In Siberia, Estonians settled in hamlets ( talu ) or villages ( kula ) built along riverbanks or close to artesian springs. Very few settlements were along roads or the railroad line. Dispersed housing was predominant in the villages. A homestead included buildings for housing cattle, barns (ait), and bathhouses ( saun ) in addition to the house. Usually a decorative garden with several trees or berry bushes was adjacent to the house.
Often, the Siberian Estonians used a threshing barn ( rehielamu, rehutuba ) as living quarters; it consisted of two parts—the living area itself and the threshing floor. Later the Estonians copied the Russian type of housing—a wooden five-wall house on a high stand. Siberian Estonians frequently built houses with several rooms (a kitchen, a hall, and a storeroom). In the steppe zone, clay houses were sometimes constructed. Of public buildings, schools stood out: there were some two-story buildings and "people's houses" ( rahvamaja ) .
The interiors of the houses had many distinctive decorative elements—for example, wardrobes, linen trunks, carved wooden beds, and home-woven blankets and runners. The table usually stood by the window across from the stove. Estonians used mostly Russian stoves.
Carved shutters were the usual decoration of the house. In the steppe zone, a simple geometrical design prevailed. Sometimes, as in neighboring Russian villages, the ends of logs of the frame were painted white.