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.
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. This style of architecture became quite popular in the United States between the 1890's and 1940's. Interiors, because they are small, can give a cluttered but utterly functional appearance, with artistic niches and nooks, and knick-knick decor. Cottages are designed for a relaxed, simple lifestyle - places to come home to, kick off your shoes, and flop on the furniture. They are not designed to impress other people, but to make their owners feel good. Cottage living often involves gardening, and most cottage owners spend their weekends and vacations outside in their backyards, digging in the dirt and growing flowers and vegetables.
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Although the traditional English style of cottage is most typical in America, cottages can be built in a variety of styles depending upon location and the builder's tastes, ranging from Spanish house floor plan designs of the Southwest, which typically have single stories, stucco exteriors, and tile roofs; to Cape Cod cottages which are usually box-like, timber-framed structures two-stories high, with steep roofs to shed rain and snow. 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.