descriptors / writers resources

44 Ways to Describe Buildings–Homes I

For the next few months, weekly writing tips will include word choice suggestions. That includes:

  • colorful and original descriptions
  • pithy words and phrases
  • picture nouns and action verbs
  • writing that draws a reader in and addicts them to your voice

I keep a  collection of descriptions that have pulled me into the books. I’m fascinated how authors can–in just a few words–put me in the middle of their story and make me want to stay there. This one’s on how to describe homes.

A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).

describe homesOverall

  • Fair-sized house built of red Lyons Sandstone with the most god-awful-looking picket fence I’d ever seen.
  • Small upstairs apartment on Newport Island, a tiny piece of land accessible only by a bridge so narrow, it would admit just one car at a time.
  • The weather-beaten slat cottage sat at the far end of a mostly brown lawn. Wood silvered by the sun. Roof shingles warped. Small stands of plantain and giant bird-of-paradise for privacy.
  • Rambling old farm house
  • Gleamed with the spotless silence of for-company-only.
  • He leaned on the old boards. They felt thin and veined, frozen by a hundred winters, baked by a hundred summers. They smelled of dust and age.
    A big house, the kind in which most American kids dreamed of growing up. Secluded among trees on one of DC’s most exclusive streets, it had turrets, gables, dormers, balconies, a screened-in front porch, a free-standing garage, a gazebo, a pool, formal gardents, the American dream.
  • Sturdy two-story residence designed without the least imagination
  • A set of sagging wooden steps descended three treads from the door


  • A room barely big enough to exhale into
  • A room that showed her lack of interest in anything to do with what people thought of her
  • Small with clean white walls, a twin bed, a desk with a blank blotter on it, sliding closets opposite the bed, and thin green shag carpet.
  • My Writing Area: My computer faces out the window. I like having the sky and buildings in the background. Occasionally a bird or plane flies by in the distance. To my far left is my 42″ flatscreen TV (size does matter), which often displays my daily dose of CNN or Grey’s Anatomy. Next to that is my Buddhist altar, which I need to make better use of. To my right is a framed poster displaying a poem of mine that had been on Chicago buses and trains. And to the far right is a black and white picture of Grand Central Station with wide beams of light gushing in through the windows. The beams look like they are about to make the commuters levitate at any minute and float skyward.
    A single light burned, casting light on a chintz couch and an antique Quaker chair
  • Improvised kitchenette off to one side
  • Walls and ceilings were covered with mirrors, a high-tech bordello.
  • Furnishings were cheap, black-painted. A worn mustard-yellow bean-bag chair, a relic of the seventies. An old tape deck and a towering set of speakers whose cloth was fraying

describe doorsDoor

  • A front door that could accommodate a family of giraffes.


  • A foyer that would accommodate the Serengeti Plant at the foot of a vast curving staircase that probably went to heaven
  • Polished wood floors and a graceful banister that curved up toward a soaring second floor gallery.
  • Persian rug cove red a shopworn carpet.


  • Prints of gentlemen riding to hounds decorate the walls.
  • Crumbling rock walls

describe windowsWindows

  • Beautiful high arched windows
  • Velvet drapes framed the windows, the lace inner curtains remained drawn, allowing daylight to enter while rendering the heart-stopping view over the city a blur
  • bay windows
  • two tall windows allowed sunlight to flood the room
  • the windows flanked a grey fabric sofa, burgundy throw
  • sheer lace curtains bordered by heavy burgundy drapes matching

Click for the complete list of 70 69 writer’s themed descriptions.

Most popular collections:

51 Great Similes to Spark Imagination

How to Describe Nature

178 Ways to Describe Women’s Clothing

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

34 thoughts on “44 Ways to Describe Buildings–Homes I

  1. Pingback: 19 Ways to Describe People | WordDreams...

  2. Description can be tricky. We need to give enough to ground the reader, but not so much we make them skip ahead. When writers can weave it into the story rather than just describe the generic details, it’s so much nicer to read (like your examples above). But as any writer knows, that’s easier said than done.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jacqui, this is a lovely collection of descriptions and an important reminder to keep alert at all times; so easy to just say ‘the room’ instead is describing it and giving the reader the feeling they’re in the room with the character. I’ve found I also add sound to a room, the clock on the wall, dripping tap, sound of children on bikes outside etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re so right, Annika. Trying to see a window, for example, as our main character would is challenging. Maybe they would only notice the drapes–maybe they wouldn’t notice anything. How to keep them in character…

      Liked by 1 person

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