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Posts by Christine Cooney
Now, you might be imagining a home like the one from Gone With the Wind or even one of the homes from The Help, but Southern styling reaches across a wide variety of house plan styles to combine charm, elegance, and historical flair.
When you think of Southern plantation houses you probably think of the Old South and the antebellum style. These houses were largely based on the Greek Revival and neoclassical periods. The columns, the stately silhouette, and other features we think of as being Southern were introduced by Anglo-Americans who moved to the South after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Modern Southern architecture has transformed to incorporate a wide variety of tastes.
In the early 1800s, Americans identified more with the Grecian style of architecture than the British styles. If you imagine the Parthenon, you can tone down some of the decorative details and get an idea of what these stately homes looked like. Commonly these home were made of white clapboard exteriors, decorative pilasters, and dentil moldings and heavy cornices. Though there are still some of these historical buildings around, many of the more modern takes blend the Greek Revival style with the Southern Colonial style.
Colonial style originated in the Southern American colonies. Unlike the Northern colonial styles the Southern style had a chimney at the end instead of the center. Other features were a centered front door, multi-pane, tall, double-hung windows, steep gabled roofs, and a narrow plan, often only one row deep. There are also tall foundation walls to protect against moisture damage, and a large welcoming porch.
With a range of styles from the simple cottage to stately homes these houses share a few common features. Unlike Victorian or craftsman homes, these houses are often symmetrical with porches, columns and shuttered windows. Some are also raised off the ground in order to give a good view of the surrounding. Gables and dormers are also a key feature where the roof design is concerned.
Regardless of whether you choose a French Creole, Antebellum, Greek Revival or Georgian inspired Southern house plans, you will find that these plans are warm and inviting, embodying the spirit of Southern hospitality.
Consumers see outdoor features as an investment; trends identified for 2013 include outdoor kitchens, entertainment spaces, fire pits, pools and dining areas. Direct from the Designers offers outdoor living spaces to meet this growing demand.
Demand for unique outdoor home features, such as kitchens, living rooms, pools, patios and pavilions is on the rise, according to data collected by several different professional organizations in the landscaping industry.
In a survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, industry professionals were asked to rank the projected popularity of several different outdoor features.
Top trends identified for 2013 include:
- Outdoor kitchens / entertainment spaces: Topping the list in projected popularity for 2013, outdoor kitchens and gathering areas are becoming a must-have home feature for their versatility and convenience. Specific kitchen features such as gas grills, sinks, refrigerators and fire pits were noted as up-and-coming trends.
- Dining areas: Achieving a 96% popularity rating among industry professionals, demand for outdoor dining spaces is gaining steam, with a focus on features such as installed seating and all-weather furniture.
- Water features: Popular with families—and a must-have for hot climates—built-in pools and unique water features (e.g. decorative waterfalls) also ranked high on the list in projected popularity.
A separate survey of more than 2,200 homeowners conducted by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) predicted increased spending on outdoor kitchens, patios and unique water features in the coming year.
According to PLANET CEO Sabeena Hickman (CAE, CMP), consumers are investing in features “that ultimately improve the resale value of the home.”
Tammy Crosby, Chief Operating Officer of online stock house plan provider Direct From the Designers, agrees.
“We see that outdoor living features are currently very popular with both builders and buyers,” commented Crosby. “They see these features as an enjoyable, cost-effective way to extend total living space and improve the home’s resale value.”
Crosby continued, “Because adding under-air square footage to a home can be an expensive endeavor, outdoor spaces such as living rooms, patios and kitchens can be a great alternative for homes of all sizes.”
Specializing in award-winning house plans from the country’s top architects and designers, Direct From the Designers is responding to the increased demand by offering prospective home buyers a virtually endless array of choices when it comes to unique outdoor spaces. With plans available for homes of all sizes, buyers are discovering that the designs, ranging from simple to high-end, are a great way to add to a home’s value, comfort and space.
The Outdoor Living Plan Collection from Direct From the Designers features hundreds of house plans for every budget, including:
HHF-2297: This top-selling house plan offers several different outdoor features for the whole family. The Barbecue Porch will impress aspiring chefs, while family members will love gathering on the covered lanai. Both rooms are connected by a pass-through fireplace, making this outdoor space a perfect place to spend time, no matter what the season.
HHF-4176: Although this home has slightly less than 2,000 square feet under air, its outdoor features extend the living space well into the backyard. A covered porch just off the family room offers an expanded space for hosting parties or serving large gatherings, while the sun deck serves as an open-air retreat. The unique greenhouse feature provides a transition between inside and out.
HHF-4282: There’s no shortage of outdoor space in this house plan, which features front and rear covered porches, a backyard pergola and an outdoor dining area. You can also take in the view, soak up the sun or relax on the second-story open balconies.
Home buyers and builders can easily browse and sort Direct From the Designers’ expansive collection of house plans on their website, including more than 1,000 options that feature outdoor living spaces, athttp://www.dfdhouseplans.com.
“We expect this trend to continue,” said Crosby. “Which is why we’re constantly adding interesting, affordable house plans with beautiful and unique outdoor spaces.”
You’ve sifted through architecture and design books, looked at models and developed a sense of what you like and don’t like. But now comes the important question – should you design a custom home from scratch or stick to a stock floor plan?
Overall, stock floor plans are an excellent choice. Why?
Variety: Looking for ranch house plans? Two-story Victorian-style plans? You may think pre-made plans will limit your choices, but you’d be surprised. Unlike many years ago, there are many different types of floor plans available from architects, designers and builders. With so many choices out there, you’re sure to find the perfect plan to suit you and your family’s needs.
Details: What if you find a pre-designed plan you like, but you want to make minor tweaks? No worries – most stock floor plans can be easily modified to your desires. Common changes include making a mirror image of the plan, moving walls and adding small features such as a fireplace.
Cost: Having an architect create a custom floor plan is typically a pricy endeavor that can set you back thousands of dollars. Stock home plans, on the other hand, are far more budget-friendly. You get the advantage of using a professionally designed plan for a fraction of the price.
Time: If you’re on a tight schedule, stock floor plans are an excellent option. These plans are ready as soon as you buy it – whereas custom house plans can take weeks (or even months) to create and approve. You may go through several versions of a custom-designed plan before you are comfortable with the final version.
Reassurance: Building a custom-designed home means doing things no one has done before. Even the smallest details and decisions can be nerve-racking. When you purchase pre-designed stock home plans, you may be able to find an identical home that’s already been finished, so you can easily see how your home will look. You can also visit online forums to talk to others who are using the same plan.
Tips to remember:
- Find out if your neighborhood has any building restrictions or requires your home to meet any specifications.
- Be sure your stock floor plans are in accordance with local building codes.
- Ask about the credentials of the planner who created your stock house plans.
- You want your home to be unique, but not to stick out like a sore thumb – choose a stock floor plan that suits your home’s surroundings.
1 — A regal kitchen like this from the Chatham House Plan has every amenity a homeowner could crave. With rich hardwood floors from Lumber Liquidators® and granite countertops, it has a clean and sophisticated appearance that will be in vogue for years to come. Top off the kitchen with some pendant lights over the counter and you have a kitchen table ready for multiple purposes. Of course, all this luxury is not without practicality, as this kitchen’s storage needs are covered by effective use of custom cabinetry from KraftMaid.®
2 — A kitchen like this doubles as a dining room, ideal for entertaining a small dinner party. Stylish and elegant cabinetry and countertops are perfectly paired with these 5-Star appliances. When it comes to luxury and performance the technology of Wolf® and Sub-Zero® Appliances remain favorites for high-end homes. You can also customize the way you cook with their virtual kitchen designer. The award-winning kitchen is part of the Retreat at Water””s Edge House Plan which won “Best of Show” at the Seattle Street of Dreams and AIBD Design Competition.
3 — An open floor plan blends the kitchen and the living areas together, making it ideal for a cozy family gathering. This luxury kitchen floor plan features a Wolf® range top, which is perfect for the chef of the family, and the island can double as a buffet for entertaining. A Delta® faucet sits center stage at the kitchen sink and an ornate tile backsplash behind the range adds a decorative finishing touch.
4 — Not an inch of storage is wasted in this European-influenced kitchen. The KraftMaid® center island includes drawers that make keeping countertops clear a breeze. Stainless steel appliances from Jenn-Air offset the crisp white countertop and island. Adding appliances to compliment your cabinetry is easy with Jenn-Air’s® DesignVision app for iPhone. The light tile and cabinetry are offset by dark flooring from Lumber Liquidators.®
5 — A thoughtful layout for a family, this spacious kitchen floor plan blends form and function with country styling. At the center of this kitchen is an island with two sink-prep areas outfitted with Delta® faucets. Light square tiles and chandelier lighting from LAMPS PLUS® offset the dark marble. This cozy kitchen is the perfect place to prep meals and spend time together as a family.
For many, outdoor decorations and lighting are as much a part of the winter holidays as gift giving and enjoying our favorite foods. With the rising cost in electricity, using LED (light emitting diode) lights can save you money without sacrificing your holiday display. LED holiday lights use 10 times less energy than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. For outdoor lighting, consider solar powered LED lights.
If you’re concerned about how holiday LED light strands compare to traditional incandescent lights, you’ll find you’re in for a wonderful treat. Here are some great, green reasons why making the switch to LED lights makes sense this holiday season.
LED lights are energy efficient. They can save up to 98% of the electricity needed to power incandescent light strands. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs — enough to light two 24-foot strings.
The environmental benefits of using LED holiday lights are numerous. They use less electricity, are recyclable and don’t contain ultraviolet light or mercury.
Because they generate less heat, LED light bulbs are cool-to-the-touch. There’s also less risk of them overheating and catching fire.
The cost is surprisingly affordable if you’re a smart shopper. LED Holiday Light Exchange programs from your local utility company and government are making it easier for consumers to switch. Consult the website of your local utility, city or county for holiday light exchange or reduced-fee programs.
Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LEDs don’t have a filament that might break or burn out. They have epoxy lenses that are almost indestructible, which means you can drop them or step on them and they’ll keep on shining brightly. LED bulbs can last for more than 100,000 hours. That means you could potentially have your LED holiday light set around for several holiday seasons.
LED holiday light strings that have earned the U.S ENERGY STAR® rating last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent strands. They are also independently tested to meet strict lifetime and electrical requirements. Check for manufacturers that offer five-year warranties.
With LEDS you don’t have to worry about your lights burning out if one fails because holiday light strands have tiny built-in fuses. Be sure not mix incandescent and LED strands together.
Holiday LED lights come in vibrant colors, bright lights and a variety of shapes and styles. You also get the same special effects like blinking, dimming and color shifting but with new and more efficient technology.
Since they’re made of plastic and aren’t breakable, like their incandescent forefathers, they don’t require the extra cardboard, special slots and packing material that the old ones do. This makes them lighter and easier to store.
By using LEDS you are can still create a big holiday light display while being eco-friendly.
Decorating your home for the fall months can be both an enjoyable time spent with family and relatively inexpensive. There are plenty of great things about this particular time of year like the return of cooler temperatures (gather round the fireplace), fall colors and nature changing before our eyes (take in the gorgeous foliage). Adding fall touches of décor to the interior and exterior of home will help you transition into a new and exciting season of holidays and family traditions. Here are some great ideas and tips to decorate your home for the fall from the leading designers and architects of American’s most popular house plans:
The warmth of this classic two-story Craftsman house plan starts at the front entry with wraparound porch and continues through the opening living space to the rear covered patio cozy breakfast nook. Curb appeal and efficiency is easily achieved with fiberglass doors, columns and trim from Therma-Tru® and Fypon®. View Direct from the Designers extensive collection of Craftsman House Plans.
Dress up your porch
You can easily give your front porch and entry fall inspiration by wrapping corn stalks, raffia or straw around your columns and railings. You can easily add rich colors to this theme by adding thick ribbons and placing mums on your front steps. If you have children, don’t forget the pumpkins. Pumpkins not only symbolize Halloween but fall harvest. The best thing about using pumpkins to decorate your porch or entryway is that you can turn them into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween night, while snacking on homemade pumpkin seeds.
Light up your home’s exterior
Luminaries are not just for the winter holiday season, they are perfect for fall too as the sun starts to set earlier in the afternoon. Try some harvest string lights in fall colors, Maple leaf garland string lights and of course there’s a wide selection of Halloween themed lights. Battery powered candles placed inside paper bags with sand in the bottom, makes perfect luminaries for your walkway and front stairs.
Nature-inspired door wreath
Welcome visitors with a beautiful autumn wreath at your front entry door. You can use simple grapevine wreaths, which are gorgeous on their own. If you prefer more adornment consider adding pinecones, leaves, berries and corn husks to your wreath. If you have a lot of windows that face the front of your home, consider hanging similar wreaths from these windows as well.
Roll out the welcome mat
Accent your front entry with a fall themed doormat. Whether you’re searching for a harvest, football, school or any other fall theme, there’s a bounty of options to choose from. To help with visitors tracking in the elements, you should consider both an outdoor doormat and an indoor entrance mat.
Add autumn artwork to your walls
Display artwork that depicts fall themes and colors in your front foyer or on a predominate wall in your family room or dining room. Consider nature themes with fall colors like oranges, reds and golden yellows, which can alter the mood in your home. Wall candles will not only provide ambiance, but also bring the aroma of fall into your home with the scents of apple, cinnamon and pumpkin.
This is Direct from the Designers most popular selling house plan. It’s packed with amenities and lots of style. Enjoy additional images and the floor plan for L’attesa di Vita.
Use your fireplace mantel to showcase seasonal décor
Your fireplace mantel is a great place to showcase your seasonal décor. Simply by taking a walk in the woods or your own backyard you can find a treasure chest of pinecones, dried leaves, cattails and red berries to create a simple decoration. Adding small pumpkins, gourds, dried arrangements and rich colored candles will add appeal to your mantel.
Create cozy sitting areas
As the cooler temperatures begin, you’ll want to bring out the colorful throw blankets and cozy pillows so you can cuddle up with a good book or movie. There are so many variations in pillow and throw sizes, styles, prints and textures that you can give your living room a whole new look for the fall.
Don””””t miss out on the latest home design ideas and the newest house plans from Direct from the Designers, simple sign up for Dream Green, a free weekly e-newsletter.
Now that summer is in full swing it is the perfect time to think about cookouts, backyard swimming and creating outdoor living space to enjoy with family and friends. Something as simple as a covered patio or a grilling station or as extravagant as a fully functional outdoor kitchen with a dining area and fireplace that surrounds a custom pool and patio, can increase the amount of time you spend outdoors.
This issue of Her Dream Home features house plans with our best outdoor living spaces to inspire you to design a new outdoor area or to redesign your existing space. You’ll find everything from covered patios, grilling stations, dining and sitting areas, fully equipped gourmet kitchens, custom pools and much more in a wide range of architectural styles. A personal favorite is the Terrebonne House Plan featured on the cover. This two-story European-styled home is absolutely gorgeous inside and out and features plenty of photographs.
You’ll also find some great articles including Stepping Outside: Creating an Outdoor Living Area featuring innovative design ideas and tips including helpful suggestions for lighting, patio furniture, decks and more! To inspire the cook in all of us, there’s 5 Sizzling Tips for Cooking Outdoors so you can create the perfect grilled dishes.
This is also the perfect time to think about building a new home or remodeling your existing home. The key to a well-designed house plan is one that offers flexibility with an open floor plan and bonus spaces. Learn about all the benefits of an open floor design in Create a Spacious Home with an Open Floor Plan.
The newest issue of Her Dream Home magazine from Direct from the Designers House Plans features a step-by-step guide to building your new home. This guide includes important information consumers need to know before they begin this exciting project.
From creating a home building budget to knowing what to expect during each building stage, 10 Steps to Building A New Home is a “must read” article that will assist homeowners every step of the way.
This issue also features a small sampling of Direct from the Designers most popular house plans, which combine the latest in green building techniques and products. These designs also feature open floor plans, large gourmet kitchens, luxurious master suites and comfortable outdoor living spaces to accommodate the demands of homeowners.
One of the most popular architectural styles is the Craftsman House Plan. DFD House Plans extensive collection features homes in a wide range of sizes with classic Craftsman styling touches like front porches, dormers, plenty of interior woodwork and warm earth tones to create a charming design inside and out. To view the entire collection, click here.
Enjoy fabulous photography of two brand-new home plans: the Riverside House Plan is a sleek, one-story contemporary design, and the Randolph House Plan is a two-story classic with lots of natural light featured on the magazine cover.
Direct from the Designers House Plans recently created their DFD House Plans boards on Pinterest to showcase photographs of their best-selling house plans, as well as added the “Pin It” button to all their house plan images to make it easy to add to your own boards.
Stay connected by signing up for Dream Green, a free weekly newsletter where consumers and builders can learn about the latest sustainable interior and exterior home building products and design trends and tips to build a new home. Click here to sign up.
Celebrate mother’s special day with a dream house plan from Direct from the Designers, where she will feel like the queen of the castle. If she loves to cook, surprise her with a home plan with a fully equipped gourmet kitchen. Special attention has been give to create functional work zones with plenty of countertop and storage regardless of the size of the kitchen floor plan. Everyone loves to be pampered, which is why these homes all feature master suites with spa-like baths, walk-in closets and sitting areas so mom can escape for some private time to rejuvenate and relax after a busy day of taking care of the family.
One can never have enough storage space, which is why all of these designs feature walk-in closets, built-ins, bonus rooms and optional basement floor plans. If you’re considering having your mom live with you, you’ll enjoy our extension collection of home plans with in-law suites, many offering the comforts of a small apartment with private entrance, full kitchen and living room.
Here is a sample of some of our favorite house plans, designed with mom in mind:
The Retreat at Waters Edge House Plan is a luxurious estate featuring five unique structures that are joined by trellised arbors and covered walkways with complementing floor plans designed for large families and those that love to entertain at home on a grand scale. The kitchen is absolutely amazing with marble countertops, two center islands, including one with ample seating. There’s plenty of cabinetry including a built-in desk area to keep you organized. View over 50 photographs and the floor plans for this luxurious home.
This sophisticated cottage house plan offers an abundant of unique features throughout its three floors. Beyond the soft arched entry is a gourmet kitchen that serves for casual and formal entertaining. Speaking of entertaining there’s a music room, large coffered great room, recreation room, two game rooms, a home theater, bar and wine cellar. This is home that one won’t want to leave. Upstairs is a true master retreat with a sitting area, fireplace, extensive his & her closet spaces and a private screen porch where one can relax and refresh.
With over 6,000 house plans to preview in a wide range of architectural styles and sizes you are sure to find your dream home. Check some of our favorite designs, including our newest home plans at Pinterest.
The architects and designers from Direct from the Designers House Plans wanted to make sure that all builders, remodelers and other home building professionals were aware of a new sweepstakes being offered by Therma-Tru called “Unlock the Opportunities.” This interactive sweepstakes allows visitors to pick a home and customize its front entry system using the latest products from Therma-Tru.
By creating and submitting an entry system, visitors are entered to win daily $25 gift cards, monthly televisions and laptops and the grand prize, which is a trip for two to the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans. One entry is allowed for every demonstration you take. The contest runs through June 30th.