Are You Building a Green Home? 5 Things to Consider Before You Build

If you’re planning on building a new, green home, here are 5 important tips to consider:

1    Green, Sustainable House Plans

Start with ENERGY STAR® blue, with ENERGY STAR® approved house plans from Direct from the Designers. All the plans in this collection are designed to inspire consumers and builders to build an energy-efficient and eco-friendly home that utilizes all the latest green building techniques and building products.

green house plans

green house plan

The Evergreen Cottage House Plan is an award-winning ENERGY STAR® approved home. Green, energy-efficient features include 6″ SIP exterior walls. Both active and passive energy saving technology is used in this design including a wind generator and grass roof – perfect for practicing golf. Learn more about this craftsman, eco-friendly cottage by viewing the designer notes on the plan page.

2    Size and Site Matters

A smaller home typically costs less to heat and cool and is more affordable to maintain. The trend toward larger houses is decreasing as homeowners continue to assess how many rooms they actually need for their family and lifestyle. If your dream is to build a large home, you can design a very energy-efficient home by incorporating the latest green building techniques and home building products.

traditional green house plan

traditional floor plan

This traditional house plan is perfect for a growing family. This home is packed with extras including a detached apartment studio, open floor plan, home office, large bonus room, mudroom and spacious, private master suite and front and rear outdoor living spaces.  At 3,215 square feet this flexible home is perfect for homeowners starting out on a smaller budget.

3    Eco-Friendly Construction

Use eco-friendly building techniques and sustainable materials like energy efficient windows and roofing. ENERGY STAR® appliances and heating and cooling systems will greatly reduce the energy consumption of your home. Don’t forget about your interior by using eco-friendly flooring, low- or no-VOC paints and finishes and WaterSense® products for your faucets, toilets and showerheads. Be sure your builder uses the right insulation and house wrap to create a tight building envelope for your home.

4    Green Home Builders

When you’re shopping for a home builder, look for a builder that is experienced in sustainable building. Check their portfolio to see what green elements they use to construct new homes.

5    Consider Extra Green Factors

There are many extra green products and techniques you can incorporate into your new home like wind turbines, solar panels, radiant heat, passive cooling and much more. It all depends on how ‘green’ you want to go.

green house plans

House Plans Similar to Homes of American Presidents

In honor of Presidents’ Day Direct from the Designers has assembled a list of homes that our Presidents have called their own. Discover their taste in home design. We’ve matched these famous homes with similar house plans from our Luxury Collection so you can build your own presidential dream home.

Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port

One of America’s most famed summer getaways is the Kennedy Compound on Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.  It consists of 6 acres of waterfront property and is currently owned by Ted Kennedy. To learn more about the Kennedy’s life on Cape Cod, you can visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.













Home away from home: John F. Kennedy Jr. and Jackie O pictured in 1953 after announcing their engagement vacationed at the Kennedy Compound frequently

Build your own waterfront estate. Two of our most popular luxury beach cottage house plans are The Retreat at Waters Edge and the Chatham.

The Retreat is a 9,820 square foot shingle-style estate that features five structures connected by trellised arbors and covered roofs. There is a cabana that doubles as a guest house and a magnificent combination of outdoor/indoor living spaces perfect for entertaining. This home was “Best of Show” winner at both the 2006 Seattle Street of Dreams and the 2007 AIBD Design Competition. Enjoy 55 photographs of House Plan 3236.

The Chatham embodies the essence of coastal charm with its shingle-style gables, gambrels, columns, turrets, balconies and verandas combined with the very best in modern amenities for a busy lifestyle. This two-story home features 7,900 square feet of well-appointed living spaces including plenty of rooms for entertaining like a home theater, game room, formal living and dining rooms, a large open gourmet kitchen and covered outdoor living spaces.

This award-winning design took Best of Show honors at the 2005 Seattle Street of Dreams and a 2006 Best of American Living. Enjoy 40 photographs of House Plan 3235.

President Obama’s Chicago Mansion













Former residence of President Barack Obama is located on the south side of East Hyde Park Boulevard in Chicago. It’s a beautiful 6,200 square foot Georgian revival mansion and popular tourist hot spot. It’s where his family lived while he served as Illinois senator and ran for the presidency.

This two-story Colonial home is 4,094 square feet and perfect for an urban neighborhood with its narrow, but deep design. There’s even a third story bonus room perfect for overlooking the city. View the floor plans to House Plan 4149.

 Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Chappaqua Colonial Home

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton purchased this Dutch Colonial home for $5.95 million in 1999 just after leaving office. The 5,200 sq. ft. colonial boasts five bedrooms on a gorgeously landscaped lot in one of Westchester County’s most sought-after neighborhoods.

This luxurious 5-bedroom Colonial house plan would the perfect addition to any high-end neighborhood. The first floor features 3,927 square feet, which includes a large master suite in one wing and a guest suite on the other. A large kitchen, nook and family room occupy the rear of the home with a formal dining room, living room and office flanking the foyer. The second floor features 1,771 square feet featuring three well-appointed bedrooms and a media room. View House Plan 4342.

Here are some house plans that were inspired by the White House!

This Old World two-story home with regal columns, Palladian windows and stucco exterior make this an elegant design. View additional photographs and the floor plans to House Plan 8079.

This lavish estate features 3-floors of magnificent living spaces including a a sky room and terrace to enjoy the beautiful landscape. Take a tour of House Plan 6018.

Search & Save

Tips for Designing the Perfect Party Home

Being able to entertain is one of the joys of owning a home. However, some house plans are better designed for the task than others.

Whether you're looking to buy your first home or investing in your own vacation escape, you'll want to make sure that you have the perfect space for a party. For some, that means an intimate dinner with friends. To others, it's a wall-to-wall bash. In any case, there are some basic considerations to be addressed before building a house. After all, you can always buy more ice before a gathering, but it's not so easy to add an extra guest room.

Spacious eating area
Many families no longer use their dining room for nightly meals, but the space is still a great asset when it comes to hosting a dinner party. The ideal size of the room is largely dependent on how many guests you plan on having for an average gathering. Remember that you may also be hosting holiday meals such as Thanksgiving or Christmas throughout the year. As such, it's not a bad idea to err on the side of caution and anticipate a slightly larger crowd than you might normally expect. At the same time, a dining room shouldn't be so large that it becomes uncomfortably spacious for smaller groups.

One of your best options is a dining room with an open connection to other spaces, such as the kitchen or the living room. Such a design can make a small dining room big. It can also allow for dining areas to be extended easily for special occasions.  This Floridian-style house plan features breezy connection to one of two living rooms, as well as immediate access to the kitchen.


A room to entertain
Your living room is going to be your next major concern for hosting parties. It doesn't matter whether you're throwing a rager or simply looking for a place to retire after dinner for games and coffee – a large living room makes all the difference. Great rooms are a wonderful option. These expansive interiors start with a sizable living room and generally feature open connections to nooks, kitchens and dining areas. Hosting becomes a cinch, as the room can feel nearly twice as large. Keep an eye out for other amenities, including fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and porch access, all of which this house plan has.


A place outside 
Come summer, you'll want to be able to move the party outdoors. Having a sizable yard is a good start, but it's also nice to have extended patios and covered porches specifically for the purpose of hosting. Not only do they lend some grandeur to your gathering, they also soften the transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Many house plans offer creative spaces for hosting large groups. Such designs may offer designated areas for dining as well as cooking, complete with a fireplace to get a barbecue started. This luxury house plan boasts both a lanai and a barbecue porch. It also has multiple access points from the master suite, the nook and the family room. 

Rooms for sleeping 
At the end of a long night, it's nice for guests to have a room waiting for them. House plans with extra bedrooms are good for regularly entertaining people on the weekends. If you don't like having rooms that are by and large unused except for the occasional party, consider houses with flexible spaces that can easily be converted into a sleeping area. That may include dining rooms, studies, game rooms and exercise areas.


This house plan features plenty of flex spaces as well as bedrooms

Overall, you'll want to consider striking a balance between finding enough space and maximizing the use of your rooms by seeking out open, flexible rooms. 

How To Re-Think the Kitchen Work Triangle

For many modern  families, the kitchen is the heart and hearth of a home, where food is prepared and quality time is shared. Its social value makes its layout one of the most important factors when considering house plans. While the kitchen work triangle has long been the standard principle for kitchen design, it is by no means the only way to make a fun and functional space.

Geometry 101
The kitchen work triangle involves arranging the three most important kitchen appliances – stove, sink and refrigerator – strategically set apart from one another in order maximize efficiency and comfort while cooking. These three appliances form the points of a triangle, hence the name.

This has long been the prevailing approach to kitchen layout, and facilitates the cook’s ability to move easily and comfortably between each spot without feeling too crowded. Usually countertops, cutting space and cabinets help space out the three appliances so that there is some movement. Galley or U-shaped kitchens are most practical for this kind of layout, with one appliance at the bottom of the U, flanked by refrigerator and stove.

A perfect example of the work triangle is the kitchen in the Southborough Cottage house plan, however, L-shaped kitchens can also work, with two appliances on one wall, and the third on the other arm. Island counters can also be used to make a triangle, with dishwashers built into the island across from the refrigerator and sink.


Besides the point
This traditional layout is a great way to maximize cooking efficiency, but, as expert designer Susan Serra of Cultivate notes, the kitchen is no longer just the place where the cook works. Rather, it is becoming an increasingly social space in American households. That means homebuyers should consider what kind of kitchen experience they expect to have and design accordingly.

If a kitchen is crowded with children, for example, it may be worthwhile to move the refrigerator further away from the other appliances so that family may grab snacks without interrupting cooking, according to Serra. You may also prefer to break up the triangle with seated island counters, meaning a more social meal prep that relies on help from the whole family. Your family may not even like to cook, and so can get by on a single-wall kitchen, which bears no resemblance to the triangle.

The perfect kitchen for your family is really only dependent on your imagination and your floor plans – those looking to build a new home should take advantage of the opportunity to design the kitchen of their dreams.

How to Choose the Right Bathroom Sink

Whether getting ready for work or brushing teeth before school, families inevitably spend a lot of time in front of the bathroom sink. Yet, for something that doesn’t get much consideration, the type that you install throughout the house can depend largely on which bathroom it’s going in, the allotted floor plans and the overall aesthetic of the home. Homeowners may want to review the following basic sink styles and the advantages of each.

Simple fixtures
Basic wall-mounted sinks can be one of the simplest fixtures for homeowners. Without a vanity underneath or a countertop on either side, these sinks provide the most open space. They are usually great for smaller bathrooms where storage space is minimal or unnecessary.


For families with modern house plans bordering on the European, a purely functional wall-mounted sink is the perfect choice for wet rooms – tanked bathrooms with a waterproof shower. Vanities and other more elaborate sink designs would only lend themselves to mold in this kind of environment. An equally economical sink design is a basic frame stand-alone sink, which rests on four legs but still lacks a counter or closed cabinet space underneath.

The disadvantages of these sinks are that the water pipes are often exposed and that they lack storage underneath for cleaning products and bathroom supplies. A medicine cabinet can take care of some items, but a closet elsewhere will be necessary. Otherwise, you will need to get creative with shelving.

Stepping up
Pedestal sinks – basins that rest on a column – are an immensely popular design that feels a little more traditional and elegant than basic frames and wall mounts. The selling point of these sinks is that they hide piping in a styled column of the homeowners choosing, from neocolonial to minimalist. Like their exposed counterparts, these sinks also cut down on storage space. The overall effect is a more pleasing aesthetic that can be customized to match house designs.


Above or below
A vanity is the cabinetry built to house the sink and provide storage and a countertop. A vanity-mounted sink is the most versatile option, as it gives families an all-in-one workspace where they can get ready in the morning. While perhaps not the best in the smallest of spaces or wetrooms, they are more efficient in their use of space beneath the sink that would otherwise be wasted. The cabinetry also allows for a higher level of customization of doors, drawers, counters and knobs.

There are two basic options for a vanity sink: sunken or above-counter. The former is the more common option, with the basin submerged below the plane of the counter. Sunken sinks are a more seamless design, but they also eat up storage space within the vanity, and often come with fake top drawers. Above-counter sinks are trendy and a touch more old-fashioned and elegant. The basin usually resembles a bowl that sits on the counter, freeing up space in the vanity. It is, however, the bolder choice.

Making the decision
These are just some of the most basic sink options – each kind of sink is vastly customizable to personal taste. Homeowners selecting a sink should consider not only their style preference, but also the location and kind of bathroom where the sink will be placed. Faucets for laundry or craft rooms may only need a basic work basin. Bathrooms for guests and general use are perfect places for pedestal sinks, where an expansive vanity is not necessary. Family and master bathrooms are usually the largest bathrooms, requiring vanities to accommodate frequent use.

The Ambrose Boulevard house plan is a clear demonstration of prioritizing your bathrooms. The guest room bath features only one sink and minimal floor space. However, the master bath has his and her sinks, a glass shower and a separate tub. A third bathroom on the second floor features two sinks, for the people residing in bedrooms 3 and 4.

The Pros and Cons of Pocket Doors

Pocket doors – sliding doors that recess into the walls – are a great way to maximize space in floor plans. However, there are some drawbacks to these sliding space savers. Here’s everything you need to know about pocket doors.

Opening issues
Regular doors have a swinging radius of about 2.7 feet, which eats up considerable space in a room for the sake of opening and closing a door. This can make for a considerable logistical problem for bathrooms, especially efficiency bathrooms, where tubs, closets and toilets must be artfully placed to avoid the swing of the door. Once inside, it can also be difficult to close the door depending on the layout of the room.

In other rooms of the house, regular doors mean that furniture, some mirrors and any other thick or delicate objects cannot be placed against the wall toward which the door swings. Furthermore, an open door will block posters, trim or any other kind of decoration behind it.

Pros in your pocket
Pocket doors eliminate these problems. While most commonly used for bathrooms, they are now increasingly incorporated into the design of bedrooms, living rooms and closets. For living rooms and bedrooms that incorporate chairs or couches, the use of a pocket door frees up space for a more spacious, evenly distributed furniture layout. If furniture feels too claustrophobic by the door, the open area is also the perfect spot for deep or even floating bookshelves, thereby freeing up space elsewhere in the room.


The recessed door also creates a more holistic design space – the full effect of the room can be on display even with the door open. After switching to pocket doors, regular doors may even feel like nuisance.

Constructing cons
While there are many benefits to a pocket door, it does pose its own problems. The biggest issue is installation, which is much more difficult than a regular door. The door will not slide smoothly if there are any slight deviations in calibration during the construction of the interior frame or the setting of the track. Even experienced carpenters can have a problem with these fickle frames.

They can also be a hassle to maintain. A regular door that’s damaged or broken need only be removed from its hinges and replaced. However, it can be frustrating trying to repair any damages or remove any objects that have made their way into the recessed frame.

How Windows Can Save You Money and Keep You Comfortable Year-Round

Winter and summer mean higher heating and cooling bills, but fortunately, a well-considered floor plan and house design can save you a significant amount of money, as well as make for a more comfortable home. Here is how smart planning can save you a bundle.

The basics of passive heating
The path of least resistance for heat to enter and leave your home is through the window. While that means that windows are a poor insulator, their extreme temperature fluctuations can be used to your advantage.

The angle of the sun is key to good passive design. In the northern hemisphere, the sun is angled toward the south, and that angle gets more acute closer to the winter months. Hence, days are shorter and dimmer in the winter time. An array of larger, south-facing windows will allow for the most direct solar gain into your home during the winter, making the most of what little sunlight there is during the daytime.

Meanwhile, on the north side of the house – where there is no direct sunlight and the exterior wall is cast in shadow – it is better to have smaller and fewer windows so that less heat can escape your house.

Landscapes and awnings
There is a seeming problem with this kind of seasonal planning. In the winter, there needs to be a relatively unobstructed path for light to reach those windows. As such, there should not be other houses or foliage that blocks the sun’s rays. However, the summer time poses a different problem, as bay windows can make rooms on the south side of the house uncomfortably warm. There are two ways to help mitigate this problem.

First, intelligent landscaping will use deciduous trees that shed their leaves as a means of both allowing for passive heating and cooling. Foliage in the summer will shade south-facing windows, but in the winter, when the leaves fall off, light will be allowed in.

Secondly, the sun’s angle will be much higher in the summertime, so bay windows won’t get as much direct light. Awnings can be appropriately angled so that they shade windows in the summer, but not so much so that they block light in the winter.

Room selection
Having windows in the right spot is only part of the planning. Much consideration should be put into what rooms will have direct solar gain, and which will only receive radiated heat from those rooms. The Renville house plan is a very clear demonstration of thoughtful passive design.


The plan is such that the rear side of the home is comprised almost entirely of windows, with over 20 separate panes. Between the three floors, the most exposed rooms are the great room – a living area – the master bedroom and a media recreation room. These rooms are some of the most commonly used in a house, followed by the den and dining room. All of the rooms require light and warmth for activities throughout the day and, as such, will receive the most heating. Those rooms are also some of the largest and most spacious, thus allowing for better air flow to circulate around the house. As these rooms get warmer, heat will spread and rise to cooler parts of the house, providing a better distribution of heat.

Conversely, the garage is on the backside of the house, as well as mechanical, laundry and extra bedrooms, which do not ordinarily require as much sunlight. Also smart is the decision to put the BBQ and screen porch in a place to receive the most western light – perfect for evening cookouts.


The Renville is just one of many designs with an eye toward sustainable architecture. Dozens of green house plans are Energy Star-approved, meaning that they boast energy-efficient features to save you both money and energy.

The Spookiest House on the Block

October means more than pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves, it is also the time for ghouls and goblins to come out and play for Halloween.

If your new home is going to be in a neighborhood full of children, there are bound to be trick-or-treaters at your home, and a house with the right architecture can provide the perfect atmosphere for a frightening All Hallows Eve.

Victorian Gothic

The Victorian era has some fantastic architecture, ranging from the simple to the elaborate. With details such as stonework and archways, these homes provide the base for a haunting Halloween display. A large veranda provides enough space to display jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, or even some antiquated bottles with distressed labeling.

This unique Victorian house plan features stonework that gives it a spellbinding appeal perfect for Halloween.
This unique Victorian house plan features stonework that gives it a spellbinding appeal perfect for Halloween.

The Villain’s Cottage

Perhaps your dream home is more in tune with the witch’s cottage that Hansel and Gretel happen upon. While gingerbread and other baked goods won’t make for an easy to maintain home, you can still make the creepy cottage in the woods a reality with a home that features detailed millwork.

While homes like this have charm, they can easily be made into scary exhibits for Halloween with a few well placed decorations and jack-o-lanterns along the entryway. Dress as the wicked witch and you’ll have a façade that is sure to fright neighbors and friends alike.

This house plan is reminiscent of a fairy tale cottage, but whether that cottage belongs to the seven dwarfs or the wicked witch, remains a question.

Dracula’s Mansion

If your dream is to live in that house on the hill that looks like it came out of a Shirley Jackson novel, then consider a large towering mini castle house plan. Homes with castle-like silhouettes will also provide a sturdy backdrop for Halloween displays.

Ideal for a home with a spacious yard, small castle house plans like this can be made into instant Halloween spectacles with very little effort. Put a few pumpkins on the porch, and light the windows artistically, and before you know it, your home will be the stuff of legends.

This spooky small castle house plan is interesting to look at and chilling at the same time.

These detailed houses might seem a little off-beat for a modern home, but with the right styling they can be the envy of the block on Halloween.  Whether you go for understated Victorian or out-right Gothic, if Halloween is your holiday, your ideal home exists somewhere in the Direct from the Designers library.

Our Most Popular Budget Friendly House Plans

The decision to rent vs buy vs build is a common one, and one that can be a major life event. Renting allows you more flexibility and buying allows you to build equity. But building your own home allows you to create exactly what you want!

For those of you who are leaning towards building your own home but don’t want to break the bank, we’ve put together a list of our most popular budget friendly house plans.

10. Plan HHF-7139


This country craftsman style house is one of our most popular because of it’s smooth layout and efficient use of space. This plan features front and rear covered porches, a great room with vaulted ceilings, fireplace, and built-in cabinets, and a tucked away master suite that will make anyone jealous.

9. Plan HHF-3059


This 1,457 square feet ranch has 3 bedrooms and 2 bath and features a 2-car garage with work area, an open floor plan that highlights the kitchen, and a master suite with vaulted ceilings.

8. Plan HHF-3061


This spacious 1,666 square ft, 2-story cottage features beautiful front and rear porches, a drive under-garage and a second floor media room for the kids.

7. Plan HHF-7138


One of our most popular cottages, Plan 7138 features front and rear covered porches, a master suite with his and hers, get this, walk in closets, and a great room with a fireplace and built-in cabinets.

6. Plan HHF-2808


This compact design uses every inch of space efficiently. This cottage is 1,380 square feet and has 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.

5. Plan HHF-4718


Classic architectural elements adorn the facade of this fresh one-story design which has a great room large enough for any gathering.

4. Plan HHF-5458


This simple country home has front and rear porches, and a simple open floor plan to go along with 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.

3. Plan HHF-6262


This country style design features front and rear covered porches, a 1-car garage with a work and storage space, and a great room with a fireplace and vaulted ceilings.

2. Plan HHF-3800


This tiny cottage uses every square foot wisely – in just 1,080 square feet, this floor plan includes 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.

1. Plan HHF-2259


And last but certainly not least, our most popular house plan for those on a budget. Plan 2259 is an open floor plan that features a kitchen for entertaining, a basement with a game or media room, and a master suite that opens to the rear lanai and outdoor fireplace.

Which of these budget friendly house plans was your favorite?

Let us know in the comments below.

3 Popular Bungalow House Plans

If you want a home that can guarantee privacy and still look modern, you might want to consider a bungalow house plan. A bungalow is typically a one to one-and-a-half story home with low-pitched roofs and wide overhanging eaves. The term bungalow is widely used and has different meanings depending on the location. The term originated in India from a Hindi word literally translating to “house in the Bengal style.” Bungalows were adapted from the Indian style by the British and made their way to America in 1880. They remained popular for fifty years and are notable in American architecture for making good design affordable.

Our most popular bungalow house plan features a comfortable lanai and porch and a covered front porch. This enchanting fairytale style house plan has beautiful curb appealland is a wonderful place to entertain friends in a cozy atmosphere.
Our most popular bungalow house plan features a comfortable lanai and porch and a covered front porch. This enchanting fairytale style house plan has beautiful curb appealland is a wonderful place to entertain friends in a cozy atmosphere.

Depending on where you live, the word bungalow was used differently. From about 1905 to 1930 Americans used the term bungalow for any house that used space efficiently. In the United States however, the interior of a bungalow house plan often features a living room at the center, connected rooms without hallways and built in cabinets, shelves and seats. The space efficiency in a bungalow style house plan is believed to have originated from army tents and rural English cottages. The idea was to cluster the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms and bathroom around a central dining area. What we think of today as an open floor plan.

Another popular bungalow house plan is this small cottage. With an entertainment space downstairs and a private master suite, it is the perfect living space for a small family with the opportunity for future expansion upstairs.

While many different styles of bungalow homes developed were based on materials available in the area, the first bungalow house plans were built during the Arts and Crafts movement. Bungalows often feature natural woodwork such as exposed rafters and built in cabinetry or bookcases. These bungalows are known as craftsman bungalows and were heralded for their cozy appeal.

Additionally, these homes are popular for their heat reducing features. Its roots in India and warm climates explain why these homes are such great heat reducers. Since a large foundation is needed for this single floor house, the roof has a vast surface area, allowing the attic to trap most of the summer heat and making a bungalow the perfect solution for a warmer climate.

Our third most popular bungalow house plan is this piece of Americana. This bungalow rests on 1,380 square feet and packs a whole lot of value into its space. This three bedroom and two bathroom home also features a great room, sunny porch and recreation and media rooms.
Our third most popular bungalow house plan is this piece of Americana. This bungalow rests on 1,380 square feet and packs a whole lot of value into its space. This three bedroom and two bathroom home also features a great room, sunny porch and recreation and media rooms.

Bungalows are a house plan style that sits at the heart of American architecture. With its simple, cozy, homeliness these houses are sure to delight home buyers and builders who want a lot of bang for their buck.