Most people recognize a country-style home when they see it. Picture a wide porch, strategically and equally spaced windows, exposed woodwork, gable roofs, and you’ve got a country home. It is the classic home found in just about every Norman Rockwell Americana painting.
In many ways, country homes are more about the feel they give off than any hard and fast design rules. Cozy, comfortable, welcoming: These are words associated with country living and, by extension, country homes.
According to the Sater Design Collection, country-style homes represent “the best of rural living, with broad sweeping floor plans and expansive verandas that embrace their setting. A casual, unpretentious lifestyle is at the heart of every home design, reflecting the pioneering and independent spirit of America’s colonial past.”
The History of Country Homes
Historically, homes were constructed based on the building materials available locally and the regional climate and geography. Homesteader nationalities played a role too as people from different cultures and regions of Europe had distinctive home designs that they replicated in America. As a result, there is quite a variation in what qualifies as a country home depending on the region. Short, squat, compact homes were common on the cold and snowy farms of the Midwest while sprawling, low-profile ranches were preferred in the desert Southwest.
Homesteaders in each region chose pragmatic designs to fit local conditions because their homes were working homes. The farm was the job. There was no heading off to work and coming home after a day at the office. Work and home were intimately connected and the homes had to support life on the farm.
Porches were a must. They provided shelter from the elements, an opportunity to eye the farm and surrounding scenery in comfort, a casual place to welcome visitors and a practical space to leave muddy boots. Direct entry to the kitchen or a washing up area was also common because it made it easier to bring in foodstuffs from the farm without tracking dirt and debris all over the house. Symmetrically laid-out double-hung windows provided natural light and cross-ventilation to cool the house during the heat of summer or at the height of canning season.
Today’s country home designs remain practical, casual and comfortable, and fall under multiple style categories, including colonial, farmhouse and modern farmhouse, cabin, rustic, cottage, Cape Cod and craftsman.
Features of Country Homes
Country-style homes remain popular with home buyers. Mark Stewart of Mark Stewart Country and Americana Home Designs thinks he knows why:
“Something about country house plans brings us home to our roots, where we feel comfortable, safe and secure. … These homes evoke simpler times, bring back great memories, feel permanent and generally are structurally straightforward to build. Modern touches, color schemes and technology have brought this style into current-day home style vernacular.”
Although there are plenty of individual styles in the country home category, these plans typically include several common architectural elements:
- Well-proportioned exterior. Country-style homes may have one or two stories and are always well proportioned, giving the home a balanced look.
- Cozy facade. Country houses are warm and inviting. An attractive, covered front entryway is usually present and immediately draws the eye. Windows feature prominently, particularly on the front of the house.
- Front or wraparound porch. Porches are a must on country homes and can range from covered stoops to porches that run the width of the front of the house to those that wrap around the side of the home. They may be screened or open and almost always have some kind of seating visible from the front of the home be it a swing, rocking chairs or a conversation set.
- Roof gables. The peaked roofs of many country homes often produce multiple gables of the same angle and orientation. A steep pitch that becomes less steep where the roof meets the porch is also common.
- Lap siding. Wood or wood-look lap siding is traditionally used on country homes, though in some areas the material is accented with stacked stone, river stone or brick. White is a common exterior color although natural hues and neutrals are used as well.
- Shuttered windows. Shutters highlight the windows and add a touch of hominess to the exterior design. The shutters are typically decorative and do not open and close.
- Dormers. Dormers — roofed structures that often include a window — add visual interest and height to country homes while also adding extra space and light into what was often originally attic space.
- Wood details. Whether it is painted or stained, exposed beams, or hardwood flooring, wood abounds in country homes— inside and out.
- Flexible floor plans. Modern country homes have open floor plans that allow for ease of movement and multiple uses of the same room.
No longer relegated to the farm, country homes are found all over the United States today. They look equally at home in rural or suburban settings and in all geographic regions. Regardless of its location or the specifics of its design, a country home exudes a sense of relaxed living. These homes are true retreats that welcome and embrace homeowners and guests alike, encouraging them to sit back, relax and know that they are home. Find your perfect home at New Home Source. View the latest country home designs by builders all across the country and learn more about the ins and outs of building a new home in our New Home Guide.
Liyya Hassanali is a Project Manager and Content Strategist for Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. She is a 15+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry, working closely with her clients to provide written content that meets their marketing goals and gets results.
Liyya is passionate about home design and décor and is a confessed HGTV and Pinterest addict. When not providing content writing services for her clients, she can be found browsing home décor sites or spending time with her family.