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Posts by Lauren Busser
When I think of Colonial America, I think of a log cabin. I am not sure if it comes from reading Little House on the Prairie as a kid or when I used to play with my brother’s Lincoln Logs, but the image always stuck. Unfortunately I don’t seem to see a lot of log cabins driving through New England but this historically significant architectural style really shouldn’t be ignored.
The first examples of log cabin house plan came to the Americas from the Swedish settlers who built them in Delaware in 1638. After the Revolutionary War other colonists followed suit as they began to move westward. The log cabin became the typical home of the backwoodsman when the colonists began to encounter thick forests in areas like Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Northwest Territories. Log cabins continued to gain fame in the 1840s when small cabins were used in parades to demonstrate President Harrison’s support of the frontier people. The most famous log cabin house plan in the United States is probably the one where Abraham Lincoln was born, but many other Americans who rose to greatness spent their early years in log cabins.
Historically, log cabin house plans were essentially one room huts with one door and perhaps one or two small windows. The spaces between the logs were packed with mud and grass to keep out the wind and cold, and because there were no nails the logs were fastened with notched ends or wooden pegs. A log cabin’s roof was made from overlapping rows of short boards and the floor was constructed from hard packed clay. With glass unavailable, the window openings were covered with oiled paper to let in a little light and the room was heated by an open fireplace that served as the stove.
Among the many ways that today’s log cabin house plans differ from those of yore is that they are much more eco-friendly and energy efficient. With today’s technology log cabin house plans come in every form from seasonal cabins to luxurious castle-like estates. Today’s technology also allows for some other options as well. Logs can form the actual framing and structure of the home or simply be added to the exterior for a natural look. Additionally, logs can be either handcrafted with peeled lumber for an authentic appearance or milled for a more consistent look with natural imperfections removed.
Details like a stone chimney, metal roof, multiple gables, charming dormers, and a welcoming porch obviously lend more style to the exterior of modern log cabin house plans than the one-room pioneer huts. Additionally the interior may offer open floor plans, a stone fireplace, dramatic vaulted ceilings, and tall windows. Whatever you are looking for, if a log cabin house plan is your dream, you can find it in the Direct from the Designers log house plan collection.
At first glance it might sound a bit foreign, an outdoor kitchen, who would want that? After all a kitchen is normally on the inside of a house plan. It is where meals are prepared, the kid’s homework is done, and where stories of the day are swapped.
Well, this important room is getting a makeover and designers are taking it outside. Outdoor kitchens are an exciting trend, particularly during grill season, because not only do they offer function but also convenience. Today, most outdoor kitchens are just as functional as a regular, indoor kitchen. They might include a grill but they may also be equipped with a stove, oven, a fridge, sinks, wet bars and even special ventilation.
You can get as elaborate with your outdoor kitchen as you’d like, and the best part is that if you take the right steps you should be able to enjoy your outdoor kitchen 365 days a year in most parts of the country. Steps like weatherproofing and making sure that your kitchen is covered means that you will also have the option of dining al fresco.
What benefits will you realize when you invest in an outdoor kitchen? Hosting a barbeque with a regular kitchen means that you have to go in and out of the house constantly, distracting you from your friends and family but with an outdoor kitchen you can set up your gathering and let everyone be involved with the cooking. An outdoor kitchen means more time to enjoy the warm weather and more interaction with your guests. On any typical day, you can use it to grill and prepare a meal outside for you and your family.
An outdoor kitchen is a perfect luxury for the winter months. With many styles to choose from and the availability of modern outdoor appliances, you will be able to make good use of your outdoor space and enjoy the fresh air and sun as you cook your favorite dishes.
As water features will accent your pool, fire features are the newest must-have craze for your outdoor living space. Water might cool you down and quench your thirst but fire is the hot ticket right now. Fire features add ambiance and drama to the flames and give you another reason to go outside.
Fire and water have long gone together. Fire is a natural complement to water. The growth in fire features seems to simply parallel the growth in water features for pools.
Fire features are also going upscale. No longer is it just a simple fire pit anymore for the outdoor living space, they’ve been taken it up a notch so that they now match any patio furniture and have features such as automated ignition and propane tanks hidden in pull out drawers. Fire features like these create an instant impact with the push of a button for your outdoor living space.
Fire pits have even morphed into ‘fire furniture.’ There are fire tables, fire bars, and fire banquettes where the flame area is surrounded by porcelain tile, decorative metal, natural stone, or slate.
When shopping for a fire feature you’ll need to choose what’s more important for your outdoor living area—easy ambiance or real warmth. Wood-burning features offer more heat but of course require more maintenance. You have to have a pit large enough to build a fire as well as fire tools and a spark screen. You also need to make sure the fire pit you buy is sturdy. It is a real fire after all, and cheap units will break down and crack easily under the heat. Propane fire pits are of course much easier to deal with, but they also produce less heat.
Much like a barbeque grill, fire features can start very simple and go all the way to really elaborate. You can get fire furniture; a fireplace, a fire pit, or a firepot, there is something for every pocketbook and whim. If you are a little nervous about a fire pit, then an outdoor fireplace might be the better option for you, particularly one with a screen for protection.
A fire feature might be on your wish list for a new home, but making sure you have ample outdoor entertainment space should be your first priority. If you have or are planning on an outdoor kitchen, you can also consider an outdoor living room where the fire feature will be complimented. Check out Direct from the Designer’s collection of outdoor living house plans for some inspiration.
French style is simple and elegant, and it’s easy to see that a French Country house plan will exude the charm of the French countryside. As well as being elegant there are two key characteristics that define the French Country house plan collection—variety, and details.
Variety is the key word here. There are lots of different silhouettes but in the French Country house plan collection you will find a mesh of different textures set against elegant facades adorned with stucco, brick, stone, or a combination. Roof styles vary, too. You can find a house plan with a traditional hip, mansard, or a simple gable roof.
Details are another key when it comes to French Country house plans. You may find things such as shuttered windows and coppertop bays that add charm and beyond those you’ll find attractive arches, striking keystones and corner quoins.
French Country house plans come in a variety of styles from a modest farm house to an estate-like chateau. Above all, the French Country style pours forth rustic warmth and comfortable design. You can see plans like these and many more in the French Country house plan collection from Direct from the Designers.
This single story home exudes a friendly and inviting atmosphere with its French Country façade. When you enter through the foyer, to your immediate right is a front-facing den that would make a great home office. The foyer also leads to a dramatic vaulted great room sure to impress visitors.
On one side of the great room is the kitchen and dining area, which flows into a luxurious outdoor entertaining/living space. Here you can enjoy the fireplace and an outdoor kitchen, complete with a barbecue grill. This outdoor kitchen area is the perfect place for enjoying the summer weather and entertaining friends at your parties and gatherings.
The bedrooms are located in the left and right sides of the house. Walking through the dining room leads to a hallway where bedrooms two and three are located just off of the main living area. But the master suite is set away on the other side of the house. This romantic master suite houses a spacious bedroom, plenty of closet space, and a large bathroom. In the bathroom, a sunken tub is the prime feature in this space, giving you a place to indulge yourself after a long day.
A stairway leads to an upper floor with a bonus room and a guest or hobby room. These spacious rooms are the perfect space for additional entertainment or as a guest suite. With 4,352 square feet, this home is fully equipped for luxury and its beautiful design has made it one of our best selling house plans.
Read more about this elegant French Country house plan at Direct from the Designers.
There is no denying the appeal of classic and historical houses. With the help of Benjamin Moore® you can construct a new home with authentic historical colors from their Williamsburg Collection. A set of 144 paints based on the original pigments that were developed over 250 years ago. This rich palette of American colors is available in a variety of finishes, from rich, velvety flats to the highest gloss. These are versatile enough to be incorporated into any house style but would be perfect in any colonial home to create a historical look that is also rich and contemporary.
When talking about American Colonial architecture, we often refer to the original thirteen colonies. The building styles of these original colonies were influenced by styles from England and traditions brought by the settlers from other parts of Europe. The buildings typically feature steep roofs, small leaded glass casement windows, rich ornamentation and a central chimney. The traditional orientation of these buildings was southeast in order to maximize light in the northern parts of the States. Similarly, houses in southern colonies generally faced northeast to minimize heating by the sun.
One of the areas where historical colonial houses and modern colonial house plans differ is in the interior floor plan. A large portion of the house plans offered are direct reproductions from the American Colonial period, but the interior has been modified with desired amenities. When looking at these homes you will see similar style in the symmetry, columns, gables and dormers. Passersby might be fooled by a new home so closely inspired by the colonial period. Exteriors of colonial house plans could be fashioned of brick, lap siding, or stone but visitors will see that your home does not replicate the boxy interior designs of the 17th and 18th centuries. Instead, a modern colonial house plan is likely to have an open and up-to-date floor plan.
Regardless of whether you live in a colonial house that needs a new paint job or you really want a classic American look, Direct from the Designers colonial house plans and Benjamin Moore’s® Williamsburg Collection are a match made in heaven that will give the history buff in you something to smile about and keep your newly built house looking fresh and modern.
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.
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.
While many different styles of bungalow house plans developed 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.
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.
Spring has arrived, but as winter weather continues to appear I find myself seriously considering a move down south. To keep myself warm and bring on the arrival of spring, I have been putting on a lot of old movies that feature Southern plantation houses that look majestic in the sunlight.
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 and 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 landscape. 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 plan, you will find that these plans are warm and inviting, embodying the spirit of Southern hospitality.
Spring is just around the corner and as green starts to make its presence known in the grass and the trees there are simple things that everyone can do to green their new home. You can look for eco-friendly building materials and green solutions to many of your home building processes, but while you wait to move in, here are a few more simple solutions to consider.
Update Your Appliances
One of the things that no home should be without is an ENERGY STAR rated refrigerator. The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in a home. When a fridge, ten year or older is replaced with an ENERGY STAR rated model, the average home owner can save up to $150 according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And according to ENERGY STARS’s website, if one in ten homes used ENERGY STAR appliances, it would be the equivalent to 1.7 acres of new trees.
Watch the Temperature
Almost half of a home’s energy is consumed during heating and cooling. You can save that energy by being mindful of the temperature. Keep the thermostat down in cold weather and up in warm weather. For each degree you lower your thermostat during colder weather saves you between 3 and 5 percent more on heat energy. During warmer weather, keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees will help you save money. You can also consider using ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
If you are planning for next winter, you can also consider buying a new furnace. Furnaces made today are 25 percent more efficient than those made in the 1980s. You can also find furnaces that carry the ENERGY STAR label as well.
Adding things like an aerator or a low-flow toilet, or showerhead can help you towards saving water. You can save water simply by changing certain behaviors. For example, shutting off the water while you brush your teeth saves 4.5 gallons every time and using a broom instead of a garden hose to clean your driveway will save 80 gallons of water.
When it comes to living green, using green materials is half the battle, but there are always little things that you can do to save more energy and water. Living green doesn’t have to mean making compromise after compromise. You can have style and still be green with some simple lifestyle changes and one of several award winning ENERGY STAR rated house plans from Direct from the Designers.
It might not feel like it right now, but spring is on its way. Sunday March 10th marks the beginning of daylight savings time, and we will once again spring forward into daylight. A few more hours of daylight are a precious commodity that can heighten spirits as we move into springtime.
What can you do with extra daylight? According to Lowe’s, you can prepare your home for use during the long warm late spring and summer nights.
1. You can begin by cleaning and washing the exterior of your home, including your patio and desk. It is important to finish cleaning before you plant your garden beds so that you don’t disturb any new plants. You can also clean your outdoor furniture and consider covering it until after the pollen has fallen.
2. Then, you can tune up your outdoor power equipment. This includes making sure that your lawn mower is in perfect condition. You can take the initiative by checking the engine oil, changing the blades, and even restringing your trimmer.
3. Trim and shape bushes around your yard and cut down low hanging tree branches. It’s best to complete this task early and clean up the pieces before you plant in your flowerbeds.
4. Place a new layer of pine straw or mulch in your beds to freshen them up. Just be sure to check with your homeowner’s association for restrictions.
5. Plan. This step is the most fun. Take a moment and plan where you want to add color with your spring landscape. Consider adding spring bulbs or perennials to your flowerbeds or you can decide to undertake planting a vegetable or herb garden.
Daylight savings time will bring with it the chance to do spend more time doing many outdoor activities, but if you plan on using a porch or patio during the spring and summer, a few simple tasks can make your outdoor space much more enjoyable and create an outdoor oasis from the second the clocks spring forward on Sunday March 10th at 2 a.m.