Tag Archives: house plans

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.

 

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Storm Savvy House Plans

The storm season is upon us!

The storm season is upon us!

For those of you who welcome the return of the Storm Watching Season, you know first-hand the value of certain house plans with features that make cold weather easy to enjoy inside a safe and cozy home. Whether you live on one of the coastlines or make your home on land located somewhere in between, winter is full of dynamic and intense weather systems that move across our landscapes with startling regularity.

There are some obvious weather concerns that an architect and a builder will pay close attention to: proximity to tide-affected water, for example, or a lot in hurricane-prone areas will inform many of the structural decisions to be made when building your dream home. In fact, this is one of the major reasons families opt to build from custom house plans rather than buy a pre-built home: it is a precious opportunity to cater the needs of your family to the demands of your specific region.

But even beyond these important concerns, there are smaller details to think about that are no less important as we head into the rough weather and low temperatures of a North American winter. When searching through house plans of the various homes that catch your eye, also think about the things that help you to feel safe when some of your amenities are unavailable.

Keeping Rooms

The keeping room serves a gathering place for busy families.

The keeping room in this house plan serves a gathering place for busy families.

Many house plans include a keeping or hearth room adjacent to the kitchen. These rooms typically have a wood burning fireplace and an open space in which your family can gather when the rest of the house is a bit chilly.  These keeping or hearth rooms were a staple in early American Southern-style homes. The keeping room is an informal and cozy space; often these are rooms with few electronic devices and plenty of comfortable seating.

Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens provide cooking alternatives when the power goes out during storm season.

Outdoor kitchens provide cooking alternatives when the power goes out during storm season.

Not just for summer bbq’s, a built-in outdoor kitchen is typically an enclosed space to keep out inclement weather and regulate temperature and ventilation while cooking. If you live in a place where electricity can go out for extended periods of time, having an alternate place to prepare meals and still be protected from the elements can make all the difference when in the midst of a storm. A non-electric grill is typically built in to these outdoor kitchens, but wood burning fireplaces are also common additions. Dress up your fireplace with a cooking grate and a roasting spit from which to hang a pot of steaming soup and you’ll hardly even notice when the lights come back on!

Walk-In / Butler’s Pantries

Wrought iron gates at the entry of the walk-in pantry lend an artistic flair to this breathtaking kitchen

Wrought iron gates at the entry of the walk-in pantry lend an artistic flair to this breathtaking kitchen.

When the bad weather warnings come, many families feel the need to stock up on essentials. Whether you preserve a seasonal harvest or head to the local shop for canned soups and bottled water, having these necessities on hand helps everyone feel more at ease when facing a stormy season. A generous pantry provides lots of space for your supplies and makes keeping track of what’s on hand a cinch.

The ability to craft exactly what your family needs into your dream house plan is exactly why so many people are choosing to build rather than buy a pre-made house. Consider the seasonal factors in your area and include in your floor plan the features that will best serve your unique family. To get started, browse through these curated collections here:

Browse-House-Plans-With-Outdoor-Kitchens.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

 

Save Money With Solar Panels

Save Money with Solar Panels

Building a home can be an expensive endeavor, and most people preparing to embark on this project are on the lookout for ways to save money- both in the construction phase and in the future years of living in your dream house. The decision to go with alternative energy sources is one that is best made early-on as you browse for floor plans, as the house plan you choose to build from will impact your options for alternative energy sources.

Solar panels have been on the commercial market now since the 1950’s and recent developments in technology have greatly improved the efficiency and storage capacity of solar panels. Versions of this technology are available in hundreds of smaller products, in everything from landscaping lighting options to solar cell phone and tablet chargers. But solar panels on the roof of your new home can save you hundreds of dollars each year in utilities and reduce your dependence on traditional sources of electricity.

Forbes magazine estimates that installing solar panels of your roof can reduce your family’s carbon footprint by as much as 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, doing the work of 88 trees. For those interested in green structures and efficient houses, this is an impressive statistic. And with so many people interested in this option, there are now several ways to go about it.

Many companies will lease solar panels and include installation in the overall cost of the agreement. The benefit of this arrangement is mostly financial, as the company who leases the equipment stores the electricity and sells it back to the consumer, often at a lower rate than the electrical company.

For some, installing permanent solar panels will be the best option. There is an initial cost investment in the materials and the skilled labor required to install them, but you can expect to begin recouping that investment right away. Electricity can be harnessed to power lights, heat, hot water heaters, swimming pools and hot tubs, and any other electricity-based appliance. Solar panels are also estimated to increase the resale value of your home by as much as 20%, so for many home builders it is a worthy venture.

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.

Flexible Space Gives Freedom to Your Changing Family

Families are a dynamic organization. Whether your family is growing in number or becoming smaller; whether your kids are getting older or your parents are looking to age in place; toddlers tuning into teenagers, in-laws and parents aging, family pets, job changes…. nearly any change in life can alter the demands we place on our home spaces. As the years go by we are often in a position to rethink and retool the way we move through our house, adapting to the changing needs of a life affected by many elements.

When looking for a house plan to suit the needs of a family, many people are prioritizing flexible spaces as a way to ensure that the house they choose will continue to be functional for many years. And it’s not just extra bedrooms we’re talking about here, although that is one of the easiest ways to evolve your needs: a guest room easily converts into a nursery; the home office adapts into a craft/work space with ample storage. In addition to convertible rooms, these days there are often flexible spaces built right into the house plan. This gives the buyer the ability to imagine how that space could best be utilized by their unique family.

The country-style house plan is growing in popularity- in large part because of its ability to offer such flexibility. These house plan styles stand with one foot in each of two worlds: a modern interior with loads of flexible space housed behind a classic country-style façade. This style is often denoted by its ability to prioritize functionality over traditional needs, as seen by the lacking of a formal dining room in favor of a large eating space right off the kitchen much better suited to today’s modern, multitasking family. And yet the great room echoes the traditional dramatic space perfect for celebrating holidays and get-togethers. These rooms often boast vaulted ceilings and classically functional features like built-in book shelves flanking an impressive mantle.

No matter which phase of life your family is currently in, it is important to find a house plan that can suit everyone’s needs as they grow and change. This is, in fact, why most people would choose to build their dream house over buying something already standing: who better to predict the future needs of your dynamic family but you?

Rain Water Collection for Landscaping

When it comes to life in your dream home, your family’s experience reaches beyond the walls of your house. Thinking about the sustainability of your landscaping and outside areas is one way to expand your living space—and save money in the process.

No matter which region of the country you live in, building systems that harvest naturally occurring resources is one of the best ways to save money each month—without sacrificing a beautiful yard.

Collecting rainwater for landscaping use is one of the oldest and simplest ways to keep your utilities bill down and maintain a stunning yard. There are some things to keep in mind as you are building to ensure that these systems can easily be implemented but, beyond that, this may be the simplest way to stretch your resources for maximum benefit.

To collect rain water you will first of all need a good collection barrel. Look around before you buy one: there are many opportunities to get these at a discount or for free from industrial companies with no further use for them.  A good gutter system is also important. You will need to have some version of a gutter filter system in place to keep the rain water separate from leaves, moss, and other debris so your water is clean and filtered.

Most people will simply run a piece of gutter material down from a drain point on the roof into a rain barrel to collect the water as it falls. Having a barrel with a spigot towards the bottom will make harvesting this collected water easy, as you can simply affix a garden hose to the opening at the base and use the collected water to hydrate your garden or lawn.

Maintaining an outside space that is both beautiful and functional for your family’s activities does not need to be expensive or taxing. By utilizing some of our naturally occurring resources you can maintain even the most complex landscaping and save money at the same time.

 

Check out these links for further information and how-to’s:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/build-a-rainwater-collection-system-zb0z1307zsal.aspx

http://www.clean-water-for-laymen.com/collecting-rain-water.html

 

3-D Intelligent Design House Plan

Back when architects were designing house plans by hand at large tilted drafting tables, a 3-D model was a luxury items usually relegated to large industrial or commercial projects. The benefit of those models, however, was paramount: having a replication of your dream project as it stands in actual space is a vital part of the process.

With countless improvements in technology, those architectural models are now available without the balsa wood and gluing processes of previous years. And this accessibility makes for a better home in the long run: from designer to builder to purchaser, having a model to work from allows everyone involved to be on the same page.

After nearly 40 years of designing homes, I am thrilled to be empowered to harness this technology. I have found that the improved clarity and transparency makes all the difference to families working on building their dream homes. This tool is of paramount importance when it comes to bridging the gap between designer and builder, and makes custom alterations a simple process.

At MonsterHousePlans.com, we offer thousands of house plans. And once you’ve searched through them and narrowed down your favorites, this 3-D Intelligent Design option allows your dream floor plan to come to life. This is an invaluable tool when it comes time to begin work with your builder: the 3-D model allows us to include the architect’s specific designs and characteristics, while giving the builder real-space awareness of how all these pieces come together. And as terms of customizing your floor plan, this is the tool that allows you to see the impact of individual choices as it translated to the house as a whole.

This industry has changed so much over the years. And while relics like the electric eraser have gone by the wayside, I am so thankful that modeling has followed us into these new methods of designing homes. There is nothing like taking an idea from your mind onto the page, and then again translating it into 3-D. It remains one of my most favorite examples of how the technological age has benefited the architectural industry: bringing real life examples of your dream home into the tangible process of everyone who buys a house plan.

– Brian Piling, architect