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3rd Oct, 2016
Articles, Blog

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.

Great Room, Stratford 30-615, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan Great Room, Stratford 30-615, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan
Stratford's Great Room 

“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.

Great Room, Heartington 10-550, Ranch House Plan, Home Plan Great Room, Heartington 10-550, Ranch House Plan, Home Plan
Heartington's Great Room

“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. 

As seen on Newswire
30th Sep, 2016
Blog, New Home Plans

Duplex Plan, Multi Family Home Plan, House Plan, Columbine 60-046

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.

26th Sep, 2016
Blog, New Home Plans

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, Home Plan, Ferndale 31-026

Ferndale 31-026

  • Traditional House Plan
  • 1497 Square Feet
  • Compact Floor Plan
  • Split Bedrooms

Bungalow House Plan, Home Plan, Nanucket 31-027

Nantucket 31-027

  • Bungalow House Plan
  • 1859 Square Feet 
  • Covered Front Porch
  • Den
  • Corner Fireplace

Ranch House Plan, Home Plan, Dahlia 31-041

Dahlia 31-041

  • Ranch House Plan
  • 2017 Square Feet
  • Den
  • Split Bedrooms

Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, Gardenia 31-048

Gardenia 31-048

  • Craftsman-style House Plan
  • 1819 Square Feet
  • Large Kitchen
  • Walk-In Shower

Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, Northampton 31-052

Northampton 31-052

  • Craftman-style house plan
  • 2015 Square Feet
  • Great Room
  • Den
26th Sep, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Brynwood 30-430, European House Plan, Home Plan

Soaring arches blend with custom stone masonry in the European-style Brynwood, creating a visually intriguing front facade. 

Bright and spacious gathering spaces complete the ground floor in this luxury, three-level house plan. Bedrooms are located upstairs, and a three-car garage, plus a plenty of extra storage space, are below, accessed via a down-sloping driveway on the left.

Natural light flows into the foyer through sidelights and an elliptical arched transom. Straight ahead is a vaulted, richly windowed great room. On the foyer's left, a wide opening leads into the dining room. To the right, an alcove holds a walk-in coat closet and convenient powder room, which is linked to a larger bathroom, and a hobby or guest room.

Pocket doors at the rear of the dining room reveal or conceal a passageway to the large kitchen. The bayed nook has plenty of windows and additional windows in front of the sink offers views of the patio and rear yard. A cozy window seat lines one side of the nook; a pantry and built-in desk nestle into the other.

This area is also offers plenty of storage and counter space. Utilities are closeby, along with a toilet and a walk-in pantry.

Upstairs, skylights brighten the luxurious vaulted owners' suite. Features here include: a large walk-in closet, walk-in shower, a corner soaking tub, a private balcony deck with hot tub, and a study.

Two more bedrooms share a jack-n-jill bathroom. A vaulted loft with a balcony provides separation between the owners' suite and secondary bedrooms. 

19th Sep, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Contemporary House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, Westbrook 30-065

Raised brick planters and a lofty brick-columned portico give a sense of solidity to the Westbrook, a spacious contemporary ranch-style home that offers a wide selection of living environments. 

Sidelights and transom windows frame the door in the entrance. Entering, you find yourself in an octagonal foyer with an 11-foot tray ceiling.

The library and parlor feature 11-foot ceilings. The dining room has a step-tray ceiling that's nearly 10 feet high, and a built-in buffet/hutch.

The large kitchen features a center work island and large walk-in pantry as well as cupboards and counters on three sides. Windows brighten the area while columns mark the boundary between kitchen and vaulted family room.

French doors open on a charming side courtyard where brick columns support an overhead arbor of open beams. Another set of French doors leads to a large partially covered rear patio.

A long plant shelf spans the passageway leading to the secondary bedrooms. Each of these bedrooms has a boxed-bay window seat with storage below, and share a large bathroom with a dual vanity.

Amenities in the luxurious owners' suite include a large walk-in closet and as spacious bathroom with walk-in shower, spa tub, private toilet, and double vanity.

Utilities are centrally located in a large utility room that is easy to access from the three-car garage or the family room.

12th Sep, 2016
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Ranch style home plan, Eastgate 31-047

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.

12th Sep, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Ridgeline 10-062, Lodge House Plan, Home Plan

The Ridgeline's contemporary floor plan may come as a delightful surprise for this log home. Stacks of peeled logs, accented by wide expanses of glass, form the exterior of this home. Corners are overlapped in the traditional scribe fit.

What's not traditional is the hexagonal shape and the naturally bright interior. Every room is richly windowed and allows for full appreciation of a view to the rear, whether is a mountain range, river or canyon. At the back sliding glass doors in the great room open onto a wide, railed deck that wraps around three sides.

A pot-bellied wood stove on a hexagonal stone hearth is at the heart of the spacious vaulted great room. Exposed roof beams sweep up to a lofty central peak over the stove.

The kitchen is in the left side, next to the great room and open to it. Range and oven face into the open space, across the eating penninsula. This compact kitchen, has plenty of counter and cupboard space, and a built-in dishwasher. Utilities are tucked into an alcove hidden by folding doors.

Both bedrooms are private, located on the far ends of the rectangular wings up front. The owners' suite has a large closet, linen storage and a private bathroom with an oversized shower. The second bedroom shares the main bathroom, which has a combined tub and shower.

A railed, vaulted covered entry porch extends a warm welcome to family and guests. Coat closets and storage space are just inside the front door.

8th Sep, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman House Plan, Home lan, Belknap 30-771

Craftsman detailing creates nostalgic charm to the Belknap house plan. Notice the gridded window uppers and the stone veneer clad post supports. An old- fashioned wooden porch swing would be nice on the covered front porch or handsome wicker furniture would work well too.

On the main floor, formal and informal gathering spaces fill the left side. A den, utility room, half bath, and luxurious owners' suite are on the right side, along with direct access to the garage. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a study are upstairs.

The living room and den are well separated from the more relaxed family living areas at the rear. The foyer is open to the living room, while den access is around the corner to the right. The foyer takes you directly to the kitchen, while turning left at the stairs brings you into a bright and expansive two-story great room. Craftsman windows on two levels flank the fireplace.

Twin sets of continental columns line the wide opening between the great room and vaulted dining room. A sliding glass doors at the rear of the dining room offer increased air circulation, and easy access to a covered patio.

An open passageway and a long raised eating counter bound the dining room and efficient kitchen. Standing at the cooktop, you can talk to people in the dining room and see out onto the patio. The kitchen sink offers a wide view of the rear yard.

The vaulted owners' suite has windows that face the back yard, along with three slender side windows. Luxury amenities include a deep walk-in closet, dual vanity, a shower, spa tub, and totally private toilet.

6th Sep, 2016
Articles, Blog

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.

Custom Home Design, Custom House Plans

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. 

As seen on Newswire
26th Aug, 2016
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Home Plan, Craftsman House Plan, Azalea 31-028

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.

22nd Aug, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, Ellington 30-242

Four gables accented by a decorative corbel, lend an open, friendly look to the Ellington house plan. Gentle arches, Craftsman-style windows and stone veneer wainscoting all add to the curb appeal. With the exception of the bonus room over the garage, this is a single level plan.

A bright and spacious vaulted living area fills the core of this home. Sunlight flows into the living room from the rear through two windows and atrium glass doors. The doors access a patio or deck, and provide plenty of air circulation when needed.

Dining room and kitchen are next to each other, partially separated by an eating bar. Standing at the sink, you have a view of the gathering spaces as well as the patio and landscape outside. Utilities are closeby, hidden behind a pocket door and doubles as a mudroom from the garage area. 

Double doors next to a charming arched display cove open into the luxurious owners' suite. In addition to direct patio access, additional features include: a large walk-in closet, twin vanity, a spa tub awash in the soft light filtered through glass blocks, and separately enclosed shower and toilet.

Stairs from the kitchen lead up to a skylit bonus room with a half bath.

15th Aug, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Log Home Plan, Cabin Plan, House Plan, Clarkridge 30-267

The window-bright log home, the Clarkridge, is designed for construction as a cozy vacation retreat that could easily be used as a year-round residence. 

Log exteriors are noted for their ease of maintenance, and equally impressive for their natural insulating qualities. Interior walls can be as rustic or sophisticated as the owners' tastes.

The great room and kitchen flow together, creating a large great room, naturally lit by the light that flows in through six large windows and two small ones. The high ceiling is vaulted, that adds to the sense of spaciousness.

Modern and well equipped, the kitchen is large for a home with only 960 square feet of interior living space. Oven, microwave and dishwasher are built-ins, and the work island features a cooktop.

Cabinets below boost storage capacity, and the island adds more counter space. A roomy pantry is located around the corner, right past the compact combination washer/dryer. Another storage area is in the space by the rear door. Pegs here would be ideal for hanging coats, and it has a few shelves above.

A vaulted ceiling adds volume to the bedroom. It has a front-facing window, a closet, and another storage section with built-in shelves. The study could be used as another bedroom, if desired. 

The bathroom is compact but has an oversized shower, and is conveniently located for quick access through the screened porch and rear door.

8th Aug, 2016
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Country House Plan, Home Plan, Heartridge 10-250

The country style Heartridge offers a very welcoming exterior flare. Elements lending to that feeling include: perky front gables with half-round windows, a wide wrap around porch, and a bank of front facing windows. Brick work adds a contemporary flavor.

Inside the home, the vaulted great room is bright and spacious.  A fireplace that separates the living area from the kitchen can be enjoyed from either room. In the kitchen, skylights provide natural light as well as the garden window and bayed nook. A small skylit covered deck is nice for outdoor dining.

An eating bar provides a place for guests or family to sit and enjoy the company in the kitchen. The walk-in pantry is close by, and utility room is tucked in a pass through space that connects to the garage.

Bay windows in the dining room and den look onto the porch. The office/den, equipped with double doors and private access to the hall bathroom, could also serve as a guest room.

A vaulted ceiling adds to the elegance of the owners' suite. Other luxury amenities include: a bayed sitting area, large walk-in closet, extra large tub and shower, and twin basins.

On the second floor, a bridge overlooks the great room and entry. The two bedrooms are large, with graceful half-round windows. Down the hall is a two section bathroom. Extra storage, or living space, could be created in the bonus room over the garage, and still more attic space is behind the bathroom.

1st Aug, 2016
Articles, Blog

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.

Manor Heart 10-590

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. 

As seen on Newswire
28th Jul, 2016
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Mediterranean House Plan, Home Plan, Yaquina 31-025

With plenty of Mediterranean charm the Yaquina is designed to fit well on a corner building lot. Gathering spaces are at the core of the home with a formal dining room towards the front and living room is towards the rear. The entire left side of the home is the owners' suite, bath and walk-in closet. A secondary bedroom and guest suite are on the right side.


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