Building Your Own Fairy-Tale Home

hawk mountain cottage style carriage house home with stone foundation

Carriage House with a "Storybook Feel"

In the past month, we have had posts featuring the Cape Cod and Craftsman home styles. We’ve also talked about how to design functional space in a home for ever-changing future uses. But what if you’re looking for something a bit more whimsical? Even then, a timber framed house is the perfect starting point for building your own, livable version of a fairy-tale house. These homes, like all designed and built by Timberpeg, combine excellent energy-efficiency, functionality and charisma. If you are looking to build a home that looks like the setting of modern-day folklore, then here are some design tips to help realize that vision.

Exaggerate the Horizontal and Vertical Dimensions

cottage style yellow home

The 'Harvest Hollow' home from Timberpeg showcases peaked roof-lines and siding to emphasize the vertical lines.

When we think of a fairy-tale house, the first thing that springs to mind is unique exterior proportions. While everyday houses may have more “balanced” proportions, the fairy-tale house will often feature a tall, thin house or short but expansive one. Perhaps a squat, thatched-roof cottage of Hansel and Gretel comes to mind, or an outlandishly tall castle of Cinderella. Exaggerating the vertical or horizontal in your home can go a long way to capturing the enchanted feel. Even with this departure from normal dimensions, such a house can still be very usable. Our carriage houses, like the one featured at the top of this article, provide a compact, vertical house without sacrificing usability. For a house with a more horizontal exaggeration, consider the Harvest Hollow (above). The low roof-line of this design gives the appearance of a quaint country cottage, disguising its over 3000 feet of living space.

Use Unique Hallways and Doorways

arched front door opening into timber frame great room with balcony above

Arched front door opening into timber frame great room. The arch theme is repeated on the window in the balcony above.

Rectangular doors are certainly the most common choice in home construction, so altering this detail goes a long way to enhancing the storybook charm. Arched doors and doorways have a quaint charm, and extending this motif to arched hallways inside the home exudes a hand-built aesthetic of an earlier time. Making these arched passageways a bit lower in height (but still high enough to walk through without crouching!) also builds on the antique charm.

An arched passage from kitchen into the dining room/library adds a little whimsy to this home.

Make the Windows Appear Small


Since glass was much more expensive in the past, windows on older homes were smaller and composed of individual, small panes. In order to lend a fairy-tale vibe to the windows, select ones with many small panes. For an added magical pop, diamond pane windows can transport even an urban house to the enchanted forest.

Anchor Your House in Stone

carriage house home with stone foundation


While modern materials like concrete are perfect for most home’s foundations, stone detail on your home will tie it firmly with the past.  The look of stone brings an historic tone that can make a home feel anchored in those olden days of legend and fairytale. Of course when building a new cottage style timber frame home you'll be able to also enjoy all the modern amenities as well, like superior insulation and energy efficiency.  And unlike truly historic cottages, you can enjoy hot running water, dishwashers, state of the art laundry rooms, and home entertainment systems to bring some magic to your fairytale home.  If you're interested in learning more about designing a timber frame cottage style home of your own, please contact Timberpeg to get started.