The most well-rounded model train layout you can have is the HO scale. That's how many in the hobby would describe it. Considered the middle of the road, HO scale has a ratio of 1:87 making it the in-range scale of the rest. In the UK OO gauge is a similar size, but not exactly identical.
Advantages to consider:
• Because of the size of HO, you will find less expensive parts. Their size is larger than smaller scales like Z, and smaller than bulkier scales like G scale, reducing costs because manufacturers do not have to be so precise and do not have to include too many materials. Again, it is the middle of the road with less price.
• The size provides great scaled layouts in reasonable space. You can not pack in as much as you could with Z and N scales, but you are able to make a fairly large layout and not consume all of your space.
• Pieces are not too small, making them less hazardous for children. It's difficult to make Z and N scale layouts with small children and put them at risk, but HO scale is larger and less hazardous. You can sleep more sound with your children being around the layout.
Now that you have been convinced that HO trains are a great scale to work with, let's discuss possible ideas of layouts.
Layout ideas and beginnings:
As you begin to choose your layout consider your favorite railroads. This may be determined by a certain era, style, geographic area, or historical event. Choose wisely, because you will be working on this layout for some time, so make sure you are excited and interested in the layout you choose.
Let the precision begin. With a historical layout you will be dealing with exactness and details that could get difficult. It is a tough challenge, but one that is very rewarding. You can focus on a certain historical event and the era and develop the railway exactly to that style. This is a neat way to get passionate about history. One warning that I do have for you is that you may run in to some trouble getting all of your parts. You may be modeling a historical layout that just is not widely made, so making the parts scarce to find. Fortunately because HO trains are the most widely produced scale, you will find a good selection of rolling stock and accessories in the hobby stores.
The Wild West
Get excited about the scenery you can use. Wild West layouts are very detailed in their scenery, which really makes the layout unique. These layouts are popular because you can design your own western town to surround your train. You may want to incorporate cattle trading and shipping areas, a saloon with bar fines in the streets, and a general store. There are plenty of opportunities here to be creative and stretch your boundaries.
These layouts are very exciting and adventurous. There are quite a few movies out that have railroads that play a significant role in the movie, so why not make a model layout? Some movies with iconic railways that you may want to model are – Harry Potter, The Polar Express, Mission Impossible, etc. There are numerous possibilities, you will just need to check out the available trains that are modeled from movies and go from there.
Time to get totally original and unique. Approach these layouts with an open mind and somewhat of an idea of what you want to make. These layouts are best described as "made from scratch." Take your ideas and inspirations and combine them into a layout that is truly original to you. You can incorporate several different styles of layouts to make it your own. This type of layout can be the most challenging because you do not have a particular model that you are following, causing you to really make something brand new.