descriptors / writers resources

47 Ways to Describe Buildings–Homes II

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 II.

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).

home insideInside

  • No heat? There is heat but it’s unavailable.
  • Functional interior with no personality whatsoever—brown shag carpet that smelled of old automobile interiors, stained photographs in cheap plastic frames, Mediterranean-style lamps and furniture with excessive scrolls.  A ski resort rental
  • Peeling walls and sagging brown sofa and the floor lamp with the dented shade and the fraying braided rug and the cheap lighted china hutch with nothing inside it but a few coffee mugs
  • Coffee room/lunch room with a sign on the frig—Put your **** on your lunch bag
  • Floors and walls were polished stone
  • Doors were hollow core. The finish work was minimal, mostly quarter round molding. The floors were plywood, covered wall to wall with inexpensive tan carpeting which didn’t wear well, but showed the dirt easily. The furniture was fresh from the warehouse
  • The living room had a homey atmosphere. An Afghan had been flung over the back of a sofa that faced the fireplace, and a blanket graced the back of a chair. Throw rugs covered the wood-plank floor.
  • Colorful abstract oils hung on stark white walls, glass-topped coffee and end tables stood before or next to furniture upholstered in soft pastels.

home descriptionFurniture, etc.

  • Uses his exercise bike as a clothes rack
  • Old wooden chair with the two missing back slats
  • Pushed back awkwardly from the desk because one of the rollers on the chair was damaged
  • Sagging furniture and a thread blue rug with a pattern too faded to make out.
  • gathered the whole mess and shifted it to the alarmingly large pile tilting dangerously
  • Locked in shadow in a corner of the room
  • Brown plaid sofa with heavy oak arms, a bookcase neatly stocked with paperbacks, family pictures on one wall, a china cabinet against another.
  • beautiful gilded mirror
  • FBI-approved safe, a four-drawer Mosler combination safe, concrete-and-steel, good for material up to top secret
  • trestle table
  • lamps washed the window in a strong incandescent glow
  • He rummaged through the chest. T-shirts were pushed into the top drawer along with more underwear and wadded socks. The next drawer down held a pair of folded sweatpants but nothing else. The final drawer held nothing belonging to the thief, just a stack of well-fingered brochures and menus from local businesses.


  • In the kitchen: Wooden countertops, cabinets and a sink to the left, round dining table in the center. An arched doorway in the right-hand wall led to another room.
  • Through the narrow door into a tiny living room with a small couch. Throw rugs and beanbags. To the left a galley-sized kitchen. Sink and frig and small counter. Cupboards and a window.
  • The kitchen counters had been used as an ashtray. Cigarette butts covered the old Formica top—black holes burned into every square inch. A leaky faucet was the only sound in the whole damn place. Above the sink filled high with dirty, moldy dishes was a cracked window


  • The bathroom was clean. The tub and the towels were dry. The medicine cabinet above the sink had a mirrored door and behind it were over-the-counter analgesics, and toothpaste, and tampons, and dental floss, and spare soap and shampoo.
  • Sink, a  shower stall covered with mold


  • An unmade king with no headboard; a cheap particle board dresser with three drawers, an open cigar box doubling as a jewelry box atop it; a large velvet wall painting


  • Back when home was more than a TV and a microwave
  • No sound in the house, not even the sounds that houses make: air-conditioning, or furnace, or the stairwell creaking, or the frig cycling on; nothing but a silence that seemed to have been thickening since
  • doors opened and closed and water ran and toilets flushed and then the house went quiet. The heating system whirred and the taped-up football players muttered and grunted and snored
  • is your garage like your garden or like your television set?
  • Screams of alarm and horror echoed off the villas impeccably manicured facade

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

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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.

27 thoughts on “47 Ways to Describe Buildings–Homes II

  1. Hello. I am writing a novel about a book cafe. I want my MC to leave above his shop, the book cafe using store front and the workers and leave in this apartment.
    But I’m really bad at describing places. I’ve read your other post of describing places. Can you help me with this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 34 Ways to Describe Eating and Drinking | WordDreams...

  3. Pingback: 36 Ways to Describe Buildings–Neighborhoods | WordDreams...

  4. I found this post quite useful. I’m always looking for ways to come up with better descriptions of rooms for my stories, but it seems as if I can never come up with ideas on my own that haven’t already been done to death. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A brilliant list of home description and I’m impressed by your diligence to note them all down safely. One sense I find missing here a bit is that of smell – something that always hits me when entering someones house and which I like to use to describe a home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree (about the smell). I’m going to start noticing that in my reading. I bet I’ll find a lot of it.

      As for noting all of these down: I’m a pretty fast typist so it takes seconds to enter them. the joys of a classical upbringing.


  6. Writing description is tricky. We need enough to ground the reader but not so much they skim right past it. It’s best if we can include the character in it, but that’s not always easy either. Thanks for a great list of examples.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “The kitchen counters had been used as an ashtray. Cigarette butts covered the old Formica top—black holes burned into every square inch. A leaky faucet was the only sound in the whole damn place. Above the sink filled high with dirty, moldy dishes was a cracked window.” Wow!
    These are great, Jacqui. I’m curious about that first photo. Where was it taken?

    Liked by 1 person

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