The Spookiest House on the Block

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

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

Victorian Gothic

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

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

The Villain’s Cottage

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

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

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

Dracula’s Mansion

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

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

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

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

5 Tips for Deciding When to Replace Your Front Door

October is Energy Awareness Month and if you are looking for a way to cut on your home’s energy consumption, Therma-Tru® suggests taking a look at your front door. Ideally your front door should be evaluated once a year to determine the door’s operation and energy-efficiency status.

“Every component of a home needs to be replaced at some point over time,” says Derek Fielding, director of product management for Therma-Tru®. “Most homeowners can get years of service out of their front door, but there will come a time when a door needs to be replaced. That is why it is important to annually evaluate and maintain your main entryway.”

4617 House Plan Entry
This front entry door fits in perfectly with this house plan’s exterior color.

Here are some tips to help you determine when to replace your front entry door.

TIP #1: Open your front entry door on dry, wet, and humid days. If your front entry door does not close securely or fit tightly on humid days, it’s most likely leaking air on dry days, which means your home is losing energy.

TIP #2: Weather stripping is very important when it comes to savings. You can save energy by making sure the weather stripping on all sides of your front entry door is not worn out. You can check for this by picking a bright day and checking for daylight flowing through the perimeter. If light is coming in then so can external air and moisture.

2259 entryway
The beautiful front entry door is highlighted by the beautiful cottage appeal of this house plan.

TIP #3: Locks don’t just protect your home, but they can also help you determine if your front door needs to be replaced. Check your locks for smooth operation. If you only have a one-point lock system you should consider upgrading to a front entry door with a multi-point locking system. A multi-point locking system on your next door gives you a tighter fit against your weather stripping and will help to provide greater energy savings.

TIP #4: Touch your door on both hot and cold days. If the exterior temperature is permeating to the inside surface your door may not have adequate insulation. If this is the issue, consider upgrading the door with an ENERGY STAR qualified product for your geographical area. Also remember to consider a multi-point locking system.

Therma Tru Classic-Craft Mahagany
Therma-Tru’s® Classic-Craft® Mahogany Collection™ is a line of front entry doors made from environmentally friendly materials.

TIP #5: You can tell if your door is doing its job based on appearance. If you have a wood door, warping or rotting may occur after years of service and steel doors can dinge and rust over time. Both of these are red flags that your door should be replaced.

Taking a few minutes for a couple of these tips can save you money on your energy bills and keeps your front entryway looking as nice as the rest of your home. Take a look through all the collections at Direct from the Designers to find your perfect house plan, and once you have your perfect house plan you can order a Therma-Tru® entry door that perfectly complements your home’s exterior style.

Three Bestselling Small House Plans

If you are just starting your house plan search, you should start with a small house plan.  The trend in American construction has been to make smaller homes lately and house plans reflect that. Designers and architects have been designing lots of stylish small house plans under 2,500 square feet. Small house plans make the perfect home for those who want to live a more energy-efficient lifestyle or those that are just starting out or simply want to downsize.

An inviting Craftsman house plan, this small house plan has plenty of upscale features and a 1,800 square foot area.

If you like craftsman details and outdoor living space, this beautiful small house plan is perfect for you. With front and rear covered porches, this small house plan has plenty of outdoor living spaces. The great room has vaulted ceilings and built-in cabinetry with a gas fireplace. This small house plan also includes a spacious kitchen has an island with an eating bar and a master bedroom has raised ceilings. The master suite also opens into a well-equipped bathroom with dual lavatories. This small house plan also includes a garage also includes a shop area for projects and storage and the upstairs allows for expansion. A generous flex space could be used as a home office, dining room, or a playroom making this small house plan a real catch.

This country house plan is not only small but has plenty of great design to stand apart from the crowd.

This small house plan may look like a simple country home but with popular amenities and a modest footprint. This small house plan is one you will be happy to call your home. One of the highlights of this small house plan is a secluded master suite with a circular spa tub. A bayed breakfast area is another spot, perfect for casual breakfasts with coffee, tea, and waffles with your morning paper.  The cozy fireplace anchors the great room at the center of this floor plan and a large bonus space on the upper floor complete this small house plan.

This small house plan doesn’t lack charm. With an exquisite exterior and an open interior you will find this home is a great place to live.

This small house plan has beautiful cottage charm. With only 1,698 square feet of living space you will get all the benefits of living in a small house plan without feeling like you live in a shoebox. You are sure to fall in love with this small house plan inside and out with great exterior details such as dormers, shutters, and Craftsman details outside and a perfect space for entertaining inside this small house plan will meet all of your needs. Not to mention, this small house plan also gives you space for future expansion with the use of a bonus area.

Living in a small house plan doesn’t mean you have to live in a shoebox. If you don’t believe that you can have style, function, and space in a small house plan take a look at Direct from the Designers’ small house plan collection and find your perfect small house plan.

The Incredible Shrinking Home

There is a new trend in new house plans.  With a changing economic climate, plus environmental concern the size of new American homes has started to decline.  After being in an uphill trend for three decades the last five years have started a slow decline with the size of the average home shrinking by five percent.

This narrow house plan was the first place winner in the 2012 ENERGY STAR House Plan competition. With everything you want in a home, you won’t be disappointed in this house plan. The lovely foyer complete with decorative niche and low walls flows into a living dining room. This space ties together the family room, kitchen, and nook in a new way and allows for natural light. Among other amenities this home features Therma-Tru®, Wolf® and Sub-Zero® technology.

In 1973 the size of the average American home was 1,160 square feet. In 2007, the average size of the American house plan grew 40 percent to 2,521 square feet. In 2010, the average square footage of a new home was 2,392 square feet.  The average size of the American home is expected to shrink another 10 percent by 2015.

Not only is new home construction leading towards smaller homes but demand for these homes in increasing. A third of American homebuyers said that they preferred a home under 2,200 square feet and 28 percent of Americans ages 55 to 59 would prefer a smaller home.

At 1,868 square feet this classic cottage house plan,is the perfect way to downsize and yet live upscale. This house plan was specifically designed to be efficient and economical but have the luxurious amenities that one would expect to find in a larger home.

Why are homes getting smaller? Well trends point to smaller lots being sold.  In 2011, 22 percent of design firms reported a decrease in lot size.  Then there is also the environmentally conscious side.  Weighing things like how many trees have to be cleared and how much the average energy cost is for a smaller home all make small homes favorable.

So if you are searching for a house plan and are a little worried about square footage, take a moment and look at the benefits of living smaller and your fears will be put at ease. You can even browse the small house plan collection at Direct from the Designers. All the house plans in this collection are less than 2,000 square feet and come in a variety of styles. You are sure to find a house plan that fits your needs.

Intelligent, Resourceful Green Home Design

From canvas grocery bags and recycled paper towels to hybrid cars and eco-friendly product packaging, the ‘green’ movement has permeated many different facets of our daily lives. When it comes to home building trends, things are no different.

The concept of green home design has been gaining steam for several years. Today, there are many different ways to incorporate environmentally friendly and sustainable practices and materials into the design and construction of a new home, including:

Size: Smaller spaces can be more eco-friendly for several reasons, including reduced energy consumption and fewer building materials. Thanks to smart design, shrinking square footage doesn’t mean cramped quarters, however; multi-purpose rooms, indoor/outdoor living spaces and open floor plans can make smaller, more energy-efficient homes seem expansive.

eco-friendly house plan
Location: When selecting a spot to build your brand new home, consider this: choosing a location where you can take advantage of natural features – sunlight, wind, water, soil and elevation, to name a few—can help reduce energy costs and building materials.

Materials: The use of eco-friendly, sustainable and non-toxic materials is a popular green initiative. Commonly used materials include recycled glass countertops, renewable plant products (such as bamboo) and lumber from sustainable forests.

Foliage: What better way to “go green” than by planting native trees on your property? Strategic landscaping can provide shade, reduce noise and offer privacy. When it comes to grass, choose a variety that requires minimal watering and maintenance.

­­Energy-efficient design, sustainable materials and natural features are all ‘green’ house plan features that can reduce long-term costs while still adding to your home’s value. If you’re looking to lessen your environmental impact, consider utilizing these practices when building your next home.

Let the Sunshine In: Daylight Savings Time Returns

 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.

This house plan, with a large covered porch makes for a perfect place to spend a temperate spring evening. Plant a colorful garden surrounding the porch and you will have a lovely evening and weekend oasis.

 

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.

Need some air? This farmhouse plan has two large porches for the perfect getaway without leaving home. This house is the perfect place to entertain some evening guests with a pitcher of iced tea as you overlook a beautiful garden and watch the sunset.

 

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.

 

Quartz vs. Granite Kitchen Countertops

A kitchen counter is a space that is used for more than just cooking.  It’s where kids do their homework and eat breakfast, and it is no surprise that they will probably take a lot of abuse during their lifetime. In recent years, quartz countertops have been on the rise. If you are thinking of the crystals that you would use during your high school experiments, think again. The quartz countertops found on the market today are stylish and fresh, and have their own benefits when it comes to making a smart choice for your kitchen counters.

This beautiful country kitchen will stand the test of time with these granite countertops.

Since your kitchen counters are bound to be a surface that will take a lot of abuse, one of the most important decisions regarding selecting a counter is surface durability. Before you worry about limitations of style and color, let’s begin by saying that both quartz and granite are available in a wide variety of colors and styles, making it easy to adapt either into your kitchen house plan.

Granite is a very strong material that resists cracking and chipping but quartz rates higher on the hardness scale. Quartz is also non-porous, which means it resists common stains such as oil, coffee, and wine better and is very easy to clean.  Granite on the other hand, is composed of a crystalline structure that is composed of several fissures that requires regular sealing. This maintenance needs to be done about once a year or you run the risk of staining your granite or letting bacteria fester inside. Quartz on the other hand offers superior protection against pathogens.

This beautiful kitchen with white cabinetry has a beautiful quartz countertop surface that will resist staining.

Cost is another factor in choosing your countertops. While both make excellent choices for kitchen counters, the cost of the materials can vary greatly. Granite tends to be the more expensive material, depending on style.  Quartz countertops can vary widely, but given the ease in maintaining the countertop, you might find the higher cost to be more practical than unreasonable.

Overall, the choice of granite or quartz countertops is really a matter of preference, but one thing is certain. When it comes to installing your countertops, make sure it is done by a specialist.  Hiring a specialist will reduce the risk of chipping, breaking or fissuring. Check out these fabulous kitchen collections for Direct from the Designers to start creating your dream kitchen house plan.

Affordable Fireplaces for Your Home Design

No matter what size or style home you have, adding a fireplace to your home design will create a warm and cozy living space. Traditional fireplaces are not the most energy efficient, but you can still enjoy the comfort and warmth of a fire without wasting energy by installing an electric fireplace or insert instead. Here are three beautiful built-in electric fireplaces that are also affordable to operate:

home design
The Kendal Electric Fireplace from Dimplex® has traditional grace and elegance. Take a look at our collection of traditional house plans for beautiful homes that complement this fireplace.

 

This Dimplex® Kendal electric fireplace is beautifully crafted and operates at a low cost.  You get the look and feel of a fireplace without having to retrieve wood.  The Kendal electric fireplace operates for pennies an hour, four cents with flame only and nine cents with the heat cycling at fifty percent.  With high-efficiency and beautiful craftsmanship, this would make a beautiful centerpiece to any room.

home design
The Modern Flames® Home Fire series is a more contemporary fireplace. With sleek lines this hearth will look perfect in any of our contemporary house plans.

The Home Fire series from Modern Flames® operates with a low energy LED flame.  Unlike the Dimplex® model, this fireplace is sleeker with a more contemporary fit and finish. This fireplace can be used with or without heat, so the ambiance of a fire can be found enjoyed all year around.

home design
The Lennox® Ravelle™ fireplace comes with a variety of facing and insert options, making it perfect for any decor. Take a look at our collection of French country house plans for design ideas.

The Lennox® Ravelle™ fireplace is a high-efficiency, furnace-rated fireplace.  With everything from white to black arches to nickel, gold, and black inserts, this fireplace is a stylish fireplace that will meet high heating demands. This is perfect for anyone who wants lots of options and can””t quite find the perfect fireplace for their decor.

The charm of a fireplace is enthralling, but it doesn””””t have to be expensive. Consider an electric fireplace and make sure you get the most for the cost of your heating bill.  These beautiful fireplaces are energy-efficient and perfect for your home and any style home.  Take a look at any of Direct from the Designers”””” specialty collections and you are sure to find the right match for your vision.

 

House Plans: Her Dream Home Magazine features Designers Personal Favorites

Building a new home is such an exciting project and it all starts with a having great house plans – one that compliments your lifestyle, taste and budget and that you can envision living in for many years.

For Direct from the Designers latest issue of Her Dream Home the editor decided to share some of their top designer’s favorite house plans, based simply on their personal favorites and of course aesthetics, not their best-selling (though a few just happen to be) house plans. These plans were selected to help inspire you to find your dream house plan.

Direct from the Designers latest issue of Her Dream Home Magazine showcases the designers and architects favorite house plans.

 

If you’re looking for luxury, you’ll enjoy the Ciscyane house plan, a contemporary Mediterranean featuring rich interior detailing. For every comfort of home, take a tour through the L’Attesa di Vita or if Craftsman is your style, take a look at the classic Halstad house plan. For a luxurious cottage house plan there’s the Olmstead, which features 3 levels of high-end living or if you’re looking for something smaller, there’s the well-designed, affordable bungalow cottage that’s just less than 2,000 sq. ft.

This issue also features articles about how to create a romantic master suite, the latest in pampering bath products and tips to design a cutting-edge home.

We would love to know which of these designs were your personal favorite and would be happy to answer any questions about these house plans or any of our collection of over 6,000 popular home plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Plans: New Energy Efficient Mountain Lodge Log House Plan

Mountain House Plan
The newest house plan from Direct from the Designers is a gorgeous two-story mountain log home with plenty of green building products like ENERGY STAR windows.

Direct from the Designers newest energy efficient house plan is a two-story lodge log home. This new mountain house plan features plenty of windows for natural light and warmth, which helps reduce the cost of heating and electricity during the day. You can learn more about building a green home by reading this article featured in Direct from the Designers Green Living section. The two story vaulted ceiling in the great room is accented by two walls of windows and features a wood stove with hearth and cathedral ceilings.

It’s designed with 2” x 6” walls and log siding inside and out to minimize construction costs while meeting the more stringent energy codes in many localities, while retaining the charm of a traditional log home. Of course, this design can easily be modified to utilize other modern sidings and interior finishes. Simply contact Direct from the Designers by calling one of their home plan specialist at 877-895-5299 to find out how you can make this your custom dream home. All modification quotes are free. For your convenience you can fill out a modification form for any of their over 6,000 house plans.

Take a peek at the only collection of ENERGY STAR house plans.

two-story log house plan
Enjoy the view from this two-story great with wood burning stove and wall of windows.