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Americans and Europeans have very different ideas on home design

But some things–like hardwood floors and an oceanfront view–are universal.

Americans and Europeans have very different ideas on home design
[Source Photos: hikesterson/iStock, irina/iStock, Rafael Vilches Rey/iStock]

Gas-guzzling SUVs or shared electric cars. Trump or Macron. Burgers or steak tartar. Despite globalization, Americans and European still have very distinct tastes when it comes to, well, almost everything. Homes are no exception–although new statistics underline some striking coincidences.

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Porch, an app for finding contractors, recently conducted a survey of 600 people in the U.S. and Europe, hoping to identify differences in consumers’ preferences on home styles and materials. Some of the results are predictable: Americans and Europeans love the idea of waterfront living (44.8% and 51.9%, respectively), and both cultures prize the suburbs over rural and urban locations. But the survey also suggests striking differences: Almost a quarter of Europeans want to live in a greenbelt surrounded by nature, compared to 9.9% of Americans. Another stark contrast is the preferences of 23% Americans for gated communities and 28% for cul-de-sacs, compared to Europeans, among whom only 5.5% and 3.0% prefer those prototypically American inventions.

You don’t have to look far for scholarship on Americans’ love for gated communities, which are still soaring in the U.S. In the BBC documentary United Gates of America, journalist Charlie LeDuff and director Alex Cooke root it in a paranoid need for safety, and describe these communities as an expression of latent segregation and racism in America’s upper middle class. You can probably thank a Cold War-nurtured fixation on doomsday scenarios, too.

[Image: Porch]

Americans also seem to like everything oversized: They prefer larger surfaces (4,982 square feet compared to Europeans’ ideal, 1,589 square feet), more bedrooms (four and three, respectively), more bathrooms (three and two), and a larger plot (10.6 acres versus just 0.9 for Europeans).

Materials are another interesting glimpse into both groups: Europeans lean toward wood roofs and stone walls, while Americans like brick and shingles. They agree on granite kitchen countertops, but Americans prefer tile floors to Europeans’ marble and stone floors. While everyone agrees that real wood flooring is ideal elsewhere, the runner-up for almost 30% Americans and just 11% of Europeans was carpeting. Carpeting.

[Image: Porch]
But perhaps the most striking thing–at least for a European like me–is that both groups, when asked about their ideal home style, chose… ranch. I don’t know anyone who aspires to live in a ranch house. I wear cowboy boots every day and I would never respond with “ranch.” A farmhouse or a cottage, sure, which is why they rank as the second option for Americans and Europeans respectively. It may simply be that Porch chose inviting images of ranch homes, based on the look of the survey.

If the results are accurate–despite the very small sample size–they paint a picture of a generalized ideal home for both groups. It’s a ranch. Made of brick or stone with granite countertops and hardwood floors. On the ocean. It seems we’re not so different after all.

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About the author

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company.

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