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1st Jul, 2016
Announcements, Blog, New Home Plans

2016 Home from the Heart Survey Results

What makes up a dream home? Is it the view? The square footage? The walk-in shower or Craftsman-style kitchen? Does such a house that combines all of your dreams even exist?

Knowing the answers to these questions is what Associated Designs’ Home from the Heart survey is all about. This year’s survey once again asked readers, like you, to share what features and design elements you want in your dream home. The results of the survey allow Associated Designs to create a collection of home designs that feature all of those wants and desires.

The 2016 Home from the Heart survey focused on every element of the home – from the size to the style to special features to the number of rooms. Using the most voted on features, Associated Designs has created the Westheart 10-630 home plan that highlights the must-have design essentials from the survey. Featuring 3,135 square feet of living space in a single floor layout, the home includes all the popular features including a walk-in shower, covered front porch, great room, utility room located close to the garage, and plenty of windows for natural light and scenic views. 

2016 Home from the Heart, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, Westheart 10-630
The Westheart 10-630

Unlike last year when the Craftsman house was the sought-after exterior home style, this year’s survey revealed that both the ranch and Craftsman homes were neck and neck in terms of popularity. This coincides with the continued trend toward larger, single-floor homes on rural lots with open floor plans.

Survey respondents voiced their preferences for 3 bedrooms, but as in 2015, kitchen nooks and dens remained similarly popular. Media rooms, however, lost momentum replaced by a desire for a guest suite, which climbed 10% in popularity. The Westheart home plan showcases just such a guest suite. It also keeps the owners’ suite separate from the other bedrooms for added privacy, and a luxurious owners’ bath with walk-in shower. In fact, one of the biggest trends in the survey continues to be the desire for walk-in showers in the owners’ suite, which climbed to 81%.

The Westheart design also features a great room with a gas fireplace and vaulted ceilings, providing both artistic elegance and warm strength to the home. Vaulted ceilings, much like gas fireplaces, are still a must-have for homeowners.

The 2016 Home from the Heart survey is all about what you want and desire. It gives you a say in what pieces go together to make the home of your dreams. Associated Designs Westheart home design makes that dream a reality. 

As seen on Newswire
27th Jun, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Traditional House Plan, Home Plan, Chivington 30-260

The traditional-style Chivington design offers an intriguing front facade with hipped roof lines with clipped ends and tall slender porch posts. This mid-sized home is well-designed to meet the needs of a busy modern family.

The entry and great room, offers a striking two-story ceiling which creates an expansive sense of volume. Entering, you pass double doors on the left that open into the living room. This bright space also has another door that leads to the powder room, stairs and eating nook.

Informal living spaces fill most of the rear, where the great room, nook and kitchen flow together. Wide windows, stacked two high, provide plenty of natural light. A two-sided direct vent gas fireplace offers minimal separation of space between the nook and great room area.

Ceiling height drops to eight feet in the nook and kitchen. Counters wrap around three sides, extending in a long peninsula that could function as an eating bar. A walk-in pantry boosts storage space, and wide sliders in the bayed nook leads to the patio.

Laundry appliances are close at hand, in a large utility room outfitted with cabinets, deep sink and a wide counter. Connected to the garage as well as the kitchen, this space also serves as a mud room.

Amenities in the master suite include: a large walk-in closet, two sinks, a soaking tub, and separately enclosed shower and toilet. Three more bedrooms and a bathroom are upstairs.

20th Jun, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Ranch Home Plan, Fern View 30-766

Slender posts provide graceful accents to the front porch that spans the front of the Fern View, a contomporary ranch-style house plan.

A mostly rectangular footprint this home is economical to build, heat and maintain. This home suites well for young families as a starter home or empty nesters looking to downsize and have a home that is simpler to maintain. This home can be furnished with three bedrooms, or have two bedrooms and a study/home office, whichever suits.

Light flows into the vaulted entry though a sidelight along with a row of panes near the top of the door. A coat closet is on the left, just before the entry hall angles off in that direction. Double doors open into a bright room that could be a bedroom, home office or study.

Continue to the left leads you to the kitchen; going straight ahead takes you to the vaulted great room, after passing the bedroom and bathroom on the right. 

Light spills into the great room through wide windows that fill most of the rear wall, plus the slender windows flanking the gas fireplace. Sliding glass doors in the dining area open onto a wide deck.

Standing at the kitchen sink, you can look out across the raised eating bar into the great room,  or keep your eye on the patio. All appliances are built in, and a roomy walk-in pantry fills one corner. Laundry appliances are right around the corner in the pass-through utility room, and provides accesses the garage.

The owners' suite is luxurious boasting a spa tub, oversized shower and dual lav.

13th Jun, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Prairie Style House Plan, Home Plan, Crownpoint 30-790

Frank Lloyd Wright is the acknowledged master of the Prairie house, one of the few indigenous American styles. The Crownpoint is a contemporary Prairie-style home design that features low-pitched roof lines, wide eaves, and bold squared porch support columns.

Upon entering the home, you pass double doors that lead into what could be a used as a dining room, parlor, or home office. A conveniently located powder room is nearby, bedrooms are to the left, and the great room is ahead and slightly to the right.

The great room at the heart of the home is open to the kitchen and nook as well. The G-shaped kitchen, an array of counters, cupboards, and built-in appliances wrap around all four sides. From at or near the kitchen sink, informal meals and snacks to family and friends seated along the raised eating bar, enjoy the gas fireplace, or keep track of activities on the partially covered patio.

A good-sized utility room is around the corner, along with access to a two-car garage. The bench by the door is designed for shucking off footwear, which can then be stowed out of sight beneath the seat. A shelved storage closet lines the hallway to a guest suite.

In the spacious owners' suite, features include a walk-in shower, private toilet, two vanities, a deep walk-in closet, and direct patio access. The other two bedrooms share a bathroom that has a combination tub and shower.

7th Jun, 2016
Blog, Under Construction

It's been awhile since I have posted the progress of the new house and to say I'm excited about it is an understatement though it feels rather surreal to me at times.

Here is the entry or Porte corchere (carport). It's stately and solid looking.

The underside is stunning. I LOVE IT!

Early on I touched on superstitions. The discovery of a nesting robin in essentially our great room door way had me doing a bit more research for the meaning. A nest with eggs indicates a blest household, or the creation of happy household promises. I have to say, I like this a lot. 

The roof is felted. As soon as a few vents and our wood stove chiminey are in place, the metal roofing can go on.

Looking in from the back porch.

The before photo of my future kitchen! Looking forward to cooking and entertaining here. We have some fun things planned here. Shaker style hickory cabinets, a Thermador cook top, a red painted island with copper vegetable sink, and a 5 drawer Kitchen Aid refrigerator. I love the light we found to hang over the island! This will be the kitchen of my dreams! 

Coming soon, I'll show you some of the selections we've made for the house!

6th Jun, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Chalet House Plan, Home Plan, Barrett 30-773

This estate-size contemporary Chalet house plan a treat for the eye. King posts and gently curved struts highlight the Barrett's four front-facing gables, while shingles and stone veneer wrap around the exterior. Diamond-shaped and Craftsman-style windows bring abundant light inside.

Arrays of slender posts flank the grand entry portico. Sidelights and a wide transom wrap around the front door. Inside, closets line the vaulted entry that leads directly into an large hexagonal great room.

Beams outline the six pie-shaped ceiling panels that meet at a central peak. The three rear walls are richly windowed, and the center section there is almost all glass. The lower windows are crowned by two more levels of gridded glass that highlight the triangular apex.

A fireplace is in the right rear section living room; the dining area is in the left section. Both offer access to larege decks. A conversation bar rims the work island in the kitchen that is partly open to the dining area. A walk-in pantry fills one corner.

Bedroom suites are in the wings on both sides of the central hexagon. A powder room along the hallway to the guest suite is available for general use. The large utility room further along that hallway also serves as a pass-through to the side entry three-car garage. Luxury features abound in the spacious owners' suite that fills the left side.

A bunk room and another bedroom are in the daylight basement below, to the left of a huge recreation room that accesses covered patios on three sides. The roomy workshop on this level has double door access to the outside.

1st Jun, 2016
Articles, Blog

At long last, after hours of searching online, the home design that you love is in your hands. You’ve made your choice and are ready to take the design from paper to brick and mortar… almost.

While the design has all the important pieces, there are some elements that you want to adjust, change and add to it so that it more perfectly matches your lifestyle and family needs. In many cases, the design is great but the layout isn’t quite what you were hoping. Maybe you are thinking of expanding your family in the future, and that one small bedroom/nursery should be closer to the master bedroom.

Country House Plan, Home Plan, Nottingham 30-965
Nottingham 30-965

At first glance, it would seem the next step is to talk to a contractor, but in actuality, that depends on the level of customization and design needs.

“If the plan online meets all the homeowner’s expectations, the next step would naturally be to seek out a contractor,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “But if the design changes are specific and aesthetic in nature, a professional designer can craft those modifications better.”

A professional designer, therefore, is where you go if you had your heart set on a large, country-style kitchen or a larger storage area in the garage.

Choosing a designer starts with experience. A professional designer with the right experience can make all the difference in modifying the layout and feel of your home. It’s also important that you are able to communicate well with the designer. Going around in circles about an idea and never getting to the right point is not efficient or fun.

“Personality should also be considered,” said McAlexander. “It’s important that you and the designer are compatible, which is crucial to communicating the design wishes and desires.”

In the end, a designer becomes a friendly ear, a sounding board, a partner on the road to building your home. You shouldn’t be looking for someone who just follows your instructions without offering advice or presenting options. A designer brings artistic flair and a wealth of ideas, and with the right collaborative spirit, the changes you want won’t seem so far-fetched.

At each meeting with the designer, your design changes will be continuously altered and refined until it’s exactly what you want. Each room will be kept to scale so that the basic layout still remains consistent. But, during those conversations, it’ll become apparent that part of your idea goes against building ordinances for the area. For that reason, it is to your advantage to find a designer that’s located where you’re hoping to live.

“A designer who is near to your future home site will be more familiar with the building rules and regulations for that area,” said McAlexander.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t reach out to the original designer of the home plan. Even though you bought your design online after hours of searching and may not know exactly where the designer is from, he or she will know the design in and out and will be the person best equipped to make any major customizations. For instance, if you purchased the design from a large website, ask if the person assisting you is the original designer. If not, ferret out whether they can assist you correctly.

“Keep looking for someone else to help you with those modifications,” said McAlexander. “Because with a designer at your back, guiding you through each step, your custom dream home will be that much closer to a reality.”

Finding a home design that works with your needs and lifestyle doesn’t mean it can’t be modified or refined. An experienced designer with whom you can collaborate easily and who is able to give you effective advice will help you make those changes. You’ll be that much closer to building the home of your dreams. 

As seen on Newswire
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.

As seen on Newswire
26th Apr, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Mediterranean House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week

Stepping into the Catalina's spacious great room, you get the impression that the home is large. Vaulted ceilings add to the sense of openness in this informal space, which wraps around the kitchen and flows into the dining area.

But the Mediterranean Catalina house plan was actually designed for people who are looking for a home that is compact, economical and efficient living space. This plan is also packed with contemporary features. And it's naturally bright. The great room is illuminated by light flowing in from the screened porch at the back.

The kitchen which expands by a bay window, is also naturally bright. Features include a pantry, lots of cupboard and counter space, a built-in dishwasher, range and oven. The walk-through utility room has cabinets, a folding counter and access to a garage which has a small workshop.

Bedrooms are all on the left side of the home, where an archway marks the entrance to the hallway.  Arched multi-paned windows give the secondary bedrooms a touch of graceful elegance. Outside, the windows mirror the curved arches of the entry. A raised planter adds color.

Features in the owners' suite include a walk-in closet, twin basins, separately enclosed shower and toilet, and access to the back yard -- important, if a hot tub or pool is part of the plan.

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