an attached garage as well as patio area. Also, the exteriors are usually of brick, wood, or stucco with simple or rustic interior décor and exterior trim.
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.
Modern home plans don't have to be expensive, but you definitely have to think about your budget so that you can compare it to the designs that are available and the ideas that you already have about the house that you want.