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26th May, 2017
Articles, Blog

A good garage can drastically improve the value of your home. It’s something that most prospective homeowners and all real estate agents will focus on, and a little care and attention can go a long way here.

You don’t need the biggest budget or the best DIY skills either. It just takes a takes a few minutes and a little hard work to bring your garage up to scratch, as these 4 Tips for Improving Your Garage show.

Maintain Garage and Garage Door 

It’s easy to lose interest in your garage when it begins to fall into disrepair. The mold creeps in, the spiders take over, and the door rusts so much that it begins to sound like the entrance to a haunted manor house. Most homeowners have designs on making the perfect garage, on keeping it clean and useable, only to lose track and then give up when the rot sets in.

But it doesn’t need to be like that as essential maintenance is cheap and easy to perform. The first thing you should look to do is replace the torsion springs on all garage doors. According to Garage Door Nation, who lead the way in the sale and installation of these products, it should take you less than 10 minutes. That way, when you open your garage door on a morning you won’t expect to be greeted by a servant named Lurch.

The door itself may need replacing as well, but most of the time you can get by with a good clean and a few little DIY improvements. Fill the holes, replace broken/rusted parts, add an electronic opener, and finish it off with a lick of paint.

Make it Parking Friendly 

A garage should be one of two things: an extension of your home, or a place to store your car. It should not be a giant dumpster where you store everything from unwanted Christmas presents to empty appliance boxes.

If you decide to use it to house your car, then make sure it’s fit for that purpose. Remove the junk, hang a tennis ball from the roof so you know when to stop reversing, and remove anything that can cause damage to the paintwork.

If it’s a tight squeeze you should also place bumpers along the walls of your garage. You don’t need to cover the entire wall. Simply use something that sticks out in the middle of the wall. Pool noodles are great for this, as they are soft, spongy, cheap and easy to affix to the walls.

Make it Storage Friendly

If you want your garage to be an extension of your house, then add some flooring, lights and furniture. Put up a storage rack, some drawers and some other units.This way it’s still a room for storage, but the storage is neat and orderly, and it can also be an additional bedroom, a den or an office.

Don’t overlook the ceiling when it comes to storage. There are sliding storage racks, hanging storage systems and much more that will make use of all that previously untouched space. If you don’t have the budget to buy steel shelving units, then just make them yourself. You can get the raw materials cheaply and it’ll only take a few hours of your time.

Here are a few more storage ideas:

•   Screwdriver Rack: Puncture a series of holes into a length of wood, nail it to the wall and you have a handy place to store your screwdrivers.

•   Plastic Storing Containers: Use cheap, open plastic containers to store all of those smaller items for easy access. Make sure you write down the contents on a label and stick it to the front of the boxes.

•   Pegboards: A few simple pegboards can be used to store loose tools. Just hammer some nails in and hook those tools on them.

•   Tin Cans: Tin cans can be a great way to store small tools, while transparent pots and jars are ideal for screws, nuts and bolts.

Make it High-Tech 

There are a number of cool gadgets and tools for your garage. Some will make your life easier, some are just fun to play with. You can purchase devices that connect to your smartphone and warn you when you garage door is open, either because you’ve left it open or because it has been broken into.

There are high-tech garage door openers that will open and close automatically and can also run off backup battery power, just incase there’s a power cut. There are also doors that require security codes to gain access, and the more high-tech of these will randomly change the codes at regular intervals, ensuring that only the owner has the correct access code at any given time.

Alarm systems, security cameras and insulation are also a common feature of high-tech garages. They will keep your home safe and secure, while helping you to cut down on those energy bills and to reduce the risk of mold and animal infestations.

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22nd May, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Victorian House Plan, Home Plan, Pearl 42-010

Well-suited for use as a vacation retreat or as a year-round residence, the Pearl is a quaint Victorian cottage. Double doors on the covered porch open into a front living room linked to a rear kitchen/nook. A half bathroom is on this level, while the two bedrooms above share a larger one.

17th May, 2017
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Country Home Plan, Farmington 31-068

Created for a lot that slopes to the side, the Farmington is a charming country-style two story home plan. Entering the home, you walk into the great room with a fireplace. Along the back of the great room is the dining room which is open to the kitchen which is seperated by a flush peninsual eating bar. Through the kitchen a hallway leads past a large walk-in pantry, half bathroom and to the utility room. The owners' suite is also off the main level and features a private bathroom with a walk-in closet and dual vanity. Upstairs, are two additional bedrooms, a full bathroom and bonus room.

15th May, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Contemporary Home Plan, Palermo 30-160

The Palermo is relaxed, spacious and designed to suit families who prefer an informal lifestyle. Family living spaces flow together at the rear of the naturally bright vaulted great room. The room to the right of the entry could be purposed as a media room, study, or home office.

Storage space is generous throughout, with large cabinets and closets in the entry, great room, kitchen, owners' suite, and utility room, along with the three-car garage.

This contemporary home entryceiling is a lofty 12 feet high, and begins sloping up as you move into the great room. A bank of windows run along the back and side walls, while a gas fireplace fits neatly into a corner. Deep shelving is ideal for housing a home entertainment center.

A conversation bar with an overhead plant shelf marks the kitchen boundary without cutting it off from the larger space. Someone standing at the kitchen range can watch over the entire room, or gaze past the skylit dining area through French doors to watch in the back yard. A partially covered patio spans the rear.

Utilities and a compact bathroom are close by, nestled in a pass-through space that leads to the garage.

French double doors in the owners' suite offer direct patio access. A great location for a hot tub is right around the corner. Other features include two large walk-in closets, and a bath with double vanity, private toilet, oversized shower and deep soaking tub.

The front of the two secondary bedrooms is vaulted. Its boxed bay provides an nice location for a wide window seat with built-in drawers.

11th May, 2017
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Cottage Home Plan, Arborbrook 31-072

Designed for a narrow building lot, the Arborbrook is a delightful cottage house plan. Not only is it surprising large (2200 square feet), from the exterior it appears to be a single level home but once you step inside a set of stairs takes you up to the second floor where two bedrooms and a loft are nestled into the roof. To the left of the entry is a den which could also serve as a home office or an additional bedroom. Down the entry hall the home opens up to a great room with corner fireplace and a kitchen with a large work island. In the rear right corner of the home is the owners' suite which features a dual vanity and large walk-in closet. 

9th May, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, European Home Plan, Brelsford 30-202

Shingles and stone give a handsomely rustic European look to the Brelsford. This house plan is well-suited to families that enjoy entertaining, or simply like having space to spread out.

At its core is a large great room with a 12-foot ceiling and windows that trim the fireplace. Two sets of double doors at the rear provide access to a partially covered patio.

The kitchen is completely open to this expansive area, and slightly recessed. Standing at the kitchen sink, you are at the center of everything. You can look out into the great room, gaze out the windows, or keep an eye on activities in the vaulted dining room.

Counters and cupboards wrap around four sides of the lxurious kitchen, and extend into a butler's pantry with an additional sink and dishwasher. Open shelves fill one long wall of a utility room, with space for a freezer or second refrigerator at the far end, next to the built-in desk.

A powder room and guest suite are just inside the front door. The guest suite features a rectangular window bay, and its own private bathroom.

Wide windows brighten the vaulted owners' suite, connected to the great room by a library hall and den. Amenities include a walk-in closet and a private bathroom with two pedestal lavs, spa tub, and walk-in shower.

Upstairs bedrooms share a unique and practical three-section bathroom.

2nd May, 2017
Articles, Blog

When you only have so much room, you go to great lengths to maximize the space available to get the most out of less. It may seem easy to do in some cases. But maximizing space takes on new meaning – and new challenges – when building a home on a narrow lot. These slender lots require ample storage, convertible space and well-placed rooms to amp up the overall appeal of the home designs.

“On a narrow lot, you have to be smart about how things fit together in a home design,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “It has to both maximize the space available as well as appeal to a homeowner in terms of style, personality and practicality.”

In other words, maximizing space on a not-so-wide lot can be done, but it’s all about how the home is put together. Some elements of a home are enhanced, while others are rearranged and given new meaning. Rooms that normally would have only one use can be multipurpose rooms instead. These two 2,000-square-foot homes from Associated Designs put all of those pieces together in unique and appealing ways that fit well on narrow lots.

Charming Space Saver

Just imagine relaxing on a front porch in summer, chatting with friends while sipping drinks and waving to neighbors as they pass by. That’s the appeal of the Blue River home plan 30-789 – a two-story Craftsman-style bungalow. The hand-railed front porch, tapered columns and porte-cochere all add to the nostalgic charm of the home. But the exterior charm is only one side of this three-bedroom, two-bath design. Every component, attribute and room makes the most out of the space available.

The detached garage and drive-through porte-cochere saves on building width, while the two-story design allows for the main level to be filled with gathering spaces and the second floor to be confined to the family’s sleeping areas. The great-room style living on the main floor means no space is unused, and the bungalow opens up to natural light in the living room, dining room and C-shaped kitchen. The kitchen itself saves space by putting a walk-in pantry near the covered back patio. Meanwhile, the hobby room can double as a guest suite or home office. The roof’s attic storage can be opened from each of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor, but the stairwell near the utility room boasts an under-stair closet for more storage, too.

“This home has a little trick up its sleeves though,” said McAlexander. “There are no hallways, which means there is a nearly seamless transition from room to room.”

The hobby room, utility room and main floor are accessed from only a short hallway, but only a small landing at the top of the stairs accesses the second floor bedrooms. The end result is that this home takes the narrow lot and saves space on all levels while still retaining its nostalgic charm.

Flexible Country Cottage Living

Wrapping the living area in an L-shape around the garage allows the Shasta home design 30-866 to offer all the comforts of a large 2,000-square-foot home in a narrow building lot. The floor plan is completely attuned to contemporary families, with the master suite on the main floor in this one-and-a-half-story cottage-style home. But it’s the multipurpose functionality of the home that really shines.

The den is a prime example of this as it is the home’s flex space. Whether used as a home office, a guest bedroom, a study or another gathering area, it blends seamlessly with the rest of the main floor. An under-stair closet boosts the home’s available storage, but the second floor holds even more space-saving, multipurpose charm. Utilizing dormers, the home’s vaulted bonus room and additional attic storage means there is no limit to what can be done with this house.

“It both saves space and gives families options,” said McAlexander. “But it doesn’t shy away from being open and spacious despite it’s narrow lot appeal. You can be standing at the kitchen sink and look out across a wide area of functional living space. It definitely makes the Shasta a great choice for growing families with narrow lots.”

A narrow lot doesn’t mean you are limited in what you can do and how you can build your home. Maximizing space means rethinking how a home is pieced together, creating storage and rooms that are enhanced not overlooked. In other words, it’s easy to get more out of less space with the right home design.  

As seen on Newswire
1st May, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Ranch House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, Lindgren 11-122

The Lindgren's bright and spacious vaulted great room is the central hub of family time in this ranch-style Southwest home plan. Windows fill much of the rear wall, and light streams down through skylights as well.

Out front, bold stucco columns support the front porch, giving a stately look to this modern design. Sidelights and a transom trim the door while brightening the interior. Double doors on the left open into a room that could function as a home office, den, or bedroom.

The large kitchen has counters on four sides, and two of those sides are open to the great room above counter level. A long, raised eating bar rims the work island, and a walk-in pantry fills one corner. Standing at the kitchen sink, you have a panoramic view of the activities in the great room, as well as the back yard.

The nearby utility room window-brightened counter makes an ideal location for a sewing machine. The counter opposite is perfect for a deep sink. Stairs leading to the windowed and skylighted bonus room over the garage are also here, along with a door that leads directly into the garage.

Bedrooms are on the left. Features in the master suite include: a large walk-in closet, a skylit bathroom with dual vanity and shower with seat, and direct access to the patio. 

Secondary bedrooms share a bathroom outfitted with a combination tub and shower. 

28th Apr, 2017
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Country House Plan, Home Plan, Hayden 30-981

A charming wrap-around front porch and sunny dormer windows welcome you home. The Hayden is a country style house plan with all features a young family or those looking to down size will need. The vaulted great room features a woodstove adding to the warmth and appeal. The dining room which is open to the kitchen which has a penisular eatting bar. A pocket door separates the kitchen from the walk-through utility room and walk-in pantry. The right side of the home features the sleeping areas plus a study nook. The secondary bedrooms are on the front of the home and the vaulted master suite looks off the back and has a private bathroom and large walk-in closet.

25th Apr, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, Dogwood 30-748

The Dogwood is a compact and charming Craftsman home that fits neatly on a narrow city lot. This floor plan is well-suited for the needs of young families or empty nesters alike. 

Stone veneer covers the squared post supports that trim the covered porch. It's easy to imagine relaxing on an old-fashioned wooden porch swing here, while reading a book and sipping lemonade. Craftsman-style features include the low-pitched front-facing gables and geometric gridding on the windows.

Inside, the living room, dining room and kitchen flow together and create a large informal gathering space. Windows fill much of rear wall, and one set slides open to access a covered patio. 

In the kitchen, a raised eating bar rims the central work island, which provides a boost to cupboard and counter space. A walk-in pantry is found right around the corner.

The owners' suite is isolated from the secondary bedrooms. Its two-section bathroom has a dual vanity near the walk-in closet, while a separately enclosed toilet and shower fill the other end. Laundry appliances are also in this wing, in a utility room complete with a folding counter. 

Double doors in the foyer open into one of the secondary bedrooms which could lend it's purpose of using this room as a home office or den. 

17th Apr, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Lakeside 10-551, European Home Plan, House Plan

The textural blend of stone veneer wainscoting and shake-textured siding can't help but admire this classic European cottage. While the Lakeside is designed for construction on building lot that slopes down on the left, it could also be built on a level lot. 

Light flows into the vaulted entry through sidelights and a transom. An arched opening on the right of the entry leads into the dining room and on to the kitchen. The arched opening on the left takes you into a vaulted living room with a fireplace. Forward, with a slight jog around the railed stairway and powder room, brings you into the vaulted greatroom. Windows fill most of the rear wall and in the nook sliding glass doors open onto a side patio.

A multi-angled eating bar creates a boundary between the nook and kitchen. Cabinets run along overhead, capping the open space below. The kitchen's central work island has a cook top. Laundry appliances, along with a roomy pantry and a utility sink, are right around the corner in a pass-through utility room that leads to the garage.

The spacious owners' suite is on the ground level. It features a walk-in closet and a roomy bathroom with a spa tub and double vanity. Soft light flows in through glass blocks on two sides of the deep spa tub.

Upstairs, a railed balcony cuts across the upper air space of the vaulted entry and family room below. A bedroom and an unfinished bonus room are on the right, while a two-section bathroom and a bedroom with a rectangular windowed alcove are on the left.

14th Apr, 2017
Blog, New Home Plans

New Garage Plan, Garage with Recreation Room, 2 Car Garage, Garage 20-166

Garage 20-166

This detached garage design can hold up to four cars when parked two cars deep. The front garage doors are both 9' wide x 10' tall and the smaller garage door in the back is 6' wide x 7' tall. On the left of the garage is a richly windowed recreation room with full bathroom and a large, vaulted covered patio. A set of stairs provides convenient attic access.

10th Apr, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, Springwater 30-661

The Springwater is a rustically elegant single-story, Craftsman-style lodge house plan which features more than 3,000 square feet of indoor living space linked to spacious patios on the side and rear. The abundance of indoor and outdoor living areas makes it well suited for entertaining.

This design has a guest room and two home offices that could be furnished as bedrooms if desired. 

Entering via the vaulted porte-cochere and entry porch, you step into a wide, foyer where light flows down through a row of windows set high in the wall. The foyer is open to the dining area on the left and the vaulted great room ahead. Windows fill most of the dining room's front wall, and glass-centered double doors extend onto a vaulted, covered patio.

Three evenly spaced wooden posts bound the dining room where it transitions into the great room and kitchen. One side of the kitchen's L-shaped island is rimmed by an eating/conversation bar and fronts the great room. This section has a prep sink, while its other arm has under-counter baskets on one side, and a range on the other. A large walk-in pantry fills the corner next to the kitchen's built-in desk.

The covered and vaulted patio adds private space outside the vaulted master suite that has two large walk-in closets. Other amenities include: an exercise nook, and a bathroom with a walk-in shower, dual vanity, private toilet, and direct patio access. The outdoor shower would be particularly appreciated near a pool or spa.

4th Apr, 2017
Articles, Blog

For most of us, country living conjures up images of lazy summer days sipping lemonade on a shady front porch, cozy kitchens filled with the smells of home-cooked meals, and rolling hills and green valleys. Country house plans are one of the most popular styles of home design, and for good reason. Their famous nostalgic look lends them their enduring appeal year after year. Picture a home in a Norman Rockwell painting, and you’ll likely be imagining a country house plan with all the traditional trimmings: porches, gables, lap siding, shuttered windows and cozy facades. Who wouldn’t want to relax on the porch and let the world drift by?

“It’s not hard to see why country home plans are so popular,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “They are both elegant and soothing, complete with all the traditional architectural details that make for a great home.”

Country-style designs rarely fail to catch the eye, but blending the traditional country look with a little European flair takes the traditional home design to a whole new level of luxury. This is the essence of Associated Designs’ Delfino house plan 31-062

Country Elegance, European Luxury, Delfino 31-062, House Plan, Home Plan

“The Delfino home plan blends two unique styles into a compelling design that’s both modest and spacious,” McAlexander said. “It offers tons of functionality while still highlighting those traditional country elements and features. It’s modesty, elegance and luxury all in one.”

At first glance, the Delfino is rather inconspicuous. Bold stone accents, graceful wood beams and smooth stucco blend seamlessly along the front of the home, giving it an altogether modest appearance. A vaulted covered porch is the centerpiece to the exterior design. You would be hard-pressed to consider this home anything more than a simple modern upgrade to the traditional country living style. But it’s the interior of this three-bedroom, where the Tuscan-vineyard inspired home really shines.

The vaulted foyer welcomes you into a grand living area with a double set of sliding glass doors that allow you to expand the living area to the covered patio on nice days when a soft breeze is just the thing. The open-style great room flows into a dining area, which is also open to the vaulted kitchen. From there you walk into a vaulted piano room. Don’t have a piano or play the piano? That’s OK. The room can easily be used as an additional seating area or cozy secondary gathering space. It’s the perfect set-up for those who love to entertain.

“It’s the details that really make this home special,” said McAlexander. “Beautiful ceiling treatments adorn the walls, adding that extra touch of class to the open living space, but it’s not overpowering. It’s modestly elegant.”

Walking back through the house, the den catches the eye – and rightly so. This is no ordinary office space. Glass French doors allow the den to open up to the rest of the great room with built-in shelving and storage closet.

Just off the kitchen area is a large walk-in pantry featuring built-in shelves and freezer space. Down the hall from the pantry, the two secondary bedrooms each have their own walk-in closets and dressing areas. A Jack-and-Jill style bathroom, offering both privacy and versatility, connects the two bedrooms to each other.

Walking back down the hallway, the Delfino features a mud bath and extensive utility room, but the real star of this luxury home is downstairs in the lower floor. Since the home is designed on a partial basement foundation, the lower space holds a very special addition that any wine enthusiast would love: a built-in, 300-square-foot wine cellar.

“No Tuscan-inspired home should be without a wine cellar,” said McAlexander.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the house, the owners’ suite features a vaulted ceiling, double doors that lead to a vaulted patio, a walk-in closet with solar tube lighting, and a large master bath with his and her sinks. But functionality and modesty are still present even in so luxurious a room. For instance, the owners’ suite features an exercise room just off the bathroom and walk-in closet. Get home from work, change clothes, get in a workout and end with a luxurious shower – all without walking more than a few feet from room to room.

The Delfino home design is evocative of blending two unique styles into a home that’s both functional and luxurious. And while the exterior boasts elegance in all the right spots, it’s the amenities of this country home that really get attention.

So yes. There’s more to this home than meets the eye.

As seen on Newswire
3rd Apr, 2017
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Duplex Plan, Duplex Designs, Multi-Family Housing, Krammer 60-022

If you're looking for a duplex that is comfortable to live in while renting out the other unit, the Krammer is worth consideration.

Each of the units is the size of a standard home, with close to 1,800 square feet of living space along with a two-car garage. The plan is designed for construction on a lot that slopes downhill at the rear, so each unit features an elevated deck off the kitchen, as well as a patio accessed through a sliding glass doors in the family room below.

Centrally placed garages offer a sense of privacy for the entry porches, while double walls provide sound buffering between adjacent bedrooms on both the main and basement floors.

Entering the home you step into a vaulted foyer with a coat closet just inside the door. The foyer ceiling slopes up to its apex at the end of the passageway, then begins sloping down as the space opens out into the dining area and living room.

A bay window brightens and expands the dining area, which is open to the kitchen with only a raised eating bar between. Kitchen features include a walk-in pantry, a sink with a view, and counters on four sides.

The main floor bedroom has a walk-in closet and direct access to the bathroom. A door in the hallway across from the bedroom links with the garage.

Downstairs in each of the units, are two bedrooms, a full-sized utility room, a bathroom, and a family room with fireplace.

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