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26th Nov, 2021
Articles, Blog

You’ve made the decision you want to take on a construction project. Whether or not that is your next home or a detached garage addition to your existing property, knowing how to study floor plans to determine if the design is right for you is an important tool to have.

“Whether you are looking to work with a professional designer to create a custom design or are walking through open houses, you need to evaluate each room and how the layout of the home comes together. What you are seeing may not be the ideal way the floor plan should be laid out. The key is bringing in your lifestyle and how you and your family use a space to make sure it is right for you.” – Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs.

While this may seem daunting, Associated Designs has put together four tips and tricks that will have you reviewing floor plans like a professional designer.


A home design needs to allow for easy flow. What does that mean? The flow of a floor plan is all about movement. Is there a reason for a wall to be where it is? Are there dead ends? How rooms transition and are connected is key to a good fit.

“Measuring the natural flow of a design can be as simple as counting how many steps between the kitchen and dining room,” says McAlexander. “For instance is the dining room is a fair distance away from the kitchen, there is something wrong with the floor plan. How you move from room to room and how you move within a room matters.”

As your study floor plans, try to envision moving through the different rooms. Also give consideration to how you live in your current home. What elements do you like? If you like having your bedroom removed from the hustle and bustle of the living area then make sure the design you are looking at has a similar layout. Just as important as what you like about your current home are what elements would you change? If you dislike having your laundry room between the kitchen and garage make sure that the floor plan you are considering has it located near the bedrooms.

Outdoor Living

A frequently overlooked design feature is the outdoor space. We’ve seen over the last year a spike in the desire for outdoor living proving that living space isn’t just limited to the living room. Consider how you entertain, do you spread out and allow guests to mingle in the living room, dining room, kitchen, or backyard? If outdoor entertaining is in the mix than making sure your patio or porch is built with that functionality in mind.

“Make sure to consider how much outdoor living or entertaining space you will need,” said McAlexander. “A reoccurring piece of advice to keep in mind regardless of the space being considered is – if there is something about your current home’s outdoor space that you like, be sure your new home has the same qualities. You want to have an equally comfortable exterior when compared to the interior.”

For example if the beautiful farmhouse you are looking at offers a thin front covered porch and expansive back covered porch with outdoor kitchen. If you love grilling and preparing meals while enjoying the outdoors and can picture sunny, summer dinners with friends and family here than this feature is a good fit. If you enjoy a warm beverage on the front porch enjoying the sunrise or greeting neighbors out on a stroll you may find that thin covered space isn’t big enough for your favorite chair or porch swing. A simple modification to the floor plan may be required to make the front covered porch a more usable space.

Natural Light

Just as important as the size of the kitchen is how much natural light will shine in. A home design that does not offer ample light can feel dark and dreary. Each room should have a window as natural light has a large impact on the feel of your home.

“As you consider floor plans you want to make sure that you consider where the sun will be. A design may appear to be filled with windows but if the direction of your home or lot is not considered you may not get the full effect of those windows,” says McAlexander.

Natural light is a simple but powerful influence when it comes to long term happiness in your home. Too little light and your modern prairie home will feel like a cave so don’t forget to give special attention to windows.

Labeled Spaces

The final tip for studying floor plans is about flexibility. Many of the pre-designed floor plans you’ll find online offer a labeled floor plan telling you what each room is intended to be. Keep in mind these labels are insight from the designer about how they saw the space being used but that shouldn’t limit the potential of the room.

If you need a home office or exercise studio and the floor plan you are considering has a formal dining room you don’t see using then that space can be turned into what you need. Similarly four bedroom house plans are not just for large families. If you desire a guest room and two home offices than a four bedroom house plan could be your solution.

“Remember as you study different floor plans the design is open to interpretation, specifically your interpretation,” says McAlexander. “You can decide how that extra room should be used regardless of how the space is labeled on the floor plan.”

For more design trends and pro tips check out other great articles on our House Plan Blog!

5th Nov, 2021
Announcements, Articles, Blog

There has been a lot of buzz around how will urban areas continue to grow and provide an array of housing opportunities. In an effort to take a step towards solving this question many cities are looking to accessory dwellings or secondary dwellings, but what exactly is an ADU?

Secondary dwellings can come in a variety of types from attached dwellings located above a garage or in the basement level of the primary home; Associated Designs has seen a raise for detached dwellings more commonly referred to as backyard cottages, granny flats, or carriage houses. ADUs come in a range of sizes from 250 square feet tiny homes to 800 or 1000 square foot cottages. They are constructed on lots that already have a primary residence and are a great option for those looking to generate extra income from rental property or are looking to help adult children or aging parents.

Highlighted are three trending secondary dwelling plans created by Associated Designs talented team of home designers.

Iris Cottage 31-283

Country Iris Cottage ADU Exterior

Modern elegance blends with country simplicity to create an eye catching exterior to the Iris Cottage. At 800 square feet this backyard cottage offers an affordable design with its open floor plan and shed roof. The great room has a vaulted ceiling that opens to a clerestory, flooding the room with natural light. On warm summer days the double sliding glass door opens the great room to the large covered patio. An island with eating bar provides some visual separation between the kitchen and the living area while adding to the available seating. The ceiling drops towards the back of the cottage where two bedrooms are located that share a compartmentalized bathroom. One of the bedrooms has direct access to the full bathroom giving it the feeling of a master suite.

Birkland 31-186

Birkland Modern ADU Exterior Rendering

A trio of textures graces the front of the Birkland secondary structure. Vaulted ceilings add to the spaciousness of this otherwise tiny house plan. At 460 square feet this modern design offers a living area that can be shielded from the front door by a sliding bar door. The entry opens up immediately into the kitchen which offers ladder access to the attic that is open to the living area below. Tucked away in a hallway closet is a stacking washer and dryer which is just steps away from the vaulted bedroom.

Aspen Cottage 31-290

Craftsman Aspen Cottage Secondary Structure

A delightful blend of country and Craftsman styling work in harmony to create this charming 795 square foot accessory structure. The Aspen Cottage is a two-story accessory dwelling unit offers a pleasant separation of living and sleeping areas. On the first floor is the open great room which extends to the kitchen and is only separated by an eating bar. Steps away from the kitchen are a couple of storage closets – one of which could be utilized as a pantry. A full bathroom with corner shower is also on the main floor across from the stacking washer and dryer tucked under the staircase. On the second floor are two bedrooms with 9’ ceilings that share the homes second full bathroom.

These three charming accessory dwelling units give an idea of the diversity in style and floor plan layout. Each building jurisdiction has different requirements so it is important before starting on your own backyard cottage build to check-in with your building jurisdiction to make sure they allow secondary structures and what requirements the design will need to meet. If you fall in love with one of Associated Designs accessory dwelling designs their modification or custom design services can help you tailor the design to your property and goals. Check out the entire collection at

1st Nov, 2021
Articles, Blog

The farmhouse home design has long been a quaint, idyllic reminder of the very best of country living.

But as families have flocked to more urban locales in recent years, they’ve found that there are plenty of ways to combine the classic farmhouse charm with contemporary specifications.

As a contrast to the sprawling, functional farmhouses that have been a staple of rural communities, farmhouse designs in the 1,500 to 2,500 square foot range have become increasingly popular in cities and suburbs alike.

The House Plan Company has put together a collection of new, small farmhouse plans that appeal to any owner’s tastes, despite a smaller footprint.

The #27667 design featured on The House Plan Company is a perfect example. Created by Jandi Designs, Inc. and coming in at just under 1,700 square feet, this single-story farmhouse plan fits three bedrooms, including a separated master bedroom, two full baths and a two-car garage, around a large great room and adjoining, open kitchen and dining room. The exterior evokes the classic farmhouse of memory, complete with exterior siding, and a large front porch that is screened to the side of the front entrance, all supported by vertical wooden posts.

For those looking for slightly cozier quarters, the #76091 design created by Design Basics may be an ideal fit. The 1,600-square-foot plan tucks an owners’ suite and two additional bedrooms around a corner family room, kitchen and dining area. The plan includes an optional covered rear patio, adding some flair to this quaint wood framed plan with stick roof framing.

Some owners may prefer a bit more space to stretch out. For those farmhouse hunters, the Wesson #97194 plan by Associated Designs offers everything one could ask for, all in one story. At just over 2,400 square feet, it offers an exterior of stone, board and batten siding and shingle, beneath a combination stick and truss roof frame. Inside, vaulted ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur throughout much of the house, from the open great room, dining room and kitchen, and huge owners’ suite with master bath and full walk-in closet. A vaulted covered rear deck includes an outdoor kitchen, making for a perfect location for barbecues or dinners with guests. A guest room, adjoining bathroom and small office on the opposite side of the house could easily be converted into an apartment unit.

A signature of the classic farmhouse plan is the porch, and the #48721 plan doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Created by Legacy Home Plans, the nearly 2,300-square-foot design has a two-story floor plan with dual master suites, one on the main floor and one on the second floor, as well as a vaulted great room and kitchen, secondary bedrooms on each floor, and an attached two-car garage. But the highlight may be the covered porch that wraps completely around three sides of the home, creating an outdoor oasis to take in the scenery all around.

Finally, the Tall Cedar #30926 design by Sketch Pad House Plans recreates the idyllic feel of a farmhouse on just about any type of lot. The design has a sharp eye for detail, from its wood frame exterior and truss roofing to the exterior window shutters and covered porch supported by wooden posts. Inside, the two-story plan fits a ground-floor master bedroom, spacious kitchen, dining and living room, plus two second-floor bedrooms and a loft, all in just over 1,900 square feet.





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