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31st May, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Southwest House Plan, Home Plan, Cibola 10-202

Ten-foot ceilings throughout brings an airy, spacious feel to the Cibola, a mid-size family home design with a sunny Southwest flavor. Windows abundantly line the rear-facing walls, creating naturally bright family living areas.

At the heart of the plan is an open great room with a fireplace. Light flows in through French doors, slender windows flanking the doors, and through a window bay in the kitchen. Transom windows cap these and most other windows throughout the home.

The kitchen as counter space on four sides, and a work island with a built-in cook top. The sink faces onto a patio that spans most of the rear. Other features include: a built-in oven, microwave and dishwasher, a long eating bar and a walk-in pantry.

Sunlight flows into the vaulted sun room from three sides. The two exterior walls well-windowed and the room has five skylights. French doors separate the sun room from the formal dining room.

The master suite serves as a welcome adult retreat with a secluded sitting area off to the side. Other features include a large walk-in closet, and a private bathroom with a skylight, two basins, a shower and a soaking tub.

Utilities and a small powder room are adjacent to a three-car garage with shop and storage. The three secondary bedrooms share a bathroom. The room closest to the entry could be used as a home office, study or another bedroom.

24th May, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Country House Plan, Home Plan, Paisley 30-852

The country-style Paisley home plan's two-story entry opens out into one large gathering space that fills the entire right side of the ground floor, front to back. Counters and cabinets wrap around three sides of the step-efficient C-shaped kitchen, maximizing work space and storage capacity. The owners' suite is on the ground floor, and three more bedrooms are above.

16th May, 2016
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Country Home Plan, Rivercrest 31-029

Simple country charm and covered front porch welcomes you to the Rivercrest house plan. Once inside, to the right of the entry is the den that would also make a great office, study, library or whatever suits. Past the stairs the great room opens up with a vaulted ceiling and featuers a gas fireplace tucked into the corner. The owners' suite takes up the left side of the home and two additional bedrooms and a bonus room on the second floor.

16th May, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Country Home Plan, Ashley 30-264

The Ashley is unique with its two master suites, each with an adjacent den. This country house plan dens could also function as bedrooms and the second suite serve as a ensuite guest room.

A generously sized utility room is equally conveniently situated to both suites. Features here include a counter with a deep sink, overhead cabinets, and floor-to-ceiling shelves. Located in a pass-through that leads to the garage.

The coat closet and hall storage closet are also central. A third bathroom, for use by guests and all family members, has a bathtub.

Bounded by and open to the foyer, gathering spaces complete the entire left side of the home. The living room and dining room flow together, only partially divided by walls with a wide gap between.

Pocket doors make full separation possible, when needed. A gas fireplace lends charm to the living room. Small windows on both sides of it are high, and larger windows fill most of the front wall.

Light flows into the large kitchen through a bay window that creates a nook with access to a covered patio. The kitchen also has a work island and roomy walk-in pantry.

9th May, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Ranch House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, West Creek 30-781

Family living at the heart of this contemporary ranch-style West Creek house plan. This home also offers plenty of private spaces as well.

Slim posts highlight the high-ceilinged covered porch. Soft natural light flows into the entry through sidelights and a high window in the front door.

Double doors on the right of the entry open into a room that could used as a formal dining room, parlor or den. Light spills in through rectangular bay windows. 

Angling off to the right, the entry leads into a large kitchen and nook then into the spacious great room. At that same juncture, a left hallway leads into the bedroom side of the home. Another hallway, on the right, leads to a guest suite, bathroom, garage access, a large utility room, and a hobby room.

A large walk-in pantry fills one of the kitchen's corners, and a nook extends out on the left. Standing at the kitchen sink, you can keep an eye on activities outside on the partially covered patio or out across the flush eating counter into the great room, where tall windows trim the gas fireplace.

The spacious owners' suite amenities include, outside access, two basins, a walk-in shower, private toilet, and large walk-in closet. One of the other bedrooms also has a walk-in closet. Built-in desks line two side walls of the front bedroom, joined by a hutch on the front wall. These two bedrooms share a full bathroom that is available for all to use, while yet another general use bathroom is adjacent to the guest room.

2nd May, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

The Grandview lives up to its name. Designed for a rear-sloping view lot, this hexagonal Prairie-style house plan offers panoramic views from every interior room as well as the wide upper deck and covered lower patio. A wealth of windows, complemented by tapered stone columns and shingled walls, sparkles across the back three sections of this home. 

Walking in the front door, you are at ground level, facing into the vaulted living room. Continue across the living room, through sliding doors and out onto the deck, and you see that the outdoor living space is one flight up from the rear ground level. Capped stone columns, wooden posts and railings rim the entire deck, which is wide enough to extend your indoor living spaces to the outside.

A handsome double-wide stone chimney vents two fireplaces: a two-sided fireplace on the main floor, and the fireplace in the large family room below. The two-sided version can be enjoyed from the living room, dining room and kitchen. Vaulted ceilings expand the volume in all of these naturally bright, interconnected areas.

Kitchen offers plenty of counter space and wraps around four sides and has a raised eating bar. Lazy Susan shelving is built into one corner of the lower cabinets to provide easy access. 

This pan features two bedroom suites, one on each floor, along with a third bedroom on the lower level. All have wide windows, and the upper bedroom ceiling is vaulted. Each suite has direct access to a bathroom which is shared by others on the same floor.

1st May, 2016
Articles, Blog

A century ago, a family on the hunt for a new home had a fairly simple way of choosing a home design: pick your favorite from the Sears & Roebuck kit home catalog and go on your merry way. Artist renderings of the homes showed you the style concept and basic structure, and they were often given specific names such as “The Hamilton” or “The Chelsea” – a testament to the artistry that went into the design. 

As the years went on, other players such as builders, developers and lumberyards joined the game and offered their services with their own design catalogs. The industry moved swiftly into promotion and marketing in newspapers and magazines, so that families of all sizes could find a plot of land advertised in the newspaper and at the same time could choose a home design to go along with it.

But nowadays, shopping for a home plan is not as easy as picking out your favorite from a catalog. The options are endless – and overwhelming. From the half a dozen Sears kit homes, there is now an explosion of designs available through a single Internet search. What families must now wade through is an overload of information provided by a mix of conglomerate marketing sites and websites hosted by individual designers. And each has its own set of benefits and challenges.

“If you choose one of the larger sites to peruse, and depending on how far you narrow or filter your search, you’ll still have to be patient,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs in Eugene, Ore. “These websites are essentially a giant marketplace for thousands of designers to bring their ideas to consumers. You have more to choose from, but it’s what I would call ‘variety overload.’”

Many believe that they can pick a plan and start building their home when all they have really achieved is step one: choosing their favorite design from the online catalog. Because these large websites bring designers from across the U.S., your dream design that fits your family’s lifestyle may not be drawn with construction methods or specifications for your area. When the time comes to get the plans reviewed for your local building conditions, you might find yourself in a maze of difficult design questions.

“The designer is often kept at arm’s length with the larger websites,” said McAlexander. “The process to get your home from paper to brick and mortar becomes tedious. And if a plan needs to be customized, you will often be referred to a third party service instead of the original designer of your plan. The process can very easily become a nightmare.”

On the flip side, if you have the patience to scroll past the first couple of pages in your online search, you will find websites hosted by professional home designers who specialize in home plan marketing. You’ll have fewer design options but a personal connection to the designer who will help you modify an existing plan or even create a custom home. Additionally, direct from the designer sites often feature plans that are tailored to a specific region, which can further streamline the process.

“Working with a local design professional will give you the inside look at building recommendations and requirements for your area,” said McAlexander. “Rather than drowning in a sea of questions and construction concerns, you are given a life preserver. Suddenly, you have insight into local construction techniques, and you are better able to dial your set of plans into the style that works for your area.”

There is always the opportunity to find your dream home online, but the process requires patience. The Internet offers a wealth of options both in the products and designs offered as well as the places and companies to buy them from. It is important that you understand what it is that you’re looking at and what you’re hoping for before you pick a home plan. The better informed you are, and the more help or individual attention you are given, makes the experience not something to dread, but something to enjoy.

Next Month: You’ve found a home design online that’s close to what you want—what’s next to choosing a designer and getting your design customized.

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