Modern American and British houses may appear similar from the outside, just as an American may appear similar to an Englishman. One cannot judge a house by its faade, however, and beneath the surface, two altogether different design paradigms exist. The American house is a sprawling retreat that is designed for comfortable living. Compact and efficient, the British house embodies a conservative lifestyle.
The two also differ in the amenities they offer. The modern American house overflows with built-in features; the modern British house is sparse in comparison. They are even constructed with dissimilar materials and techniques. Although modern American and British houses can appear similar, they differ significantly in the amenities they offer, their size, and in the way they are constructed. The modern British house typically has fewer amenities than that of its American counterpart. In the bedroom, walk-in closets organize the American's ensemble and accommodate his shoe collection.
Conversely, the Englishman uses a pine wardrobe, possibly a family heirloom, which moves with him from home to home. In the American bathroom, a shower is a standard feature that is quite uncommon in the British home. When one is installed, the British shower is a point of significant difference as well. The pressurized American shower is powerful, and leaves one with a feeling of invigoration. The gravity fed British shower, however, is hardly capable of developing enough power to leave one with a feeling of satisfaction. In the modern American kitchen, one is certain to find a dishwasher.
In the British kitchen, a dishwasher is the exception, not the rule. Americans also consider most kitchen appliances to be a part of the house. The Englishman holds a differen view. It is not unusual for him to take the stove, refrigerator, or even the kitchen cupboards when moving to a new home.
The modern British house lacks many amenities that Americans consider basic. It also offers less living space than the modern American house. The grand American house is designed for comfort, whereas the conservative British house is designed for efficiency. These contrasting design approaches yield houses that differ immensely in the amount of living space they offer.
American houses have "mud" rooms, laundry rooms, dining rooms, formal living rooms, and family rooms. British houses converge and integrate these functional areas into their common rooms. The hall, or the "reception," is the "mud room." The kitchen is the laundry room and the dining area. The formal living room and family room combine in the appropriately named "lounge." The average bedroom of an American home can usually accommodate a king-sized bed.
In comparison, a British bedroom can be termed a "double bedroom" if a double bed can be squeezed in, even if there is no room to move around it. The American living room is sometimes referred to as the "great room" and, on average, consumes over 300 square feet. A large British "lounge," in comparison, can measure a mere 150 square feet. Additionally, the American garage usually has enough room for two cars and space for a workbench. Before entering the typical single car British garage, however, it is necessary to let the passengers out first.
When compared to its British counterpart, the American home is larger, and behind the faade it is also constructed differently. Although British and American houses can appear similar, beneath the outer shell they are constructed with dissimilar techniques and materials. Lumber, siding, and drywall comprise the bulk of American home construction materials, while British home construction requires cinder block, brick, and plaster. The modern American house is commonly framed with wood and nails, while the British house is structured with cinder block and mortar. Although usually covered with siding, some American homes do have a brick veneer exterior. Alternately, the brick faade of a British house is probably solid.
Inside the home, American carpenters quickly cover interior walls with drywall. The patient English tradesman gradually forms the interior walls with successive layers of plaster. American and English roofing materials differ as well. The roof of the American home is typically weatherproofed with shingles, while kiln-fired terra-cotta tiles shelter the British roof. American and British houses can be similar in appearance, but a comparison of the two will reveal notable differences.
Although material availability and differing economies certainly affect house design, it is the culture itself that has the greatest impact. America is said to be one of the most demanding countries in the world, and this notion is reinforced in their expansive, amenity rich homes. The English are regarded as conservative and polite; their homes are compact and efficient. Modern American and British house construction is a direct reflection of the people who design them. Although they may look similar, they are nothing alike when you get to know them.