How did the oldtimers design so many beautiful buildings? What did builders know 100 years ago that we have since forgotten? What rules were they following? What guidelines did they refer to?

Simple Rules is a collection of 25 of the basic concepts, design principles and rules of thumb that builders and architects used throughout history in the making of beautiful buildings.

simple rules



Simple Rules – an unconventional design guide for the modern builder.

Inspired by long forgotten resources, this beautifully illustrated guide blends timeless composition principles and elegant proportional systems to give builders and designer’s techniques and specific formulas for creating aesthetically pleasing and impeccably designed buildings that offer a reverent nod to time-honored design elements.

Incorporating salvaged pieces and architectural relics, the concepts detailed in this guide have been resurrected and abridged for practical use by the 21st century architect and homebuilder. Using the same classic principles of making the once familiar and meaningful into something sensible and beautiful is the concept behind the designs illustrated in this builder’s guide.

Each design concept in this guide is intended to serve as an archetype for a new modern architecture to free builders from the need to replicate old styles and to forge their own paths in today’s world.


Additional unformated rules will periodically be added and will hopefully be revised and formatted into additional editions.

Simple Rules No.2 is now available on Amazon and other ebook formats, including Itunes and Kobo.




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Simple Rules, a new kind of builder handbook/design guide can be purchased on Amazon, and other bookstores like Barnes and Noble:


Kindle versions of both are also available, and are on sale 40% off for the month of August.







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“Not only should every figure and every expression and action contribute to the general effect, but whatever does not tend to this purpose more or less deteriorates from it.”

 Asher Benjamin

“This principle is obvious in all architectural compositions, as well as in those in music …the general style of the composition should ever be throughout in accordance with, and should bear relation to the subject of it, and to the particular characters introduced.

The various figures and parts in a composition should, … moreover be necessary to the place which it fills. If a figure or a metaphor may as well be in one part of the composition as another, it may probably be as well out of it altogether.”

The Music of the Eye  Peter Leigh, 1831


window details


forming circular and eliptical niches

simple rule

Batty Langley’s diagram for forming circular and eliptical niches


simple rule chimneys

On chimney placement:

“chimneys in the interior of a house …draw better than in the exterior walls, [and it is] more pleasing to see the chimney tops rising from the apex, or highest part of the roof…”

—A. J. Downing




“Now as a good draught depends, in a great degree, on the warmth of the column of air, and this upon the heat of the chimney, it is evident that chimneys in the interior of a house must draw better than in the exterior walls.


Besides this, a great deal of heat is retained in the body of the house by carrying the stacks of flues through it. And in point of external effect, it is much more pleasing to see the chimney tops rising from the apex, or highest part of the roof, than from its lowest edge.”

Cottage Residences; A Series of Designs For Rural Cottages and Cottage-Villas

A.J. Downing