How To Describe a House in Writing (21 Tips for Beginners)

Enhance your storytelling by vividly describing houses and setting the perfect scene for your readers.

Here is how to describe a house in writing:

Describe a house in fiction by considering its architecture, size, color, materials, landscaping, décor, furniture, lighting, sounds, smells, age, and condition. Also explain the house’s location, unique features, atmosphere, emotional response, personal memories, and historical context.

In this article, you’ll learn all the best tips for how to describe a house in writing.

How To Describe a House in Writing (21 Things You Must Know)

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Cartoon house - How to Describe a House in Writing
I made this image – How to Describe a House in Writing

When it comes to describing a house in your writing, here are 21 essential aspects to consider:

  1. Architecture: The architecture of a house can give readers a quick snapshot of its character. Victorian homes might be associated with history and elegance, modern homes with sleekness and efficiency, and colonial homes with tradition and solidity. An old, sprawling manor with many gables and chimneys gives off a different vibe than a compact, glass-walled contemporary home.
  2. Size: The size of a house can say much about the people living in it. A massive mansion might imply wealth or social status, while a cozy cottage may indicate a simpler lifestyle. The scale of the house can affect the overall atmosphere and dynamics of the story.
  3. Color: Color can set the tone for a house description. A red-brick house may evoke feelings of warmth and homeliness, while a grey stone mansion may feel imposing or cold. Use color to create an emotional response in your readers.
  4. Materials: The materials used in the house’s construction can add texture to your descriptions. The roughness of stone, the coolness of metal, the warmth of wood – these sensory details can make your descriptions more vivid and engaging.
  5. Landscaping: The surrounding environment and garden can also play a significant role in setting the scene. A well-kept garden may indicate the owners’ pride and care, while an overgrown yard may hint at neglect or mystery.
  6. Windows and Doors: Windows and doors can be symbolic gateways to the souls of a house. They can offer views into the world outside or hide secrets within. Their size, shape, and detail can add depth to your house description.
  7. Rooms: The arrangement and purpose of rooms can tell readers a lot about the inhabitants’ lives. A house with many bedrooms might hint at a large family, while a house with a spacious home office could suggest a work-from-home professional.
  8. Decor: The decor of a house can reflect the tastes and personalities of its inhabitants. Is the house filled with antique furniture and paintings, or is it minimalist and modern? This can greatly influence the atmosphere of the house.
  9. Furniture: Furniture adds functionality and personality to a house. A plush velvet couch might indicate luxury, while a worn but comfortable armchair may suggest warmth and comfort. Different pieces can also hint at the activities and priorities of the people living in the house.
  10. Lighting: Lighting can drastically alter the mood of a scene. Bright, natural light streaming through a window can create an atmosphere of cheerfulness and energy, while dim artificial lighting can make a room feel cozy or somber.
  11. Sounds: Sounds like the creaking of stairs, the ticking of a grandfather clock, or wind whistling through gaps can add a layer of sensory experience, making the scene more immersive and engaging.
  12. Smell: The smell of a house can evoke strong emotions and memories in readers. The scent of fresh paint could suggest new beginnings, while the musty smell of old books in the library might bring a sense of nostalgia.
  13. Age: The age of a house can add a historical dimension to your story. An old house might hold many secrets and stories within its walls, while a new house could symbolize a fresh start or modernity.
  14. Condition: The condition of the house can reflect its history and care. A house in good repair might suggest attentive owners, while a rundown house might indicate neglect, hardship, or abandonment.
  15. Location: The location of the house can set the context for your story. A house in a bustling city will have a different vibe compared to a house in a quiet countryside or a suburban neighborhood.
  16. Unique Features: Unique architectural features like a hidden room, a beautiful stained-glass window, or an ornate fireplace can add interest to your house description and serve as key points in your narrative.
  17. Atmosphere: The overall vibe or mood of the house can be a critical aspect of your description. Whether it’s a cozy, warm ambiance, a chilly, eerie vibe, or a sterile, impersonal atmosphere, this can greatly influence how readers perceive the house.
  18. Emotional Response: How your protagonist feels about the house can guide readers’ emotions as well. A character may feel comfort and safety within their home, fear and unease in a stranger’s house, or nostalgia and longing in a childhood home.
  19. Weather: The weather can dramatically affect how a house is perceived. A house may seem warm and welcoming with sunshine bathing its facade, while the same house can appear ominous and foreboding in a thunderstorm.
  20. Personal Memories: If your character has a history with the house, personal memories can add depth to your description. Memories of happy family dinners, traumatic events, or mundane daily activities can color a character’s perception of the house.
  21. Historical Context: If the house is set in a particular historical period, including relevant details can make the description more authentic and immersive. This could involve architectural styles of the period, materials commonly used in that era, or historical events associated with the house or location.

Here is a video I made about how to describe a house in writing:

YouTube video by Writing Secrets (That’s me!) – How to describe a house in writing

Examples of House Descriptions

Every house has a story to tell, and it’s your job as a writer to relay it effectively.

Whether it’s a crumbling castle or a modern penthouse, the detail lies in your description.

Here are five examples.

Victorian House

Standing proudly at the corner of the street, the grand Victorian house commands attention with its ornate wooden detailing, stained glass windows, and a turret projecting into the sky.

Its paint, though peeling slightly, remains a vibrant royal blue, reflecting a subtle charm of antiquity.

The scent of roses wafts from the beautifully manicured garden, surrounding the property like an idyllic frame. Inside, the house remains faithful to its period, decorated with heavy drapes, antique furniture, and fireplaces in nearly every room.

Walking through the house is like stepping back in time.

Modern House

The modern house, all clean lines and glass, glows like a jewel against the cityscape.

Its tall, floor-to-ceiling windows invite light to play on the polished concrete floors, creating an ever-changing pattern throughout the day.

Minimalistic furniture, curated artwork, and a sleek stainless-steel kitchen give it a sense of chic sophistication.

An underlying aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a hint of sandalwood incense gives the house a warm, welcoming feel.

It stands as a testament to architectural innovation and luxury living.


Nestled in a lush, green valley, the charming stone cottage emanates a sense of tranquility.

Its ivy-clad walls, thatched roof, and quaint wooden doors seem lifted straight from a fairy-tale. Inside, the cottage is warm and cozy, with an open hearth always burning and worn, comfortable furniture.

The smell of home-cooked meals and the sound of wind rustling through the trees outside create an ambiance of serenity and homeliness.

It’s a picture of rustic simplicity and the perfect retreat from the hectic pace of the world.


The old farmhouse, with its weathered white paint and wrap-around porch, is the heart of the sprawling property.

Its large, open kitchen hums with activity, smelling of fresh bread and ripe apples from the surrounding orchard.

An old grandfather clock ticks rhythmically in the living room, filled with well-used furniture and family photos. The sound of livestock and the fresh scent of hay carry in through the open windows.

Despite its age, the farmhouse radiates warmth and the quintessence of home.


Situated in the heart of the city, the apartment is a mix of modern style and comfortable living.

It showcases an open concept layout, with a glass wall revealing an impressive view of the bustling city.

High-end appliances, a plush sectional, and a strategically placed bookshelf loaded with books of various genres lend a personality to the place.

The sound of jazz playing softly complements the hum of the city beyond. It’s a sanctuary amidst the urban chaos.

Words To Use to Describe a House in Writing

Here is a chart I put together to help you describe a house in writing:

Type of HouseDescriptive Words
BungalowCozy, Compact, Welcoming
VictorianGrand, Ornate, Historic
ColonialTraditional, Stately, Symmetrical
ModernSleek, Minimalist, Innovative
CottageQuaint, Rustic, Charming
TudorOld-world, Unique, Distinguished
FarmhouseSpacious, Rustic, Homely
MansionLuxurious, Majestic, Opulent
Cape CodClassic, Comfortable, Charming
CraftsmanDetailed, Artistic, Functional
RanchSingle-story, Practical, Suburban
TownhouseUrban, Narrow, Multi-storied
DuplexTwin, Shared, Efficient
Mobile HomeMovable, Compact, Functional
PenthouseLavish, Panoramic, Exclusive
LoftOpen, Industrial, Stylish
VillaGrand, Elegant, Luxurious
Beach HouseAiry, Relaxing, Coastal
Log CabinRustic, Natural, Secluded
BrownstoneUrban, Historic, Narrow
CondoConvenient, Communal, Modern
A-FrameTriangular, Compact, Alpine
ChaletAlpine, Cozy, Wooden
CastleMajestic, Ancient, Grandiose
Tree HouseWhimsical, Natural, Secluded
HouseboatFloating, Compact, Aquatic
ApartmentCompact, Efficient, Urban
StudioOpen-plan, Compact, Efficient
Row HouseUniform, Urban, Connected
Shotgun HouseNarrow, Long, Compact
Terraced HouseUniform, Multi-storied, Urban
Word Chart: How to Describe a House in Writing

How Do You Describe a Beautiful House?

Describing a beautiful house involves a balance of physical details and emotional responses.

You’ll want to communicate not only what the house looks like, but also how it makes one feel.

Begin with the house’s exterior, focusing on its architectural style, structure, and symmetry.

Discuss its color scheme, materials used, and the overall aesthetics.

You could describe a charming thatched cottage nestled amidst vibrant flowerbeds, a majestic Victorian manor with intricate woodwork, or a sleek modern house with clean lines and glass facades.

Don’t forget to include its surroundings and how they complement the house – a well-manicured lawn, a serene backdrop of trees, or a stunning waterfront view can all contribute to the house’s beauty.

For the interior, provide details about the layout, furniture, decor, and lighting.

Describe large, sunlit rooms, high ceilings, tasteful décor, elegant furniture, or perhaps a spectacular view from a floor-to-ceiling window.

You might describe a kitchen filled with modern appliances and smooth marble countertops, a living room with plush, comfortable seating and warm lighting, or a bedroom that offers a peaceful sanctuary with its muted colors and soft textiles.

Most importantly, convey the feelings the house invokes.

A beautiful house might make one feel relaxed, enchanted, or awed. It could emanate a sense of warmth, tranquility, or sophistication.

Using sensory details and emotive language can help readers not only visualize the house’s beauty but also experience the atmosphere it creates.

How To Describe a Mansion in a Story

When describing a mansion in a story, you want to convey its size, grandeur, and luxury.

Begin with a bird’s eye view of the mansion – its sprawling grounds, multiple floors, vast gardens, perhaps even a pool or a tennis court.

Highlight architectural features that communicate its scale and opulence, such as tall columns, grand archways, a long, winding driveway, or vast, manicured lawns.

For the interior, describe large, opulent rooms filled with luxurious furnishings.

The entrance could feature a grand staircase, the living room could have soaring ceilings and elaborate chandeliers, and the dining room could comfortably seat dozens.

Describe materials and features that indicate wealth and taste, such as marble floors, silk draperies, gold leaf details, or art collections.

Don’t forget other rooms that might be found in a mansion, such as a library, a game room, a home theater, or a wine cellar.

A mansion can also create a particular atmosphere and emotional response.

It might feel intimidating due to its size, imposing due to its grandeur, or fascinating due to its luxury.

However, a mansion could also be depicted as a lonely, echoing space, demonstrating that bigger doesn’t always mean homelier.

As always, remember to use sensory details to bring the mansion alive in your reader’s mind – the echoing footfalls on marble floors, the soft glow of a chandelier, the subtle scent of polished wood, and the hushed silence that fills its spacious rooms.

Final Thoughts: How To Describe a House in Writing

You can also describe houses based on the mood or genre of a scene of story (romantic, horror, etc.)

Happy literary house hunting!

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