Author Archives: Admin

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 Stock the mud kitchen with outdated kitchen supplies, or take a spin through your local thrift store for random utensils and mixing bowls that won’t mind getting a little banged up.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.

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.

Click here to browse our selection of house plans; we’re confident you’ll find an option that’s perfect for you!

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.

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

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.

Why buy store-bought when you can impress your guests with this homemade sauce packed full of flavor? Make up a batch of this ahead of time to let the flavors meld together. It’ll keep in a jar in the fridge for about a month.

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1 ½ cup honey

1 cup ketchup

1 6oz. can tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. curry powder

1 tbsp. paprika

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.

It couldn’t be easier to infuse your grilled shrimp with tons of flavor with this easy marinade. Your backyard entertaining just got kicked up a notch!

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2 lbs. shrimp, uncooked, deveined, with tails on

Large resealable plastic bag

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup peanut oil

2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. thyme

Wood skewers, soaked in water

 

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Place shrimp in the plastic bag and pour marinade over. Refrigerate for 2 hours or so. Bring the grill to medium heat. Thread shrimp on wooden skewers and grill 5 to 7 minutes, turning and basting frequently with the rest of the marinade.  Serve with Cajun butter for dipping.

 

Cajun Butter

½ lb. melted butter

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. tarragon

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

½ tsp. garlic powder

2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce

Tired of serving the traditional macaroni salad at your backyard bar-be-que, this classic from Pasta and Co. is a brilliant deviation. Make ahead and keep in the fridge the day before if you’re short on time.

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Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, peeled and run through a press

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

20 grinds of fresh pepper- preferably green peppercorns

3 tablespoons whipping cream

1 pound fresh pasta

1/3 cup Myzithra cheese, grated

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup chives or green onions, finely minced

½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 cups frozen peas, thawed and drained

2 cups blanched asparagus tips, cut no longer than 2 inches

Additional green onions sliced on the diagonal for garnish

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes and ground pepper, and whipping cream. Set aside.

Cook pasta al dente in salted boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss the pasta in the dressing and allow to cool at room temperature. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients and serve with additional green onions for garnish.

Always a crowd pleaser, pulled pork can be prepared the day before and warmed on the stove top or in a crock pot before serving. Use hoagie rolls for full sandwiches, King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls for excellent sliders, or, as the Pioneer Woman suggests in this recipe, serve with tortillas and lime wedges.

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Ingredients:

  • One 5-7 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 whole onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, combine the onion, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Pulse until totally combined.
  3. Pour the mixture over the pork and rub it in well, covering every accessible part.
  4. Place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven and add 2 cups water. Cover tightly and roast for 6 or 7 hours, turning once every hour.
  5. Check to make sure it’s fork-tender. Increase the heat to 425 and roast uncovered for 20 minutes or until the skin gets crispy. Remove from the oven and allow the pork to rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Shred the meat, using two forks to pull it apart. Place the shredded meat on a large platter lined with lime wedges.
  7. Pour the pan juices over the shredded meat. This will ensure that the meat stays extra tender.
  8. Serve with warm tortillas

Here at Monster House Plans, we offer a wide variety of house plans. We’re sure you’ll find one you’ll be excited about!

Using a house plan to build your custom home is not only for those seeking a new primary residence. For any number of factors people will continue to choose to live in urban areas, or in housing developments in which the homeowner’s level of control is managed by a larger organization. Maybe a condominium is perfect for you right now, with its lack of yard maintenance and convenient locations. These can all be very functional living arrangements for many. But the dream of building a unique living space infects us all, and vacation homes offer a viable option.

Smaller house plans with features designed for comfort and convenience are very popular on our site these days. The requirements for a vacation home are often different from those of a permanent residence, but no less inventive. Typically boasting open floor plans, ample storage and closet space, and gathering spaces, these house plans are all about bringing people together. Smaller square footage and simple roof designs can keep the cost of building a vacation home economical, while easily adaptable custom features make for a uniquely functional space. Also with these smaller house plans comes a greater adaptability in terms of lot choice.

While packing up the car this weekend with all the accouterments a camping trip requires, allow yourself to imagine for a moment how easy it would be to spend the long weekend at your vacation home. Rather than mounting the kayak to the top of the car, its waiting in the garage of your lakeside cabin. Instead of eating out for the duration of your trip, you stock your kitchen with the necessary ingredients and cookware. Rather than struggling with a sleeping bag on uneven ground, you rest in a bedroom that opens onto a screened-in porch for that open air feeling. Whether your vacation home is a cabin in the woods, a beach house on the coast, a log cabin by the side of a lake, or an A-frame up in the mountains, the options are truly limitless.