Why choose wallpaper

Homeowners often choose paint to add color and character to a room. However, not to be forgotten is wallpaper. Depending on your floor plans and your personal tastes, it may be worth hanging up the paint brush in favor of a pair of scissors. Here are the pros and cons of papering your walls:

Wallpaper is usually more expensive than paint in terms of initial cost, but it also affords homeowners a greater range of decoration that may not be achievable with paint. While paint is usually applied as solid colors or simple geometric designs such as stripes, wallpaper can come in intricate patterns simply not feasible with the drippy stuff. Ornate wallpaper may look great in homes based on country house plans, where flourished pattern could lend to the ambience. The plan in this home could easily be spruced up with some ornament.

Another benefit of wallpaper is the ease of application. While it may require some finesse to perfectly align the paper on the wall, it is a lot cleaner to apply than paint.

The major downside to wallpaper is its longevity. While putting it up can be somewhat difficult, taking it down is even more of a chore. Paint, conversely, while more messy, is easy to cover up and redo. Also, wallpaper can start to peel or bubble in humid climates. This isn't as big of a problem as long as a home is air-conditioned, but should your HVAC break once, moisture in the air could wreak havoc on the walls.

A final consideration is taste. You should pick your wall decorations based on your own personal preferences, but you should also take into consideration design trends. Often, people find themselves liking what's currently in vogue, only to find that a particular design choice has fallen out of fashion years later. This may not be a problem in terms of appealing to your own tastes, but you may find it more difficult to match furniture and other decorations down the line to outdated patterns. Wallpaper is a commitment.

The verdict
You may want to consider wall paper if you would like particularly detailed wall decorations and are happy to live with your decisions for a long time afterward. However, if you are prefer more solid wall colors and are liable to change your mind frequently, then paint is probably the better choice.If you think you fall somewhere in between, you can always accent one wall with wallpaper.

The value of trim

Often when people want to decorate a room, they focus on large-scale design choices, such as floor plans, color palettes and furnishings. Yet, trim work can also play a significant role in defining the character of a space as those other considerations.

The importance of trim
Trim is the finishing decoration that usually lines the edges of a room, including doors, windows, ceilings and floors. Often, trim is made of wood or polyurethane, and can have varying degrees of width. Trim can be as basic as a thin piece of rounded wood no bigger than a quarter of an inch thick running alongside the edges of the floor. It can also be incredibly ornate, with intricate repeating patterns cut into a crown molding that fits along the edges of a ceiling.

The presence of trim can help emphasize the elements of a room, such as doors and windows, and it can also break up the visual impact of a blank wall. Some homes will have trim running alongside the walls of a room at about waist height to add some texture. Others will keep the trim as minimal as possible, making a space feel more stark and uninterrupted. Whether you're working with luxury house plans or smaller house plans, trim can serve as an elegant detail that helps tie a room together.

Considering styles
Besides choosing how much trim to have, homeowners should also give consideration to the style of trim they want. While it won't define a space on its own, trim will often act as an important extension of the rest of the house's style. If a home is more neocolonial, such as the design in HHF-5989, then the trim should match this aesthetic. More modern, minimalist homes may want for sharper, cleaner trim.

Set up a recycling center in your home

Choosing among green home plans isn't just a design decision – it's a lifestyle choice. Homeowners who want to live in a green, energy efficient home may also want to consider how recycling fits into their overall designs. While some people balk at the hassle that comes with recycling, it can easily be incorporated into a home's daily chores with some simple planning. Here's how:

Start with the kitchen
Most of your waste, whether it's food, wrappers, cans or grocery bags, will likely find its way into your kitchen. As such, the kitchen is the best place to begin your recycling plan. You may want to promote and simplify recycling in your household by working recycling into your kitchen work triangle.

The kitchen triangle refers to the imaginary lines drawn between some of the kitchen's most important utilities and appliances, namely, the refrigerator, the sink and the stove top. Good kitchen triangles maximize the efficiency of kitchen work by providing easy access to these appliances without getting too cluttered. The trash can isn't technically part of the triangle, but its placement can make a huge difference in keeping a kitchen clean and organized. To better incorporate recycling, homeowners can make recycling bins another, unofficial point in their kitchen geometry.

Drawers in the kitchen can be converted into mini-recycling centers. Homeowners can put the necessary bins in pull-out drawers next to the sink, so that as food wrappers and cans are opened, they can immediately be rinsed and recycled. The bins can also be color coordinated to make sorting easy and intuitive for everyone in the family. It's also important to make sure that the bins are not more difficult to access than the trash can, so that family members don't fall in the habit of throwing recycling in the trash because it's easier. Floor plan HHF-1895 already outlines an efficient kitchen triangle, and a recycling center could easily be incorporated underneath the sink or by the stove top.

Establish a garage space
Once your kitchen recycling bins are set up, you'll want to have an organized space to sort that recycling throughout the week. The garage is the obvious choice for most families, as there is usually enough storage space there and the recycling won't be exposed to the elements. 

Make your recycling center easy to access and simple to understand. Have separate, clearly marked bins for each kind of recycling. To make sorting a cinch, coordinate the colors of the kitchen and garage bins – recycling will only be a matter of matching yellow with yellow or red with red. Also, make sure there is a clear walking path to the recycling center. Don't put it in a place that's easily blocked by cars, gardening supplies or other garage clutter. For the HHF-1895 floor plan, the best place to put the recycling would probably be the right-side wall immediately adjacent to the utility room's door. If floor space is limited, you can even mount bins on the wall. You'll also want an easy path from the recycling center to the outside, so that putting recycling curbside isn't a struggle. 

Designing a home office with space in mind

Your home office is a place of business where you have complete design control. Whether you work at home full-time or you just need a place to do paperwork, make sure you give yourself the right amount of room to get that business done comfortably. Here are a few size-related considerations before moving in the filing cabinets 

Allow room to work
Before selecting a floor plan, you should ask yourself how much you plan to use the office. If the answer is a lot, then you may not want to skimp on the size of the room, no matter if you're looking at small house plans or something more luxurious. If you work at home, you could be spending up to eight hours a day there – a small office won't do, unless, of course, you prefer a cozier space. 

Don't, however, be tempted to go too big, either. You may find yourself easily distracted if an office includes a sitting area, fireplace and bookshelves. The office, as drawn for HHF-4968‚Äč, is a sizable space, yet no bigger than a kitchen or bedroom. Take your work habits and your personal preferences into account when designing the room. Also, if the space is too large, it may end up serving as storage space, which leads to another design consideration.

Don't turn to storage
The last thing you want your office to become is a walk-in closet. Often, the transformation starts out small: A wayward box is moved out of the way or a piece of exercise equipment needs to be stored. It's a slippery slope, however, as part of the office becomes allocated for items you'd rather not lug up to the attic. Not only is a cluttered office an inefficient use of space, it can also be disruptive to your focus and productivity. 

Design your office to discourage misuse of space. Don't make it bigger than you need it to be and make sure that the design is comfortable enough that you will, in fact, use it on a regular basis. Offices often become junkyards because they're no longer used for their original purpose. If that's the case, don't keep it as an office, but remodel it for more efficient use. 

Scale furnishings accordingly
The scale of furniture can drastically affect the perceived size of the room. Furniture that's too large for a small office can make the space feel cramped. Conversely, furniture that's too small will make a big office feel empty. If you need a big desk, design the floor plans accordingly. If you have to make due with a small office, consider wall-mounted desks to keep the room feeling open. 

Tips for more efficient and elegant storage

Storage isn't just about where you put the winter skis and summer clothes. Houses abound with storage spaces, from kitchen tools to bookshelves. Whether designing for luxury or small house plans, here are two tips to get the most out of your storage space. 

Any space can store
When people think of storage they probably conjure up images of freestanding cabinets and shelving units. However, you can use space more efficiently by reimagining what can work as storage, according to Better Homes and Gardens. Many functional furnishings can double as a storage unit. A kitchen island can be transformed into additional storage for everything from telephones and stereos to wine bottles and kitchen equipment. It's even possible to convert a kitchen island into a mini refrigerator or a wine cooling unit. L- or U-shaped couches in the living room can be designed to include drawers underneath the seats. The space under the stairwell can also house shelving units.

You may even want to reconsider how cabinets are designed. Custom cabinets can be made to house specific items in the kitchen, such as mixers and blenders. Instead of storing items above or below the counter, create a small storage unit that runs the length of the counter for housing commonly used or heavy kitchen equipment. 

Use storage as decoration
You will probably still need shelves in order to store all of your things. These units can serve as a design element in the home rather than just as a utilitarian feature. Book shelves are a classic example of how storage can be used to decorate a home. Elegant stand-alone bookshelves suggest grandeur, but consider wall-mounted shelves as an alternative. You can get classic lacquered wood shelves or more modern units that arrange the books at different heights and angles. Some minimalist designs make the shelf practically invisible, so that the items on display are the only decoration. Many wall-mounted shelves come as separate units, allowing for a highly customized arrangement. 

Great rooms such as the one featured in HHF-7139 provide enough wall space for artfully arranging shelves. The smaller each individual shelf, the more freedom you have in arranging them in patterns on the wall. Mixing and matching the size of shelves can be used for beautiful asymmetry. For example, you can have a single shelf running the length of one wall, and then a series of smaller units stacked atop one another on one side. This approach to shelving can easily be applied to other rooms in the house, as well as hallways and stairwells. 

Tips for choosing the direction of your light

Homeowners have limitless options when it comes to putting their home in the best light. Here are some basic considerations for choosing the direction of your fixtures to obtain your ideal lighting situation. 

Function and ambience
Before selecting styles of light fixtures, homeowners should first determine the purpose and vibe they want for each room. The function of the room should be the first consideration when determining what kind of lighting to have. Kitchens may need big, bright overhead lights, as visibility in this room is important both for safety and ambience. Reading rooms can get away with smaller, more cozy table lamps.

Once the function of the room is decided, you can choose what kind of atmosphere you want. There is more than one way to light up a living room. More intimate spaces may require less lighting, and the ambience of a fireplace may all but rule out track lights if they clash with your intended style. A bright kitchen is easy to achieve, but the type of fixture might mean the difference between an industrial and colonial feel.

Unique opportunities
Each home will offer its own set of parameters that make for interesting lighting opportunities. The IRIS house plan, for example, boasts a kitchen that opens out into a living space with a cathedral ceiling. Multipurpose rooms and open floor plans mean that lights can be used to connect and divide rooms how you see fit.  

However, affecting both function and ambience is the direction that the light is coming from, and in this regard, there are many options.

This is the most common form of house lighting. As the name implies, downlit fixtures shine downward. This includes high-hanging chandeliers, ceiling lights and track lighting. These lights are generally best for rooms where you want a lot of light, such as the kitchen, media rooms and living rooms. 

Downlighting is also a great opportunity to express a home's style. Ornate, French-style chandeliers create a a sense of regality. Recessed lights are minimalist installations perfect for utilitarian or modern house plans. Any style under the sun can be expressed through downlighting. 

On the other end of the light spectrum is uplighting, which is a much underutilized form of illumination inside the home. Because it shines upward, it is not good for reading or other such tasks. Rather, it is best for more intense shadow, ambience and minimal utilitarian lighting. Underlit fixtures are usually recessed lights in the floor or at the base of the wall that illuminate footpaths and stairways. They can be inserted into the tread of the stair or even the riser. Along corridors, tastefully spaced uplights can create a beautiful contrast of light and shadow as cones of light spread out across the walls. 

Walls and tables
In between downlighting and uplighting are lamps, wall lights and any other fixtures not on the ceiling or floor. Lamps are a great way of creating ambience, as the light source also serves as a piece of furniture to decorate a home. The quality of the light as well as the size and style of the lamp shade will further affect the light quality of the room. Wall sconces provide another form of illumination that can be as bold or as conservative as you like. While not great for kitchens, these lights are great anywhere from the living room to the hallway and bathroom. 

Lights in odd places
Lights don't have to brighten up a whole room, and can be installed for much smaller and specific spaces. Downlighting installed underneath cabinets in the kitchen makes for a more efficient countertop workspace. Recessed up and downlighting can light up the spines of books on a bookshelf. Door frames can also be installed with lights to create a brighter entry space. 

How to liven up a simple stairwell

Decorating a stairwell can be tricky: it is a small space, not quite a room, and yet it gets a lot of use and exposure. While many luxury floor plans offer enough space for grand, curved staircases that seem to require little decoration, you may find yourself settling for something more simple. Here are some techniques for transforming your basic, straight stairwell into a room as special as any other in your house.

Design basics
Even if you are working with a pre-fabricated staircase, you still have plenty of variables that determine the character of your stairwell. Choosing between hardwood and carpeted staircases will dramatically change the ambience of the space. Carpeted floors can feel cozy, but they can also get dirty easily. Hardwood floors are sleek, but they can also get scratched. In addition to ambience, you may want to base your decision on whether you have kids, dogs or both.

Banisters and hand-railings are another essential design element. While wood is a standard choice for either, you can also install metal banisters with steel cables that run along the length of the staircase parallel to the handrail for added safety. Metal designs are usually more minimalist and modern compared to classic wood.

Defining the wall
The wall is your biggest opportunity to decorate your staircase. The stairwell in HHF-6085, while simple, is the perfect place to exercise your creativity. Paint can greatly affect the perceived width and length of a staircase. Lighter colors can make a room feel more bright and open, while darker colors can make a space feel cramped and foreshortened. Apart from paint, you can also texture your walls with birch veneer or any other wood paneling of your choice to run the length of the passageway. The light wood will both brighten and elongate the space. Also, consider brick as a way of texturing. While the darker reds of the bricks may make the space feel more cramped, they will also provide a distinct sense of place.

Accenting the wall
Once you have your base material or paint on the wall, you can think up a variety of ways to add more character to it. Staircases are a common place to hang pictures. Play up this decorative element by organizing your photographs in a certain way to emphasize a theme or narrative. Use pictures from places that you have traveled, or else organize them according to chronological history of the family.

You can also create a different ambience by creating recesses in the wall and putting items in them. Flowers, small artifacts and even candles can create an interesting space.  If you have a brick wall, this is as easy as removing a brick every few feet along the wall. Mimic the design with less effort via shelving units or even small boxes with a few inches of depth to house your collected items.

Another consideration is lighting. You can install wall sconces or use inset lights along the wall. You can also install small track lights that run underneath the hand rail. For more dramatic effect you can inset lights into the riser or tread. Lights on the sides of a tread will create patterns of light and shadow along the wall.

How to make an accent wall

Accent walls – walls that are different in color design than others in a room – are an easy way to energize a room. Here are a few considerations when choosing which walls to accent and how to do it.

Splashing on color
Paint is the most common way to accent a wall. Color can provide sharp contrast or subtle complement to the rest of the room's color scheme. Vibrant, warm hues can add a strong visual pop to a room comprised mainly of neutral colors. This technique works best if there are objects of a similar color – lamp shades, carpets or upholstery – in the room to anchor the shade. For this kind of accent, it's best to keep the rest of the walls a neutral color, such as white or brown.

A subtler tactic is to employ different hues of the same color family – namely, warm colors with warm and cool colors with cool. A navy wall can add depth and shade to a room comprised of light blues. It's best to stick to neutral colors contrasting with a pop of one color. This technique can also be done with a solely neutral palette.

Using texture
Accent walls don't have to be solid or even painted. Broad vertical stripes and other patterns are perfectly acceptable. Intricate wall paper is another easy way to accent. For a more impactful accent wall, you can use substantial materials. Stained planks of wood arranged horizontally create a highly textured wall. You can also use brick, bamboo or even artfully arranged mirrors of varying sizes.

Choosing the room
Living rooms, kitchens and other rooms with frequent foot traffic are obvious candidates for an accented wall. However, any room of the house can have an accent wall. The best rooms for an accent are those that otherwise feel flat or sparse. An accent wall can help a large room feel magnificent, but it can also help smaller, duller or more utilitarian spaces feel brighter and more inviting.

Choosing the wall
Accent walls should tie in with the rest of the room's layout and character. Usually, an accent wall is anchored by some specific design or architectural detail – either a bed, a bookshelf or a fireplace. However, accent walls can also provide balance to other, busier walls. For example, a good location for an accent wall is opposite a wall with many or large windows.

They can also be used for dramatic effect. An accent wall can make a stunning first impression if situated opposite the entrance to the room. It can also be used as a subconscious guide. Horizontal painted stripes or birch veneer planks can serve as runners on the wall adjacent to an off-center entrance, naturally drawing people into the room.

Considering light
Light is another important factor to consider. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, warm hues will make an accent wall seem closer, while cooler hues make a wall seem farther away. This effect can be used to help rooms feel bigger or more intimate. Sunlight also intensifies warm colors. Warmer hues can be used to brighten rooms with less sunlight, while cooler colors soften light-drenched rooms.

Tying it together
Modern house plans with great rooms and similar open floor layouts provide interesting opportunities for accent walls. House plan HHF-8292 has a kitchen that opens onto a living room, inviting a creative approach to lead one into the other. An accent wall that extends into both rooms can provide visual continuity between the two. You can also implement thematic accent walls in multiple rooms throughout the house. For example, bedrooms could all have a birch veneer wall, while downstairs living spaces could be accented with oak or mahogany.

How to decorate a vaulted ceiling

Vaulted ceilings are a great way to make rooms feel more grand and spacious. The dramatically expanded space, however, means that decorating can seem challenging. Fortunately, there are a few techniques for ceiling decoration to create a room that's at once open and inviting.

The two best elements to liven up an otherwise massive ceiling space are textures and lights. The principle behind either option is breaking up the space so that the ceiling doesn't feel so vast and empty. Textures and lights can make a room more visually appealing, guide people's attention and even define the room's purpose.

Adding depth
Textures are a great way to add ambience to a vaulted ceiling. Wood is a classic texture to add to your ceiling, with long, interlocking pieces that run the length of the room. Think of your ceiling much like an accent wall – wood and other textures help to make the ceiling feel less bare. It will also draw people's attention upward to one of the most impressive features of the room.

Truly good textural design will tie in with the rest of the room. A good example of this is the pictured design in HHF-7908, which anchors its vaulted ceiling with light, wooden window frames that run the length of the wall. This attentive design visually orients people not only to the ceiling, but also toward the beautiful outer wall of windows and down to the wooden floors.

Your room textures don't always have to match. You can mix and match drastically different textures for greater visual impact. That same house plan also boasts a fireplace of rough-cut stone, which gives the space an unmistakable cabin atmosphere. Brick is another distinctive wall texture to complement your ceiling. 

Brighten up the room
Lights are another great way to break up the space. A room with a vaulted ceiling allows you to experiment with various lighting options more so than smaller spaces, simply by virtue of the fact that you have more space to illuminate. In-set lights can create a minimalist pattern along the length of the room. Track lights and chandeliers add layers of depth to the open space. Hanging lights effectively makes the room feel more enclosed and cozy without eliminating the vastness of the ceiling.

Your choice of lighting can also be more grand. Ornate chandeliers may crowd smaller spaces, but in a vaulted room it serves as a centerpiece. You can even hang a series of chandeliers at various heights to create a more visually active and interesting space.

Defining the room
Chandeliers and other hanging lights provide yet another design opportunity – by strategically lowering your chandeliers in certain places around the room, you can implicitly determine people's use of the space. The room should already have certain focal point around which the furniture is organized, such as a fireplace or a dining table. Lights can emphasize those focal points. For example, a chandelier that hangs lower over a table or circle of couches and chairs emphasizes that a place is for sitting. Higher lights welcome more movement. Great rooms featured in craftsman house plans allow for more of this kind of experimentation.