The first human buildings were very much a matter of trial and error – using whatever materials were available, people built shelters, and then other people copied the ones that worked. You might not realize it, but most of the world is still full of these kinds of buildings, especially outside urban areas in less developed countries.
Ancient cultures like the Egyptians and the Romans made home-building from oral traditions into written practices, and were able to formalize architecture to build incredibly complex buildings, like the pyramids and the Coliseum. They also built many more everyday buildings, such as universities, hospitals and the Roman baths. It was from this that architecture evolved through the centuries.
Twentieth-century architecture built on these centuries of building experience, but wanted to simplify and mass-produce buildings as technology got better and populations rapidly grew. This gave rise to modernist architecture, a very minimalist style where every unnecessary detail and adornment was removed, leaving only the building itself – basically, a big box. These buildings can still be seen (and lived in) today, and are perfectly functional, but many people consider them to be incredibly ugly.
In the later part of the century, post-modern architecture reacted against this, putting back the flowery touches and drawing on all of history to find different ways to design interesting buildings. Much postmodernist building is still being done, but mainly big towers in large cities or buildings like museums and galleries that want to be a little more distinctive than the average building.
When you’re considering how to design your home, you have to consider that where we are today in house building is a kind of post-post-modern period, focused on designing for people. The newest houses are built with the people living there in mind above all else – all sorts of studies on people’s behavior and preferences are constantly being done, and used in the design.