Category Archives: Home Floor 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.

Using Salvaged Building Materials in Home Construction

The cost of building a new home can seem daunting at the outset, but there are a number of clever ways to keep costs down without cutting any corners. Use of salvaged building materials is becoming a popular money-saving trick many builders and contractors are offering.

Building materials and fixtures salvaged from old buildings first go through an evaluation process to ensure their quality remains intact. This deconstruction process can be quite lengthy but it often worth it in the long run when considering the reduced cost of materials. It is also a way to collect valuable old materials such as old growth timbers that are no longer available in other venues.

In addition to the cost benefit, there is an environmental benefit as well, as using materials already designed for construction save in terms of both the time is takes to generate new materials and the time it takes to process them as waste.

Salvaged building materials like beams, stairs, and framing supplies can save lots of money on home construction.

Salvaged building materials like beams, stairs, and framing supplies can save lots of money on home construction.

More than just wood timbers are used in salvage projects. Fixtures such as door knobs, sinks, bath tubs, and hinges are frequently resold for use in new home construction, as are actual building materials like bricks, concrete blocks, insulation, roofing tiles, wall paneling, molding, and baseboards. Considering the vast array of building materials that can be purchased from salvage yards and resellers, much of the new home you seek to build can be constructed with these repurposed items.

By using a combination of salvaged building materials and new, state of the art supplies, your dream home can be as unique as your family and be accomplished on a reasonable budget as well. Especially when considering the materials for low-visibility projects, look into salvage yards for low cost alternatives to brand new materials. It is important to work with a reputable contractor when purchasing refurbished building materials, or to buy from a credible retail location to ensure you are getting the highest quality.

The Keeping Room Returns to Home Design

Among the trends in contemporary home design is a return to “the Old Ways”, and families are once again including a keeping room in their modern house plans.

For Colonial houses, architecture was highly focused on function over aesthetics. Life was hard, seasonal weather changes caused major shifts in lifestyle, and the demands on early American settlers were high. Houses at that time were highly influenced by English and European trends, but materials were limited to what could be found nearby and luxury was a thing of imagination. These sturdy folk built homes to withstand intense weather; exteriors favored stone and brick, and the floor plans only included what was absolutely necessary- usually small homes designed around a central keeping room. Excess in design would not come until many decades later, when affluence begins to gain footing American culture.

Colonial Architecture

An early Colonial-style home in Pennsylvania.

But in these early years homes were sparse and industrial, providing shelter and warmth and working space for families who toiled relentlessly, often in conditions unimaginable to us now. Modern house plans have evolved in countless ways and show the influence of the wide world we now live in. Creativity has taken hold in architecture, and our homes reflect the freedom to imagine and to design spaces with aesthetics in mind, instead of mere function.

Learning From the Past

In many parts of the country those old Colonial homes still stand, and we can look to them for inspiration. As modern life gets more and more hectic and divided, we see a hearkening back to the way people lived before all this distraction started affecting our families. Among the many trends in contemporary home design is a return to “the Old Ways”, and families are favoring a nod toward simpler times and natural architectural features. We see this demonstrated strongly in the return of the keeping room to modern house plans.

 

The keeping room serves a gathering place for busy families.

The keeping room served as a gathering place for busy families in early American colonies.

The keeping room originated in the late 1700’s. Located just off the kitchen the keeping room, or hearth room, featured a large fireplace and was often the only room in the house to be heated. It served as a gathering place for inside work and food preparation. During cold winter months, inside chores would be done here, and often families would all sleep together by the hearth for warmth. In larger Colonial homes, older children would often sleep in an upstairs attic, located above the keeping room, where the heat from the fire would warm the room upstairs.

Modern Keeping Rooms

While design ideas are infinite, the one element that traditionally makes this space a keeping room is a fireplace. In contemporary homes, the keeping room serves still as a gathering place for families often divided and multitasking. Also useful for those who have a tendency to entertain, the keeping room acts as a spill-over space for guests who naturally gather in the kitchen while final meal preparations are being seen to. For families with school age children, this room can be a place where homework is finished and school projects are completed. With its close proximity to the kitchen and, often, to other rooms in an open floor plan, this space is well connected to the rest of the house, providing a feeling of inclusion and comfort.

socks around a firelace

Design Features

This is typically a space of coziness and simple decoration. Many families choose to have this room be (relatively) technology free; the flat screen, media equipment, gaming consoles, and other screen activities are often placed in other rooms, like a family or game room. Instead, the keeping room will typically be focused on conversation or relaxation. A subtle docking station for music players might be the only tech gear present. Overstuffed arm chairs and a wide, low coffee table encourage a coffee break hangout; simple slip-covered parson’s chairs, bookshelves, and occasional tables make a perfect after-dinner gathering space.

Even a small space can provide comfort and relaxation.

Even a small space can provide comfort and relaxation.

The key to the keeping room is that it is a flexible space intended for people to move through and about the room as comfort indicates. Avoid clutter and complex décor, and opt instead for comfy, casual, easily approachable embellishments. This is a room that can be designed entirely based upon how you use it, so feel free to break the so-called rules. Do what feels comfortable to your family. This is a place that should draw people towards it, so go with comfort over exhibition.

Include A Keeping Room in your Custom Home

A keeping room often becomes the center of a household, anchoring family members to a core gathering space. To get started, use the Advanced Search option to filter house plans with keeping room or hearth rooms already included. Don’t see one you like? Talk to the architect about the plans you like; many bonus rooms and flex spaces can be adjusted to easily adapt into a keeping room to give your modern dream home a touch of the Old Ways.

A contemporary keeping room uses natural stone and exposed beams to balance the light from big windows.

A contemporary keeping room uses natural stone and exposed beams to balance the light from big windows.

House-Plans-With-Keeping-Hearth-Rooms

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

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.

 

In Praise of the Small House

Too often the dream of building a custom home is catered to those with a growing family. Spaces for children and/or aging parents and in-laws dominate ads and idea boards, and the vision of home owners is guided to a bigger-is-better mentality.

But the dream of building a custom home is suited for everyone, no matter the size of your family, the lot you purchase, or the location you choose. Smaller homes make sense in areas with dense populations and high property taxes. For the working professional, or the retiring couple, or the investor interested in long term returns, building a small house can be approachable, efficient, and lucrative.

Modern small houses are marvels of clever creativity. There are a million ways, it seems, to maximize space and visually expand it so you can have the best of both worlds: a collection of rooms magnified for airiness and light, yet without the burden of superfluous space. Function drives the vehicle of decision-making but not at the expense of aesthetics. For many, then, sometimes the preferred solution is to limit available space to only that which is required. This forces a thoughtful discretion when purchasing items for the home, and urges a careful vision when designing the space.

By considering building your dream home in subtle proportions, possibilities are opened up that are difficult to manifest with larger homes, like the option of building on lots in urban spaces, already perked, and zoned for residential construction A larger home requires a larger lot and, with today’s exponentially growing populations, this will often relegate your property purchasing options to the periphery of a large city. And while the suburbs are wonderful areas for families, there are many who would build their dream home much closer to the epicenter of activity.

As you sift through house plans and imagine the home you will someday build, try to remember that there is room in this process for every vision. Whether you seek to build a large home or a smaller one, you will find unique floor plans and advice from architects for dream homes of every size.

Your Guide To Outside Spaces

Your Guide to Outside Spaces

When imagining your new home and the surrounding outside spaces there are a few options to consider, each with their own special offerings. Here are a few of the most popular outside structures and some things to consider with each:

Patio: A patio is defined as a paved outdoor area that is adjoining a house or structure, usually without a protective roof overhead. This is quite simply a concrete or brick area usually at the back of the house between the house structure and the yard beyond.

Veranda: A veranda, in contract, is a roofed platform along the outside of a house and level with the ground flood. The platform can be made of wood or, like the patio mentioned above, can be concrete or brick.

Porch: A porch is a covered structure projecting out from the front of a house or structure, almost always with a door into the main house. The building materials often vary widely, as do the stylistic considerations with elements like railings, stairs leading to the yard, and overall look of the structure.

Porto-cochere: This features comes from the French Country House style, as seen in this week’s Plan of the Week. A covered area between the main house at the front and a gate house-type structure, it historically provided a shelter from the weather to visitors disembarking from vehicles. Still used often in commercial hotels, porto-cocheres are usually made with natural materials such as stone or mason work and are a beautiful blend of function and a rustic elegance style.

Gazebo: A gazebo is a separate structure on the property but not attached to the main house. A stand-alone roofed area often with a low railing all around, gazebos are almost always built in a circular pattern and offer 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape.

Pergola: A pergola is a stylized structure most often seen surrounding a garden space. It is tall and with an open area above, often used as a support for perennial vining and trailing plants such as wisteria.

Some of these structures can be added once the house is built, but some of the others require working with your designer at the house plan stage of this project. It is important to have an idea of how you envision spending time outdoors at an early stage of your dream home project, as many of these options are included in the house plan and designer you choose to work with.

Imagining Your Dream Home

Imagining Your Dream Home

There are so many practical decisions to make when buying a house plan and planning the home building project, so many variables that need to be considered and worked through. But one of the most important things to make space for in the planning process is for some creative-level open-minded envisioning of your future in your dream home. In between the details, find some time to day dream about how you will spend your time within the walls you’ve had custom built, and ask yourself some specific, open-ended questions:

Where do you tend to spend the most time when you’re at home: Family room? Kitchen? Back yard?

What do you wish you could do in your home now that space doesn’t allow for: Home office, perhaps?

How does your family move through your home, and where do you all tend to come together: During mealtimes? On weekend mornings? Around a kitchen island while cooking meals?

If it were possible, what unusual features would you want in your dream home: A spiral staircase? A tower room?

What are some small features that would make a huge impact on your daily home life: Bay window seats? Lots and lots of storage hidden in clever ways?

How do you imagine your life changing in the next decade: Is your family growing? Getting smaller? Will you consider working from home and/or beginning your own company?

Are animals a part of your life now or in the future? What kinds of needs will they have: built-in dog runs? A cat yard? Outside structures for chickens or goats?

To build a dream home is to make manifest the imaginings of your collective family. And while it takes focus and practicality to pull it all together, the early stages should be joyous and the ideas free-flowing. Especially when you are working with designers who offer customized house plans. Many of the seemingly “crazy ideas” are, in fact, quite possible and easy to accomplish when you work with your designer on implementing your vision. Having foresight when building your dream home is equal parts rationality and creativity; for best results, use both sides of the brain for this project.

Country House Plan

This has been one of our most popular house plans for several years. This is a home that is designed to support lots of activity, changes in family structure over time, and offers an expansive living space beyond what just the inside can offer. With its large wrap around porch and features that rank utility over tradition, this country house plan is a perennial favorite for families of varied arrangements.

The wrap around porch greets family members and visitors alike with an expansive, welcoming feeling, while the screened in portion in the back makes for a very versatile space year-round. The inside design prioritizes function over appearance, as can be seen with the large open floor plan, kitchen with eating bar and island, and walk-in pantry. The master bedroom is located on the main floor and good for temperature control year round as well as serving as an option for aging parents or those who have trouble navigating stairs. Upstairs are two additional bedrooms with the option of a gaming room or family media room that many people are choosing to include these days. Alternatively, that space can be used as a home office or third upstairs bedroom.

This country house plan is the very example of modern efficiency in balance with a traditional, intimate exterior. This is a house plan designed to be welcoming and functional, and the inherent versatility makes it clear why it remains one of our top sellers. It is also available for our exclusive Intelligent House Plan service, which delivers a 3-D digital model, including 12 unique house plan views and a materials list, to your inbox immediately after purchase. This is the single most valuable tool available as you prepare to build your dream home, allowing designers and builders to come together for custom alterations and design improvements unique to the needs of your family.

Front Doors for Every Taste

In a world full of conformity and sameness, there are many opportunities to show your unique vision through your dream home project. Creative solutions to common problems are the specialties of many architects, and these types of issues that require them to accomplish something typical in a new and fresh way is often the bread-and-butter of a design assignment.

Some of these creative decisions do not require expert guidance, however. Consider that the street view is the first impression your home makes to your family and your guests alike. Curb appeal is a big deal at every stage of your dream home project: it is important in everything from the way you feel as you walk up the front steps and insert your key into the door to the potential increase in overall home value to potential buyers by drawing them in.

Your front door says a lot about your family. For many home builders and home owners, a front door is the single most effective way to make a strong aesthetic statement. It is the perfect bend of beauty and function, as the front door is your welcome statement and also serves some very important purposes. In addition to serving as the entrance space for your home, your front door is also a security feature. When considering an artistic flair for your door, make sure that the basic functionality remains intact. While fancy plate-glass windows might appeal to your decorative sense, you do sacrifice some privacy aspects that a door can provide, and that might not be the best idea in high traffic areas. Dutch doors are quirky and wonderful, but are often preferred in the back of the house as they offer a more intimate entry into your home space.

As you choose your front door to perfectly accent the façade of your dream home, look for ways to balance beauty and function. Often the most aesthetically pleasing choices are embodiments of these two elements in harmony.