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.
Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.
Some small homes have two floors and come with or without a basement. Some more common small homes have crawlspaces for extra storage. Traditionally they have a room off the kitchen which you can place a washer and dryer. These house are frequently Cottage or Bungalow style.
Know what to ask designers. You need to talk to these people before you choose one to work with and asking the right questions can make all the difference in the world. You need to find out how long they've been in the business of designing home plans, what they have done in the past, and see what they can do for you. Make sure you look at a collection of other houses they have designed; this will give you a solid idea of the quality of their workmanship and creative talent.