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.

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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.

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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.

Fall Decorating Ideas & Tips from Direct from the Designers House Plans

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:

Dress Up Your Porch
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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.

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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
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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.

Use Your Fireplace Mantel to Showcase Seasonal Décor
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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. Candles will not only provide ambiance, but also bring the aroma of fall into your home with the scents of apple, cinnamon and pumpkin.

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.

Which of these fall decorating ideas will you be implementing in your home?

Let us know in the comments below.

Everything You Need to Know About Exterior Doors



For most people, exterior doors provide three things: security, weather protection, and style. There are many different styles to choose from that will allow all three things.

You can get paneled, flush, or glass in front entry doors, back doors, French doors, sliding doors, and patio doors.

Paneled Doors

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Paneled doors are designed to exhibit style while still giving the doors quality. They have raised inserts framed and fitted to allow the wood to expand and contract with the changes in weather so they will not damage over time.

Flush Doors

These doors are covered with veneer that can range from inexpensive pine to costly exotic wood. The veneer provides smooth unbroken exterior covering on the door.

Glass Insert Doors

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These can range from small windowpanes in entry doors to full door-size panes in patio doors. When multi-panes of glass are inserted into a door, they are referred to as lights. The doors are then identified by how many “lights” it has. Lights are most commonly found in French doors. Full single panes of glass are considered as atrium or patio doors.

Exterior Door Materials

Exterior doors are constructed from wood, steel, fiberglass, aluminum or a combination of these materials. The standard exterior entry door is three feet wide and six feet, eight inches tall.

Wood

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Wood is still considered the most popular material used in exterior doors. The types of wood used often include oak, fir, and pine. Vertical rails made from separate pieces of wood and laminated together lengthwise are used to construct the doors to prevent warping in dampness. This process causes warping in opposite directions to avoid bowing of the door.

Steel Doors

Steel doors have become very popular due to the security that they provide. Most commonly, they are sheathed with 24-gauge steel. This can be chosen in paneled or flushed styles in a variety of colors. If you have fluctuating weather, you should purchase a weather-resistant steel door with vinyl coating. Steel creates great security, but can be easily dented and will bow and chip easily if exposed to continuous sunlight.

Fiberglass Doors

Fiberglass doors are ideal for humid areas. They are resistant to warping and bowing. They require the least maintenance of the door materials available. These doors can be purchased in flush or paneled. There are a variety of colors available to give the doors a natural wood look with faux wood stains and finishes.

Aluminum Doors

Aluminum doors are usually custom made to fit the opening you have. It is a good choice for unique shapes of openings. You can get aluminum in finishes like the fiberglass doors that have a natural wood appearance. Aluminum doors will not rust and usually have a longer warranty, but are lightweight and will dent easily.

Which of these doors do you currently have?

Let us know what you think of each style in the comments below.

A Tale of Two Bedrooms

While bedrooms come in all sizes and designs, they almost always have one thing in mind: comfort. Fortunately, no matter the house plan – nor the size of the room – homeowners can easily achieve that perfection.

A comfortable room is hard to plan in the abstract, given that a myriad of details such as the opacity of window treatments or the positioning of the bed can have a large impact. Furthermore, from site to size, each home offers its own unique context, which will inevitably shape the design of the bedroom. Fortunately, though, there are some common techniques that can help homeowners choose the right layout, no matter the house. To help demonstrate this point, we've highlighted two bedrooms, one from a collection of luxury house plans, and another among small house plans. Both have the opportunity to be great places to retire at the end of the day.

The quaint bedroom
This small house plan is efficient, but no less charming because of its size. The bedrooms are by no means tiny, but they are relatively constrained compared to the grand master suite serving as a counter-example in this article. The tertiary bedroom is the smallest in the house – roughly 11 feet by 10 feet – and does not include a bay window like the other others. While there is limited space to work with, it's still possible to create an excellent room. 

First, it's important to keep in mind a few basics of bedroom design. As Houzz noted, simple circulation is one of the key elements to good layout. According to the design site, it's usually best to keep floor space circulation to one side of the room. Another helpful tip is to naturally create a sense of privacy by orienting the bed out of sight from the entryway. Finally, you'll want to emphasize the view of the room, which is a natural focal point and a source of warming sunlight. 

Applied to this small bedroom, it becomes readily evident that the best placement for the bed is on the left wall, adjacent to the closet. Given the dimensions of the room, the bed should be perpendicular to the wall, so that it naturally aligns lengthwise to the room, and the head of the bed is no longer visible at the entryway. A dresser may be positioned opposite the bed without obstructing the view. If the space still feels cramped, mirrors and bright paint colors will help to create a more open room. 

The luxury suite
On the other end of the spectrum is this luxury house plan's master suite. Boasting whopping dimensions of more than 18 feet by 16 feet as well as three entry points – from the lanai, the study and the hall – this room features its own particular design hurdles. The privacy issue is heightened by all the doorways as well as all the windows. Also, a focused layout can seem difficult with so much space. A good place for the bed may be the perpendicular to the wall adjacent to the master bath, but that's more interruptive of the natural flow of the room than against the rightmost wall. 

Once the bed is placed, however, there is still plenty of space to organize. According to HGTV, large rooms can be divided into multiple functional zones to recreate the feel of a hotel suite. In this instance, it may be worthwhile to place the bed closer to the master bath wall, and create a sitting space in the back-right corner of the room. Meanwhile a dresser can be positioned on the wall adjacent to the owner's study. 

Finding the Right Dining Room Table

You want your dining room table to seat family and friends comfortably, but you also need it to sit inside your home. Getting the perfect dining room table to fit your floor plans is about striking a balance between personal preference and function. Here are some considerations when choosing this key piece of furniture:

Ample table space
Dining room tables are meant for family and formal feasts alike. As such, you'll want a table that can accommodate place settings and serving dishes comfortably, as well as candles and centerpieces. Be sure to account for elbow room in addition to space taken up for plates, silverware, drinks and side dishes. Any less space than two feet per person will feel crowded. If you have people sitting across from one another, you'll want a table that's at least three feet wide.

You'll also want to keep in mind how many people you plan to seat around your table. Couples who expect to have kids should plan for a potential need for more place settings in the future. Also, if you plan on hosting holiday dinners or even friendly gatherings, you may want to invest in a table that fits more than just your family unit. However, you may not have any interest in hosting dinner parties or even eating meals in the dining room. If you plan to use that space as a flex room, feel free to choose a table that better suits your needs.

Chair and walking room
Guests at your table are going to need to get up out of their chairs, not to mention ample room to walk around the dining area. While you can technically fit chairs with two feet of room between table and wall, three feet will make for a much more comfortable dining space. You should also give yourself more room if you plan to have other furnishings in the room, such as a liquor trolley or a cabinet for fine china. However, you may also get away with less room on one side if the adjacent wall is knocked down for an open layout.

Matching design
Your final consideration should be how the table fits with the overall design of the room. You may want to find a table that fits the style of the rest of the room. A formal, neocolonial space may look best with an antique table, while a room decorated in the vein of country house plans may look best with something more roughly hewn and rustic. However, much more important than the material and ornament of the table is its shape. 

In a square room, you can easily fit any shape of table, whether round, square or rectangular. However, in oblong rooms, a circular or square table will likely look strange. Furthermore, the table should be oriented to parallel the layout of the space, so that the longer sides of a table correspond with the longer sides of the room. This layout also maximizes efficiency.

Looking at a test case
Craftsman house plans such as this one feature plenty of versatility in terms of dining. In addition to the dining room, there is also a nook and a barbecue porch, all of which can have a dining table. To illustrate the previous points, a table in the dining room should probably be no less than 3' by 3' and no bigger than 7' by 10'. If need be, the dining room can cheat on the 2' walk space rule on the side closest to the foyer. Given the presence of the fireplace and the semi-open layout between the dining room and the family room, a small, modest dining room table may be the best option to match the space. 

Shades, Shutters, Blinds and Drapes

When it comes to window treatments, you have your choice between four main styles – shades, shutters, blinds and drapes. Each one has its own set of characteristics to best suit your needs. As you decide which designs to buy for your home, you'll want to consider each and every room in terms of its light, heat and aesthetic requirements. Here to help you decide is an introduction to window coverings and how to pick the right ones.

Windows are an essential element to your home – not just for privacy or blocking light at night, but also for regulating the temperature of your home. Sunlight through your windows can provide solar gain, thereby warming your home. However, blinds are key in regulating the amount of solar gain, especially in the summer months, when rooms are liable to overheat. In the wintertime, you also run the risk of losing heat through glass, which is a poor insulator. Window treatments help to retain heat in winter months and during cold nights.

A treatment for every situation
Some of these window treatments are better at insulating and blocking light than others. However, you don't just want to pick the best insulator for every room, as you'll likely have different light, heat and privacy needs from room to room. The southern-facing wall of your home, for example, will let in the most light of any facade, and as such you may want heavy shades to block out the sun on really hot days. Because many people choose house floor plans with large bay windows on the south side to let in light, you'll also have more heat radiating through the glass in the winter. Closed window treatments during cold nights are also essential to retaining heat. North​-facing walls, however, receive little light and so don't require as much shade. Lightweight drapes that allow light may be a better option. 

Also, consider the various privacy requirements for two-story house plans, such as this one, compared to single-story craftsman house plans. Downstairs, thin drapes may be fine, but for upstairs bedrooms, you'll still want something opaque so that light doesn't get in and privacy is afforded. With the south-facing great room, however, slatted blinds may be preferable.

Shutters
This type of window treatment is often used purely as decoration on the side of neocolonial homes, though many are not actually able to shut. However, they do provide a sturdy treatment that can reduce temperature fluctuations in a home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a solid shutter fitted close to a window frame creates an insulating air space. They can also be combined with other shading elements for greater insulation. They also provide a physical barrier from the elements.

Drapes
The insulating abilities of drapes depends largely on the fabric being used. If you want a lot of insulation, then thick, dark drapes that layer atop one another are your best option. However, you can also use thin drapes to create soft lighting a room. 

Shades and blinds
The terms shades and blinds are often used interchangeably, but in general, blinds have slats. Because these slats are often adjustable, they allow homeowners flexibility in terms of letting in light and air. However, slats also create small slits where air can get through, making them less effective at retaining heat in the winter. 

Unlike blinds, shades are generally comprised of a single piece of fabric that can be pulled down over glass. These are highly effective means of insulation that can be improved upon through layers and sealed edges. 

Apps to Help You Build the Perfect Home

Designing your perfect home demands a keen eye, a good imagination and a reliable contractor. Pre-drawn house plans remove a lot of the stress that comes with developing a plan from scratch, but there's still a long way to go once the blueprints are made. Fortunately, apps are making house design and decoration easier than ever.

It doesn't matter what aspect of the home building process you're on, or what kind of plans you're working with, there's likely an app that will give you decoration ideas, help you better visualize the space, introduce you to the best new products and even better pick paint and window treatments. Here are some reliable apps that can help with your plans.

Getting ideas
Whether you're looking for indoor lighting inspiration or fire pit plans, Houzz is one of the best design apps out there. The website is home to over 2,00,000 design photos, easily organized for casual browsing. Homeowners in need of kitchen ideas can simply scroll through the collection of more than 500,000 images on the website. They can filter their search by browsing in terms of location or even style, so that homeowners with contemporary house plans can look at equally modern kitchen suggestions. If there's an idea that seems to stick out, the app lets users clip the image and save it for later. When it's time to buy a product, the app also has links to specific items in the photos.

Planning the layout
Chances are, you'll be spending plenty of time with your contractor figuring out the most efficient use of your floor plans. Yet, you'll want more than just a paper copy or PDF to work with. For the tech savvy, plenty of apps allow users to digitally map out their plans and decorate them accordingly. Some, such as Floorplanner and Home 3D, let you make a multi-dimensional rendering of the plans so that you can get a better sense of the size and scale of the space. Once it comes time to choose furniture, you'll already have a good understanding of what could work in any given room.

People that are already well underway in terms of construction may also want to consider MagicPlan, which automatically draws floor plans of your rooms based on pictures you've taken. This tool can be especially helpful if you're trying to determine how furniture is going to fit into a space.

Choosing window treatments
Once construction is complete, the design options will actually seem to multiply, as you must now choose the highly customizable details of your home. Window treatments are one of those elements that can greatly affect the look and feel of a room, as they filter the kind of sunlight that comes through while serving as decorative pieces in their own right. The Window Shopper from Blinds.com is a fun and engaging  way to find the perfect window covers for your home. Users simply take a photo of their window and outline the dimensions on the app. They can then browse through a catalog of digital window treatments as they would appear on the window. 

Selecting colors
Paint is another big decision in your new home, and many big companies already lend their name to a burgeoning field of color apps to assist in choosing the perfect shades. HGTV's Color Guide is a source of scrapbook inspiration, while Color Capture by Benjamin Moore will determine a palette based on shades in photographs you've taken. ColorSmart by Behr tries to match appropriate shades to photos of your room.  

How to decorate with box beams

Ceilings are often one of the most neglected surfaces when it comes to home decoration. While a fresh coat of paint or an intriguing light fixture can be enough to make people turn their heads skyward, homeowners can really give their homes a distinguished, professional look with box beams.

If you're working with a soaring pitched ceiling based on luxury house plans, box beams can ground the design by adding some texture to the massive field. Should you be working with country house plans, then these faux beams lend an architectural flourish. Follow these tips to implement beams in a tasteful and sophisticated manner.

What they are
Box beams, also known as box girders, are hollow squares traditionally designed to resemble the beams that actually hold up roofs. In some buildings, particularly cabins and cottages, those beams may actually be exposed, adding a rustic charm. Yet, more often than not, they are hidden behind strand board and drywall. Box beams, which have no architectural function in terms of the structural integrity of the building, are meant to evoke some of the ambience of that obscured architecture.

Different styles
While box beams commonly invoke that key structural element of a house frame, they have evolved into a more encompassing design element involving a form of three-dimensional gridding across the ceiling. You have the option of simple, unvarnished 4×4 beams or you can get richly ornamented coffered ceilings that match traditional crown molding. While the style of your box beams are mostly a reflection of personal tastes, the width, thickness and overall layout should, in part, take into consideration the height and pitch of your ceiling.

Basic rules
No matter the ceiling, there are some general design guidelines you should follow in order to make box beams look good. First, it's important that they aren't so close together that they start to look like clutter. Generally, standard-sized box beams should have a minimum distance of 16 inches between each parallel piece, if for no other reason than to mimic common joist spacing. However, thicker beams may look better with more distance between them, as would smaller grids for thinner box beams. Also, if your ceiling is already textured with wood, box beams may make the surface appear too busy. Finally, make sure that the beams are perfectly orthogonal and evenly spaced, even if the wood itself isn't completely straight. Because box beams will extend across the length of your ceiling, it will be easy to detect angles in the grid.

Flat versus pitched
This luxury house plan features both flat and pitched ceilings, each of which demand their own box beam layout. If you have a flat ceiling, then a grid will look fitting, but you can also just have a series of parallel beams. If your ceilings are low, just remember that the thickness of the beams will make them feel even lower. Pitched ceilings, however, will look odd with grids. A better approach is to have a box beam along the center ridge, with perpendicular boxes extending down the ceiling slopes, again with ample and even spacing. Generally, any time there is a ridge, you want to place your box beams along it, as demonstrated with the peaked ceiling in the foyer.

Exposing your beams
Of course, you may also have the option to expose the already existing beams in the house. However, that depends on you and your contractor's choice of building materials and your own desire for authenticity. Thick, solid beams require large, long pieces of wood, which are usually costly. Contractors generally use trusses or thinner joists instead of solid, square pieces of lumber because they are a cheap, efficient use of materials that boast comparable structural efficiency. Your option, then, is to either pay more for heavyset exposed lumber, or you can "box out" the exposed trusses or thinner joists by essentially cladding them with flat pieces of wood.

Tips for choosing your rugs wisely

When people talk floor plans, they're usually talking about home dimensions, and not their designs for decorating their floor. However, your choice of rugs and carpets can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a room. Homeowners looking to further define their space may want to consider how rugs can fit into their own designs.

Country house plans offer great interior design opportunities, and this one in particular is a good springboard to discuss how rugs play a role in the ambience of the home. Not only does it have distinct interior visual elements with which rug designs will interact, but it also features rooms of various sizes that pose interesting flooring considerations.

Avoid too small
Dimensions are essential when choosing a rug. Too small, and the rug can appear ill-fitted for its space. As mentioned recently in Residential Architect magazine, it will pull focus toward the center of the room as opposed to the entire space as a whole. While you want the rug to be an interesting and engaging element, you also want it to fit seamlessly with the design of the rest of the room. There can also be a more practical reason for avoiding small rugs – appropriately accommodating furniture. In dining rooms, for example, you want the rug to allow room for dining chairs. So, if you had an 8' x 3' table to fit in the previously mentioned designs' dining room you would want a rug that was at least 10' x 5' so that chair legs won't scrape hardwood floors. Also, as a general rule of thumb, you will want rugs to cover the entire floor space underneath a piece of furniture and not just part. 

Steer clear of big
However, rugs that are too big should also be avoided. According to HGTV, a rug should be 2 feet shorter than the room's smallest wall. Hall rugs, too, should have at least 6 inches of exposure from every wall. Having rugs any larger than these relative dimensions turns the exposed strip of floor into a distinct visual element, akin to a racing stripe along the sides of your walls. It can also give the impression that you mistakenly bought a rug that was too small to achieve wall-to-wall floor covering. Keep the dimensions significantly short of the wall and the size of the rug will appear intentional. In the great room of this design, for instance, the largest dimension of the carpet should exceed no more than about 18 feet at its largest dimension. Also, remember to fit the rug to the dimension of the room, so that if it is long and narrow, the carpet mimics the proportion. 

Consider material
You also have your pick of materials when it comes to rugs. Every material from wool to bamboo has its own characteristics beyond just how it feels underfoot. Fabrics interact with light in their own ways. They also have varying levels of durability and convenience when it comes to cleaning. Smooth and sleek silk often comes with a soft but rich sheen that lets light play off of it. Silk is also costly and hard to clean. Wool is often thicker and very soft. It also absorbs more light. Bamboo is obviously harder than these materials and reflects light easily. When it comes to our example floor plan, note the cozy ambience created by the stone arches, walls and fireplaces, as well as the exposed ceiling beams and the strong shadows cast by uplighting and lamps. Bamboo would feel out of place in this home. Thicker, more sumptuous rugs that further dampen the light or refract it in interesting ways better play into the feel of the space. Silk or wool rugs may be the best material options in this home. 

The pros and cons of a claw-footed tub

Claw-footed tubs, also known as freestanding tubs, can add a touch of sophistication and aged elegance to even the newest of homes. Yet, you'll want to give some serious consideration to their practicality and design before installing one.

These tubs are so named because they are elevated off the ground by four small feet. The fact that they are freestanding makes them a distinct design element in your bathroom. The feet are often carved and gilded, adding an ornate flourish to the tub. They would also look just as fitting in country house plans as they would in luxury homes. They're also often rather deep, making them perfect for long, relaxed soaks. 

However, the freestanding tub can also take up considerable space, and they require extra precautions on the part of bathers. Because they often sit highly and have a thin lip, getting in and out of them can be difficult for children and the elderly. As such, you'll probably want to keep claw-footed tubs for master bedrooms.

Also, for safety concerns, it can be a good idea to give generous space around a claw-footed tub. So, while some smaller house plans can technically fit this kind of tub, it's probably best used in baths with plenty of room, such as the one featured in HHF-8292.