Category Archives: Outside Spaces

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.

Autumn Curb Appeal for your Front Porch

Autumn is upon us, and it appears in all its colorful glory. It is the time of Hallowe’en costumes, darker days, pumpkin flavored everything. This time of year, we showcase our beautiful homes and extend our front porch space to friends and family alike as we welcome them to our homes for a string of holiday get-togethers.

Front porches are even more welcoming with festive fall decor.

Front porches are even more welcoming with festive fall decor.

Whether you have a walkway to your front door or a covered front porch where guests can take shelter from stormy weather, a visitor’s experience in your home begins with curb appeal. Those few moments between leaving the car and arriving at your door are filled with observation and the slow exposure to your cultivated environment.

Seasonal decorations bring out the exterior features of your home and share your enthusiasm for the holidays. Carved pumpkins lining front porch steps is a long tradition in this country, as are illuminated pathways. As the evening falls earlier and earlier, using decorative lights in your front

Carved pumpkins line the steps of this spooky front porch.

Carved pumpkins line the steps of this spooky front porch.

yard is not only functional, but can highlight design and landscaping features. Trees known for spectacular fall foliage make grand statements as well.

The focus on the front yard this time of year highlights house plan features that might otherwise go overlooked. A front porch, for many, is an intentional aesthetic that represents the style of the homeowners. But why beautify the front of your home just for visitors to enjoy? Some of the most perennially popular house plans feature large windows in the front façade, serving both as a welcoming openness to guests and to offer a view of the front yard from home offices, sitting rooms, and salons. House plans featuring wide covered patios or wrap around porches encourage year-round enjoyment.

 

Enjoy your front porch and yard with a house plans that features lots of front-facing windows.

Enjoy your front porch and yard with a house plans that features lots of front-facing windows.

Your front porch and yard are an extension of your home, and reflect your unique style. Changing seasons offer us the chance to highlight the gorgeous features of our homes. Whether your family is holiday-driven or more classic in style, this is one area where “keeping up appearances” is an extension of welcome and graceful hosting.

 

Browse our collection of house-plans-with-covered-front-porches

Build a Clever Cat Yard

It’s not just dogs that want time outdoors when the weather warms up: cats also enjoy fresh air and a chance to catch some rays. But as most feline fanciers know, cats who roam unsupervised outside often have a much shorter life expectancy than their indoor counterparts, due to the many dangers they face. Cats can also be a neighborhood nuisance, digging in flower beds and hunting small bird populations that some homeowners cultivate. The solution? An enclosed outside space designed for your cat’s entertainment and safety. The “catio” as some are calling it, is growing in popularity and popping up everywhere from big yards to apartment windows. Here are a few things to consider when building your own cat yard:

Full Enclosure

Cat yard

Full enclosures are necessary to ensure your cat’s safety.

Remember that cats are expert climbers as well as boundary-pushers. They will, by nature, try to find a way to get beyond the space you have designed for them, if only for the sake of exploration. Use materials that are difficult for cats to maneuver through, like chicken wire or fine wire mesh. Don’t be tempted to skimp on the structure of the enclosed cat yard; secure the ends and edges well to keep your kitty safe.

 

 

cat yard

Cats love to climb up high to take in the view.

Climbing Structures

Cats love to view the world from on high and survey their surroundings. By creating vertical spaces in your cat yard for them to climb on and hang out in, you provide valuable stimulus for your felines. Floating shelf-type steps up a vertical wall work well for this, so long as they are mounted securely enough to hold your cat’s weight.

 

 

cat yard

Tunnels and above ground walkways are feline favorites

Tunnels

Open-air tunnels made of screen material give cats a place to stretch their legs and “chase” after birds or squirrels without endangering them. If you have lots of space in your cat yard to work with, consider an above ground “cat run” leading from one enclosed space to another.

Window Terrace

Even if you don’t have a lot of yard space to work with- or no yard at all- you can still design a clever cat yard hangout spot. Building off of a window, anchor an enclosed structure to the building outside to provide a sunny, fresh-air escape and a good lookout spot from which your cat can monitor the activities of the neighborhood.

Pre-fab Cat Enclosures

If you don’t have the time or desire to design a cat yard, there are many premade options to choose from. These have the added benefit of being a temporary enclosure, good for families that could be moving in the future, or are preparing for a backyard renovation. Check out the PAWS website suggestions for these products here.

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.

Home Owner Must-Haves for July 4th

There is something innately American about a July 4th backyard gathering. Whether hosted at one home, or shared between neighbors for a block party atmosphere, the outside party to celebrate our country’s independence is a widespread tradition for many families. As we get closer to this year’s celebratory weekend, here are a few must-have’s to make your gathering the best yet.

Curb Appeal

July 4th

July 4th curb appeal welcomes friends to the party.

Traditional décor like bunting, pinwheels, barn stars, and red, white, and blue lights make for a classical welcoming porch that invites neighbors and friends into your July 4th party space. Hanging metal lanterns are very popular this year. Allow the front door to be the focal point, especially if you’ve already chosen a bold color for this feature, and build your decorations out from there. Adding additional splashes of color with potted arrangements on either side of the door or on the far sides of wide front steps brings a celebratory atmosphere all the way to the street and expands the gathering space into the yard.

 

Grilling patio

Grilling patios make for effortless entertaining.

Grilling Patio

The best outdoor parties provide multiple spaces for people to gather and move about with ease, and there is no better way to facilitate the natural flow of party goers than having a grilling porch. This is one of the most commonly sought after features of house plans today. Often covered, a grilling porch provides a safe space for a BBQ and a contingency plan in case of rain on your July 4th party day. A designated space for cooking and eating makes hosting an effortless endeavor, and with built in prep space you’ll spend less time running in and out of the house and more time enjoying the time your guests.

July 4th firework safety

July 4th firework safety

Safety Plan

Before the July 4th afternoon gets into full swing, make sure you have planned for the safety of your family and guests before anything might occur. If you live in an area where fireworks are permitted, check with your local fire department for recommended safety protocols. Teach small children at your party about firework safety and let your guests know where to find fire extinguishers or garden hoses. Also remember that explosive sounds can frighten animals into running away, so make sure to keep a close eye on your four legged family members and put them in a quiet spot in the house if they are a flight risk during fireworks shows.

 

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.

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.