Four Major Shapes for Home Architecture

Updated on February 28, 2019
Lolcrow profile image

The Laughing Crow is a moniker whose voice I borrow: a rascal who is abrasive but honest, curious, and outgoing.


Many people dream to design their own homes, especially when times are tough and a cottage retreat in the countryside, away from stress and pressure, seems like a great idea. There are many ways in which such a dream is achievable, but you can already start thinking on the decisions that will get you there.

In this series on home design, I will explain the major decisions you have to make when it comes to designing your own home, ranging from size and shape to considerations on adapting plans for your specific family and wishes.


The Line

Cheapest to build and structurally the strongest, a house arranged in a line is the most basic form of housing known. The floor plan consists of a long rectangle, with the main entry point usually along the middle or at one of the ends. because it is a very simple shape, there are no complicated roof structures where weak spots or leaks could form.

Just because the shape is simple, doesn't mean you can't make the facade more attractive. You could easily add a porch at the main entry, or place a deck around the home for additional seating space in summer. If you want more light, you could add dormer windows, which would also serve to add additional space to any loft you might add.

The strong points of this design are its simplicity and price. It is simple and quick to build, easy to insulate, and can be extended later if desired.

Down sides of the line shape are that it's a lot less visually appealing than other basic shapes, and that it can be difficult to arrange spaces inside of it. If you have a large floor plan, many spaces will flow into one another, unless you add corridors. And corridors are a potential for wasted space.

The basic line shape is for people who have a small budget and want their home to be quick to build and structurally strong.


The Square

Exemplified by the "barndominium", or converted barn, the Square or Box shape is another simple and strong form that trades visuals for a cheaper price. In almost all cases, the box consists of a square floor plan, either arranged around a central room like a plaza, or arranged lengthwise along a central corridor.

Most often, the box shape is on a single plan, allowing for easy movement across the entire home without the difficulties of stairs. Barndominiums often come with open loft areas flanking the central area on either side.

With a larger floor plan (and thus a larger foundation) the box or square shape is more expensive than the line, but placing spaces along its shape is a lot easier. With a main entry on one side, all other rooms are arranged alongside the central hall, allowing for easy access and unimpeded foot traffic.

The downside is that the wider plan needs strong support for the roof, and the load of any potential snowfall is much higher. So if you live in an area with heavy snow, consider reinforcing the roof further to prevent the relatively fragile central area from collapsing.

The square shape is for people who want the feeling of space, but who want to maintain a strong shape with a classic facade.


The "L" Shape

Placing two lines at an angle allows for a more playful facade, and potentially splitting up the house into a more "private" and "public" area. This also allows you to make full use of the sun by placing the leading edge of the L shape south, and offering morning sun to the shorter edge. This is a great way of placing bedrooms and allowing for the sun to wake you up in the morning!

Another benefit of this shape is that you can vary the size of each leg, meaning that you could have a narrower edge where the rooms are lined up, and have one leg be broader with potentially a central hall or corridor. This way you could have a stunning view from your main room and kitchen, but allow your bedrooms to be out of the way and private.

Finally, you could play with the height plan in the L-shape, allowing one leg to have a loft or be a two-plan section, while the other section remains at ground level. This will allow you to have a master bedroom elevated above the rest of the house.

One downside of this shape is that the connecting of two lines means that there will be a joint in the roof. This offers some potential issues needing reinforcement and protection from leaks and snowfall. It is also more expensive to build, both in sheer size of the foundation and the increased difficulties of working with a joint shape.

The L shape is for people who want to have versatility and more options to create stunning views on the property.


The "H" Shape

One of the most expensive and structurally challenging house forms, but visually very appealing and with infinite potential for arranging rooms and extending the home at a later date.

In the broad context of an H shape, you have two separate home sections connecting by a central corridor. This corridor can have many functions, and what you choose here decides the division of the legs of the house.

For example, if you were to make the central part a greenhouse, you might divide the house in a public section (with living room, kitchen and library for example) while the other section might be private (with your bedrooms and bathroom).

If you choose to place the kitchen centrally instead, you might have the benefit of a sliding door into a secluded herb garden. In each section, the side looking out over the garden might have large south-facing windows, featuring a living room and master bedroom, while the other sections are out of the way and utilitarian. This is a great way to place a laundry room, pantry and studio.

Because each of the two legs can be of varying size, and might be single or two plan, you have a lot of room in deciding the facade of the house. And if you later decide to change up the plan, you have a lot of space where you could rearrange the layout. Because there is a lot of wall space, you also have plenty of options to expand or extend later, or perhaps add an attached covered patio or a greenhouse.

Price is the main disadvantage of this shape. What you gain in visuals and space you pay for. The foundations are more complicated, the roofing has multiple joints, and you have to be more mindful of how the sun impacts the structure.

If you have an H shape, you will find that at dusk and dawn one leg will cast a shadow on the other leg. If you want to minimize this shadow, you have to be very careful of how you place the house on the plot, and that is a skill most people don't have.

Of all the shapes, this one benefits the most from having an actual architect on hand to pay attention to all the technical details because of its complicated shape, which adds additional costs to the whole.

The H shape is expensive and complicated, but has the greatest amount of versatility of placing rooms and views on the plot. Due to its complexity, this shape will require a competent architect to verify the structure's integrity.


From a simple and cheap shape to a complex form that allows the greatest versatility, these are some of the most common forms people choose to build their homes. Refined structurally through centuries of recorded architecture, these shapes are safe basic shapes to work with and add your personal touch.

Other Considerations

Other considerations for designing your home can be found in my articles on:

  • Space usage and home clustering
  • Foundation forms
  • Building materials
  • Roof style and material
  • Architectural styles
  • Properties of your building lot

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)