Home design has come a long way since our ancestors lived in caves and gradually built dwellings with mud, wood and stone, before the great ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, took the whole concept of building homes to a completely different level.
Ideas from architects throughout the world continue to promote new ways of thinking about home design, but there are some designs that continue to be popular. They all have their pros and cons but they all have their own style and aesthetic that people choose over and over again.
Arguably, the most popular type of house in the US is ranch style. With this, the whole house is on one level and has a roof area larger than a traditional two-story house. This means it can be easy to maintain because it's all on one level (no hauling the vacuum cleaner upstairs!) and if the exterior needs to be repainted or gutters cleaned, it can usually be done using a stepladder. These houses are more convenient for older people and for those who don't find it easy to climb stairs.
Bear in mind that the large expanse of roof lets more heat escape in winter months, and more sunlight is absorbed in summer, potentially leading to higher heating and cooling bills than for other properties.
Anyone who has traveled to Europe or who loves to watch property programs will have seen the house styles of the Mediterranean. Think France, Spain and Italy among others, and the vision of roofs with red tiles, curving arches and plastered surfaces will spring to mind. The hacienda style can be seen in many parts of the US, and of course, the Spanish influence tips over into a Mexican influence as well. Heavy wooden doors to block too much heat or cold, balconies, porticoes and ornamental details make for attractive homes with character.
Drawbacks can be too much heat, addressed by using plantation shutters that help control how much light comes into rooms, cutting down on heat where necessary but also providing extra insulation during cold snaps. Ornamental work can deteriorate and may be expensive to renew if it's let go for too long.
Cape Cod style
This style is a structure of one and a half storys and is an attractive house for a first-time buyer, being less expensive than a larger house. The main living area is on the ground floor and the half story refers to the attic, which may or may not be converted into living quarters. If it is, then rooms are liable to be small, as part of the sloping roof acts as walls. The attic needs to be properly insulated or it may be difficult to cool or heat, but these types of houses can be very attractive from the exterior and will probably suit smaller families or couples.
These are usually two-story houses; a traditional type of living space where both floors are the same size. Living spaces, including the kitchen, are on the ground floor, with bedrooms being upstairs. Advantages include being easier to cool and heat than larger one-story houses, and they often have plenty of space, especially for a growing family.
These types of houses are quite high, so when undertaking exterior work, such as painting or cleaning gutters, it's likely that an extension ladder will have to be used.
This comes from the England when the Tudor monarchs reigned supreme, from 1485 to 1603. Often seen in towns and villages and linked to Shakespeare country around Stratford-upon-Avon, their romantic facades of stucco and wood trim, with leaded glass windows and angular chimneys and roof gables are extremely attractive features.
Beware, however, of stucco surfaces that may deteriorate if thin layers of cement and metal lathe are used, and ensure that flashing on slate roofs is installed well and won't lead to leaks.
Initially from the UK, these houses are considered to be architecturally beautiful and often have plenty of space, with good-sized rooms. There can be complications if plumbing and electric installations have not been updated, and poor insulation can be a problem, leading to difficulties with good heating. Nevertheless, Victorian houses make a style statement and any repairs or renovations can be dealt with over a period of time.
A range of choices
House styles come down to personal choice and what someone is comfortable with. There are so many possibilities, and in the end, it comes down to budget, the space needed and personal preference.