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2nd Oct, 2019
Articles, Blog

In the words of celebrity chef and TV personality Rachael Ray, “Good food and a warm kitchen is what makes a house a home.” Today’s kitchens serve so many purposes in the daily life of a family from a cozy place to gather over a home-cooked meal to a makeshift craft room for kids’ art projects to an office for paying bills and doing homework. While American kitchen designs have evolved over the decades, one thing has remained constant: Kitchens have endured as the social hub in every home.

“Kitchens are the hub of all things social in homes today. As a result, we continue to see the trend towards larger kitchens in floor plans as most, if not all of the room, opens to other living space to allow seamless interaction among living, dining and cooking areas,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon.

In McAlexander’s contemporary farmhouse plan, Myrtlewood #82013, the kitchen is the centerpiece of the home. In this design, the open plan kitchen takes up most of the square footage and encompasses a breakfast nook, great room and dining area. An oversized island with a built-in stovetop and overhead hanging rack for cookware anchors the space.

“Islands continue to be popular and have been gaining functionality by allowing homeowners to cook and prepare food while interacting with guests, much like a ‘chef’s table’ concept in restaurants today,” explained McAlexander.

In the contemporary stone and stucco house plan, Boulder #26815 by Dan Tyree of Tyree House Plans in Tennessee, an L-shaped kitchen island features a cooktop and double sinks along with plenty of seating. The island also serves to separate an open kitchen from dining and living room areas.

Similarly, Jon Rentfrow of Rentfrow Design in Colorado, creates home plans with open concept kitchen, dining and living room areas, such as his contemporary craftsman-style design, Bozeman Trail #15635. In this floor plan, the kitchen and dining area comprise one large space with a multi-functional island as the centerpiece that opens to a great room and a large covered patio for easy outdoor living.

Aside from large islands and an abundance of open space, other trends in kitchens today include unique cabinet designs and storage options, coffee and wine bar nooks, and even indoor/outdoor serving bars.

“One element that seems to be making a resurgence is the serving bar, opening kitchens to outdoor living space with the use of a roll-up door to create the sense of an outdoor kitchen,” said McAlexander.

 

As seen on PRUnderground

 

19th Sep, 2019
Articles, Blog

Downsizing your home is sometimes necessary. In some cases, you’ve lost your home and need to move into a smaller space. In other situations, you might be tired of cleaning and maintaining such a large space and decide that living smaller is the best way to go. Regardless of how you get here, just know that many people find it hard to produce beautiful tiny room ideas. But this shouldn’t hold you back.

Instead of needlessly struggling, let us lend a helping hand. We have plenty of great ideas to help you get started. Whether you plan to install white shaker cabinets in your kitchen, or completely renovate your bedroom or bathroom, these ideas can help make this transition go much smoother.

So take a moment or two to review our five tiny yet beautiful room ideas below. And use them to make your small home look and feel like a gorgeous mansion!

1. Fill Your Home with Smaller Furniture

When you move into a smaller place, you often discover that your furniture is much too big for you new digs. So you can approach this move one of two ways.

You can cram your small apartment or tiny house with all of your large furniture and stuff. Or you can put it all for sale on eBay or Craigslist and use the money toward buying new or used smaller furniture. How you go about this is up to you.

By getting smaller furniture, you’ll feel like you have a lot more room to move and breathe. You’ll feel like the space has opened up for you now that it isn’t so cluttered. And you’ll feel much better about your home because you aren’t constantly bumping into the coffee table or sofa or other large furniture. The space becomes much more livable once you downsize your furniture.

2. Find Additional Space on Unused Surfaces

Most people complain that they don’t have enough space when living in a smaller home or apartment. But oftentimes they fail to utilize all of their existing space because they aren’t used to thinking outside the box. This has to change.

Take a walk through your home. What do you see? Most likely you’ve noticed untapped decorating space waiting for you to spruce it up.

Some examples of unused decorating space include: walls, window sills, baskets, storage bins, kitchen tables, dining tables, office desks, and more. Just remember that each home or apartment is unique. You may have available surfaces that no one else has, so look for them and use them to decorate your place.

has, so look for them and use them to decorate your place.

3. Replace Floor or Desk Lamps with Ceiling or Wall Mounted Options

Are you tired of running out of room on your cluttered desk? Are you sick of constantly tripping over your standing lamp on the floor because there just isn’t enough room for it? It’s time to get rid of these lamps altogether and upgrade to a better option.

What option? The best lighting option for small apartments and houses is wall mounted lamps or chandeliers hung from the ceiling.

They both make excellent choices for a few reasons. One, they don’t take up surface spaces. Two, they provide ample lighting for your rooms. And three, they eliminate clutter, which is what you’re undoubtedly striving for.

 

4. Take Advantage of All of Your Vertical Space

New tinier home occupants often overlook their vertical space. This is a big mistake because this space is perfect for storing your stuff and decorating your home. So don’t overlook these blank canvases.

For starters, vertical space is perfect for storing stuff. Do you need more room to store utensils? How about hanging hooks on the backs of cabinet doors and hanging them there? Have you run out of room for your pots and pans? You can also hang them on the backs of cabinet doors or hang them directly from the walls in your kitchen. While you’re at it, look for more space for extra storage and more places to decorate and we bet you’ll find plenty.

5. Add Large Rugs to Your Home

This tip will help provide the illusion of a bigger home/room. But it isn’t going to actually give you extra space. So add the biggest neutral rugs to your rooms and they will appear much larger than they are. It’s a simple trick of the eye but it works.

Bottom Line

Right now, you aren’t nearly as worried as you were regarding your smaller home. You now have the knowledge and information to decorate your tiny space and make it appear much bigger.

So use these suggestions to your benefit at your earliest convenience. Your small home or apartment will look gorgeously stunning in no time flat if you take our suggestions and run with them.

 

 

 

4th Sep, 2019
Articles, Blog

As two of the most used spaces in any home, today’s kitchens and bath designs are loaded with innovative features, smart technology and a lot of attention to detail. Designers whose home plans are featured by The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon, note the following trends this year in kitchen and bath designs:

  • Larger kitchen islands for casual dining and entertaining in place of breakfast nooks.
  • Upper kitchen cabinets being replaced by more windows and open shelving.
  • Built-in coffee bars in kitchens, in butler’s pantries and even in master suites.
  • Smart technology in kitchen gadgets and appliances from lighting to faucets.
  • Spacious walk-in showers are replacing the traditional tub and shower configuration in all of the bathrooms, not just the master suite.
  • “Wet rooms” are gaining in popularity, in which the bathtub in enclosed in the same area as the walk-in shower.
  • Clean, streamlined kitchen designs and spa-like bath designs to create stress-free environments.

Laura Dowds, owner of Dowds Design Collection in North Carolina, “I’m designing more spare bedrooms with individual baths that feature all of the same amenities as a master suite bath for families with older children, while families with younger children still like the concept of a shared Jack & Jill bath.”

In Dowd’s craftsman-style bungalow house plan, Green Haven #68436, the master suite is situated on one side of the main living space for greater privacy while two additional bedrooms sharing a Jack & Jill bath are located on the other side. In her modern farmhouse plan, Clarendon C #66809, the kitchen features an oversized island for casual meals, a walk-in pantry and a butler’s pantry leading into the dining area.

“When I create a kitchen design for clients today, their top priority is that the space be designed as family-centered, open and interactive. The kitchen area is no longer separate from other living spaces – it is the main entertainment area of the home,” explained Ken Pieper, owner of Ken Pieper and Associates of Colorado. “The thematic design must be well thought out, giving careful consideration to materials, fabric and colors, as well as the overall layout of the space.”

Pieper’s traditional Castle Hill #66429 house plan, featured by The House Plan Company, boasts an enormous country-style kitchen with a warming fireplace (or wood-fired oven), large kitchen island and a walk-in pantry. An open layout, abundance of windows and direct access to an outdoor patio make this kitchen the perfect space for gathering with family and entertaining guests.

Another great example of a spacious open kitchen with a large island, walk-in pantry and space for a coffee bar is The House Plan Company’s Lancaster #58893 house plan, a modern farmhouse design by Drummond House Plans in Quebec, Canada. This home design features a luxurious kitchen that opens to the dining room and main living space.

For a vast collection of house plans featuring today’s trends in kitchens and baths, visit www.thehouseplancompany.com.

As seen on Newswire

 

30th Jul, 2019
Articles, Blog

2 Bedroom House Plan, Tetherow 31-019, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan

The demand for new home designs that feature a one-story open floor plan with just two bedrooms is on the rise today thanks to the massive wave of baby boomers who are willing to sacrifice size for something that requires less maintenance yet is still luxurious.

According to a recent housing survey by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than half of U.S. households today are headed by someone over the age of 50 and by 2030, the population of baby boomers ages 65 and older will skyrocket to 73 million. Consequently, as baby boomers enter their golden years of retirement, the rambling three- to five- bedroom house where they have raised a family now seems entirely overwhelming after the children have grown and left the nest.

“Many clients come to us looking to downsize for retirement purposes and focus on the design features that will be useful to them as they age, which includes giving up the third bedroom and going against one of real estate’s golden rules of ‘no less than three bedrooms or it won’t sell’,” explained Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon. “By letting go of the third bedroom in a house plan, homeowners can dedicate space to other areas that may bring them greater satisfaction, such as a craft or hobby room, private study, media room or bar,” he added.

Jon Rentfrow, owner of Rentfrow Design in Colorado, agrees, and sees another trend occurring with many two-bedroom homes today. “Statistically, baby boomers are retiring with more wealth than any previous generation, so we’re seeing the desire for high-end, luxurious two-bedroom homes loaded with state-of-the-art amenities,” he said.

Rentfrow also noted that in the western part of the country, most of the two-bedroom homes he designs for clients have basements to provide space for “extras” such as additional family and media rooms.

In Rentfrow’s European-style Dorchester #12313 house plan, featured on The House Plan Company, the main level features a spacious kitchen and dining area opening to the great room, and a master suite and guest bedroom. The home plan’s full basement offers bonus space for a second living area or media room.

Downsizing to a two-bedroom home design also offers the benefit of less maintenance, both inside and out. “The two-bedroom house plans we’re designing for empty nesters are typically located on smaller lots with similar neighboring houses. They’re appealing because the smaller lots require less maintenance and upkeep, which gives homeowners more freedom to spend their money elsewhere,” said Steve Vatter, owner of Legacy Home Plans in Tennessee.

Vatter’s ranch-style house plan #65362 featured on The House Plan Company incorporates an open floor plan to make the two-bedroom home on a small lot seem roomier. The great room, with a well-appointed kitchen and breakfast nook are the centerpiece of the one-story floor plan, flanked on one side by the master suite and a second bedroom or bonus room.

McAlexander cautions clients to carefully consider their needs as they’re looking at two-bedroom house plans. “If your lifestyle is such that you or your partner need a quiet place to work or spread out and make a mess with your hobby or watch different TV programs, then we need to determine where this might take place in the overall design of the home. It’s more about planning appropriate spaces to suit your lifestyle rather trying to make an existing space fit your needs,” he explained.

McAlexander incorporates the need for personal space into his design, the lodge-style Tetherow #31-019 home plan, featured on The House Plan Company. Adjacent to the master suite in this one-level floor plan, he adds a craft area as bonus space to the utility room. A vaulted porch and carport provide cover from the elements for homeowners and guests to enter the home’s foyer. The great room with vaulted ceilings, and dining area and spacious kitchen separate the master suite on one side of the house from the guest suite on the other to provide added privacy.

As seen on Newswire
5th Jul, 2019
Articles, Blog

The term “farmhouse” evokes a sense of nostalgia—of simpler times when families gathered around the hearth to relax after a long, hard day working the land. Often considered the backbone of American residential architecture, the farmhouse represents a timeless setting for a comfortable, peaceful way of life. Grounded in simplicity, purity and practicality, farmhouse design features have evolved over time but still adhere to the principle of form following function. Today’s modern farmhouse designs are more popular than ever, characterized by sleek exterior lines, pitched roofs of varying heights, welcoming porches and open floor plans with abundant natural light.

“The farmhouse is iconic and has remained popular throughout the country—in urban and rural environments—for generations,” said Jon Rentfrow, owner of Rentfrow Design in Colorado whose house plans are featured on The House Plan Company, a leading residential design plan company. “We have given the classic design elements of this undeniably American architectural style a sleek, edgy makeover in today’s modern farmhouse.

Rentfrow’s Mission Creek #21654 house plan exemplifies the use of an open floor plan, visually interesting roof lines and natural materials of a classic farmhouse. A proper front porch welcomes visitors into the foyer where a grand staircase serves as the main focal point. The master suite and well-appointed bath are located on the main level with access to a covered deck. Upstairs, three additional bedrooms and loft space offer plenty of room for larger families.

“The angled dining area at the back of the house opens up the space from the kitchen and great room and serves as a natural transition between the main living area and covered porch at the rear of the house,” Rentfrow explained.

One of the main draws of a farmhouse design is the porch, which serves as an inviting space for families and guests to gather and entertain outdoors.

“Porches are one of the primary features of modern farmhouse designs,” said Laura Dowds, owner of Dowds Design Collection in North Carolina. They’re designed for homeowners who like to entertain outdoors a lot and they also give the home great curb appeal.”

In Dowds’ Grayson #61513 modern farmhouse plan, featured on The House Plan Company, the wraparound porch with access from the main living space is the centerpiece of the home design. The open floor plan is accentuated by a large, efficient kitchen that flows naturally into the living and dining areas. A master suite is located on the first floor while three bedrooms and a media room complete the second story.

“I think people are drawn to the modern farmhouse style because it’s a combination of old and new. They possess the character of classic farmhouses, which can be lost in newer construction, while incorporating features that appeal to today’s modern lifestyles. It’s the best way to have a farmhouse without buying the farm,” said Dowds.

The use of gabled rooflines of varying heights and metal roofing also characterizes the modern farmhouse style and gives the exterior a streamlined look. The House Plan Company features a collection modern farmhouse plans with a wide variety of visually appealing exteriors and rooflines, such as the black-and-white modern farmhouse plan #85703 by Ahmann Design of Iowa. This house plan offers gabled rooflines, board-and-batten exterior siding, stone accents and a wide, covered front porch.

A timeless classic, the farmhouse style continues to flourish in both urban and rural environments where its comfortable, cozy aesthetic is combined with sleek modern lines for a fresh take on country living. 

As seen on Newswire
20th Jun, 2019
Articles, Blog

 

Newswire — Few architectural designs have stood the test of time throughout American history than perhaps the farmhouse. For hundreds of years, the farmhouse has served as a beacon for a simpler way of life, built sturdy and practical to withstand the elements and provide for working farm families. Over the years, the farmhouse style has evolved in some respects while still retaining several classic design elements. Today’s “modern farmhouse” style combines a little nostalgia with clean lines, pitched roofs, natural materials and state-of-the-art amenities to evoke the warmth, comfort and charm of country living.

“A farmhouse is a symbol of comfort, personal space and harmony with nature. I think that with urbanization that has occurred over the past few decades, homeowners today identify with the need for a more relaxing and peaceful lifestyle reminiscent of country living. We start with an image of what we would like life to be, and we shape it into a house. That’s the difference between a house and a home,” said Jennifer Larocque, designer for Drummond House Plans in Quebec, Canada.

Larocque’s modern farmhouse design, New Cotton Country #95543, is featured on The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon. The design exemplifies the clean lines, pitched roofs and paned windows of the classic farmhouse. A generous covered porch welcomes guests and inside the foyer, a curved staircase draws the eye up to the second floor. Cathedral ceilings soar above the main living area, which opens to a well-appointed kitchen, walk-in pantry and sun room. The master suite, located on the same level, opens to another covered porch at the rear of the house, while three additional bedrooms and two baths comprise the second story.

“Really, the word ‘modern’ can apply to any style as long as it’s associated with today’s trends. Shed roofs, skylights, abundant checkered windows and large covered porches best describe the farmhouse. It’s the colors, textures, square shapes and clean lines that bring the ‘modern’ aspects of today’s farmhouse to life,” explained Larocque.

Charles Roccaforte, owner of Hill Country Plans in Wimberley, Texas, views large porches, native stone, metal roofs and steep-pitched roofs as defining elements of the modern farmhouse and sees relatively few changes in the architectural style’s evolution.

“Stone exteriors in place of wood siding is one of the changes we’ve seen in the farmhouse style over the years while metal roofs and high ceilings have remained constant,” Roccaforte explained.

Roccaforte’s Havenwood #66793 house plan, featured on The House Plan Company, is a one-story, stone farmhouse with a covered porch that extends the length of the home in the back. The main living space is characterized by cathedral ceilings and flanked by a master suite and an office on one side and two bedrooms, utilities and bath on the other. A covered porch leads to the front entrance and a screened porch off of the kitchen offers outdoor living without being exposed to the elements.

“By placing the great room towards the rear of the floor plan, we take advantage of great backyard views. The vaulted ceilings and tall windows bring in an abundance of natural light throughout the space. The one-level ranch style also allowed for the master suite to be placed on one side of the house for greater privacy,” explained Roccaforte. 

Homeowners who are looking for a farmhouse plan to fit a smaller lot can find a variety of designs on The House Plan Company, including the Boulderfield #32005. This 1,000-square-foot home features covered porches at the front and back for outdoor living, a great room that flows into the kitchen and dining area, and a separate “owner’s suite” with a private covered patio on one side of the house. 

While they may come in many different shapes and sizes, there’s an enduring quality to the farmhouse style of home—one that creates a sense of openness, comfort, simplicity and timelessness.

 

As seen on Newswire

4th Jun, 2019
Articles, Blog
Dog Friendly House Plans

EUGENE, OR.—June 4, 2019—Often celebrated as man’s best friend, dogs touch nearly every aspect of the daily lives of their owners, from the moment they wake up to feed and walk their beloved pets to the last scratch between the ears as they say goodnight. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that when dog owners decide to build a new home, their furry four-legged companions factor prominently in the design of the house.

According to Statista.com, there are more than 89 million dogs living as pets in U.S. homes today and most of them are considered an important member of their human family. Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a leading residential design plan company based in Oregon, can attest to the importance of dogs to his clients as he gets many requests for dog-friendly spaces and amenities in the design of a new home.

"Gone are the days when homeowners simply requested an unsightly chain-link, fenced run for their dogs. Clients now come to me with their vision for a dog-friendly living space that includes everything from designated dog entrances and washing stations to playrooms,” McAlexander said.

The House Plan Company’s farmhouse-style Nottingham #70768 house plan exemplifies a design that caters to dogs. In this dog-friendly house plan, Fido has his own entrance from the garage and a dedicated dog room adjacent to the mud room, where a walk-in washing station makes it easy give him a bath after playing outside. All of the dedicated dog spaces are tiled for easy clean-up of muddy paw prints and shedding fur. McAlexander also noted that some homeowners opt to install a wall dryer near the washing station, making the area a complete grooming spa for their pets.

This home design also features a screened porch that opens from the mudroom and makes a perfect spot for Fido to nap in the sun or dry off from a bath. At the other end of the porch, doors lead out to a covered patio for easy access to shaded protection and the backyard.

Another great example of a house plan that caters to dogs is the modern farmhouse, Sweetbriar #23252 by Dowds Design Collection of Mebane, N.C. and featured on The House Plan Company. In this home design, a breezeway location from the garage to the mudroom allows for muddy paws to be cleaned before even entering the house – a mudroom exclusively for pets. A pet shower with shelving and built-in benches for storage helps to

keep grooming supplies close at hand and a spacious, attractive kennel makes Fido feel right at home when his owners aren’t home.

“When our kids were growing up, we had two dogs and three cats in our home. I began adding this feature to home designs for the same reason I add mudrooms to nearly every house plan – better organization and less stress,” explained Laura Dowds, owner of Dowds Design Collection. She added, “I want my house plans to be family friendly, so why not make them pet friendly too? Our pets need space for all of their items, such as food and treats, toys, grooming products and especially the dreaded litter box.”

McAlexander agrees that it’s important to locate the dog-centric areas near utilities for easy cleaning.

“Think about transition areas from the outside for your dog as you would for yourself. Mudrooms are designed as a place for your family to leave muddy boots and sports equipment on their way inside the house,” explained McAlexander. He added, “It’s important to have the washer and dryer nearby to throw dirty dog towels, as well as a sink for quick washing up. It contains everyone’s mess to one area of the home.”

A little pre-planning goes a long way in designing a home fit for Fido. It makes a dog-loving lifestyle so much more enjoyable when your beloved pet has his own space and you don’t have to worry about a dirty dog running through the rest of the house.

As seen on Newswire

 

23rd May, 2019
Articles, Blog
Trends in Outdoor Living Spaces

EUGENE, ORE.—May 21, 2019—As the days get longer and temperatures grow warmer in anticipation of summer, our migration to the outdoors begins—the time when we focus our efforts, energy and money on turning our living spaces inside out.

“One of the biggest trends in home design in the past several years has been the addition of well-defined and often elaborate outdoor living spaces that seamlessly blend with the indoors and add significant value to the property,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a leading residential design plan company based in Oregon.

Several of the more popular design features in today’s outdoor living spaces, include the following:

  • Folding doors on a smooth track system to make the walls virtually disappear for an uninterrupted transition between indoors and outdoors.
  • Fully functional kitchens equipped with grills, range hoods, refrigerators, bar seating and even wood-fired ovens.
  • Outdoor great rooms complete with weather-proofed, big-screen TVs, sound systems, gas fireplaces and ceiling fans.
  • Exterior design details such as wood paneled ceilings in covered patios, wall sconces and stone or porcelain tile flooring.
  • Bold lighting concepts with automated technology, water features as a focal point and well-design landscape installations.
  • Multi-level outdoor spaces, combining decks, porches and covered patios together in the design.

The House Plan Company features a variety of home designs with outdoor living spaces in different sizes and architectural styles. The modern Aurora #57029, by Ken Pieper and Associates of Colorado, illustrates the use of multi-level outdoor spaces with decks and covered patios incorporated together into one cohesive design. The home’s soaring windows, clean crisp lines and stone and wood exterior complement the outdoor spaces and the lot’s natural environment.

Allison McGraw quote, client services manager for Iowa-based Ahmann Design, Inc., advises clients to consider the orientation of the house and lot when planning outdoor spaces.

“Knowing if the area will be shaded on the north or blasted by southern exposure will impact if some type of protection is needed from the elements. Once the orientation is established, then determine your needs for the space, whether it’s entertaining, lounging, dining, or tanning by the pool,” said McGraw. She added, “Client needs will likely change over time so it’s important to factor that in and consider combining spaces. For example, you could incorporate into the home design a screened in porch that opens to an uncovered deck with steps down to a patio for different needs.”

Ahmann’s three-story, craftsman style bungalow #48739, featured on The House Plan Company’s website, makes the rear of the house the star with three stories of windows, multiple decks and a covered patio overlooking the luxuriously landscaped backyard and firepit. Since the rear of the home faces a lake, McGraw said they designed the home to take advantage of entertaining and recreating outdoors with the spectacular scenic views and access to the water.

“This home design has all of the outdoor features you could ever need or want with a covered deck off the master suite, an open deck off the main living area with a massive wall of windows, and a covered deck below that leads to a large patio with a firepit and a boat garage with access from the dock,” she explained.

Similarly, the concept of the outdoor great room is exemplified in the European-style Dorchester #12313 house plan by Rentfrow Design of Colorado, with its stone fireplace, built-in TV cabinet and doors leading from both the family and dining rooms. The covered patio gives way to an open patio and pergola. A few steps to the water feature lead down to the landscaped backyard.

“Our clients wanted a space that felt very much like the interior of their home. We incorporated a retractable TV into the design for year-round use and combined with the furnishings, the space is very comfortable and livable,” explained Jon Rentfrow, owner of Rentfrow Design. He added, “We learned a number of years ago that if you entertain a lot and have only one door to the outdoor living space, it will become a pinch point. We always try to provide multiple means of getting inside and outside easily in the design. We also enourage our clients to consider lower covered porch ceiling heights to create a cozier, more intimate space.”

McAlexander’s craftsman-style lodge, Barnhart #96262, capitalizes on the space of a large, level lot with its covered porch running the entire length of the front of the house and

covered patios with vaulted ceilings all along the back. Covered walkways wrap around three sides of the home to provide protection from the elements. The kitchen, vaulted great room and master suite all open onto the vaulted covered patios to harmoniously blend with the outdoors.  

“What better way to fully enjoy your property than by incorporating well-planned outdoor spaces into the floor plan of your new home. Think about how you use your interior spaces for relaxing, lounging and entertaining, and design your outdoor spaces to function in the same way,” said McAlexander.

As seen on Newswire
6th May, 2019
Articles, Blog

Newswire - The eternal question for any homeowner planning to build a new home is, “How much will it cost?” But asking builders how much a new home will cost, and more specifically, how much it will cost per square foot, will likely elicit a wide range of responses from low to high and somewhere in between. Cost per square foot analysis may seem like an elusive math problem, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Cost per square foot analysis is difficult for homeowners to get their arms around because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison and there always seems to be many different answers.

Imagine you’re purchasing a new car and trying to determine its price by its tires. How much is the car per tire? Do you divide by four or by five, to account for the spare?” explained John Kappler, owner of Kappler Architects who provides home designs for The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon.

Kappler advises breaking it down into two components to better understand the total cost of building a new home: Hard costs and soft costs. Hard costs are the actual “brick and mortar” costs of construction, including the cost to acquire the lot, labor and building materials and utilities and landscaping. Hard costs are generally easier to estimate because of their tangible nature. Builder profit is also included in these costs and can range from 15-25 percent.

Soft costs, on the other hand, are not associated with the physical construction of the home and encompass everything from architectural and engineering fees, permitting and legal fees, taxes and insurance.

Armed with this information about hard and soft costs, where does a homeowner begin? Kappler recommends diving deeper into the hard costs and, in particular, three areas: Complexity, size and quality of finishes.

“Focusing on the three most important pieces of the hard costs will help a client begin to understand cost per square foot. There are certain costs they can’t change such as permit fees and taxes, but they do have control over costs associated with the complexity of the construction, size of the house and quality of the interior and exterior finishes,” explained Kappler.

A good starting point, therefore, is to outline several basic assumptions prior to construction. What are the utilities needed for the property – tap or well fees and septic costs? What type of soils tests or engineering work must be done on the lot? Will the house have any outdoor decks or patios? Is landscaping work to be done now or later? What size garage is needed? What level of interior finishes are desired? High-end finishes, fixtures and mechanical equipment, for example, can quickly escalate costs.

In addition to these important questions, careful consideration must be given to other design and construction factors as part of the overall cost equation. The complexity of design and articulation of elements such as corners, wall height changes and bays; steep or complicated roof profiles; and complex trim and texture changes can all impact construction costs. Simple building designs can be constructed more quickly and with less waste than more complex building designs, thereby keeping total construction costs in check.

Once a builder and client can work together on answering all of the questions, they can begin to arrive at a relatively accurate cost per square foot and the total cost of the new home. As Kappler likes to remind clients, “Building a house is a process. You need to understand both the process and how all the pieces interact with one another each step of the way.”\

As seen on Newswire

 

1st Apr, 2019
Blog

EUGENE, ORE.—April 2, 2019—Detached garages with granny flats, backyard guest cottages, pool houses, gazebos, and standalone workshops and hobby rooms all have several things in common—they’re accessory building structures that can add much needed living space and value to a residential property and they’re gaining in popularity.

Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a residential design marketing company based in Oregon, defines an “accessory structure” as any type of living space on the property that is considered incidental to the primary dwelling structure.

“Accessory structures are on the rise as homeowners look to add more living space to their property,” said Rick McAlexander. “This type of building concept is much broader than a detached garage for parking vehicles—it runs the gamut from gazebos and pool houses to backyard cottages and music studios—and can add considerable investment value to your property.”

The biggest trend McAlexander sees in accessory buildings today is the notion of a granny flat or apartment above the detached garage, even a standalone guest cottage in the backyard.

“As more and more baby boomers choose to age at home, they realize the need for separate living space for a caretaker or their adult children who can tend to them and their property,” he explained.

The House Plan Company offers a number of detached garages with apartments in different architectural styles from contemporary to craftsman. Several garage plans also feature plenty of hobby and recreation space in addition to living quarters.

Designer Steve Vatter of Legacy Home Plans, who has designed several accessory building plans for The House Company, says he sees growing interest in garage apartments as homeowners desire more living space but would like to stay in place.

“The biggest advantage to building a garage with an apartment above is the cost. The slab foundation and the roof are the same size so you’re just adding a second level,” he said. Vatter added, “With land prices at a premium today, it’s more cost effective to build a garage apartment on existing property either for personal use or as a rental. In the long run, it adds more value to the property.”

One of Vatter’s most popular garage apartment designs is a modern style structure (#71064) featuring an open floor plan with numerous large windows and sight lines from nearly every interior angle. A deck and sliding glass doors are added for homeowners to relax outdoors and enjoy the views.

Vatter notes a strong resurgence in other types of accessory structures as well, such as pool houses and workshops or studios for recreation and hobbies. His Driftwood pool house design #76849, for example, features a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, enclosed TV, indoor and outdoor showers and a changing room.

“Years ago, homeowners wanted an enclosed pool house with windows to the outdoor swimming pool. Today, they want as much open outdoor living as possible, closing off only the changing areas and bathroom,” Vatter explained.

The House Plan Company features a collection of accessory structure plans from fully-equipped pool houses to stall barns for horses and even a luxury dog house #30487.

The first step in moving forward with building an accessory structure on private property is to determine the goals for additional space. McAlexander cautions homeowners to identify all of the different types of uses desired for the space and then determine space requirements for those uses.

“I’ve seen homeowners purchase a simple detached garage plan, for example, thinking it will be easy to convert into a place to work on hobby cars without taking into account the need for a higher ceiling to incorporate a car lift or additional workshop and storage space,” McAlexander said.

McAlexander’s Craftsman-style garage apartment plan #62272 is a great example of a design that factors in multiple uses. The two-car garage plan features 10-foot wide and 8-foot tall doors vehicle space, and a spacious hobby room. Stairs lead from the hobby room up to a second-floor apartment, where vaulted ceilings lend a spacious feeling to the kitchen, great room, office and bedroom. A bathroom with a soaking tub, utility room and balcony make the most of the space.

Next, he advises homeowners to research their local building ordinances and zoning codes for an accessory structure.

“It’s important to do your homework on the local building codes to see what you’re allowed to put on the property, including the regulations on square footage limits, building setbacks, exterior modifications and impacts on utilities such as water and sewer,” McAlexander explained.

McAlexander has even designed a country-style stall barn #92377 for property that is zoned for livestock. The spacious barn plan offers two stalls, plenty of storage space for equipment and tack and three garage doors that open to the center of the barn. Upstairs, a large space with vaulted ceilings could be used as a recreation or hobby room.

Once a homeowner finds an accessory structure plan they like after browsing the collection of plans on The House Plan Company website, they can work directly with the plan’s designer to

make additional modifications if necessary. The House Plan Company’s team of award-winning design professionals and architects can also custom design an accessory structure to tailor to a homeowner’s specific needs.

“Our team of design professionals and architects have created custom accessory structure plans for everything from a dog rescue shelter to an 80-foot oil derrick for a life-size model train configuration on private property. We can design any type of accessory structure to meet a client’s needs if they don’t find one on our site,” said McAlexander.

As seen on Newswire

7th Mar, 2019
Blog

 

We were fortunate to receive photos from a client of our Garage Plan 20-052. The client used our modification services to customize the design. The garage bays were pulled forward elimiating the front covered porch area, and added a covered side patio. This accessory structure was beautifully finished and we are happy to give you a tour!

 

Exterior:

 

Upper Apartment:

 

Interior Garage Area:

4th Mar, 2019
Articles, Blog

Building a new home is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and selecting the perfect home design and floor plan to meet your family’s needs can be daunting, but it’s a critical step toward realizing your dream home.  

Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs, a leading residential design plan company based in Oregon, offers four important pieces of advice when choosing the right floor plan for new home construction.

1. Define the Goals of Your New Home

The first step in selecting the right home design, even before purchasing a building lot, is to determine the goals of your new home and create a “wish list” of the desired spaces, features and amenities based on your lifestyle. According to McAlexander, this goal-setting process lays the foundation for other decisions that follow, such as determining the size and style of the home, floor plan and budget.

“My biggest piece of advice to clients is that they give careful consideration to their goals for building a new home before beginning to look at design plans,” said McAlexander. “When I meet with new clients, I start by asking several basic questions such as, ‘What is your plan for the home? Do you intend to live in it for the next 15 to 20 years or do you plan to sell it in several years?’. We next develop an outline and begin to look at floor plans.”

2. Design Spaces to Suit Your Lifestyle

There are a number of factors to be considered in designing living space, such as how spaces will be configured for socializing or for privacy, and how to accommodate changing family needs over time. McAlexander notes that clients with young children generally want the private spaces of the house, such as bedrooms and baths, to be grouped close together. Conversely, he sees families with teens asking for more separate spaces in two-story home designs.

“Often times, the number of floors are determined by factors such as building lot constraints and the need for privacy. We find that a number of clients gravitate towards a two-story floor plan because they want a clear separation of living space, especially those with older children where the master suite may be located on the main floor and the rest of the bedrooms are on the second floor. If there are no land constraints with the lot, however, I recommend a single-level floor plan for the long-term as it offers the best aging in place option.”

While there are thousands of home design plans available online, McAlexander says not to be afraid to ask to customize one to meet your needs. “With many of our clients, chances are they find a floor plan they really like, but it’s not quite perfect. That’s when we bring in one of our design professionals to modify or customize the plan to add the right personal touches. Ultimately, the house should be a reflection of your personality and lifestyle.”

3. Factor Outdoor Living in the Plan

Outdoor living spaces are quickly becoming the new social hub of the home as families look to spend more time relaxing and recreating together outdoors. As McAlexander notes, more of his company’s clients are asking for formally defined outdoor living spaces, which often comes with its own set of unique challenges.

“One of the biggest challenges with building outdoor living spaces, which can feature fully-equipped kitchens and fireplaces, is that clients don’t necessarily take into account the additional cost to build this space as part of the total costs of home construction. The costs associated with this type of build-out will depend on several factors, such as the climate and whether some type of additional cover is needed due to moisture or direct sun or what type of appliances will be installed. Appliances rated for outdoor use, such as fireplaces, stoves and refrigerators, tend to be more expensive,” he explained.

Associated Design’s contemporary Edgefield 31-131 is a popular house floor plan with a vaulted, covered outdoor space accessed from both the Great Room and Dining Room.

Edgefield 31-131, Modern House Plan, Contemporary Home Plan
Edgefield 31-131

4. Don’t Build More Space than You Need

McAlexander has also noticed a downward trend in the need for bonus rooms in residential floor plans. Instead, his clients are carefully considering how every space of the house will be used.

“In the past, the concept of the ‘Great Room’ meant that people needed additional rooms for their own space, whether it be an office or media or hobby room, resulting in three- to four-bedroom floor plans,” he said. “Today, Great Room designs have evolved to include more well-defined separations within the open living space without the need for a third or fourth bedroom.”

The ranch-style Manor Heart 10-590 floor plan features open-style living where each of the main rooms – Great Room, dining and kitchen – are open to one another but still maintain some separation of space.  

In addition to these four tips, McAlexander sees the following trends in house plan designs for 2019.

Aging In Place, Tetherow 31-019, Ranch House Plans
Tetherow 31-019

Aging in Place Designs. As baby boomers continue to age, many are opting to age in place. Some of Associated Design’s popular age-in-place floor plans feature guest suites and caretakers’ quarters, such as the one-story Tetherow 31-019 in craftsman style or the two-story, lodge-style Barnhart 30-946 design.

Simplified Building Profiles. House plans with simplified building profiles are on the rise because they minimize construction complexity and cost.

Eliminating Bonus Rooms. As the Great Room has evolved into better defined space to meet everyone’s needs for both social and private time, seldom used bonus rooms are being eliminated from floor plans. The craftsman-style Westheart 10-630 features a Great Room floor plan with separate, easily accessible spaces for a little more privacy.

Mud Rooms and Drop Zones. For active families, a well-designed mud room or drop zone has become a necessity rather than passing through the laundry on the way from the garage.

 

 

8th Feb, 2019
Blog, New Home Plans

Stonegate 31-132

The charming storybook feel of the Stonegate blends the best of Lodge Style, Craftsman, and European influences. Designed for a sloped lot, the main living area sits atop a large garage with a side entry. The garage has two bays for car entry and a smaller bay on the opposite side for easy access to yard maintenance items, or golf cart. The garage is wide enough to hold up to four cars stacked two by two. The main floor is open style living area with vaulted ceilings. This area continues onto a large deck for extended outdoor living space. A fireplace is nestled into the living room wall. On the opposite side of the house is a large vaulted suite with a private balcony and bath with walk-in closet and shower. Above the guest suite is a great storage area accessed by ladder just off the kitchen. This house plan could serve as a guest house, vacation get-a-way or a primary residence.

Klickitat 31-129

The Klickitat is a traditional-style home with a charming exterior to fit in most settings. What may seem small will live large. The great room features tall, vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows and sliding glass door will let in the natural beauty. The kitchen has a large island with plenty of workspace and added storage. Near the step-in pantry is a bench that is convenient to the utility and main entrances. The utility room is spacious with a utility sink and room for a freezer. Down the hall from the great room, is a bedroom and an owners' suite. The owners' suite has a dressing area and walk-in closet which connects to a shared bath. This home could serve as a primary residence, or vacation cabin get-a-way.

Whiskey Creek 31-143

Farmhouse-style ranch home plan the Whiskey Creek will charm your friends and family with it's fun yet sophisticated look. With the garage doors at the side of the house, the street view of the house is quaint, while the inside is grand with luxurious amenities. The welcoming foyer has an 11' ceiling and a hall leading into the great room which offers museum quality wall space for your family photos or artwork. To the right of the foyer are two bedrooms and to the left is a formal dining room. The great room features a fireplace and sliding doors out to a roomy covered patio with room to entertain. The kitchen is open to the great room. Through the kitchen towards the front of the house is a large pantry with a secondary refrigerator and a nook big enough for a desk or shelving. Continuing through will lead you into the dining room. Through the back of the kitchen leads you to the utility room and mud hall and garage enterance. To the right from the kitchen is the owners' suite with a luxurious, spa-like bath with a clawfoot bathtub and modern walk-in shower. The walk-in closet has a convenient pass-through linen shelf connected to the utility room.

Logsden 31-075

The Logsden cabin plan blends elegance and rustic together with its lodge style and large wrap-around deck. Once inside you are greeted with an impressive view through the floor to ceiling windows in the two-story, vaulted great room. The cozy fireplace on the wall opposite the kitchen is enjoyed throughout the main level living space. Down the hall past the kitchen are two bedrooms and the pass-through utility room. Upstairs is a loft, open to the great room can take in the impressive view through the windows. The remaining second floor is dedicated to the owners' suite. This large suite is a quiet get away to relax. The owners' bath offers a soaking tub and two walk-in closets. The Logsden has all the amenities to be a primary residence or it could also be a luxurious vacation home.

Kinsale 31-142

The Kinsale is a Craftsman-style Farmhouse plan that brings style to functionality. The exterior offers  charm to any neighborhood with it's cozy covered porches and Craftsman accents. One will sure feel welcome when they walk through the front door into the two story foyer. To the left, double doors lead into a den which could function as an office, guest room, or library. Continuing past the entry, you enter into the great room. The great room features a fireplace and two-story vaulted ceilings and is open to the dining area and kitchen which is separated by a large island. From the dining room, behind a sliding barn door, is the utility room, a large storage closet and entrance to the 3-car garage. The opposite side of the home is the owners' suite and bath with two walk-in closets. Up the stairs along the great room is two additional bedrooms and a bonus room with kitchenette and built-in desk. 

 

1st Feb, 2019
Articles, Blog

Newswire —Feb. 1,2019—You are considering a new home and are stuck trying to figure out what style of living area will best work for you, your family, and the way that you live. Well ponder no further. The House Plan Company has prepared this helpful guide to the three main types of living areas and how they live.

The Vintage Layout: Separated Family and Entertaining Spaces

Formally defined spaces and separation between family and gathering spaces is the traditional approach to arranging the living area of a home. As showcased in the New Haven design 33225 the formal living and dining rooms are front and center while the casual family gathering spaces are at the back of the home.

“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,” says Rick McAlexander CEO of Associated Designs, Inc. “The same can be applied to the dining spaces. A nook makes a great space for regular family meals while the formal dining room gives the homeowner the opportunity for more elaborate entertaining.”

The Contemporary Layout: Great Rooms

The pinnacle in relaxed living is the great room, a seamless blending of the three core living areas in one open space. The Bandon plan 33318 showcases this style of living area with a fully open great room at its core.

“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. 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 Modern Layout: Open Living Style Great Rooms

 “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,” says Rick.

Take the Clarendon plan 14996. The center of the home is filled with the living and dining room along with the kitchen. The L-shaped staircase is the only separation between the dining room and family room, while the kitchen is separated from the family room by the generous sized island. The main gathering areas are all open to other areas of the home while still having some sense of separation.

Every man’s home is his castle, or so the saying goes, which means the central living area can be utilized and designed in any way that suits your family, your lifestyle or your personality. It is important that your home reflects the way you live not just the latest trend. So ask yourself and be honest. What type of living area best fits me, my family and the way we live?

 

8th Jan, 2019
Articles, Blog

Trend Spotter: Up and Coming Design Styles for 2019

With the New Year thoughts wonder to what the year will hold. It can be both uplifting as well as thought-provoking. Maybe something that you did in the old year you’d like to not have happened in the New Year. But a trend that works, that fits well and catches on, you probably want to repeat.

Same goes for home trends. The best trends can be passed on into the New Year, whether it’s the style of house, a specific layout or design element, or even a room that becomes an amenity in and of itself.

“That’s kind of what happened with garages in 2018,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “The garage became an extension of the house, not an afterthought or a storage unit.”

With the New Year, we thought it time to look at home trends we see holding fast in their position as top design styles. Three homes and a garage exemplify specific trends in design, style, rooms, and amenities.

“In 2018, homebuyers wanted space and comfort. Everything in its place and in the right place,” said McAlexander. “And they want flexibility. Homes are larger, garages more expansive and useful, and living spaces spread out into the outdoor areas and backyards. These are such solid design trends we see them carrying through 2019.”

Prairie Style House Plan, Home Plan, Home Design Trends

Contemporary Comfort

The Patagonia (31-145) home design offers a modern take on a traditional prairie-style house. Rather than overwhelm you with straight lines and angles, the exterior is subtle and cool with a soft undertone of stone wainscoting and soft overhangs.

But it’s likely the 4,000-plus square foot interior that showcases some of the best home trends of 2018.

“This is a spacious family home,” said McAlexander. “It is meant to be lived in and enjoyed to grow with the family.”

One home trend -- the three-car garage -- takes up the left side of the house. It opens into a combined drop zone and mud hall, which is also conveniently set near an expansive utility room. Natural light brightens the garage hallway which then opens into the vaulted great room. Here is where the family can gather together, meet with friends, celebrate events, and create memories.

From the large open kitchen to the breakfast nook and great room with wood stove and built-in entertainment center, to the easy outdoor seating and barbecue places, it is a feast for the eyes. But there are of course a large owners’ suite and two bedrooms upstairs alongside a play area or bonus room. A den just off the front entry completes the house and its extensive floor plan.

Boulderfield 31-147, Farmhouse plan, home plan

Farmhouse Fantasy

Design trends in 2018 don’t have to stick to one exterior look or interior floor plan. In fact, with the Boulderfield (31-147) home design, you get traditional farmhouse flair with modern amenities.

The farmhouse look is pronounced by the angled roofs and plywood siding with quaint window shutters. But the windows are not small by any means. They let in plenty of natural light to brighten up the expansive 3,837-square-foot interior.

“Again, it’s not the size that matters here but where things are placed. Amenities don’t have to be tangible to be recognized as key to the home,” said McAlexander.

A three-car garage connects with a mud hall that includes built-in storage space and a drop zone. Nearby is a small powder room and an extra built-in storage space. To make things in more effective, the garage features a separate doorway to the mechanical storage for the home’s water heater and electrical units.

From there the home features one of the biggest trends in home design for 2018: the great room style living area that flows effortlessly into the outdoors. In the Boulderfield home design the outdoors features a covered patio for entertaining alongside a built-in stone outdoor fireplace.

The single-level home also features a pocket office with built-in cabinets, highlighting once again the idea that everything is in its place exactly where a family would need it to be.

Estes Park 31-146, Ranch Home Plan, Ranch House Plan

Flexible Floor Plan

The Craftsman home design is a well-known and much-loved home design. In the case of the Estes Park (31-146), the Craftsman home is given a unique (and expansive) interior makeover. In fact, the total square footage of the Estes Park is more than 7,000. But the highlight here is the lower level garage and storage space.

“It’s the trend that keeps on giving, I think,” said McAlexander. “A few years ago, garages were just meant to store a car or two, but they are now so much more than that.”

The Estes Park turns the lower level of the house into an expansive basement and storage area. The basement itself has its own garage door access for flexible use and sensible storage options. There’s also room for a future bathroom, a mechanical room separate from the rest of the lower level, and covered porches. The garage is on the main level, which means the entire lower level can be its own living area if the family really wanted to go that route.

The rest of the house features more of the obvious trends in home design: an in-home office space, expansive open living area, and a second floor recreation room and bonus room. The growing family will have nothing to fear with all the features and the unique, flexible layout of this high-end home.

Garage plan 20-147, 2 Car Garage, Garage Design

Grand Garage

In keeping with our theme on garages, this final design puts the focus entirely on flexible accessory structures. The featured Garage (20-147) provides flex space that can be used as either a guest house or craft room.

The garage itself can hold two cars easily. Along the back of the garage is a second floor recreation room. A wet bar and a full bathroom are near the stairway.

“It’s the quintessential look for a garage nowadays,” said McAlexander. “Separate from the house yet sensible and useful. I know clients who prefer this garage, and some choose to rent out the top rec room for some extra income.”

Bottom line, home design trends in 2018 were all about allowing families to choose just where and how they want everything to look and feel. A basic garage can be more than a garage, just like a living area can be more than just inside.  

As Seen on Newswire

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