Monthly Archives: June 2016

Multi-Functional Rooms Offer Adaptability

Perhaps the largest draw to the most popular house plans is the inclusion of “flex space” or multi-functional rooms. As families grow and change the requirements placed upon the rooms within your dream house change as well, and modern home design trends reflect this need. But beyond open floor plans and undefined spaces, there is also a rising tide of home furnishings and built-in options that can transform a room quickly and easily.

Multi-Functional Furniture:

The murphy bed is back! This relic from early American living spaces is growing in popularity and

Multi-Functional

The ultimate space-saver!

the designs are better than ever. A bed that pulls down from the wall is perhaps the most straightforward space saver available. When not in use, the bed folds away to reveal a desk and work space, or cabinets, or enclosed shelves for attractive storage.

Sofa beds also are once again in high demand. With an eye towards more intimate details and cozy furnishings, a living room quickly transforms into overnight guest accommodations. An antique bow-front chest or refinished dresser makes a lovely display piece and offers short-term storage for your house guests.

 

Multi-Functional Rooms

 

multi-functional spaces

Bookshelves lend a scholarly and cozy feel to this bright dining room.

A formal dining room is a lovely addition to any dream house plan, but it can also feel like poorly used square footage if it is only occupied once or twice each year for a large meal. Consider lining the walls of a formal dining room with built in bookshelves for a library feeling. With the addition of a farm-style table the dining area easily doubles as a work space or home office.

Family rooms can be big spaces and it’s not difficult to get a little lost in all the open space. Rethink the ways furniture is placed in great rooms; with a little out of the box thinking a large open room can be divided into smaller spaces better suited to your family’s needs. Tall book cases placed at right angles to the walls act as non-permanent room dividers; a couch located in the center of the room allows for a workspace or exercise area to share the living room.

 

Amazing Outdoor Play Spaces

As the days in June rise up on the calendar and pass all too quickly, schools across this country begin to let out for the summer break. This annual vacation from structure is the carrot at the end of a long stick for most kids growing up. However, those long hot days can be difficult to fill up, and sometimes boredom gets the better of even the most imaginative of children. Outdoor play spaces are a great way to keep your kids occupied in a safe place while allowing you to go about your business. Whether working professionally from home or just moving through summertime projects of your own, these backyard playgrounds keep your kids within close range while their imaginations roam wild.

sunflower house

A Sunflower House makes for a lovely outdoor play space and a magical fort as well.

Sunflower House

Plant a thick circular row of tall sunflower plants to enclose a space that quickly feels like a magical fort. Inside the flower ring can be a sand pit or a small play table and bench to create a quiet thinking place. It also acts as a kind of playpen for smaller children who may find it difficult to wander beyond this floral border.

 

A fun and messy outdoor play space for the little ones.

Use found wood scraps and old kitchen utensils to make up a mud kitchen.

Mud Kitchens

For those that like to get dirty! Stock the mud kitchen with outdated kitchen supplies, or take a spin through your local thrift store for random utensils and mixing bowls that won’t mind getting a little banged up. Old camping kitchen gear works great as well.

 

 

 

 

Raised Garden Beds

Using either wood, re-purposed pallets, or cinder blocks, you can easily fashion a raised bed and fill it with plants and seeds suitable for your gardeners. Stick with fast growing crops like radishes, strawberries, beans and peas, and lettuces that will engage the shorter attention spans of little ones.

Treehouses and Forts

Outdoor Play Spaces

Tree houses make the ultimate outdoor play space.

From simple to elaborate, a tree house or a ground-level fort will keep your kids active and interested for years to come! These adaptable structures can change as your kids get older, and new play spaces can be added with each passing year. Some of our favorite ideas include a pallet rock climbing wall, a rope bridge, and a skateboard swing.

Through all these long days of hot weather and free time, finding ways to engage and occupy your kids is easier than ever. Check out our Outdoor Play Spaces Pinterest page here for more ideas and DIY instructions.

Make the Most of Your Air Conditioner

In these ever-hotter days, many families look to invest in an air conditioner of one sort or another to help keep temperatures inside the house at a comfortable level. These appliances range from window sill units to built-in cooling systems. Regardless of which one you choose, there are a few things you can do to maximize the cooling effects on your home and keep your utility bills reasonably low throughout the summer months.

  1. Keep the doors open!

    Air Conditioning

    Keep doors open to maximize the effects of your air conditioning unit.

While it may seem like the obvious choice to close off a bedroom door while the air conditioner is running to keep the cold air in, this practice is actually causing hot air to come into your house! The principles of cooling and heating air are based on air flow. As cooler air is pushed into the room it pushes out the stagnant, hotter air. If this process is hindered by closed doors and windows, the room becomes pressurized. The air will find a way out somehow- usually by drawing air in from the outside. This air, in most cases, is warm and can contain higher levels of humidity and carbon monoxide.

Obviously you won’t want to keep all doors and windows open while you run your air conditioner, but keeping the inside doors open to enable easy air flow will get more cold air circulating through the house at a much faster rate.

  1. Practice Manual Habits to Lower the Impact

    Air Conditioning

    Close blinds and drapes against the sun’s strongest rays.

Even with the use of an air conditioner, there are simple things you can do in your home to lower the impact of the appliance on your utility bills. Keeping blinds and drapes closed when the sun comes through them, and opening windows at night to let cool air in are two easy things to incorporate into your daily summer routine.

  1. Find the Right Sized Unit for the Room

Make sure you are not straining your air conditioner by asking it to cool a much larger room than it is equipped for. Information on the packaging will help you determine how big of a space each unit is equipped to handle. An over-worked air conditioner can be, at best, ineffective and, at worst, dangerous.

  1. Choose “Energy Star” Rated Appliances

    Air Conditioning

    Look for the Energy Star logo to denote efficient appliances.

The Energy Star rating was created by the EPA in 1992 to label appliances with high energy efficiency. These ratings are now widespread and can help you find the most efficient air conditioner for your particular space.

  1. Manage Humidity

So often the unbearable feeling of an overheated house has more to do with accumulated humidity than it does merely temperature alone. Air conditioners will often profess to manage both humidity and temperature, but these happen simultaneously. By using exhaust fans when you engage in humidity-producing activities like bathing, washing dishes, and cooking, you can help significantly lower the water levels in your air, making the air conditioner work more effectively and efficiently.

Proper installation and maintenance are equally important as you bring these new appliances into your home this summer. But with a high-quality machine and a few daily practices you can easily enjoy the summer months in cooled-air comfort.

Architectural Styles in the Modern World

Human societies have been building and living in homes for thousands of years. These historical architectural styles reflect regional influences as well as the ongoing development of human architectural stylesculture. As societies form, the structures echo the needs of the present place and time and, over the years, this has come to provide us with numerous architectural styles that reference these past design trends and point towards our future.

These days, we use architectural styles to denote those sociohistorical trends that guided past design choices. They are quite helpful when searching through a large archive of house plans on a site like MonsterHousePlans.com. Ultimately, however, many of the distinguishing features of one house plan design style will also be reflected in other styles of house plans. The wide front porch of architectural stylesthe Southern Country style house plan is similarly a common feature of the ever-popular Craftsman house plan as well. It’s difficult to say which claimed the front porch feature first, or if they developed simultaneously. But this is just one example of the way seemingly-signature features are often incorporated into other design styles.

This is good news for those shopping for their dream house plan. A good designer will meld various styles into a seamless reflection of the current trends while also applying an expert’s hand in terms of structural integrity and feasibility. As our lifestyles grow custom architectural stylemore diverse, the homes we choose to build echo our evolution. With modern families taking so many various forms it’s quite amazing really to see the way our clients are taking full advantage of the opportunity to create something unique and functional for their lives. And although there are always some house plan styles that remain popular in the long term, there will also always be room for artistic development and socially-influenced modifications. Perhaps this is what draws us as architects to this field: this constant evolving of form and function, and the ultimate pay-off of a happy family loving the space they live in.

Re-Thinking The Contemporary Laundry Room

The pull of convention affects us all. Sometimes we just get so used to things being a certain way that it takes a strong wind to redirect our visions to something better suited to our needs. But this is the beauty of working with a custom design for your dream house: the options are truly limitless!

My favorite expression of this lately has been the rise of the contemporary laundry room in unusual places. No longer relegated to the mud rooms and basements of American houses, washers and dryers are starting to make an appearance in the more highly-trafficked rooms of the home: bathrooms, walk-in closets, or laundry rooms placed on the second story between bedrooms.

Ultimately, the chore of maintaining your family’s laundry is time consuming and tedious. The clothes basket can get heavy, the folding gets interrupted, sometimes there isn’t enough space to spread out. Regardless of whether there is one person in your family responsible for the laundry, or if its a rotating chore, having a contemporary laundry room set-up designed for function rather than tradition will make a huge difference.Contemporary laundry rooms

And with the advent of front-loaders, you can now feasibly put a washer and dryer anywhere that makes sense to your routine. Build a nice long counter top above the appliances and you’re all set with a folding area.

I think my favorite so far is the laundry room in the walk-in closet. How easy would it be to remove dirty clothes right into the wash basin? And then, once the dryer finishes its cycle, clothes go right onto hangers or into the bureau? Genius.

contemporary laundry room

 

 

 

 

Another popular option is locating the washer and dryer into a closet slightly bigger than the traditional linen closet on the second floor of the home. Situated between bedrooms perhaps occupied by older children who are responsible for their own laundry needs, this set up is highly functional for a busy family and is an efficient use of space.

contemporary laundry room

 

However you move through your home, consider the spaces that could be designed differently, or could work better for you. This is the single most important benefit in choosing to build your home: the ability to create spaces based on what works for you, rather than being tied to the standards of the masses. Talk to your designer about your ideas; they are excited and willing to help your project manifest into the perfect home for you and your family.

 

Courtyard House Plans Add Elegance

Courtyard House Plans Add Elegance

No matter what size lot you plan on building on, considering a courtyard house plan is one of the most traditional ways to elevate the elegance and maximize available space.

Most of the house plans that offer a courtyard already in the design are of the traditional variety: European designs in particular favor this feature. But several of the more recent American trends have also adopted the courtyard garden as a way to provide private outdoor space that is both open to the air and protected from the stronger elements.

Enclosed patio in courtyard house plan

Enclosed within the main structure of the house, a courtyard garden often exists in the center of the lot, with the main arms of the house surrounding it. But there are options: a courtyard can also be situated towards the back and side of the house, or can be built between the main house and a detached garage and used as a vestibule space. There are countless options for bringing this lovely space to fruition, and several reasons why it’s a good idea to consider for your own dream house plan.

Courtyard house plans typically have a few features in common:

  • Water fixtures:  Either large or small, and used as part of landscaping irrigation or simply toWater feature in a courtyard house plan provide a quiet, tranquil background noise in a peaceful setting, a water fixture is a classic element to a courtyard. Even something as subtle as a stone bird bath with a slow trickle of fresh water running into it can make an enclosed courtyard garden feel like a haven from the stresses of the outside world.

 

  • Patio: Built into the center of the courtyard with features and landscaping plants arranged on Paved patio in Courtyard House Planthe periphery, a patio makes for an intuitive gathering space. Paving stones, brick, or other natural materials are typically used here, and ground cover allowed to expand between the stones makes for a romantic and traditionally elegant setting for a summer’s evening meal or glass of wine.

 

  • Low maintenance landscaping: Typically, a courtyard is designed to be relatively low-Low maintenance plants in Courtyard House Planmaintenance compared to other styles of yard spaces. Choosing plants that are capable of being left unattended for short periods of time are a functional addition, while many would opt for plantings that will grow and expand on their own over time. Training vines like clematis and wisteria are good options for a setting such as this.

The garden space inherent in a courtyard house plan can elevate your dream home to a new level of simple elegance and make efficient use of space on your chosen lot. Search our large selection of House-Plans-With-Courtyards.