What Is A Cottage Style Home? Elements of Cottage Architecture

March 28th, 2023

What Is A Cottage Style Home? Elements of Cottage Architecture

What Is A Cottage Style Home 

These cozy and charming homes have been around for years and continue to be popular. Let's discuss the characteristics of a cottage-style house, the architecture, and more! 

There are various popular home types that potential buyers look for in their search. It's important to exhaust every option before making one of the most significant purchases of your life. One house type potential buyers look for is a cottage-style home. These homes tend to be smaller in size, perfect for first-time homebuyers who aren't looking for an abundance of space. Cottages commonly have a rustic and farmhouse feel, so they're also ideal for those who enjoy coziness and comfort over luxury. Let's discuss the characteristics, architecture, pros, cons, and more of a cottage-style home to see if it's the right housing type for you

cottage with greenery and a wooden door

What Is A Cottage Style House? 

Cottages are typically asymmetrical, one-to-one-and-a-half-story homes with low-pitched gable roofs, prominent chimneys, small covered porches, and more. Initially, cottage roofs were thatched; however, that skill is uncommon in the U.S., so many have cedar or wood shingle roofs. They tend to be no more than 1,000 to 1,200 square feet, but today some home builders are putting elements of cottage-style homes into their new and larger builds. Cottages can fit into many architectural types & home designs and can be located anywhere from a city to the country. Most cottages tend to be cozier and small, prioritizing comfort and charm over luxury. 

History of Cottage Style 

Cottage-style homes originated in England and dated back to the late Middle Ages (1400-1500). When they started to spread and expand, they served as the homes for farmers on large plots of land and were owned by aristocrats. The farmers were known as cotters, and their homes as cottages (from the Latin word "contagium"). As they continued to spread, they became generic small houses instead of just workers' homes. You could find them anywhere outside of a metropolitan area or big city. They kept their small and cozy size but soon became vacation homes for the middle and upper classes, adding plumbing, heating, and electricity. They boasted beautiful stone facades, gabled rooflines, brick pathways, thatched roofs, oversized chimneys, etc. Architects used elements of Arts & Crafts, Tudor, and cottage-style elements to create the renowned cottage revival look. 

Types of Cottages 


English-style cottages are a beautiful combination of antique and contemporary designs to encompass the feel of an English countryside home. These homes have thatched roofs and most often have gardens that grow up the side of the house. They also tend to be built with stone or stucco walls. 


Nordic cottages are most seen in places like Sweden and Norway and are used as countryside getaways. These styles are homely and influenced by traditional artistry and crafts and typically constructed of wood and painted bright red. 


French-style cottages have a country charm with open spaces creating a beautiful and inviting home. They typically have stone facades, brickwork, and clay tile roofs. Like the English style, they usually have gardens or vines that grow up the side of the home. 

brick french cottagewww.mydomaine.com


Most American cottages fall into the coastal category, having broad front porches, wooden shingles, white trim, and big bay windows. You can find this style mainly in places like Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and on the East Coast: Caramel and Monterey, California, and the West Coast. 


Canadian-style cottages can be found near bodies of water and sometimes have a second floor. 


Bungalows are smaller versions often classified as cottages and evolved in the Bengal region of India. They stand one-to-one-and-a-half stories with front porches, gabled roofs, exposed rafters or beams, built-in cabinetry, and double-hung windows. It's said that small bungalows can be cottages, but not all cottages are bungalows. 

Characteristics and Architecture of a Cottage-Style Home 

Nearly all cottages feature traditional home living space, including a primary bedroom, a living room, a dining room, and bathrooms. They can encompass a lot of different looks but also have recognizable characteristics. 

Smaller Size 

Cottage homes value coziness and comfort over large floor plans, so they tend to be smaller in size. They are typically one-and-a-half-story properties. They have a smaller overall square footage than your average single-family home and care more about the outdoor spaces and curb appeal. However, many modern cottages can be large but still encompass the same feel. While initial cottages are smaller, any size should feel snug and quaint compared to large Victorian-style homes. 

Open Floor Plan 

Most cottages feature an open floor plan that allows the smaller square footage to seem more significant than it really is. Since there is not much space, you want to take advantage of what's available and make it functional, so it's important for each room to feel usable. They tend to have open floor plans because additional separating walls can make your space feel secluded and closed in. 

Irregular designs

Cottages do not have a set architectural style used for all, but they combine various features to create distinct and unique properties. A lot of detail is given to the window shapes, arches in the doorways, trim throughout the home, etc. Most cottages also have an asymmetrical design with a prominent chimney in the home's interior and exterior. They also tend to have small covered porches that add to the coziness and quaint feel of the house. 


Coziness is a primary characteristic and defining point of a cottage-style home. You can make smaller rooms cozy by adding bookshelves, layering textiles, curtains and rugs, dim lighting, and more. You want to focus on making your areas feel warm and inviting instead of modern and industrial. 

Exterior features may consist of the following: 

  • Cedar shingles 
  • Arched doorways 
  • Stone or brick accents 
  • Chimneys 
  • Asymmetrical design 
  • Sharply pitched roofs 
  • Wraparound porches 
  • Back decks 
  • Seating areas 

Interior features may consist of the following: 

  • Exposed ceiling beams 
  • Exposed brick or stone walls 
  • Fireplace 
  • Arched doorways 
  • Built-in shelves and nooks 
  • Stone backspace 

Thatched roof: a house roof made with plant material (such as straw). Synonyms: Thatch. Type of: roof; a protective covering that covers or forms the tops of a building. 

Stucco walls: an exterior finish for masonry or frame walls, usually composed of cement, sand, and hydrated lime mixed with water and laid on wet. 

Gable roof: a roof with two sloping sides and a gable at each end.

Gable: the part of a wall that encloses the end of a pitched roof. 

Bay windows: a three-sectioned window that bows outward. 

blue tiny cottage home

Cost To Build A Cottage-Style Home 

Average Cost  $260,000
Average Range  $175,000 - $350,000
High Cost  $350,000
Low Cost  $175,000


The national average to build a cottage runs between $230,000 to $430,000 but can range depending on your state or area. The building cost can also be determined by the style you'd like. The most expensive to build is a custom style. This allows you to choose from different site-built plans and make choices for the finished designs. While you have more say in the finishes of your home, it is more expensive. Another method of construction is prefab or modular. These are typically built off-site before being moved to their final destination. The main difference is that no changes can be made once the building has begun. Prefab cottages are typically $125-$175 per square foot, and customs are $150-$250.

Square Feet Average Range 
600 $75,000-$150,000
800 $100,000-$200,000
1,000 $125,000-$250,000
1,500 $187,500-$375,000
2,000 $250,000-$500,000

According to Bankrate, cottages are the most popular and valuable house styles in the U.S., and the national average selling price is roughly $236,000. 

Factors that influence cost are: 


Before building a cottage, you will need to obtain a permit. You do this by working with a designer to plan out your future build and then submit the plans to your local municipality for approval. 


Location is a significant factor in all housing costs. Building a cottage in a remote area will be way more cost-effective than building in a big city. 

Off-grid cottage 

When choosing to build in a remote area, you will need to install different utility systems such as solar systems, private roads, driveways, natural gas sources, etc. Not being able to rely on public systems can cost you more in the long run. 


Different foundation types can warrant different costs. You will need to consult with a local structural engineer to decide if a slab, basement, etc., is the right fit for you. 

Codes and Zoning 

The location you choose to build in also influences whether you need to follow specific codes and zoning regulations. Some of these include insulation, seismic, or flooding-proof requirements and can add additional costs to your budget. 

Building and Finishing Materials

Building and finishing materials can also influence the cost of building your cottage. Higher-end materials are going to cost you more than lower-quality materials. This comes into play when building a custom cottage and choosing between different materials and finishes. 

Home Additions

When building a custom cottage or improving one, you can also decide if you want to add any additions to your home. Additions and improvements include a porch, shed, detached garage, etc.

Pros Of Living In A Cottage-Style Home 

  • Cheaper than traditional-style homes 
  • The smaller size often means lower property taxes, lower insurance, lower mortgage, less upkeep, etc. 
  • Cheaper maintenance on roofs, siding, etc. 
  • Perfect for downsizing 
  • Cozy and quaint feet 

Cons Of Living In A Cottage-Style Home 

Cottages are typically found in secluded country areas, so it will often be a long commute to work, entertainment, grocery stores, and other necessities. However, if that's what you prefer, living in a cottage could be considered an advantage. The smaller size can also be seen as a con if you have a large family or like to have a lot of space in your home. Maintenance fees are also more expensive in older cottage-style homes. In rural areas, it can also be more challenging to have someone come out to fix any problems that may arise. 

english cottage with greenery up the siding


What makes a house a cottage? 

Cottages are set apart by their unique architectural style, smaller square footage, asymmetrical designs, low-pitched gable roofs, covered porches, etc. 

What are the different types of cottages? 

 There are various types, but the most common styles are English, Nordic, Coastal, French, Canadian, and Bungalow. 

How can you identify a cottage? 

  • Gables roofs 
  • Cedar shingles 
  • Arched doorways, windows, entries, etc.
  • Prominent chimneys 
  • Stone accents 
  • Asymmetrical design 
  • Bay windows 

What is the difference between a bungalow and a cottage? 

Bungalows often have a second story and have unique architecture and design elements. At the same time, cottages are typically one-and-a-half stories and combine various design elements to create a unique and distinct home. 

What Is A Cottage-Style Home - Final Thoughts 

Cottages can be the perfect home for small families, people looking to downsize, simple living, comfortability, and more. They may not be the largest home type, but they boast beautiful interiors and inviting spaces, always making you and any guest feel welcome. More recently built cottages will feature more modern appliances and features but will still have the same cozy and quaint feel that makes them unique. They can also be the perfect vacation home for your next getaway.

If you're looking for an agent to find your dream cottage, we're happy to help! Here at Raleigh Realty, we specialize in the home buying and selling process, meaning we have phenomenal agents at our fingertips! Feel free to contact us or continue to browse our website for more information or any other real estate-related questions you may have. 


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