Housing preference and the meaning of a dwelling are two important research areas in both housing research and environment-behavior studies. Housing preference has been studied from different theoretical perspectives (Mulder, 1996) and with a variety of methodological approaches (Timmermans et al., 1994). The relationships between housing preference and both macro-level factors, for example housing market and economic situation, and micro-level factors, such as age, income and family composition, have been studied extensively (Clark and Dieleman, 1996). However, relatively little attention has been paid to cognitive micro-level factors such as goals, functions and values, which tell us something about the meaning housing preferences have for people. With the exception of a few studies (Lindberg et al., 1987; Coolen and Hoekstra, 2001) the most researched cognitive factor is ‘reasons for moving’, which provides only limited insight into people’s motives. This means that little is known about the relationships between cognitive factors such as values, goals and functions on the one hand and housing preference on the other. There is also a vast amount of research on the meaning of a dwelling, stemming from a great variety of research traditions (Després, 1991; Moore, 2000). Meaning is viewed as a central topic in environment-behavior studies because meaning links the built environment and people. In people’s relationships to dwellings, meaning provides much of the rationale for the ways in which these dwellings are shaped and used (Rapoport, 1988). Although they seem to play a major role in these relationships, in the research on the meaning of a dwelling the features of dwellings in general, and physical features in particular, play only a minor role (Rapoport, 1995). This means that there is also very little known about the relationships between the features of dwellings and the meaning these features have for the inhabitants. In this paper I present a conceptual framework for studying the meaning of preferences for the features of a dwelling, both physical and non-physical. These features are viewed as functional for achieving the goals and values that people pursue. The meaning of the dwelling features lies exactly in these functional relationships. The model presented therefore relates preferences for the features of a dwelling to the meaning they have for people. These relationships are called meaning structures. The paper also presents the research methodology associated with this conceptual framework. The data collection, for which a semi-structured interviewing technique is used, results in less-structured data which are subsequently categorized by means of content analysis. On the basis of these categories the individual meaning structures are aggregated into meaning networks which are then analyzed by means of network analysis (Wasserman and Faust, 1994). Network analysis enables us to distinguish meanings in terms of centrality or abstractness, and it also makes it possible to compare different meaning networks. Finally, the results of an empirical study, in which the conceptual and methodological framework was used, about 45 (sub)urban apartment dwellers are presented and discussed.