Cottages, farmsteads and farmhouses: three types of country houses to enjoy all year round | Insights | Corradi English (2024)


Cottages, farmsteads and farmhouses: three types of country houses to enjoy all year round | Insights | Corradi English (1)

Cottages, farmsteads and farmhousesare three historic snapshots of well-defined rural atmospheres, three postcards of bucolic landscapes surrounded by greenery, threetypes of country housesthat we'd all like to escape to sooner or later.
What's the secret behind these houses, which every day challenge the passage of time and have in many cases becomeenchanting resorts and charming homes, so much so that many people feel drawn to them?
The answer lies in the connection between nature and the work of man.

The cottage, icon of the English countryside (but not only)

The cottage is thetypical English country house. A characteristic element of the Anglo-Saxon landscape and part of the Scandinavian and Alpine regions, it can be made of stone or wood. It is usually surrounded by a small plot of land, originally used by the farmer who lived there, and then later transformed into a courtyard/garden.
In fact, the wordcottagecomes fromcotter, a peasant farmer. Since the Middle Ages the cottage included some typically agricultural items such as a barn and a stable, as well as a fenced courtyard. In subsequent centuries cottages were also built for other categories of workers, thus becoming anindependent residencewidespread in several European and American countries.

Hundreds of cottages around the world have been transformed into holiday homes or tourist accommodations, recalling the atmospheres of the past while offering all the comforts of modern life.
In accordance with the desire topreserve historical authenticity, the renovations of old cottages are best done by recovering all those characteristic elements of these structures that had been abandoned over time, such as purlins, columns and wooden joists.
Like the interiors, often the subject of aconservative restorationthat includes the floors (essential for the authenticity of the building), the walls and sometimes the most striking furnishings (fireplaces, large wooden tables, stone sinks and so on), thesurrounding garden becomes an element of value for the cottage, almost a certificate of recognisability.
Of course, the choice of plants and furnishings must be coordinated with the area. In Britain a cottage should be immersed in a lushEnglish garden, which fades gently into the landscape of the humid British countryside, while at other latitudes different types of greenery will prevail.

The farmsteads of the south, from rural hamlets to charming mansions

The farmstead is agrouping of rural buildings all bound to the economy of the estate, built between 1500 and 1600 and typical of southern Italy and other Mediterranean countries (paradoresin Spain,relaisandchateauxin France) or in Latin America (haciendas).
The Italian version, called amasseria, comes from the wordmasserizie(agricultural tools, furniture, furnishings, food depots) that in the past were preserved in large stone buildings where farmers, shepherds, farmers and workers lived.
Some farmsteadsowned by noble familieswere surrounded by defensive walls and constituted small self-sufficient hamlets that a number of families could live in.
The architectural structure of a farmsteadfollows the usual scheme of the farmwith Mediterranean style agricultural courtyard: a single central space used as a courtyard and farmyard, surrounded by several buildings used as residences or to store tools or provide shelter to animals.
Often abandoned and left in ruins, since the 1990s much effort has been put into restoring these ancient buildings, converting them into agricultural tourism facilities and B&Bs. This has also made it possible topreserve the great traditionsthat these monuments represent.
Here the design of a garden requires special attention, especially with regard to water supply. Indeed, your best choices are botanical species used to a dry climate,native varieties and succulent, bulbous plants.
There must be adequate shaded areas, and if possible a small swimming pool or a water feature for guests to cool off.

The farmhouse, isolated and happy

The farmhouse escapes stringent architectural definitions and, unlike the cottage and farmstead,is not bound to a particular geographical area, but has a decisive characteristic that makes it identifiable:it always stands in isolation, in the countryside, in the hills or in the mountains. It shouldn't be confused with the dairy farm (stable with attached small building to make butter and cheese) but is very similar to a grange (agglomeration of isolated rustic buildings), particularly widespread in Tuscany.
Like cottages and farmsteads, farmhouses are oftenimmersed in captivating, pastoral landscapes, where time seems to have stopped.
The fame of these rustic buildings has grown significantly in the last three decades as some celebrities have chosen renovated farmhouses as their refuge.

A common value: the garden

The thing that cottages, farmsteads and farmhouses have in common in the collective imagination is aclose connection with the surrounding environment.Respect for the surrounding landscape and natureis an essential rule for maintaining or creating a green space. For this reason, native species and plants that adapt well to the climatic conditions of the area should always be preferred.
A good landscaper orgarden designerwill try to evoke the atmospheres of past times without sacrificing the comforts of the 21st century.
The garden surrounding cottages, farmsteads and farmhouses becomes an integral part of the setting and must follow the rhythms that nature suggests. Therefore, ashaded areafor resting, reading and relaxing is a must, with apergolaor gazebo that doesn't detract from the architecture of the building. By making the most of the outdoor spaces the garden will be able to reach its full potential.
This new living area can be covered withclimbing plantsfor an even more pleasant, natural effect.

Living outdoors offers some significant benefits. It's possible to enjoy greenery all year long. It takes courage, of course, but thousands of rural buildings survive far from the city. And just maybe one of them is waiting for you...

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts


As an expert in the field of rural architecture and country houses, I can provide you with insights into the concepts mentioned in this article. I have a deep understanding of cottages, farmsteads, and farmhouses, and their historical significance. Let's explore these concepts further.


Cottages are iconic English country houses that can also be found in Scandinavian and Alpine regions. They are typically made of stone or wood and are surrounded by a small plot of land. Originally used by farmers, cottages have evolved into independent residences found in various European and American countries. Many cottages have been transformed into holiday homes or tourist accommodations, preserving the charm of the past while offering modern comforts.

When renovating old cottages, it is important to preserve their historical authenticity. This includes recovering characteristic elements such as purlins, columns, and wooden joists. The surrounding garden also plays a significant role in enhancing the cottage's charm. In Britain, cottages are often accompanied by lush English gardens that blend seamlessly with the countryside. In other regions, different types of greenery may prevail, depending on the local climate and landscape.


Farmsteads are rural buildings that were historically part of an estate's economy. They were built between the 15th and 17th centuries and are typical of southern Italy, Mediterranean countries, and Latin America. In Italy, they are known as "masserie" and were used to store agricultural tools, furniture, and food supplies. Some farmsteads were even self-sufficient hamlets, surrounded by defensive walls and accommodating multiple families.

Over time, many farmsteads were abandoned and left in ruins. However, since the 1990s, there has been a concerted effort to restore these ancient buildings and convert them into agricultural tourism facilities and bed and breakfasts. This has helped preserve the rich traditions associated with these monuments.

When designing a garden for a farmstead, special attention should be given to water supply, especially in dry climates. Native plant species that are adapted to the local climate are often the best choice. The garden should also provide shaded areas and, if possible, include features like small swimming pools or water elements for guests to enjoy .


Farmhouses, unlike cottages and farmsteads, are not limited to a specific geographical area. However, they are characterized by their isolated location in the countryside, hills, or mountains. Farmhouses are often associated with captivating pastoral landscapes that evoke a sense of timelessness.

In recent decades, the popularity of renovated farmhouses has grown, with some celebrities choosing them as their retreats. These rustic buildings offer a unique charm and a connection to nature that many find appealing.

The Importance of Gardens

One common element among cottages, farmsteads, and farmhouses is the close connection they have with their surrounding environment. The gardens surrounding these country houses play a crucial role in maintaining this connection. When designing these gardens, it is important to respect the surrounding landscape and nature.

A skilled landscaper or garden designer can evoke the atmospheres of the past while incorporating the comforts of the 21st century. The garden should be an integral part of the setting, following the rhythms of nature. It should include shaded areas for relaxation, pergolas or gazebos that complement the architecture, and climbing plants to enhance the natural effect. Living outdoors in these rural settings offers numerous benefits, allowing residents and guests to enjoy greenery throughout the year .

In conclusion, cottages, farmsteads, and farmhouses are three distinct types of country houses that have captivated people's imaginations for centuries. Each has its own unique characteristics and historical significance. The gardens surrounding these houses are essential in maintaining a close connection with nature and the surrounding landscape. By preserving historical authenticity and incorporating modern comforts, these rural retreats continue to attract people seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I hope this information provides you with a deeper understanding of the concepts discussed in this article. If you have any further questions or need more information, feel free to ask!

Cottages, farmsteads and farmhouses: three types of country houses to enjoy all year round | Insights | Corradi English (2024)
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