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.
At some point, in your journey to find the ideal home that’s right for you and your family, you’ll realize that even the most well-designed plan doesn’t have everything you want. The rooms may be too small, the kitchen without sufficient storage. There may be a bonus room, but the bonus room is set up as a den and you want a playroom and an office. All the pieces are there, but nothing is fitting the way you want it to.
There are thousands of home plans on the Internet to choose from and any one of them can be modified to fit your needs, but that’s not the only solution available. Custom designed homes are one-of-a-kind and designed from scratch, and allow for the greatest advantages in any type of lot or home size. For the homeowner, it’s the path to originality.
“It’s not just about big, expensive houses or hard and difficult lots,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs, Inc. “It’s about getting what you want in your home.”
In fact, most prospective homeowners have goals and dreams that are unique to them – whether it’s vaulted ceilings or a guest suite above the garage or a home office space. These unique conditions or ideas may not be found in a typical pre-designed home. So the point of custom designed homes is that you are given greater control of the design. It’s your personality, your characteristics that are put down on paper – not someone else’s.
“Oftentimes,” said McAlexander, “people gravitate to custom designed homes because they have these unique objectives that don’t fit into what they’ve seen in their Internet browsing. That’s where a custom design comes into play.”
With a designer at your back, the first step to custom design is to analyze what your needs are and what your goals as a homeowner are. This might begin with a typical search online for home plans. These home plans provide ideas and concepts that give you a place to start. In many ways, the online search is a tool that can be used not only for ideas but also for your own education. The more you know about homes, the more likely you’ll be able to explain your dreams to the designer.
A lot of times, the goals are conflicting and designers can help turn a dream into reality. During the initial discussions, the designer will ask a lot of questions that will help pinpoint exactly what it is you desire – from number of rooms to bonus rooms, to master bathroom requirements, to office space essentials.
“Asking questions evolves into more questions and follow-up questions,” said McAlexander. “More often than not, the designer wants to know what you, the homeowner, aren’t telling him because you don’t see another option or alternative. This is a common question asked of clients because the ultimate goal of a custom designed home is to put all the options on the table and piece them together into your dream home.”
Since a custom design starts with a blank piece of paper, these questions help the designer highlight an essential design or concept that you want from which the rest of the house can be designed around such as a fireplace, a vaulted living room or a large country kitchen. Other times, the design discussion will center on space, layout and room purpose. For instance, if you desire a bonus room, the question may revolve around why you want the room and what it will be used for.
“The bonus room concept has evolved over the last 10 to 15 years, but everyone uses them a little differently,” said McAlexander. “Since the home is being customized, there is a greater ability to make the room work for you. And depending on what you use it for, there may be a better approach to the design. The designer essentially becomes the puzzle master. Your ideas are the pieces to the puzzle, and when all the pieces fit, the home comes together.”
Custom designed homes are therefore not just for the dreamer who wants the big ranch house on a huge plot of land with amazing views. It’s for everyone. Your unique ideas for a small house or a big house, on a small lot or a big lot, can be tailored to fit exactly what you’ve been dreaming of since you first started thinking about a house of your own.
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Full of Craftsman-style charm the Azalea house plan is very welcoming. Upon entering the home, you step into a foyer with an extra tall, 10' ceiling. On the right is a vaulted den which could also be used as a study or home office. From there you walk-into a bright and open vaulted living room with a fireplace tucked into the corner. The bedroom wing is on the left side of the house and the owners' suite at the rear of the home. Up the set of stairs is a bonus room.
As homeowners, we adapt to all sorts of changes. A college student returns and needs a place to stay; your job is now based out of the home and you need a designated office space. As the family changes, so do lifestyle preferences, space considerations, storage needs and so on. Soon enough, we start to see that it’s not just us who need to adapt. Our homes should adapt to us too. Each stage of our lives requires us to adapt, and so must our living space.
A house, therefore, isn’t just a box with a set number of rooms that never changes; it’s an opportunity.
A growing trend among homeowners revolves around this idea of adaptability and flexibility; dens, offices, basements, bonus rooms and the like are flex spaces whose function can change with demand. But the ultimate goal behind these adaptable home designs is to allow families to age in place without having to periodically pack up their bags, load a moving van, and relocate to a new home.
Adaptable homes or floor plans are homes that feature flexible rooms such as bonus spaces and basements that can serve multiple purposes as your needs change.
“A home needs flexibility,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs Inc. “Any homeowner can buy a house with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room and a family room. But to truly live in the home and be comfortable with it for years and years, it needs to adapt to the homeowner as their needs change. Life is rarely ever as simple as a box.”
For example, a den can be an office, a media room or a study. A bonus room can be made into a children’s playroom that transitions into a bedroom for returning college students. And as the kids move out, secondary bedrooms can serve as guest bedrooms or hobby rooms. The options are endless.
“This is what we call ‘aging in place,’ the idea that homes can be lived in longer if they could be modified and adjusted as the years go by,” said McAlexander.
The “aging in place” concept has gained prominence in the home design industry, as evidenced by Associated Designs most recent Home from the Heart Surveys. Ninety-six percent of homeowners want the option of a forever-home, and the ability to adjust the living space of that home. This trend coincides with the 95% of 2016 survey respondents who desire a single-level home, since single-level homes can be lived in longer than two-story homes.
Associated Designs’ Manor Heart home design 10-590 showcases the adaptable home concept. A single-level home with a den, a bonus room above the garage, two secondary bedrooms, extra storage, and a vaulted great room, the home is the right blend of spaces for all potential homeowners.
“There’s a little something for everyone in this home design,” said McAlexander. “The bonus room in particular has so many possibilities – from recreation room, to guest house, to home office. It can be whatever you want it to be.”
From a young family in need of a playroom, to a middle-aged couple with kids away at college, to the empty nester in need of a relaxing study and a fun hobby space, the home flexes and bends with the needs of the family. And at 2,200 square feet, it fits nicely into the national averages of what future homebuyers are looking for.
Change happens, and when it does, we make room, we adjust and we reconfigure our plans so that the change becomes an opportunity for bigger and better things. Adaptable floor plans that allow us to age with the home, to be creative with our living space, means we don’t live in a box. Like us, the home adapts – and we build a forever home.
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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.
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.