The Flagstone is a charming, bungalow inspired ranch-style home design. Walking through the front door you are drawn through a long foyer. To the right is and opening that leads to two bedrooms and bathroom. On the left a pocket door hides a mudhall that transitions between the garage and the utility room. In the rear of the house is the great room with a corner gas fireplace that can also be enjoyed from the dining room and kitchen. Accessed off the great room is the master suite which features a large sized walk-in closet and well appointed bathroom.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright introduced a distinct new architectural style that expressed the flat, sweeping prairie of his native Midwest. Simplicity was the name of the game, combining comfort, utility and beauty in a modern look that was a huge departure from the ornamental Victorian house of the previous century.
Appearing to rise from the earth, these homes blended with the landscape. They were earthy and unique, with a façade that hugged the ground. From 1900 to 1930, the prairie-style home was the fashion trend of the home design world.
“Prairie-style homes are bold and modern,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs Inc. “They are rich and warm with natural colors that are not only inviting but comforting. It’s hard not to feel welcome in a prairie-style house.”
And while Wright broke with tradition in creating his new design, his classic lines thrive today – with just a few changes, of course.
“Because prairie-style homes don’t dominate the lot, its lower profile appeals to homeowners,” McAlexander said. “It’s also an easier home to build and an easier home to maintain, and with that in mind, homeowners take the general concept of the prairie style and add a few 21st century twists to it.”
Prairie-style homes are predominantly known for their use of natural elements and motifs. Stone, brick, stucco or finished wood is layered horizontally, giving the home linear shadow lines and a rich contrast with bold design elements. A variety of geometric shapes and forms inspired by nature are highlighted through window arrangements, columns, low walls and planters. The prairie design works with the landscape rather than against it, both in the interior and exterior.
The most prominent exterior design element is the roof, which utilizes wider overhangs to help emphasize those horizontal lines. In Associated Designs’ Arrowwood home plan, the hip roof profile draws the eye to the horizontal overhangs while the natural, earthy tones of the materials give it a subtle, simplistic feel. It does indeed blend in with the surrounding landscape. And as with all prairie-style homes, the Arrowwood also features a covered porch and a recessed entry.
“Those same natural materials and simple lines are also seen inside the home,” said McAlexander. “This helps complement that warm exterior.”
Quite often, the living space of prairie-style homes is centered on a living room off of the entry. This open space would be separated from the kitchen and dining areas that include exterior windows and doors that open up to outside living spaces, such as the Arrowwood’s back porch. But that is where the Arrowwood’s similarities end.
“Clients these days are looking to keep the traditional low angles and horizontal lines, but combine those ideas with more modern elements such as glass, transom windows and shed roofs,” said McAlexander. “Inside, the popular great room dominates these modern prairie-style homes.”
The classic, prairie-style home interior had more formal, separated spaces, which gave it a more confined and darker feel despite the warmth of the simple, natural tones. By opening up the interior spaces, the modern prairie home has a more connected floor plan. The Arrowwood’s great room flows into the dining and kitchen areas.
Other updates are more subtle, said McAlexander. For instance, the raised entry roof is not a traditional motif in the prairie style, but it adds interest and character to the front elevation while still retaining those classic horizontal lines. The Arrowwood also incorporates some ranch-style exterior elements such as the wider gables, but the natural stone and wood link back to Wright’s original prairie design.
The interior also has gotten a few modern updates. Fewer people are concerned with matching the interior detail with the exterior, so there’s often more color, more depth and more space, such as vaulted ceilings.
“Prairie-style homes are a popular trend today, but as with all trends, people make adjustments to fit their lifestyle or their interests,” said McAlexander. “This doesn’t mean that Wright’s classic prairie-style home is disappearing. It’s more that even the most traditional of lines can go off on a few tangents with often amazing results.”
And that’s always been the case with home design. Victorian homes gave way to prairie-style simplicity, which in turn was replaced by ranch-style living and so on and so forth. Home trends are constantly changing, and that’s what makes the modern prairie-style home design something that can’t be ignored.
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Picture yourself standing in a great hall in a medieval castle. The ceiling soars above you as in a cathedral with a chandelier’s lights twinkling. Your eyes are drawn to the living area and immense stone fireplace, the long dining table in the far corner. The large windows on the left spill natural light into the high-ceilinged room that has likely entertained guests in huge banquets and balls. Your imagination goes wild as you consider all the ways this great room can be utilized for your family and your lifestyle.
Your home could be just like this castle – filled with light and space and greatness.
The concept of a great room is actually nothing new. It began in the castles of Europe, and fell by the way side in the 1900s as living rooms and family rooms were built as separate spaces in houses. In the 1990s, developers across America were getting few demands for great rooms. Now, however, the demand for great rooms has risen to epic proportions. It has, in fact, become the biggest trend in housing development in the last few years, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In Associated Designs’ 2016 Home from the Heart Survey, 86% of respondents wanted a great room in their dream home.
“The idea of a great room is fairly simple,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “It’s a large, multipurpose room that’s centralized in the design of the home. There are no walls separating the living room, family room and kitchen. It simply flows.”
A family room is where you and your family gather with friends, watch TV, relax and play games. The living room’s purpose is more formal. A great room, in a sense, combines the good of each of those rooms into one centralized, gathering space. Builders in a 2013 NAHB survey, described great rooms as some combination of family room, living room, dining room and kitchen, but it is not confined to just those rooms and can include a study area or a kitchen nook.
But a home with a great room doesn’t necessarily mean the square footage is high. While most homes with great rooms are more than 2,000 square feet, according to the NAHB, the concept of a centralized, multipurpose room can be utilized in smaller homes, too.
“It’s not reserved for mansions,” said McAlexander. “The great room is about allowing movement in a house so that you aren’t confining living rooms and family rooms and kitchens to specific spaces. They are all connected in some way.”
There are two basic iterations of the great room: a true great room in which one large room contains the kitchen, living room, family room and dining room with no separation, and an open living style great room that provides some separation.
A true great room, like the one in Associated Designs’ Stratford 30-615 design, blends several rooms into one large space, each connected to the other. In the Stratford design, the kitchen, dining room and vaulted living room flow together in one expansive gathering space with a fireplace, wood box and window seat.
“A true great room can be a combination of several types of spaces, and that’s what this design does,” said McAlexander. “You have a centralized living space where everything happens.”
The open living style great room takes the grandness of the room and redefines it with slight separation. It’s still a great room, as all the rooms flow together, but there are clear delineations for each area’s purpose. The kitchen, for example, may be clearly marked by a curved countertop as in the Heartington 10-550 design. And while a true great room has vaulted ceilings, an open living style usually doesn’t. The bright and spacious living area in the Heartington is balanced by, and open to, the comfortably large kitchen and nook, but each space is set apart from the other.
“It’s still open and flowing, and you aren’t confined to putting a singular purpose onto one area of the great room,” said McAlexander. “But some areas are clearly allocated a purpose. It allows for freedom of movement while still providing some order.”
Every man’s home is his castle, or so the saying goes, which means a great room can be utilized and designed in any way that suits your family, your lifestyle or your personality. As more and more homes are designed with great rooms, there will be countless versions and countless ways in which they will be used. In the end, that’s the beauty of the great room – a gathering space of infinite possibilities.
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The Columbine is a charming cottage duplex plan which has two unique units. Unit A is 1-1/2 stories and offers an owners' suite and great room on the main floor with two secondary bedrooms and a full bathroom on the second level. This unit also has a tandum garage that can park up to two cars deep. Unit B is a little smaller and features two main floor bedrooms, a great room, and a single car garage. This duplex is designed for maximum privacy the only shared wall between each unit is between the garages.
We've been busy here at Associated Designs and we're happy to showcase several new house plans now available. All of the new designs feature the great room concept and range from compact to mid-sized homes.
- Traditional House Plan
- 1497 Square Feet
- Compact Floor Plan
- Split Bedrooms
- Bungalow House Plan
- 1859 Square Feet
- Covered Front Porch
- Corner Fireplace
- Ranch House Plan
- 2017 Square Feet
- Split Bedrooms
- Craftsman-style House Plan
- 1819 Square Feet
- Large Kitchen
- Walk-In Shower
- Craftman-style house plan
- 2015 Square Feet
- Great Room
Craftsman-style windows and slender columns create a warm, natural feel to the Eastgate, a compact ranch home plan. Wide windows brighten the expansive living room and dining area, open to the kitchen which features an island with eating bar and corner walk-in pantry. A single door in the dining area opens onto a partially covered patio.