Category Archives: Craftsman House Plans

The Beauty of Hidden Garages

Almost every home you see has a garage attached, usually tacked on to the front of the house. And as our cars get bigger, so too does the standard size of a garage. Spaces for three cars is not uncommon, and use of extra space for seasonal storage. Who could do without such space when building their dram home? A home seems almost bereft without the addition of a garage. Where else are we to park our cars, tuck away yard tools, and set up wood shop work benches? Providing an informal entrance to the home, often via a mud room or utility room, the garage is a frequently used, necessary part of many homes. But garages can be unsightly, awkward, or simply in the way of a carefully designed dream home exterior. Despite its many functions, the garage is arguably the least attractive part of your home’s exterior.

Solutions abound for this particular problem. Garages can be tucked around the side of the home, be situated at the rear, or be built as part of the lower level of the house, completely removing the necessity of a separate garage. Yet other house plans hide the garage in plain site, including such design features as bay windows, small covered porches, and cottage-style landscaping features.

Nearly every style of house plan offers solutions such as these. Clever garage designs abound in the MonsterHousePlans.com library, and by selecting both the style of home you are looking for and the rear-entry garage selection you will access a tailored search filter with hundreds of house plans with out-of-sight garages. Remember also, that any house plan design can be customized to your specifications with the help of licensed architects.

Whether your dream home is lined with a Southern style wrap-around porch, a New England row of columns, or the handcrafted touches of a Craftsman home, a discreet garage enhances the curb appeal of any house.

Walkout Basement House Plans

Walkout basement homes are widely popular all across the country for the extra space and adaptability they offer. Although many imagine a perfectly flat, expansive lot on which to build a dream home, most lots present some degree of elevation that must be taken into account. Where possible, a walkout basement home provides a way to situate your home on such a lot without sacrificing any interior space.

For many busy families, having living space on a lower level provides a necessary separation between active gathering spaces on lower levels and quiet, more formal rooms for mature entertaining upstairs. House plans with walkout basement foundations often include rec rooms, home theaters and gyms, and expansive finished storage space with built-in features to maximize space-saving habits.  Guest suites are also common features of a lower level walkout basement house plan, providing a separate entrance and oftentimes a private patio or porch area for your guests to enjoy during their stay.

Maximizing square footage without enlarging the footprint of the house is perhaps the most beneficial feature of a walkout basement floor plan.  A single story home can still have a fully finished lower level, visible only from the back of the house and providing covered deck space below.

Walkout basement house plan exterior view

These types of plans are often the perfect choice to enjoy a rear-facing view, or when the home is situated on a lot so as to create an expansive backyard area. For the ultimate in home amenities, consider an elevator connecting the two floors or a lower level summer kitchen and BBQ porch to ensure seamless connection between separated floors and outside gathering spaces for the whole family to enjoy.

walkout basement floor plan

While the curbside view of a walkout basement home shows perhaps a modest single-story house, the rear of the home reveals two levels or more, with inside spaces connecting with outside spaces through skilled use of windows, porches, and patios.

Inverted Floor Plans

Inverted floor plans have a long history of providing functional protection. Recent construction innovations and clever design trends have brought this practice back to the forefront of home floor plans in a variety of settings.

Perhaps the oldest examples of inverted floor plans are the castles of ancient Europe. A design of concentric circles- the outer moat, the stone wall surrounding the grounds, and stacked structures ending with the Castle Keep, offered several layers of protection from invading enemies. This innermost tower, the castle keep, was typically where the family slept. It also provided, one supposed, the best and most expansive views of the kingdom.

Castles were some of the first inverted floor plans, with sleeping quarters on upper floors for safety and warmth.

Castles were some of the first inverted floor plans, with sleeping quarters on upper floors for safety and warmth.

Fast forward to a more modern view of the world, in which single family homes dominate the landscape. Early examples of this show homes built around a single multi-purpose room, used for sleeping, cooking, and as a gathering space for the family. Families that could afford a slightly larger home would often position a loft above this main room to use as sleeping quarters, where the rising heat from the central fire would maintain warmth through the cold nights.

In today’s world, this natural vertical progression has lead most home plan designers to place bedrooms on the upper floors, and living areas on the main floor. And while there are some stylistic deviations, such as a first-floor master bedroom, many styles of house plans accept this template.

And it works for many families. Regional construction, however, has kept the inverted floor plan alive and well. In coastal areas, the low country lots, and areas where rising river levels threaten the foundation, inverted floor plans make the best use of space. A view-driven plan will often feature main living areas on the highest levels of the home, in order to see above a neighbor’s house or over the tree line. In hot and humid places, these upper floor are uniquely able to capture breezes while discouraging pesky insects who tend to congregate at lower altitudes.

Rooftop in an inverted floor plan home.

Roof decks make the most of seasonal weather.

It is no surprise then that most of the inverted floor plan models you see are either Coastal house plans, Beach house plans, Florida plans, European house plans, and Modern or Contemporary floor plans. But an inverted floor plan is for more than just coastal properties. Even the more traditional house plans can make use of this design, as many of them draw from European design concepts.

Modern designs are beginning to make use of this feature as a way to make the absolute most out of available space, including outside areas like roof decks and balconies. And with modern amenities like elevators and dumb waiters, the logistics of spending most of your time on the upper floors are simply settled.

There are a number of factors that make an inverted floor plan the preferred choice for many families and builders. Whether its intent is to access sweeping views, to capture cool breezes, or to elevate the main gathering spaces for maximum light and openness, the inverted floor plan has evolved into one of the most efficient use of space available.

House Plans with Flex Space

Building your dream home is often a very exciting process. As you witness each phase of construction you draw ever closer to the completion of your goal. But there can also be moments of uncertainty: did I choose the right home for my family? What if things change in a way I haven’t foreseen?  No one is better suited to anticipate the future needs of your family than you are. Even though you are uniquely qualified for this decision, unexpected changes occur in the life of a dynamic family. Having the ability to meet those changes head on provides a welcome comfort. For many families, the best way to mitigate this anxiety is to choose a house plan with built in expansion options, or flex space.

The cost and headache of building an addition on to your existing home can be dissuasive and discouraging. The perfect house plan for today’s changing family dynamic will include spaces for growth that can be finished at a later date when the need arises. House plans with unfinished basement levels offer open space that can be defined in any way your family needs, or can be left open for a generous rec room, storage, or craft space. Yet other house plans include the structure for additional bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, walk-in closets, and outdoor patios for an easy transition from flex space to living space.

Whether planning for your aging parents or in-laws to move in, or transitioning into a work-from-home or self-employed arrangement, or the knowledge that your young children will one day want their own bathroom: having undefined space built into your dream home offers growth potential with ease.

Life is full of exciting opportunities and unexpected moments of change. The feeling of having flexibility on your side makes it easy to meet those opportunities with a positive outlook. A custom home plays a large role in terms of meeting the future needs of your family. By harnessing your unique ability to predict upcoming needs and changes, and including space for the unforeseen, your house plan can serve you for many years to come.

Nostalgic American Architecture is Perfect for the Holidays

There is perhaps no season that makes many of us nostalgic for early American architecture like autumn. As leaves begin to turn bright colors and fall in piles in the front yard, kids dress up and parole neighborhood streets for Hallowe’en, and preparations are made for the upcoming holidays, images of colonial homes fill our heads. Those wide front porches decorated with carved pumpkins and hardy mums in pots; lights going up along roof lines; chimneys filling the air with wood smoke….these sensory moments are part of what makes this season so special and culturally historical.

A nostalgic American landscape makes for the ultimate autumn landscape

A nostalgic American landscape makes for the ultimate autumn landscape and puts us in mind of the approaching holidays.

When we enter the season of hosting for the holidays, there are some styles of homes that are designed for this time of year. And it’s those nostalgic American home styles that do it the very best: Colonial, Plantation style, and Country homes are among the most perennially popular. Especially as the season turns cold, those homes that offer multiple fireplaces, large gathering rooms, and guest accommodations are especially sought after. And for large families, no holiday would be able to come together without some sort of play room or bonus space on the lower floors to which the children can be sent while meal preparations are under way.

As adults grow their families and develop traditions, it’s only natural to consider how your family gathers together. In the midst of holiday craziness and unpredictable weather, how to spend time with your loved ones? These are some of the most important considerations when searching for a house plan for your dream home. Are you building far from other family members, where you might need to host overnight guests from time to time? Do you prepare large meals and require ample storage and counter space to work your masterpieces? Is quiet time around the fireplace the best part of your night? As you search through our curated collections of house plans for holiday hosting, keep in mind the spaces in which you want to see your most beloved traditions to take place. Whether your hang lights, or decorate with autumn colored leaves, this holiday season is shaping up to be a wonderful time for all to get together and revel in the joy of a life well lived.

California Bungalow: An American Original

The term California Bungalow refers to more than just an architectural style. Referencing a time and place in American history, the classic California Bungalow home design reflects an early stage in the development of the American Dream.

A Bengal Bungalow in 1865 belonging to a British military commander.

A Bengal Bungalow in 1865 belonging to a British military commander.

Bungalows have been built for centuries overseas, primarily in the Bengal region of India, where the term originates. Popular with British commanders, the traditional thatched-roof home style was adapted to house the military elite and influenced house design across the world. The bungalow’s first appearance in the United States was on the East Coast but it was the fledgling state of California who greeted this modest design with open arms.

In the early days of the 20th century, California was a happening place. Between 1920 and 1929 the population of Los Angeles more than doubled, partly due to a tremendous influx of immigrant families finding work in growing industries. Hollywood was generating more than income; it was mass producing and disseminating American culture. An oil boom is largely responsible for placing California as the largest player in the aviation industry, the home of several large banking corporations, and the beneficiaries of an explosive real estate market.

As the population increased middle class American families who, up until this point, had largely rented city apartments were enabled to move outward into the wide and undeveloped lands beyond the urban city center. California Bungalow homes, with their one-story designs and open floor plans, were affordable to build and maintain. Because the homes were small, even a modest lot offered a yard space, typically in the back of the house.

california-bungalow kit edited

A kit illustration for an early California Bungalow style home

In previous years home ownership was mostly relegated to the wealthy, and the designs reflected this opulence. Servant’s quarters, formal spaces like sitting rooms and parlors, and expansive guest suites characterized the luxury homes of the well-off. The introduction of the California Bungalow home, however, brought home ownership down to the level of the successful working class American family. Materials came from local surrounding areas and prioritized stucco,  wood shingle, or horizontal siding instead of the early brick versions seen on the East Coast. Redwood beams became a common style characteristic. Sometimes sold in ready-to-assemble kits, one could even purchase a bungalow home from the Sears and Roebuck catalog!

 

By the end of the 1930’s, the California Bungalow style was on the decline. As Americans recovered from the war and the G.I. Bill helped returning soldiers build a sustainable life, the development of the suburbs saw homes getting larger and larger as American culture swelled towards opulence once again.

In today’s modern world of technology-enhanced experiences, dense urban populations, and multi-tasking families, the Bungalow home is seeing a resurgence. Bungalow floor plans typically place a large gathering space at the center of the home with the other rooms organized in a connected constellation around it. This open, casual feel is widely popular with families looking to balance out the distractions of the world with a home that brings family members together and integrates everyone’s living experience.

This modern California bungalow home boasts elegant efficiency with a nod to the classic historical design.

This modern California bungalow home boasts elegant efficiency with a nod to the classic historical design.

An early piece of American cultural history, the California Bungalow is sturdy and adaptable home that has already proven its worth against the shifting tides of sociocultural change.

Continue reading

Home Gym Design

At different times of the year- and at different stages in life- our physical fitness rises up on the priority list. And in this we are often met with an overwhelming amount of information about what kind of exercise is best, which foods should be avoided, and just how to go about shedding those excess pounds. While it can be difficult to filter through the advice there are some things that can make this process a little easier to navigate. Perhaps the easiest solution of all is to create a home gym that can adapt to your needs as they change.

home gym

Big windows help this home gym feel open and expansive.

A home gym is often quite different from commercial workout spaces. Rather than a huge room lined with mirrors, rows of cardio equipment and weight machines, and a huge assemblage of kettle balls and free weights, a home gym can be a sleeker, simpler space. In addition to the fact that you won’t need all that equipment for just a few people, you are also enabled to craft your space in a way that cultivates a calm determination.

A small room will suffice for your home gym, but I recommend it be a room you enjoy spending time in. Choose a space with big windows and a view if you can, but free of distractions. Natural light is a big bonus and helps with both mood improvement and motivation. If natural light isn’t an option in your space, choose a lighting scheme that is gentle but provides ample illumination for your workouts.

Depending on what kinds of physical activities you’re planning on doing, flooring can be an important component of your home gym.  For many folks the home gym is a simple situation, and flooring materials can be of your choosing. Hard wood or wood alternatives create a warm, inviting feeling but can be in danger of damage if weights are dropped. Choose a hardy material that can stand up to the activity that will take place.

Work with your architectural team to customize that bonus room or flex space into your home gym.  Rather than just moving equipment into an empty space, you can cultivate a deliberate experience when working with a professional designer. Built-ins, light sources, and structural adjustments can be added to your existing house plan, ensuring that your dream home comes together exactly as you envision it.

Search our large selection of house-plans-with-home-gyms

Craftsman Homes Continue to Captivate

For all its many years in circulation, Craftsman house plans are still capturing the American imagination. The progeny of two distinct parents, the craftsman can be seen as the quintessentially adaptable American child.

Paternal influence comes from Englishman William Morris’ rebellion against the Industrial Revolution. He perceived a profound discounting of the individual worker and a subsequent dehumanization of labor. In response, artisans gained prominence as a way to showcase the quality of individual craftsmanship. The mother of this style is the every-woman of the day, caught in the shifting tides of changing social structures and familial obligations. The woman of the house no longer typically had live-in servants and was mostly responsible for the housework along with the raising of the children.  Out of this grew the need for a functional aesthetic, simple yet beautiful; a home for the modern family.

Through this lens, we can trace the genealogy of the American family structure. And while the Arts and Crafts Movement increased in popularity, the Craftsman home gained prominence as the architectural embodiment of these shifting social elements.

The typical craftsman home can easily be identified by a few consistent features. Externally, we see steep hipped roofs and visible gables which are often used to protect front porches under deep eaves. Exposed rafters or supporting brackets on the exterior showcase the workmanship that is so important to this style, while also adding an aesthetic flair. Double-hung windows are also common features, historically boasting a four-over-one or six-over-one design for decorative enhancement. But perhaps the most easily recognizable exterior element is the visible mixed materials both local and natural to the area. Stone, handcrafted wood works, and glass are major players in this style of home, paying homage to the handcrafted workmanship out of which this style originally gained footing in the American imagination.

Interiors also reflected changes to the American family unit. Perhaps the most significant element to this design is the kitchen. As housekeeping needs changed, the modern family needed a way to interact in those spaces traditionally reserved for servants.  In response, the kitchen was integrated into the main floor plan and provided open sight lines to other common areas of the home, including the back yard. As an amendment to the open kitchen, the breakfast nook was introduced as a place for the family to gather around meal times. Space that would historically have been used as a butler’s pantry were replaced with built-in cabinetry more functional for the modern family. This was also a space in which to showcase handcrafted wood and glass work so indicative of the Arts and Crafts style.

Craftsman homes declined in popularity in the 1920’s or so, but came to the forefront again some 60 years later when many large cities in the United States experienced housing booms. In particular, California and Washington State saw large increases in population and growing local economies; the demand for homes for single family units was high. Even now, sales for Craftsman house plans are up from previous years.

Partly because of the simplicity and functionality inherent to the design of a Craftsman house plan, we are seeing another push for these classic designs for modern families. Perhaps it is a quieter cousin to the rebellion from which we first gained footing, but in this world of mass-produced everything and internet commerce, a return to the importance of hand-crafted features is growing in prominence.  Moving away from some of the earlier interior elements like low ceilings, this archetypal design offers much room for adjustment. This is a plan inherently designed for adaptation. The foundational clean lines and connected spaces are a short step away from becoming the open floor plans so high in demand right now. With the addition of higher ceilings and larger windows, the cozy feeling of the traditional design easily transforms into the bright, open, adaptable space of the Contemporary Craftsman.

Contemporary craftsman

An contemporary Craftsman house plan for the modern family.

In either the classic or the contemporary incarnation, this design has been integral to the American concept of home for over 100 years. And, in true American fashion, its easily adaptable structure allows plenty of room for reinvention and creativity, and continues to showcase all that is best about individual workmanship.

The Ultimate Dog Yard

If your family include those of the four-legged variety then a well-planned out dog yard is a must-have for the long summer days. Many of our furry friends will opt to be outside when it’s hot and humid. And as every dog owner knows, a bored dog is a troublemaker. When planning out your dog yard, check out these features for a contented canine!

Running Water

dog yard water fountain

A water fountain in your dog yard keeps your dogs well hydrated in hot summer months.

A physical necessity for dogs who spend the days or nights outside during the hot months, so why not make it a deliberate feature? Ranging from simple to complex, a drinking fountain for your pooch adds ambient sound to your dog yard while keeping your beloved pets hydrated.

 

 

 

Fences

Dog Yard fence

A good fence around your dog yard will keep everyone safe.

All dogs love to run and are driven by their noses. Proper fencing is a must to keep your dogs safe from environmental hazards such as vehicles, other dogs, and toxins in the area. It’s not enough to create a cool play space for them; good boundaries in a dog yard make them feel safe and allow their playful natures to come through.

Shade and Shelter

Everyone needs to be able to get away from the direct heat of the sun. Either with landscaping or with structures, provide plenty of cool spaces in your dog yard to rest and cool off in the high heat of the day.

dog yard shade

Provide shade in your dog yard for your pooch can rest from the heat of the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conscious Landscaping

Make sure that your landscaping choices in the dog’s play area are safe to be around. Check out the ASPCA’s list of harmful and toxic plants here to make sure there aren’t any plants that could be dangerous to a curious pup. Also remember that pesticides and herbicides are toxic to animals. Consider using natural or organic pest control methods in areas where your dog will be spending a lot of his time.

Paths

dog yard path

Build paths into your dog yard for your pup to scout and sniff around in.

Dogs love to scout and sniff out their landscape. By creating paths through your dog yard you provide lots of prowling ground for them to investigate. Keeping their nose and mind active is one of the best ways to engage their curiosity– and it will tire out your dog for a well-behaved evening.

 

 

 

 

Creating a play space for your dog needn’t take up valuable real estate in your back yard. Many of the features that will keep your pups happy and healthy have benefits for their humans as well. With a little creative planning, your backyard dog yard can be the ultimate hang out spot for the entire family.

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.