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Could you go tiny?

Southwestern Plan 2559-00

 
Bigger isn’t always better, according to the tiny house craze sweeping the country. From farmhouse to modern to craftsman, tiny homes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles and have become highly popular with environmentally-friendly millennials. Most of these smaller homes are 1,000 sq. ft. or less and are either mobile or permanent residences. Whether you love this idea or hate it, the tiny house movement definitely comes with some pros and cons.
 

Some of the pros about going tiny are:

 

  • Save Money!
  • Less Commitment
  • Lots of Customization
  • Use of higher quality materials
  • Mobility
  • Less to clean and maintain
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Energy efficient – Can easily use solar power
  • Easy to heat and cool
  • Embraces the minimalist and “back to basics” lifestyle
  • Convenience
  • Ability to live off the grid

 

And some of the cons of shrinking down:

 

  • Limited Space
  • Have to have land
  • Hard on relationships
  • Legal regulations change state by state
  • The possibility of needing a large truck to town the home
  • Lack of privacy
  • Less storage means more trips to the store
  • No room for visiting guests
  • Less room for hobbies and exercise
  • Zoning issues for non-permanent structures

 

At America’s Best House Plans, we have hundreds of house plans under 1,000 sq. ft. Explore some of our more popular small house plans to find your favorite tiny house:

 

Below 400 sq. ft.:

Small House Plan 034-00174

 

Below 600 sq. ft.:

Vacation Plan 034-00178

 

Under 800 sq. ft.:

Country 5633-00322

 

Under 1,000 sq. ft.:

Bungalow 009-00121

 

You can search our smaller house plans under 1,000 sq. ft. here:  Start Searching!



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How To Modify Your Favorite House Plan

 
Did you know you can modify ALL of our house plans? If you fall in love with a home but would love to change a few things, we can modify the plan to fit your exact wants and needs. Modifications can be small like changing locations of doors and windows or large such as altering the ceiling heights throughout the house. Even your dream home might need some customization to fit all of your family’s needs and wants.

 

Thankfully, we make the modification process easy!

 

Once you find the plan you love, explore every detail of the floorplans and determine which elements you want modified. Some common modifications include:

     

  • Reversing the entire floor plan
  • Changing the front entry garage to a side entry
  • Extending ceiling heights
  • Altering the exterior framing
  • Adding/Removing windows
  • Moving interior non-bearing walls

 

When you’ve created your list of modifications, visit the house plan on our website and click the Modify This Plan button, as seen below.
 

 

Clicking ‘Modify This Plan’ will display detailed instructions and a form for uploading your modification information. You can either submit the changes via this form or you can contact us at 1-888-501-PLAN (7526) to speak to one of our customer service representatives
 

If you want to visually show your modifications, you can use this free online tool to mark up the floor plan to represent the changes you want made: JPG/PDF Editor.

 

Here is an example of a mocked-up modification request:
 
A customer bought Plan 009-00069, a 2,465 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathroom home. However, he needed a few modifications done to the house plan in order for it to fit his family’s needs. 

The 1st-floor modifications included: 

     

  • Extending the garage area
  • Creating a one bay garage entrance, instead of two
  • Extending the deck area
  • Adding sliding glass doors from breakfast nook to deck
  • Extending the pantry
  • Adding a mudroom
  • Creating a bump out of the front garage
  • Extending the porch to create a wrap around

 

 Plan 009-00069
 

The 2nd story modifications included:

     

  • Extending the bonus room to match the garage expansion
  • Enlarging and rearranged the master bathroom
  • Extending the roof line to match the wrap around porch

 
Once we receive your modification information, one of our customer service representatives will contact the designer of that specific house plan and determine the price and time frame associated with those changes. Within 3 business days, our customer service rep will contact you with a custom quote which includes the price of the modifications as well as when you will receive your updated house plan. Modified house plans take around 3-6 weeks depending on how many and how complex your modifications are.

 

House plan modifications aren’t covered by a flat rate. The designer dictates the price depending on how intricate and difficult your changes may be. We do, however, have a breakdown of the possible cost of your modifications so you have a round about idea.

 

Minor Modifications – range from $200 – $500 – include moving doors, windows, interior walls, etc.

 

Average Modifications – range from $450-850 – include foundation changes, changing garage entry and the majority of exterior changes

 

Substantial Modifications – range from $850+ – include moving exterior walls, increasing or decreasing square footage, or needing a long list of modifications.

 

If you accept the modifications quote, you simply need to approve and submit payment.

 

Half way through the modification process, we will contact you with the preliminary updated house plan for your review. This will help determine if we’re on the right path and if you’re seeing the exact changes you requested.

 

Once all modifications are completed, we will send you the new updated house plan!

 

Simple and worry-free, we make modifying your favorite house plan easy. Just follow the steps above and you’ll have the perfect house plan before you know it!



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One story or two: That is always the question!

one story house two story house

One Story Vs. Two Story

 
     As you search for the perfect house plan, the long-lasting debate about one or two story homes always come up. There is a wide range of functional and aesthetic reasons why some people prefer a single story over a two story. Whether your opinion is shaped by the house you grew up in or by the stage your life is currently in, most people have a definite love for either 1 or 2-story homes.
 
     There are unique advantages and disadvantages to both styles so it’s best to learn which home would work best for your lifestyle. If you’re on the fence, use these pros and cons to make the decision a little easier.
 

Craftsman Home

Craftsman House Plan 5445-00067

 
1-Story pros:
 

 

  • Safer for families with young children and for the elderly or mobility challenged folks
  • More options for ceiling heights and skylights
  • Save up to 100 sq. ft. with no stairs so larger square footage
  • Fewer bathrooms needed
  • Easier to access and clean gutters, roof, and outside walls
  • Easier to escape a fire
  • Less expensive to add on to the structure
  • Easier to resell because it’s more popular?

Why do you love a single story house?
 

Ranch Home

Ranch House Plan 5633-00213

 
1 story cons:

 

  • The yard may be smaller because a 1-story home takes up more of a lot than a 2 story
  • Not as much privacy between bedrooms
  • Fewer layout options
  • No views
  • Costs more to build because of the larger roof
Ranch House

Ranch House Plan 041-00117

 

Bungalow House

Bungalow House Plan 5631-00023

 
2 story pros:
 

  • Less foundation and roof structure: The rooms on the first floor don’t require a roof and the rooms on the second floor don’t require a foundation. 
  • Save on plumbing and electrical wiring because rooms are so close together
  • Small footprint so more lot and floor plan options
  • Better for families with teens because there’s more separation between rooms
  • Smaller roof to maintain
  • More expansive views from the second floor
  • Costs less per square foot because of a small foundation, roof structure, plumbing and electrical
  • Built-in exercise
  • More privacy

 

Southern House Plan

Southern House Plan 009-00089-5

 
2 story cons:
 

  • Sound travels through levels
  • Stairs can be dangerous, inconvenient and eat up sq. footage
  • 2 HVAC units
  • Ceiling and attic heights are typically lower
  • Harder to control the temperature
  • Having to go upstairs if you forgot something downstairs

 

Why do you prefer a 2-story house?
 

Modern House

Modern House Plan 207-00036

 

After surveying over 100 people on Facebook, we found that while 2-story homes were more popular with our followers, the margin between the two is minimal. So the debate still stands…which do you prefer?

 

Whether you choose the convenience of a 1-story home or the flexibility of 2-stories, your next home should reflect all of you and your family’s wants and needs. Thankfully, we make searching for the perfect house plan easy! Explore the Collections section of our website to view our 1 story and 2 story homes.

 



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Top 3 Most Popular House Styles:

     From modern to country to bungalows, the wide variety of house styles can be quite overwhelming. Whether you prefer lots of character or clean, simple lines, the numerous categories of house plans can make it difficult to find the perfect home for you and your family. Educating yourself about the different kinds of homes can make the choice much easier. Despite the ever-growing number of options, there are a few home styles that have rose to the top of the charts as today’s most popular choices.

 

Can you guess which house styles are the most sought after?

 

Craftsman Style Homes:

 

Craftsman Home

Craftsman 9401-00001

 

     After hitting the height of popularity the early 1900s, Craftsman style houses (also called Arts and Crafts homes) are once again the most popular style in America and can be found throughout the country. The Arts and Crafts style homes were created because of society’s desire for simpler, more natural aspects that displayed the growing number of skilled craftsmen. With their amazing wood details, large front porches, and stone details, Craftsman style homes are welcoming, comfortable, and full of character.

 

The most notable characteristics of Craftsman style homes focus on the exterior.

  • low-pitched, gable roof
  • tapered columns
  • exposed rafters and beams
  • single dormers
  • deep roof eaves
  • knee braces
  • multi paned windows

 

Craftsman House

Craftsman House Plan 348-00169

 

     Combined with a large covered front porch, earth toned colors, stone details, and a partially paned front door, Craftsman houses are one-of-a-kind. This style involves the use of wood, stucco, shingles, stone and bricks creating a unique balance of a multitude of materials and textures.  These charming details continue inside with custom built in cabinetry, large fireplaces, open layouts, and intricate woodwork that create a cozy, inviting atmosphere.

 

Visit our website to explore our Craftsman style house plans.

   

 

Farmhouse/Modern Farmhouse:

Farmhouse Home

Farmhouse House Plan 9401-00008

 

     The Farmhouse home style is more popular than ever! In the 1700s, farmhouses were literally homes built on flat farmland but nowadays, these comfortable houses have popped up in rural and suburban areas throughout the United States. Since these homes vary around the country, the term Farmhouse is used more often to describe the function and the style of the home. People are increasingly drawn to the natural, simple elements of these practical and comfortable homes.

 

Characteristics of Farmhouse homes include:

 

  • Rural location
  • Large, covered porches
  • Formal areas in front of homes
  • Informal areas in the back
  • Extensive woodwork
  • White or wood exterior
  • Exposed wood beams
  • Simple, gabled roofs
  • Wide, plank floors
Farmhouse Design

Farmhouse House Plan 7922-00020

 

     The layout of these homes is unique in that the front of the house is usually reserved for the more formal areas like the dining and living rooms while informal areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms are in the back. Because the kitchen is the heart of a Farmhouse home, special attention is put on creating a large but practical kitchen with cozy elements like large, wide sinks, white kitchen cabinets, bead board, painted wood plank walls, and wide planked wood floors. Reminiscent of a long ago era, the Farmhouse style invokes a love of nature with the use of natural wood, calming colors and wide, welcoming porches. Typically built on large plots of land, Farmhouses are truly meant for rural locations.

Farmhouse House Plan

Farmhouse House Plan 9401-00094

The newer Modern Farmhouse style is very similar to the original but with a more contemporary twist. This new variation combines the natural and simplistic characteristics of the Farmhouse design with the sleek, contemporary aspects of modern style homes. The Modern Farmhouse style expertly mixes the love of clean, sleek lines and the enjoyment of natural elements creating the best of both worlds.

 

Some Modern Farmhouse characteristics are:

  • White exterior
  • Gray or black roof
  • Lots of windows
  • Metal, concrete and granite elements
  • Sleek lighting
  • Hints of bright colors
Modern Farmhouse

Modern Farmhouse House Plan 963-00154

Visit our website to explore our Farmhouse and Modern Farmhouse house plans.

 

 

Ranch:

Ranch Homes

Ranch House Plan 041-00091

 

     The simple, no frills Ranch style homes are a timeless classic that have continued to be one of the most popular house styles in America. Developing in the west in the mid to late 20th century, the ranch style homes were created due to the shift from farming communities to the suburbs. Homeowners wanted their houses to reflect their simple, informal family lives thus the long, low ranch format was born.

 

Ranch style homes

Ranch House Plan 4766-00122

 

     The quintessential open concept, ranch style homes are perfect for family gatherings and entertaining thanks to the large living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms located in one area. Focused on being open and airy, ranch houses include a large number of windows in order to bring the outdoors inside.

 

Characteristics of ranch style homes include:

  • One story
  • Long, horizontal homes
  • Open floor plans
  • Simplistic, not heavily detailed
  • Asymmetrical, U- or L-shaped floor plan
  • Low -pitched roof
  • Moderate or wide-eave overhang
  • Attached garages
  • Multiple, large windows
  • Attached carports and garages

 
     After being the most popular style in the 1950s-60s, ranch homes are now becoming more sought after by the baby boomers and senior citizens that love the convenience of the single story style as well as the nostalgic aspects that bring back memories of a time long gone. Visit our website to explore our Ranch house plans.
 
      Craftsman, Farmhouse, and Ranch style homes vary in many ways but they all center around one common characteristic – Simplicity. These styles reflect our love of a simple, family-focused lifestyle where porches are sat on, fires are lit, and loved ones gather. These three popular house styles are just a few among the many options. Whether you’re desiring open conveniences or rustic charm, we have a house plan perfect for you and your family.  Visit our website to learn more about these and other house styles.



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What is Egress Explained

Egress Window Information



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How To Make A Small Room Feel Large

Small Spaces Feel Larger



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Top Three Reasons to Build Your Own Home

The dream of homeownership continues to course through our veins as it has for millennia; the human desire and ability to own a home offers considerable benefits beyond just financial security and comfort. Aside from having a place to store your stuff, a roof over your head and a means of attaining wealth, there are substantial social benefits to owning a home and not just for you but, for your family, your neighborhood and community. Living comfortably with close family members triggers a sense of security, a place of belonging, better health, both mental and physical, and has been an essential element of the American dream since the first settlers arrived. Homeowners consistently report greater life satisfaction, increased self-esteem, an overall greater sense of happiness, and a perceived impression of control over their lives which produces a trickle-down effect on their children, their community and their country at large.

 

Beyond the impressive sense of accomplishment and community involvement, home ownership offers some real tangible benefits:

 

Personal Benefits

It’s yours, it’s new and it’s designed your way – No one has ever lived there before and just like the leather seats in your new automobile, that new home smell belongs only to you and it’s your dream, not someone else’s. Down to the smallest detail, your home is under warranty and should provide you with years of comfortable and worry free enjoyment. Today’s energy and cost saving technology provides an efficient home that is healthier, more productive, less time consuming to maintain and features a plethora of family friendly designs to choose from that reflect your style and personality. Choose your own finishes – appliances, flooring, lighting, cabinets, countertops – the sky’s the limit; well, maybe the budget’s the limit but whatever your design choices, they are yours, they are new and they reflect you and your family’s personal tastes.

 

Along with the finishing touches to the home, you are able to choose the floor plan/layout that makes sense for your family’s lifestyle. Open floor plans with a main level master is a popular choice; rather have the master suite located upstairs, no problem, it’s yours. Vaulted ceilings, enormous his and hers walk-in closets, an adjacent sitting room; all easily within reach. A more traditional layout with formal living and dining rooms and a large family gathering kitchen; again, easily attainable. The point being, whatever finishes, interior floor plan and amenities you’d like, they are yours for the taking and not necessarily at a higher price tag. Cutting edge technology and efficient building methods and products require less care, less maintenance and a higher degree of safety when building your home. New homes offer the latest in design, style, comfort and quality that provides a care-free lifestyle so you can enjoy your new home and not make costly repairs and be saddled with endless home projects.

House Plan 5631-00061

House Plan 5631-00061

 

Societal Implications

Another important aspect of home ownership are the social implications for you and your family. Buying a home is much more than having a place to live; it offers immeasurable social and health benefits, creates neighborhood bonds and, in some cases, produces lifelong friendships. Beyond the interior of the home, the floor plan, the amenities and the personal details is the ability to open our doors to family and friends, to gather and share communally while creating bonds which can last a lifetime. Having meaningful and shared connections with family and friends has a positive influence on our lives and can lead to higher self-esteem, higher academic achievement for our children, improved health and safety and stronger economies, both locally and globally. Home ownership also results in higher levels of civic and political participation, lower crime rates and a greater sense of stability for families and communities.

 

As a result of their economic and emotional investment, homeowners are more likely to maintain and improve their property, participate in neighborhood or community events and be aware of their community’s security and well-being. Home ownership also generates employment opportunities, creates a positive impact on the economy and provides “our” communities with unlimited resources to thrive and prosper.  

House Plan 7922-00052

House Plan 7922-00052

 

Wealth Management

The housing bubble burst withstanding, another benefit of home ownership is the ability to generate tremendous wealth gains for homeowners. Under normal circumstances, the housing market and home ownership continues to reap great rewards for individuals and is still considered a dependable investment. Although, owning a home may result in broad social investments for building neighborhoods and strengthening communities, building a home is often a critical first step in securing personal financial stability.

 

When building your home, you are able to examine a builder’s reputation before making the decision to work with him or her. Personal relationships are key to creating a team environment no matter the endeavor you undertake and this arduous process can facilitate the opportunity to secure home and sweat equity. If you have experience in carpentry, plumbing, electricity and/or numerous other handyman skills you can personally contribute to some of the construction processes that will result in immediate savings and wealth building. Not only does this save money and time but it grants a feeling of accomplishment when you realize that portions of your home were built by your own hand.

 

Interest rates continue to remain at a very attractive level and there are many lenders willing to facilitate and help make your dreams of home ownership a reality. Along with the immediate savings available when building your own home, tax deductions provide a number of benefits for homeowners over the long haul. While these vary according to the market value of the home, the homeowner’s tax bracket and other variables, the effects of deductions and other tax benefits can contribute to long term financial stability and wealth management.

8504-00009

House Plan 8504-00009


Dreaming big is a lifelong enterprise for many of us; however, when presented with the opportunity to build your own home and actually make your dream come true, it can be an exciting time like no other. From the outset, the quest of home ownership remains a satisfying journey to initiate and devote oneself to when pursuing wealth creation, enjoying the thrill of personal accomplishment, comparing cultural and societal implications, recognizing psychological benefits and appreciating greater control over your life and living environment.



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Five Home Building Trends That Benefit Homeowners

Change, while necessary, can cause conflict and take “us” out of our comfort zone; however, change is constantly taking shape in all facets of our life and being able to embrace change is a skill set and easily managed even if not initially welcomed. In the field of home building and design, change can be a good thing and definitely lead to benefits both for homeowners and the environment. Architecture and design change regularly; maybe not as quickly as other aspects affecting our lives but significant innovation, material technology and shifting demographics can influence the housing market and produce a trickle-down effect on many of our choices. And once you start looking at change as a positive thing, you will find amazing benefits designed to reinforce your values and beliefs when planning and building your home.

 

Incorporating change into the housing market and design choices allows society, at large, and you, personally, to cope with challenges that can alter the look and functionality of our homes. While it is always safe to assume that economic and demographic developments; an aging population, the continuing recovery of the housing collapse and job employment/security will likely determine many of our choices, we are able to effectively embrace change personally in regards to our family and lifestyle. Within this developing reconstruction and transformation, there are definite responses to key trends that will continue to benefit homeowners:

 

Clean, Healthy Living

Along with the obvious benefits of healthy home living – the environment, the community and those who build our homes – we, the homeowner, prosper both physically and emotionally when living in a home that provides durability, energy/water savings along with improved indoor air quality which results in ultimately, a safer and more comfortable home.

 

A durable home is a less expensive and time consuming home; there is simply more time to be spent outdoors or pursuing other activities instead of spending time on costly repairs and cleaning. The cornerstone of every healthy home is energy efficiency where monetary savings are realized in lower utility bills including energy consumption, water savings through low-flush toilets and showerheads, insulated hot water pipes and even efficient outdoor landscaping irrigation systems. Mold prevention through properly sealed and well-ventilated systems can significantly reduce health problems and restrict mold growth. Quality lighting continues to evolve and there are numerous products in the market place that provide low cost alternatives to traditional lighting sources; a new smart LED bulb is available that can change the color of the lighting to coincide with your body’s natural rhythm and sleep cycle. Emerging technologies continue to be increasingly important in design and construction as the tools and methods architects use are ever evolving. This increase in innovation, product materials and design trends increase efficiency in the building design process as well as the life cycle of the home.

7806-00003

House Plan 7806-00003

 

Sustainable Materials

As our natural resources dwindle, it becomes evident that our homes need to be well-designed and built with sustainable materials. New materials and construction methods are being continually refined and offer solutions to the challenges homeowners face today when wanting high-end, luxury materials and yet, their budget demands otherwise. Marble, granite and other hard stone surfaces continue to be choice materials when designing a home; however, there are many new products and design materials that feature lower costs and expanded colors, texture and sizes in prefabricated materials resulting in sturdy, practical and energy efficient alternatives.

 

Flooring choices are also becoming more flexible and varied with an eye on sustainability and choice. Reclaimed wood flooring is increasingly sought after for its beautiful patina, visual appeal and its ability to wear well while adding warmth and character to the home. Since not everyone is able to find and purchase reclaimed wood boards, there are engineered floors to be considered with white, gray and washed floors leading the way. Cork floors are also gaining in popularity for their ability to resist mold and mildew along with the fact that they are better on the feet and legs. Bamboo is also a popular alternative because it grows faster than wood and offers a luxurious, sustainable flooring choice.

1907-00035

House Plan 1907-00035

 

Technology

Home technology is a billion dollar plus industry and is expected to rise exponentially over time. Home theaters, home automation, structured in-home wiring, home offices – as a result of changing work patterns and telecommuting – and even the kitchen and bath are increasingly relying on technology advancements to improve the homeowner’s experience. Technology enhances efficiency, keeps family members home, reduces energy usage and integrates “smart” technology into homes. For homeowners, building a home and installing high tech products is a smart investment that seemingly offers endless benefits such as complete control of your home’s utilities, hi-tech entertainment areas along with increased value and a dramatically improved life.

5631-00024

House Plan 5631-00024

 

Kitchens

Kitchens remain the one place in the home that all homeowners want and need additional space. A modern kitchen with plenty of room is the foundation on which families thrive and gather daily. Homes with open floor plans have been gaining in popularity for over a decade; however, kitchens are the number one choice of additional space. Known as the “heart of the home” and generally the focus of household activities, kitchens are used for entertaining, meal planning, meal prepping and casual dining spaces. Once a luxury, but now often needed and desired, are large kitchen islands where “hanging out” and spending time with family and friends is great for socializing as well as a natural separation of space. The use of skylights, under counter task lighting and timer controlled lighting can greatly reduce the expense of traditional lighting sources. Continuing innovation and new techniques with regards to surface choices enhance the personality and popularity of kitchens by offering alternative choices to the more traditional options of granite, marble and other hard surfaces while reducing costs and incorporating unique design elements into the kitchen.

957-00014

House Plan 957-00014

 

Integration of the Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor living spaces continue to gain in popularity and often line up with our collective values reflected in less formal, casual lifestyles. Reflecting this, many homes no longer have formal living and dining rooms, having replaced them with great rooms, dens and open floor layouts. Coming on the heels of a less formal lifestyle, outdoor spaces have come to represent this return to casual living and while initially these spaces may have been small, functional and practical, today’s outdoor spaces may feature extravagant outdoor kitchens, outdoor living spaces and plenty of room for pools, spas and other water features. While many homes have eliminated the more formal rooms of the home, still others have chosen to keep these rooms and have them function differently as a jumping off point to the outdoor spaces. Blurring this distinction between the indoors and outdoors, homes actually wind up with more living space and greater opportunities to bring family and friends together for socializing and family friendly activities. Homeowners have long recognized their backyards have been under-utilized and are now effectively valuing and recognizing that 100% of their interior/exterior space can be converted into usable space.

341-00274

House Plan 341-00274

 

These key takeaways of home building trends that benefit homeowners continue to develop and as with any other change, the outcome and product realization of these benefits will be influenced by ongoing and innovative technological advances and the individual commitment to family and lifestyle. Flexibility and comfort will also continue to guide homeowners, along with personal choices, as they maneuver their way through the myriad of updated and ever-changing advances made to enhance their homes and lifestyles in a way that makes economic and practical sense.



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The All-American Front Porch

Overwhelming sought after and culturally renowned in America’s architectural landscape, porches symbolize the spirit of America in much the same way as baseball and apple pie have for centuries. As an architectural structure, the porch has existed throughout much of man’s history; from rock overhangs and cave dwellings to modern times, the porch has structurally and culturally retained a prominent spot in history but the American front porch remains a cultural and social icon unlike any of its predecessors.

 

Country front porch
House Plan 7922-00198

 

The word “porch originally derived from Latin – “porta”; passage to “porticus”; colonnade

to Old French – “porche”

to Middle English – “porch”

 

The word “porch” has, during history, been synonymous with verandah, portico, loggia and piazza and until recently represented a small, covered entrance; oftentimes, in response to a place of worship, a public building or private gardens. The modern connotation of the word embodies it present meaning; a roofed, open space that is secured to the house and offers shelter, shade and outdoor living space to be enjoyed either as a solitary pursuit or one shared with family and friends. Certainly there are architectural records that indicate the frontrunners to the American front porch were perhaps, European or African in nature; however, early colonists didn’t employ the use of porches, instead, they were busy shaping the landscape of America through the use of elementary house structures where the need for sustenance was an almost greater need than shelter and certainly leisure forms of architecture had not become a part of the American terminology. Some of the first porches built in America began to “pop” up well into the 18th century and were heavily influenced by the climate of parts of North America and certainly the South, in particular They conveniently outlined the need for fresh, well ventilated air and breezes which were paramount to the personal comfort of homeowners and where they definitely offset the tropical and humid weather conditions. By the mid-19th century, industrialization and technological advances had created a leisure class free from “survival mode” who sought to enjoy their free time and thus, the creation of the front porch as we know it today; a spot to relax, enjoy other’s company and “pass the time of day.”

 

Rustic Porch
House Plan 1907-00005
 

 

Americans have had a long love affair with the large land mass that defines it, its accompanying wildlife and natural landscape along with the desire to tame them both. Americans soon became fascinated with the idea of their connection to nature in terms of personal enjoyment and spiritual growth. The presence of a front porch inevitably linked their house to nature as a cultural and societal symbol of Americana and from there, it was an easy transition to include front porches when building homes as it represented the American ideal of home, family and community.

 

Unfortunately, the post-World War II era, witnessed the decline of the American front porch as Americans began to either be enticed back indoors or to travel extensively by automobile. The proliferation of automobiles and a national road system replaced the need for outdoor recreation found in and around the home while spawning the beginning of leisurely travelling America. Along with the automobile, air conditioning soon found its way into the American home and from there, the need to step outside seeking comfort and a way to cool off became unnecessary and undesirable. The invention of the television soon followed and delivered a “death” blow to the front porch as now it was much cooler indoors and family life began to be centered around the television. With the decline of the front porch literally, culturally and societally, a new outdoor space emerged; the rear porch, a private space located away from neighbors that offered a sanctuary to enjoy one’s leisure time with family after a long day at work or a day spent indoors.

 

Bungalow Porch
House Plan 1070-00247

 

As is so often true in all context regarding the cyclical nature of life, front porches have re-emerged as a defining force in American architecture and lifestyle choice. This once beloved and revered status symbol where the simple pursuit of enjoying leisure and family time has once again found its way back into America’s hearts and homes. This “back to basics” concept has clearly come on the heels of an exhausted populace searching for the renewal of American traditional values of family, hearth and home. This, oftentimes, simply constructed bit of board and nails has woven a comprehensive tale of shared, collective memories; the promotion of family time, joyful and somber celebrations, hellos and goodbyes and a reconnection to our communities. This new, old-fashioned porch has come to express, not just a place, but a state of mind and hopefully we will continue to be a “front porch people” and experience a renewal of the American spirit in terms of living purposefully through our connections to people, nature and our values.

 

Bungalow House Plan
House Plan 1907-00031

 



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The Color of our Lives – Paint Your World

Color – a noun 1. – the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma; hue.

 

Color impacts all our lives on a daily basis; it “colors” our moods, our environments, our homes, can make or break our interactions with others and profoundly makes a difference in our homes. The single most daunting stressor when it comes to decorating our homes is the choice of color we use and yet, it comes at a nominal fee, can practically be changed at will and there is an endless supply of choices so why not enjoy selecting our home color choices?

Home Design

House Plan 5631-00049

 

Color has fascinated our world since the beginning of time as evidenced by many ancient cultures which produced dyes and pigments from natural resources up until today’s most recent technology. Famous works of art from the earliest cave drawings to the most modern masterpieces have used color to represent a wide range of human emotions and to tell stories. As every college freshman or art student can tell you, there has been a varying assortment of resources employed in the manufacture and use of paint color; milk, all types of oils, eggs etc. and with every new discovery have come superior variations, results and infinite ways to use them.

 

Color can make or break a space so it is a good idea to have the goals of the rooms in mind when decorating our homes. At the most basic level, you have warm and cool tones and from there, are a descending pyramid of color splashes. Warm tones generally include red, orange and yellow while cool tones tend towards the blue, green and purples with varying degrees. Paint on the walls of our homes and as decorative touches throughout the house will provide maximum impact for minimum expense all the while creating mood enhancers for the personality of our homes.

Color Wheel

The color wheel is the traditional choice for color representation and their corresponding relationship to one another. It can be a great tool for decision making when decorating any surface and is based on the work of Sir Isaac Newton and his knowledge of how light bends through a prism. This spectrum of color continues to influence our daily lives immensely so a little background on its use is helpful:

 

Complementary Colors – are colors that appear opposite each other on the color wheel with vibrant results.

Analogous Colors – are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Teaming analogous colors creates visual harmony.

Hue – The words color and hue are interchangeable.

Value -The lightness or darkness of a color.

Saturation – is the purity or brightness of a color.

Tone – is a pure color that has been modified by the addition of black or white. Dark tones, or shades, result from mixing a saturated color with gray or black. Light tones, or tints, are achieved by mixing a saturated color with white.

 

And the meaning assigned to colors are as follows:

 

Red is often associated with ambition, determination and leadership.

Pink is often associated with compassion, intimacy and unconditional love.

Blue is often associated with honesty, loyalty and trust.

Purple is often associated with awareness, creativity and imagination.

Orange is often associated with motivation and optimism.

Yellow is often associated with fun, happiness, hope and cheerfulness.

Green is often associated with energy, emotion, balance and stability.

 

Color is essential to interior design; influencing human emotion, evoking instant change and producing dramatic change to our interiors. By understanding color and the effect light has on it, you can effectively choose and create focal points within any space. Because color is affected not only by its surroundings but also by the light that falls on it, understanding how the light hits a space at different times of the day, you can choose a color palette that works throughout the day as well as the evening hours and successfully create any mood you desire within a given space.

House Plan 341-00274

House Plan 341-00274

 

There is a lot of information and interpretation for the many different uses of color; therefore, choosing a color scheme can be overwhelming. However, if you have a basic understanding of the myriad of ways color can influence and assign meaning in our culture and homes, you are on your way to creating beautiful spaces in your home. Ultimately, these color choices can come down to personal preference but it is also wise to have some type of solid information about color and what it means to your space and the way in which you live your life. A few timesavers may come in handy while approaching color choice in home décor:

  1. the size of your room and what you want to convey with it – generally warm colors give the appearance of smaller rooms while cool colors enlarge the space.
  2. how much sunlight does the room receive and at what times of the day is it most/least pronounced?
  3. how is the room used and how many hours a day are you or someone else in the space?
House Plan 110-00585

House Plan 110-00585

 

We, as humans make all sorts of color choices, daily, from color coding gender identify; pink and blue to recognizing the “golden arches”, traffic signals red(stop) and green(go) to the many marketing campaign colors businesses use. And still, in general, we balk at the prospect of choosing color schemes for the walls of our homes without panic.

 

Recently, several paint manufacturers have enlisted the help of online digital painting tools which are user friendly, cost effective and fun. These tools help explore the endless possibilities in choosing either interior or exterior paint colors from the comfort of your home. Here are few of the websites available for the use of virtual paint color choices:

 

http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/try-on-colors/

http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/personal-color-viewer

http://www.glidden.com/Tools/Room-Visualizer

http://www.valsparpaint.com/en/explore-colors/painter



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