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20th May, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman Home Plan, Tealwood 30-440

The Tealwood is a compact Craftsman-style house with a spacious feel. This home plan is designed to fit on a small lot and its footprint is almost square: 47' by 50'. 

A covered porch along with an impressive array of windows grace the front exterior and  the porch goes on to wrap around the side. Inside, the combination living room and dining room is full of natural light.

The kitchen fills more than a quarter of this large, open great room. A work island with a raised eating bar separates the areas. 

An atrium or French door in the dining area provides access to the covered porch, a great spot for outdoor dining. Two doors across the room open into the utility room and the garage. The utility room is large for a home this size and is outfitted with cupboards and an L-shaped counter.

Coat and storage closets line the hallway leading to the owners' suite. Features here include: a large walk-in closet, and bathroom with dual vanity, shower, and private toilet. The two front bedrooms share another bathroom.

18th May, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Country House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, Cumberland 30-606

Classic keystones accent the custom brickwork on the front exterior of the Cumberland, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom Country-style design with a large gathering space at the center. Arched Craftsman windows, along with a wide, wrap-around front porch, adds to the welcoming appearance.

Natural light flows into the 16-foot-high entry through a sidelight and overhead dormer. A wide window bay expands the parlor, to the left. 

The entry's right opening leads to a short hallway with a display niche at one end and the owners suite at the other. The owner suite's ceiling is vaulted and features include a spa tub, large walk-in closet, dual vanity, and an enclosable shower and toilet.

Day-to-day living centers around the bright and spacious vaulted family room. Windows fill the rear wall, and a gas fireplace, shelving and a home entertainment center line another. The wide bay window that expands the dining area has sliding doors that allow access to the covered patio.

A raised eating bar rims the kitchen's long, angled work island. A roomy pantry adds to the kitchen's abundant storage space, and appliances are built in.

The powder room and utility room are closeby, as well as the stairs leading up to a bonus room. The utility has access through to the garage which features space at the rear for a shop and storage. Two more bedrooms and a full bathroom fill the left wing.

7th May, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Prairie Style House Plans, Featured House Plan of the Week, Elmhurst 30-452, Home Plan

Unique planters draw eyes to the Elmhurst, a midsize, single level Prairie-style home design. Stone veneer lends its variegated textures to the planters, wainscoting and columns. High on the roof, the clerestory windows nicely echoes the grid on the garage door.

This house plan is designed for construction on a sloped lot, but it could also be built on level ground. No living space would be lost, only basement areas.

Inside the foyer, diffuse light flows in through a transom and sidelight. Mirror-image double doors open into the library/study on the right, and the office on the left.

Straight ahead is a bright and spacious vaulted living room. Display shelves with recessed lighting wrap around three sides. During the day, more light washes in through the high row of front facing clerestory windows, as well as skylights and wide windows at the rear. A gas fireplace and home entertainment center fill part of the left wall.

Openings into the dining room and kitchen are on the right. A raised eating bar provides partial separation between the dining room and kitchen, while the walk-in pantry and central work island add to the ample cupboard and counter space.

Laundry appliances are closeby, in a large utility room complete with a deep sink and drop-down ironing board. The small powder room is equally close.

The luxurious owners' suite, plus a guest room with private bath, fill the left wing.

1st May, 2018
Articles, Blog

It’s hard to imagine building anything on a hill, let alone a house. But sometimes, a sloped lot can also be perfectly positioned for a custom home that touches on all your dreams and desires.

“The first reaction to some homebuyers is that a sloped lot is going to be a pain,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “But they really are anything but that. They allow for creativity and design aesthetics that may not be considered in a traditional home design. Plus, in all honesty, I just love them because they make home designers think a little outside the box, as it were.”

Homes come in all shapes and sizes, layouts and possibilities, on sloped lots. It’s important to embrace large modifications to an existing home plan so that your dreams aren’t hindered by the slope of the land. But more importantly, a custom home design can bring you all the joys of easy living with a unique design that doesn’t affect your surroundings or your view.

Sloped lots have diverse design opportunities. Here we present three custom home designs that showcase elements and features that just might work for you -- in the city, to the country, or the garage in the back.

Sloped Lot House Plan, Home Plan, Craftsman House Design, Ridgeview 30-496
Ridgeview 30-496

 

Unconfined Views

A 2,559-square-foot home on a narrow sloped lot, the Ridgeview (30-496) doesn’t limit you on space or views. The three levels all provide plenty of flexibility and unique features to make the sloped (or ridged) lot seem less a hinderance and more of a bonus.

The Craftsman-style home includes balconies and patios at strategic places around the house to embrace the views of the hillside. The varied textures lend itself to a far more rustic feel, but the interior is a whole other ball game.

“This home is all about leveling up,” said McAlexander. “It captures the views of the city in key living areas as well as the owner’s suite on the second level. So each level isn’t confined or limited.”

The garage/basement is on the lower level with an expansive hobby room that can be transformed into a flex space. The main living areas make up the stairs on the first floor where city views can be enjoyed from the den as well as the living room. Forest views are the focus of the gathering room on the other side of the house. Four bedrooms make up the second floor, including a vaulted owners’ suite.

Each floor, in other words, puts the sloped lot into a new perspective, allowing for both space and flexibility. It is a custom home design that does exactly what the name says: gives you great views on a ridged lot.

sloped lot house plan, Sloped Lot Home Plan, Chalet home designs, Barrett 30-773
Barrett 30-773

 

A Downhill Palace

What if the downhill sloped lot you choose is not in the city, but in the country? The roominess of the lot is one thing, but a custom home design to make use of the sloping landscape may seem like a trick.

Enter the Barret (30-773), a grand ranch home with a hexagonal design that means practically every room has a view.

The great room, for example, is richly glassed to bring in lots of natural light plus a 180-degree view of the surrounding countryside. And if that’s not enough, every room has a similar glassed-in feel -- even the lower level -- so that the home embraces the sloped feature of the lot rather than hides it altogether.

“In this design, the hill becomes a feature of the home,” said McAlexander. “The first floor, which in some respects is also the second floor, gives you these great expansive views. But going downstairs to the walk-out basement… well, it’s just more of the same benefits. Natural light, amazing views, and a spacious combination of comfort and entertaining.”

Does this mean there is no privacy at the Barret? Far from it. The palatial ranch-style home gives the owners’ suite it’s own side of the house, away from the larger gathering areas. Kids rooms and a guest suite are also separated, with a bunk area and extra bedroom in the walk-out basement.

The home takes complete advantage of the hillside and makes it probably the crowning feature of the entire design.

Sloped Lot Garage Plan, Sloped Lot Garage Design, Garage 20-008
Garage 20-008

Studio Garage

But let’s say the house is on the level, but the detached garage is not. What’s a homeowner to do?

“To put it simply, there’s nothing to fear in such a scenario,” said McAlexander. “A custom home design for sloped lots also works for garages. You can make the garage itself have a little character to match the hillside.”

Case in point, this Studio Garage (20-008) from Associated Designs. Instead of fighting the hilly nature of the lot, this garage is designed to be partially surrounded by the ground. Much like in the Barret, the hill becomes a part of the design itself.

The garage is in the lower portion of the design, nestled into the hill, while the studio apartment takes the featured spot above with a covered front entryway. In a sense, you could say the garage is at ground level, but so is the second floor apartment.

The apartment features a vaulted ceiling in the main room with an L-shaped kitchen and handy breakfast bar or island. An outside staircase leads down to the garage below, meaning that the studio truly is its own place.

What do these three custom home designs have in common? They let the landscape be what it is and create a design that works with it rather than against it. So if you’re wondering how to build a house on a hillside, take some of these ideas into account. In the end, you may have a home design that is original, eye-catching, and close to perfect.

As seen on Newswire
30th Apr, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman Home Plan, House Plan, Hartford 10-420

Stone veneer columns and decorative roof supports draw eyes to Craftsman home plan's beautiful vaulted entry.

The Heartford's shingle siding and stone veneer wainscoting give a rustic look to this otherwise thoroughly modern home. A wealth of uniquely shaped multi-paned windows sparkles across the front and rear walls, creating gathering spaces that are naturally bright.

In the vaulted foyer, light flows in through sidelights and transom windows, while more washes down through a bank of clerestory windows above. The rear wall of the great room is almost entirely glass, as is the sidewall of the dining area. Windows flank the fireplace, and another wide window fronts the kitchen sink.

All of the gathering spaces cluster together in the central section, with the apex of the vaulted ceiling running down the middle, front to rear. The owners' suite in the left wing is a retreat, well isolated from the busy areas. Garage and secondary bedrooms are in the right wing.

The large kitchen is almost completely open to the great room. Its raised eating bar and flat, 13-foot ceiling create the boundary. Counters wrap around four sides, and storage cabinets are many. The handy work island and large walk-in pantry add more useful space.

Utilities are close by, in a pass-through room that links to the garage.

Amenities in the luxurious owners' suite include: two large walk-in closets, and a vaulted bathroom outfitted with a spa tub, oversized shower, double vanity and linen hutch.

The den/office has a stately stepped ceiling. It could be built with (or without) doors that link it to the owners' suite.

25th Apr, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Cottage Home Plan, House Plan, Lindley 30-546

The Lindley is a ranch-style cottage with a slender profile allows it to fit neatly on a narrow building lot. 

Raised trim ornaments the clean-lined wooden posts that support and highlight the front porch. Board and batt siding fills the ends of the low-sloped gables, and decorative corbels underscore the gable-end projections.

Entering the home the three interconnected family gathering spaces spread out before you, creating a sense of spaciousness. A coat closet is to the right while the opposite door opens to the garage.

The living room flows into a dining area that is open to the kitchen. Each of these areas has a side window, with the sliding glass doors which access the covered patio in the dining room is the largest. Twin sets of slender wooden posts support the patio roof.

A long eating bar rims one edge of the peninsular kitchen counter. Kitchen counter space wraps around four sides, providing expansive work surfaces.  A pantry adds to the storage space, and a door at the rear opens onto a stoop. 

Three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a utility alcove fill the left side. The owners' suite has a large walk-in closet and private bathroom with oversized shower.

18th Apr, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Tudor Home Plan, Tudor House Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, Walcott 30-166

 

Shutters and an open-beam, gabled balcony lend charm to the Walcott, a midsize Tudor-style home plan.

A unique feature of this design is that the plan's right elevation is equally attractive and a prospective homeowner could to orient the placement with the right side facing the street. 

Richly windowed on all sides, this home is naturally bright and feels open and spacious. More ambient light flows through skylights, illuminating the upper-level balcony/landing, as well as the foyer, built-in desk and hutch below. The vaulted living room also has two skylights, along with dramatic quarter-round windows on both sides of the fireplace.

Kitchen, nook and family room are minimumly separated that standing at the kitchen sink, you can easily keep tabs on everything going in this area. The half-octagonal nook is as cozy and bright, while a large work island and small pantry boost cupboard and counter space.

A large utility room and a small powder room are close by, off the hallway that to the garage.

Upstairs is the vaulted owners' suite. Amenities here include twin vanities, roomy walk-in closet, soaking tub, and an enclosed shower and toilet. The railed and covered balcony offers a refreshing and somewhat private getaway/lounging area.

Storage space lines the hallway to the secondary bedrooms and their shared bathroom.

18th Apr, 2018
Articles, Blog

When someone says, “ranch,” the first thing you think of is a large farm with a bunch of cattle and horses. But when you hear the phrase “ranch living,” you probably think of open spaces, comfortable rooms, and just the right amount of privacy.

Ranch-style home designs are convenient, economical to build and maintain, and particularly friendly to both young families and empty-nesters. But over the years, these classic designs have evolved and blended with other styles. From modestly-sized simple living to big layouts with a lot of space and flexibility, ranch-style homes are a popular plan at Associated Designs, Inc.

“It’s one of our top-selling plans because the options and the layouts are limitless,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “They are designed to be about comfort, with a living wing and a sleeping wing, plenty of space, flexible rooms, and simple elegance.”

Ranch-style homes also can be influenced by other styles such as colonial and contemporary. In other words, these homes can be as unique as they are spacious. Associated Designs has a variety of ranch-style homes, but here we list the best of the best. What do these three top ranch-style home designs have in common? They are all variations on a classic.

The Ottawa: Embracing Natural Light

For this ranch-style home, abundant natural light is the theme. Windows and atrium doors fill most of the ground level front wall, bringing ample sunlight to the vaulted great room of the Ottawa (30-601).

“The high ceilings, large windows, and open floor plan certainly catch the eye,” said McAlexander. “It’s hard not to be in awe of this home’s brilliance. The poorly lit, low-ceilinged ranch homes of the past are a distant memory with the Ottawa.”

The simple rectangular layout means everything flows easily, one room to the next. The lofty and majestic great room connects to the vaulted kitchen, but not before you see the covered back patio accessible via a windowed door. A large fireplace nestles into one corner of the great room, but again.

Around the corner from the kitchen is a large walk-in pantry, small powder room, and good-sized utility room. There’s also direct access to the two-car garage. To the left of the great room are three bedrooms including a spacious owners’ suite with private bathroom and walk-in closet. This is typical of ranch-style living: separating the living are from the sleeping area for true comfort.

With all that light, this ranch-style home is perfect for both young families who need space or the retired couple who wants to relax or entertain, all while enjoying the sunlight.

The Manor Heart: Blending Traditional and Contemporary

This 2,283-square-foot home has a traditional exterior with keystone-accented stone lintels that inspired the name for this ranch-style home. Manor Heart’s (10-590) stone veneer makes it a dramatic eye-catcher. The front facade includes a porch with wrought-iron railing and stone caps on the column supports.

But let’s stop there before you start thinking this ranch-style home design is overly traditional. The exterior is a blend of both classic ranch and contemporary craftsman. And the interior is anything but traditional ranch-style living. Large gathering spaces fill its core, and private rooms are off to the right and left. The little touches inside make the Manor Heart a winner.

“The Manor Heart has this amazing bright and spacious gathering space,” said McAlexander. “Everything is in its place, and yet everything is not what it seems.”

For example, to the right of the front door is a spacious den. Its ideal as a small entertaining area, or as a home office where you can easily meet with clients and not disturb family privacy.

The rest of the home is all about space and easy living. A large U-shaped kitchen is chock full of cupboards and countertops that circle a center island. A walk-in pantry just means easier storage. The dining room opens up into a covered patio so you can entertain in the great room, dining room, kitchen and backyard, all without having to walk through a maze of walls. A bonus room above the garage is a flex space for whatever suits your fancy: playroom, craft room, storage room… the options are endless.

The Manor Heart breaks with the traditional ranch-style home once again by separating the owners’ suite to one side of the house and putting the other two bedrooms on the other side of the house, making this home ideal for anyone who likes traditional style and contemporary living blended with plenty of beauty and comfort.

The Barnhart: Simply Elegant Ranch-Style Living

The Barnhart (30-946), by far the largest of our three top ranch-style home designs at 3,815 square feet, is meant for the family that loves to entertain. It’s clean lines and uncomplicated exterior are just the icing on the cake to this well-designed home.

Instantly welcoming, the Barnhart opens up into a vaulted gathering space filled with natural light that flow effortlessly with the outdoors using a grand vaulted patio and outdoor fireplace. In fact, covered walkways and patios wrap around three sides of the home, adding even more space for outdoor living.

Like the two previous ranch-style homes, the Barnhart keeps sleeping spaces separate from the great room. The expansive owners’ suite, for example, is tucked away on one side of the house. It features two large walk-in closets with built-in dressers and a bathroom that boasts a heated tile floor, deep soaking tub, and walk-in shower. Upstairs is a bunk room, bedroom suite, and a TV loft area.

The hallway to the owners’ suite is lined with storage cabinets and runs past a small bathroom and extra large utility room before connecting with the garage. The garage also breaks a bit with the typical ranch-style home by being both large and roomy as well as additional living space. How, you ask? Walk up a flight of stairs and a vaulted bonus room or storage area is available, complete with an upper terrace for soaking in the sunshine.

“Ranch-style living is for anybody because these home designs can be as unique and various as you want them to be,” said McAlexander. “It’s our top-selling plan for a reason."

As seen on Newswire
11th Apr, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Duplex Plan, Multi-Family Designs, Carmichael 60-014

The Carmichael is a duplex, but it appears like two country cottages with adjoining garages. Each unique unit is private and spacious.

This duplex plan is designed for construction on a downhill sloping lot. A family might wish to move into one of the units, and rent out the other, or share purchase with friends or  relatives.

In the left unit the recessed, covered porch opens into a vaulted foyer where high plant shelves rim the entry on two sides. This creates a passageway into the vaulted dining room and great room.

A wider plant shelf marks the juncture of the dining room and window-bright, bayed kitchen. Counters and cupboards wrap around four sides, and a raised eating bar fronts the peninsular counter next to the dining room.

Windows fill the great room's rear wall where atrium doors open onto an elevated deck, which the master suite also accesses. Two more bedrooms and a second bathroom are upstairs.

The right unit is set further forward. One large room fills the rear. Light flows into the vaulted living room through windows that span most of the back, where a set of atrium doors lead out onto a raised deck.

Another wide window brightens the dining room, which has a flat ceiling and is fully open to the kitchen. The utility room is also on the main floor, located in a pass-through space that links with the garage. Two more bedrooms, a bathroom, and a loft are upstairs.

The master suite is the only sleeping area on the main level. It features a roomy walk-in closet plus direct access to the main floor bathroom.

4th Apr, 2018
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Ranch Home Plan, Country House Plan, Wasco 31-106

The Wasco greets you with welcoming stone pillars and a cozy covered porch. Opening the front door of this Ranch-style home into a 10-foot ceiling foyer makes for a grand entrance. Once inside the double doors to the right lead to the den. The great room has wide windows to the backyard and a fireplace that can be enjoyed even from the kitchen/dining area. The kitchen has a large island and a walk-in pantry. The bedrooms are separate from the owners' suite and have their own full bath with dual sinks. The owners' suite is private and luxurious and features a soaking tub, shower, a private toilet, and a large walk-in closet. The oversized utility room is near the bedrooms and includes a craft or sewing table. The side facing garage would make a perfect fit on a corner lot.

3rd Apr, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

The Springwood's open and relaxing ambiance begins before you even step inside. The covered porch of this traditional ranch-style home is a lofty 11 feet high. Inside, the vaulted entry is filled with natural light that filters in through sidelights, a transom and a window grid in the upper section of the door. 

Vaulted ceilings are generously throughout the home. Double doors to the left side of the entry, open into a vaulted study or den. And at the end of the entry hall, you walk into a spacious vaulted great room.

A gas fireplace nestles into one corner, near windows that line more than half of the wall. One in a trio of tall framed-glass panes opens out onto a partially covered patio.

The kitchen, with a 9-foot-high ceiling, is also a part of the great room separated by a lengthy eating and conversation bar. Appliances are built in, and a large walk-in pantry fits into one corner.

An arched passageway leads into the left wing, which features the deluxe owners' suite along with a pass-through utility room that links with the 3-car garage. A coffered ceiling adds a touch of elegance to the owners' suite with amenities that include its own private access to the rear patio. Two more bedrooms and a bathroom fill a wing on the opposite side of the home.

26th Mar, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Cottage Home Plan, Country House Plan, Stapleton 30-478

This country cottage-style home plan is equally well-suited for construction in a suburban neighborhood, or as vacation retreat with ample room for family and friends. The Stapleton features a ground level owners' suite and three bedrooms plus a bath and bonus room the second floor.
 
Stone veneer bases bring attention to slender wooden posts that support an entry porch with a nostalgic stick-work gable. Craftsman windows, multipaned at the top, accent the front facade, while shake-textured siding draws attention to the upper triangles of the side gables.
 
Family living spaces fill the front of the ground floor, with the foyer at center. The foyer is open to the living room on the left, while an arch to the right leads into the dining room and kitchen. Stairs to the upper floor are opposite the front door.
 
The large country kitchen creates a natural center for day-to-day family living. Kitchen workers can keep tabs on the out front yard, supervise the homework scene at the dining table, and tend to laundry in the nearby utility room.
 
The centrally located bathroom and utility room do double duty, serving as sound buffers for the owners' suite at the rear. Sliders in the bedroom, along with another set in the living room, access a partially covered patio.
 
Three additional bedrooms plus a bathroom, linen closet, and large bonus room are upstairs. 

20th Mar, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, European Home Plan, Stevenson 10-502

the Stevenson's custom brick work and stone veneer of the lofty and gently arched entry exude European charm. While this contemporary ranch-style home was designed for construction on a lot with a gentle rear down slope, it could just as easily be built on a flat parcel.

Natural light flows into the vaulted entry through an arched-top, gridded-glass transom that crowns the double-door entry. Even more striking, the rear wall of this home offers more windows than solid walls, and almost all of them are capped by transoms. That makes for an exceptionally bright home.

On the right side of the vaulted entry hall, double doors open into a study, home office, or even a fourth bedroom, if needed. A roomy coat closet is on the left side of the entry, just before a hallway that runs perpendicular to it. The owners' suite anchors the left side, family gathering spaces are straight ahead, and bedrooms are to the right. Storage closets, including a built-in hutch just outside the dining room, line the hallway.

A wide arched opening leads into the vaulted great room. French doors on the far side open onto a large deck that spans most of the rear. Flames dancing in the two-sided gas fireplace can be enjoyed from both the vaulted great room and the dining room.

In the kitchen, counters wrap around three sides of a wide window bay, while a centrally placed cook-top work island adds more work space. A roomy walk-in pantry nestles into a corner next to the naturally bright vaulted sun room. Luxury amenities in the vaulted owners' suite include a sitting room, large walk-in closet, and a plush bathroom with a walk-in shower and private toilet.

12th Mar, 2018
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman Home Plan, Breckenridge 30-483

The Breckenridge is a contemporary European chateau designed to fulfill for families who enjoy living large. Decorative struts, beams, and shake-textured siding are a treat for the eye, spotlighting gables at four levels. Intricate Craftsman-style windows create a graceful counterpoint, while stone veneer wainscoting adds to the country manor ambiance.

At the core core a lofty vaulted great room is accessed through the vaulted foyer with an equally high ceiling. The wide alcove at the juncture between the two spaces is designed to house a grand piano. Music created here will resonate throughout this home.

In the great room, cabinetry for a home entertainment center flanks the stately fireplace, and windows fill most of the rear wall. Across the room, another fireplace and TV hutch extend the nook that expands the large kitchen. A long conversation bar bounds the kitchen, with wings stretching out in two directions from the sink. The walk-in pantry adds  plentiful storage space.

A den or guest suite is right off the kitchen. A powder room and gracious dining room with built-in hutch and buffet are close by down a short hall.

The luxurious owners' suite features a walk-in closets, private toilet, and a dual walk-in shower. Upstairs, a bridge across the vaulted foyer/great room links two large bedroom suites. The second floor also includes a roomy theater, with soda fountain and conversation bar; and next door is a vaulted exercise room with space for numerous work-out machines, plus a spa. 

6th Mar, 2018
Articles, Blog

Let’s face it. When we sit down and look at a floor plan for our dream home, it’s easy to just think what’s in the design is the best solution. After all, a professional designer was behind the ideas so everything has to be the way it should be. So who needs to second-guess the plan?

“But here’s the thing: You tour homes. You look at floor plans and view room layouts,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs in Eugene, Ore. “What you see may not be the ideal way the room should be put together or the right way to plan where each room goes. You have to evaluate how it all fits together, and then be sure it’s right for you.”

Knowing how to study floor plans and what to look for in a home design can help you figure out what’s good and bad, what works and what doesn’t. Sounds daunting, but lest you think you’re on your own, we’ve got you covered. Here are four tips and tricks to help you review floor plans like a professional home designer.

Movement Matters

A home needs to have an easy flow – and by that we mean there has to be a reason for a wall to be where it is. Similarly, a home shouldn’t have dead ends. The reason is simple: movement matters.

“Natural flow can be as simple as counting how many steps between the kitchen and dining room,” said McAlexander. “If the dining room is a fair distance from the kitchen, there’s something wrong with the home design. How you move from room to room, and move within a room, matters.”

In other words, when looking at a floor plan, try to envision moving through the design. A house with a great room, for example, should have all the essential gathering spaces connected: living room, dining room, and kitchen. If a wall or fireplace blocks the movement between rooms, then it’s not really a great room.

A good rule of thumb in this case is to compare the new home with your current home. Are there elements of your existing home that you like or don’t like? If that utility room in your current house is in the perfect spot – right next to the garage and yet out of sight – then be sure the home you’re considering has a similar setup.

Outdoor Living

Not everyone thinks to consider the outdoor space in a home design. But a living space isn’t limited to the living room. When you entertain friends and family, you use the living room, dining room, kitchen, and even the backyard. If there’s a patio or a porch, they have to be built with functionality in mind.

For example, let’s say you decide to tour a beautiful country cottage with a cute front porch and a backyard patio with pergola for soft shade. The backyard patio has ample space with plenty of room for outdoor furniture, a grill, and maybe a few well-placed potted plants. In your mind’s eye, you can picture fun summer barbecues with yard games.

In comparison, the front porch is small and simple. Granted, it has curb appeal but other than that, it serves no function. A porch that can be a useful living space needs to be at least 8-feet deep. But the space in this design is not large enough for patio furniture let alone a party, so you are left with a front porch that isn’t a porch at all.

“Take time to consider how much outdoor living space you will need,” said McAlexander. “In most cases, if there’s something about your current home’s outdoor area that you like, be sure your new home has those same qualities. You want to have an equally comfortable exterior when compared to the interior.”

Natural Light

This is a home design tip that is as important as the size of your kitchen. A home without ample light can be a cave – dark, dreary, and unpleasant. Each room in a home needs to have windows because natural light can make all the difference in how your home feels.

“Let’s compare it to a medieval castle,” said McAlexander. “A castle has great spaces and lots of room, but the windows are small and limited. Each room becomes a cave when the sun goes down. A home you’re touring shouldn’t have rooms that make you feel like you are in a cave. Yes, you want ample space but you also want ample natural light.”

Insufficient daylight is usually the result of too few windows, or windows on only one wall. A great room similarly needs to have large windows or it will be a not-so-great room. Natural light adds depth and power to a home, so when you study a floor plan or tour a home, don’t forget to look out the windows.

Labeled Spaces

This final tip to studying floor plans is all about flexibility. Many floor plans online have labeled spaces telling you where the kitchen is or what this room near the dining room is supposed to be. The labels are there to offer some insight into how the designer saw the space being used. But spaces aren’t limited to what the label says.

In other words, don’t be trapped by labels. If you need a home office, and the floor plan includes a space labeled “formal dining room” that you won’t use, then turn it into what you need. A space can serve more than one purpose.  

“Remember that the home you are touring or the floor plan you are looking at is open to interpretation, specifically your interpretation,” said McAlexander. “You can decide how that extra room should be used.”

As seen on Newswire

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