Tips for Designing the Perfect Party Home

Being able to entertain is one of the joys of owning a home. However, some house plans are better designed for the task than others.

Whether you're looking to buy your first home or investing in your own vacation escape, you'll want to make sure that you have the perfect space for a party. For some, that means an intimate dinner with friends. To others, it's a wall-to-wall bash. In any case, there are some basic considerations to be addressed before building a house. After all, you can always buy more ice before a gathering, but it's not so easy to add an extra guest room.

Spacious eating area
Many families no longer use their dining room for nightly meals, but the space is still a great asset when it comes to hosting a dinner party. The ideal size of the room is largely dependent on how many guests you plan on having for an average gathering. Remember that you may also be hosting holiday meals such as Thanksgiving or Christmas throughout the year. As such, it's not a bad idea to err on the side of caution and anticipate a slightly larger crowd than you might normally expect. At the same time, a dining room shouldn't be so large that it becomes uncomfortably spacious for smaller groups.

One of your best options is a dining room with an open connection to other spaces, such as the kitchen or the living room. Such a design can make a small dining room big. It can also allow for dining areas to be extended easily for special occasions.  This Floridian-style house plan features breezy connection to one of two living rooms, as well as immediate access to the kitchen.


A room to entertain
Your living room is going to be your next major concern for hosting parties. It doesn't matter whether you're throwing a rager or simply looking for a place to retire after dinner for games and coffee – a large living room makes all the difference. Great rooms are a wonderful option. These expansive interiors start with a sizable living room and generally feature open connections to nooks, kitchens and dining areas. Hosting becomes a cinch, as the room can feel nearly twice as large. Keep an eye out for other amenities, including fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and porch access, all of which this house plan has.


A place outside 
Come summer, you'll want to be able to move the party outdoors. Having a sizable yard is a good start, but it's also nice to have extended patios and covered porches specifically for the purpose of hosting. Not only do they lend some grandeur to your gathering, they also soften the transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Many house plans offer creative spaces for hosting large groups. Such designs may offer designated areas for dining as well as cooking, complete with a fireplace to get a barbecue started. This luxury house plan boasts both a lanai and a barbecue porch. It also has multiple access points from the master suite, the nook and the family room. 

Rooms for sleeping 
At the end of a long night, it's nice for guests to have a room waiting for them. House plans with extra bedrooms are good for regularly entertaining people on the weekends. If you don't like having rooms that are by and large unused except for the occasional party, consider houses with flexible spaces that can easily be converted into a sleeping area. That may include dining rooms, studies, game rooms and exercise areas.


This house plan features plenty of flex spaces as well as bedrooms

Overall, you'll want to consider striking a balance between finding enough space and maximizing the use of your rooms by seeking out open, flexible rooms. 

Our Most Popular Budget Friendly House Plans

The decision to rent vs buy vs build is a common one, and one that can be a major life event. Renting allows you more flexibility and buying allows you to build equity. But building your own home allows you to create exactly what you want!

For those of you who are leaning towards building your own home but don’t want to break the bank, we’ve put together a list of our most popular budget friendly house plans.

10. Plan HHF-7139


This country craftsman style house is one of our most popular because of it’s smooth layout and efficient use of space. This plan features front and rear covered porches, a great room with vaulted ceilings, fireplace, and built-in cabinets, and a tucked away master suite that will make anyone jealous.

9. Plan HHF-3059


This 1,457 square feet ranch has 3 bedrooms and 2 bath and features a 2-car garage with work area, an open floor plan that highlights the kitchen, and a master suite with vaulted ceilings.

8. Plan HHF-3061


This spacious 1,666 square ft, 2-story cottage features beautiful front and rear porches, a drive under-garage and a second floor media room for the kids.

7. Plan HHF-7138


One of our most popular cottages, Plan 7138 features front and rear covered porches, a master suite with his and hers, get this, walk in closets, and a great room with a fireplace and built-in cabinets.

6. Plan HHF-2808


This compact design uses every inch of space efficiently. This cottage is 1,380 square feet and has 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.

5. Plan HHF-4718


Classic architectural elements adorn the facade of this fresh one-story design which has a great room large enough for any gathering.

4. Plan HHF-5458


This simple country home has front and rear porches, and a simple open floor plan to go along with 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.

3. Plan HHF-6262


This country style design features front and rear covered porches, a 1-car garage with a work and storage space, and a great room with a fireplace and vaulted ceilings.

2. Plan HHF-3800


This tiny cottage uses every square foot wisely – in just 1,080 square feet, this floor plan includes 3 bedrooms and 2 bath.

1. Plan HHF-2259


And last but certainly not least, our most popular house plan for those on a budget. Plan 2259 is an open floor plan that features a kitchen for entertaining, a basement with a game or media room, and a master suite that opens to the rear lanai and outdoor fireplace.

Which of these budget friendly house plans was your favorite?

Let us know in the comments below.

Top 12 Beach House Plans

Summer is coming and our collection of beach house plans features decks, patios, and plenty of windows to help you soak up the sun.  If your dream home is a home by the beach we are here to help you by counting down the top twelve house plans in our beach house plan collection. So have a look and see if you can find a home that speaks to you.

House Plan 1141 Exterior

12. Plan 1144 is great as a four-season home or a vacation home. The home is designed with an airy feel to it that fits a scenic beach plot perfectly.

House Plan 4657

11. Plan 4657 has many features that the wish lists of homeowners today. For example:  His and Hers master closets, a laundry room on the first floor, and a walk in pantry.

House Plan 4692 Exterior

10. For a beach house with a more rustic look, consider Plan 4692. This house plan features a rustic design and interior design that is both spacious and dramatic.

House Plan 1145 Exterior

9.  If you like a little bit of an island vibe, take a look at Plan 1145. This beautiful house plan will let you take in beautiful waterscapes and the open floor plan lets you create the perfect space to entertain.

House Plan 1189 Exterior

8. A beautiful house plan with lots of curb appeal, Plan 1189 also lets homeowners take in beautiful views while also giving a family ample living space with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

House Plan 1892

7. Plan 1892 is a European inspired house plan that is designed with spectacular views and outdoor living in mind.

House Plan 4153

6. Homes in warmer climates might like the look of a Mediterranean house plan. Plan 4153 fits the mold perfectly with its clay tile roofing and entry portico. This room is also packed with luxury including an exercise room and an oversized three-car garage.

House Plan 1492

5. Plan 1492 is the perfect house plan for your beach getaway. It make the ideal vacation house for a weekend getaway.

House Plan 1142

4. If you want a great four-season vacation home, then you want to look at Plan 1142. It is warm and inviting, and provides just enough space for a great romantic or family getaway.

House Plan 1150

3. Plan 1150 is a beautiful airy beach house that features tall 9’ ceilings on the first level and plenty of amenities including walk-in closets, island kitchen with a lunch counter and a wraparound balcony.

House Plan 1878 Exterior

2. Plan 1878 the charm of a cabin. It features three bedrooms and three bathrooms giving you plenty of space for a weekend getaway.

House Plan 1143 Exterior

1. Plan 1143 is all about views. Ample windows for panoramic views from the kitchen, dining room, and living space and the balcony provides plenty of outdoor views as well.

Do these house plans have you imagining your dream getaway? Or maybe your second home? Tell us which one you like best in the comments below.

Patio Ideas to Make the Most Out of Your Backyard

Patios bring to mind summer barbecues and poolside relaxation. The promise of warm weather recreation may be more than enough to sell people on patios, but they can also serve as a versatile and elegant addition to your new home. 

Apart from serving as a summer gathering space, patios can make the backend of homes appear more elegant and inviting, breaking up the landscape and providing a smooth transition from house to yard. They also don't necessarily need to be relegated to any one season. There are plenty of craftsman house plans featuring a wide array of patios that lend themselves for almost the entire year.

While many of those patio designs are shaped with the overall house plan in mind, you have the ability to customize your own backyard hangout spot as you see fit. To help give you some inspiration, here's an overview of different kinds of patios, and house plans that seamlessly incorporate them into their design:

The covered 
This type of patio, as displayed in renderings of this house plan, is one of the simplest and most versatile. Homeowners can use this covered space in the summer as a way of escaping the oppressive heat. Should an afternoon shower interrupt your enjoyment of the outdoors, you can also retreat to watch the rainfall. This particular patio is wide enough to fit a table and chairs for a meal in the evening air. It also has three separate entry points for easy, casual access, whether from the master bedroom, nook or family room. 

The two-tier
Patios serve as transition spaces from inside to outside. A covered patio helps in that regard, but a smoother, more elegant transformation may involve a two-tiered setup. This craftsman house plan features an extensive patio that feels naturally partitioned by way of simple design elements, such as stairs, partial coverings and even a fireplace.

The lower portion of the patio in these renderings is used as a poolside lounge space, though homeowners may reserve it for a table and chairs. Meanwhile, the staircase flanked by two pillars creates a natural entryway that draws people up to the separate upper space, which can be used for further seating, either with lounge chairs or tasteful couches. The uncovered portion of the upper deck is yet another subsection, reserved for fireside cooking or sitting. 

The wraparound
While many patio designs feature a simple rectangular design, you don't need to feel like your patio is limited to such simple dimensions. One design for your patio is to have it wrap around the exterior of the home. This kind of layout is especially interesting for homes with a uniquely shaped footprint, such as the one featured in this house plan. The angular shape of the patio aids in creating the feeling of separate and intriguing patio spaces. The strip of patio next to the bathroom and family room is almost entirely hidden from view from the cozy covered section bordering the sitting room. The space in between opens up to the rest of the backyard. This design can even be extended to wrap around other sides of the house.

Open and away
Of course, patios don't necessarily need to be attached to the house. Another design idea that can be used for most house plans is a separate patio in the backyard. These kinds of spaces generally require some sort of conceptual structure that will draw people to the space. Fire pits are an easy, eye-catching element that serve as a natural gathering spot for people. Lay out a patio space with a pit in the middle, and you can set up chairs around it. 

Why Single-Story Homes Can Deliver Energy Efficiency

Unlike heads, two floors aren't always better than one. There are many benefits that come from a one-story house plan, all of which may best be described in terms of energy efficiency.

Heating and cooling are perhaps the most commonly understood concepts when it comes to energy efficiency, but it may also apply to the energy involved in construction, or even the effort required to clean a home. Despite the compact nature of many one-story homes, however, they can still deliver spacious interiors and flexibility of design, as demonstrated by plans such as this one. Here are just some of the potential advantages that could come with sticking to the ground floor.

Less heating
Maintaining temperature in a home can be costly, and the design of that home has a huge impact on how effectively it's done. The more rooms there are in a house, the more energy that will be required to heat and cool. One-story houses generally have fewer rooms compared to homes of a similar footprint. Yet, they are more energy efficient also due to the nature of air. Heat rises, which means that the warm air in a two-story home will immediately rise to the second floor, making it take longer to heat up the downstairs or even make immediate changes to a house's temperature. In a one-story, heat will immediately hit the ceiling and begin to spread to other rooms.

Of course, the relative efficiency of homes depends on the size of the floor plan. One-story homes that occupy twice as much lot space as their taller counterparts may become less efficient as a result of their sprawling design. Also, the quality of construction and a home's thermal seal will drastically affect HVAC performance.

Less materials
While the size of the footprint is again a relevant factor, generally, one-story house plans demand less construction materials and building time than two-story homes. Those materials, ranging from wood and concrete to glass and stone, make up the inherent energy of a home. Cutting down on them reduces the environmental impact of building the structure. That reduction can be both eco-friendly and also cost-effective for homeowners trying to save money.

Less cleaning effort
Hiking up and down stairs can be a pain, especially with a laundry basket or a vacuum in tow. By getting rid of the stairs, you can save yourself plenty of time and effort. You may also cut down on the safety hazard that comes with carrying heavy materials up steps. Sticking to one floor may also mean fewer rooms to clean, as many one-story homes have great rooms and other flexible designs that make spaces compact.

Less stuff
Another way such single-story homes can make your lifestyle more efficient is by limiting the amount of space you have to store your belongings. That may sound more stressful than beneficial, but less room often forces people to be more efficient with their furnishings and more careful about the junk they choose to keep around. Less stuff also leads to fewer things that require cleaning or clutter that demands organizing come spring. Reducing clutter can even cut down on the stress that comes with maintaining such a heavily furnished home.

Other considerations
Shorter homes still come with their disadvantages. They may not offer as much space, and privacy may be harder to come by when much of a one-story home's design is based on multi-use spaces. Also, as mentioned, the listed advantages are based on comparable footprints between one- and two-story homes. Yet, for homeowners that that are interested, they may find these smaller houses to be a cozy and efficient means of living.

Affordable Luxury May Be One of This Year”s Design Trends

Paste Magazine recently posted its predictions for the top 10 design trends of 2014. One in particular – high style at low prices – is an equally fitting description of pre-drawn house plans. People hoping to build a home that's luxurious inside and out may just have a bright year ahead of them.

The economics of pre-drawn plans
A personal architect will help customize your home to your every whim – for a price. Unfortunately, that level of site-specific design is enough to price out plenty of prospective homeowners. Pre-drawn house plans offer the advantage of a much cheaper alternative. However, a cost-effective blueprint doesn't necessarily equate to poor quality design. Plenty of pre-drawn home plans are designed by renowned architects, and an extensive selection of such blueprints means that buyers may be able to find their dream home at a fraction of the cost of designing from scratch. These pre-drawn blueprints range from French country designs to luxury house plans, ensuring that it is, indeed, possible to achieve high style at low prices.

Matching inside to the outside 
Fine house plans demand equally tasteful and elegant design. According to Paste Magazine, home goods stores are making it easier than ever for homeowners to achieve high-class looks at affordable prices. The Internet also has plenty of design websites that grant shoppers the opportunity to find deals on normally pricey furnishings. Chandeliers to hang in the dining room or in a grand stairwell can be found at a bargain online, whether homeowners are looking for something rustic, minimalist or Victorian. No matter what you're looking for, you can probably find it on sale online.

Of course, high style at low prices has always been available for buyers who know how to look. Thrift stores and antique shops offer plenty of slightly used but nonetheless high-quality furnishings. In many instances, you can find these older goods to be of a better craftsmanship and durability than mass-produced furniture made today. The trick to shopping used is to look past initial appearances. Ripped fabric or a scratched leg of a couch may seem unappealing, but reupholstering and refurbishing are relatively cheap services. You can even do them yourself. More important when buying used furniture is determining whether the structure is intact, the materials of good quality and the basic design appealing. Other flaws can usually be buffed, stained or patched according to your needs.

Taking advantage of other trends
Given the possibility for affordable design, people can even start implementing some of the year's other supposed design trends. These included rich, luxurious fabrics and sculptural artwork, both of which would add some serious flair to any room. Light wood and natural elements were other predicted highlights for the year. Given that wood shades are always coming in and out of style, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a nice piece of used furniture made from maple, oak, ash or pine. People who like print also have reason to embrace design in 2014, as classic patterns with a modern twist also made the list. The celebration of pattern is yet another reason why homeowners may want to try their hand at reupholstering antiques at a fraction of the cost.

Taking advantage of daylight basements

Daylight basements certainly seem to suggest a sunny disposition, and they definitely can be key to a brighter, more enjoyable home. Sometimes referred to as a walkout basement, this style commonly featured in craftsman house plans often features windows and even a door to provide access to the lowest level of a home. There are plenty of advantages to this kind of house design. Here are just a few:

More versatile rooms
Natural light is a key ingredient to the enjoyment of a space. Architects and contractors will often work hard to install large bay windows, light wells, and skylights just to get more sun into a room. Without some connection to the outdoors, rooms can feel dingy, claustrophobic or unnatural, even with the presence of plenty of artificial light. Basements are often designed to be or eventually become storage spaces as a result of them being dark spaces lined with cold, concrete walls.

The introduction of daylight, then, improves a basement's usefulness by making it feel more habitable. The recreation room presented in HHF-5316 is basically a daylight basement, and can be used for any number of purposes. It can be converted into a game room, a television lounge or even an arts and crafts space. Even though the space won't get as much sunlight as other rooms higher in the house, the mere fact that it can receive indirect light already makes for a vast improvement.

Maximal use of space
By increasing the versatility of your basement, you're also giving yourself the opportunity to use space more efficiently. House plan HHF-5316 offers plenty of versatility on its main floor, due to a large family room and a dining room that can converted into a flex space. However, the downstairs recreation room allows for a better use of space by providing a main congregation space for children sleeping in the second and third bedrooms. That way the upstairs can be better tailored to receiving adult guests while the downstairs can be geared toward children's games and activities.

A better blended home
In an attempt to gain more livable square footage, homeowners will sometimes add an extra floor to their home or raise the height of their walls. The two or even three-story home can often have a stark visual impact on a neighborhood as it juts into the skyline and towers over other homes. However, daylight basements often take advantage of sloping lots, so that while the back of the house reveals a full two-story home, the front of the house will appear more modest and unimposing with only one story visible.

Smoother transitions
The daylight basement is often touted because it welcomes in the outdoors. However, this connection works both ways. Daylight basements also serve as a good staging area for people embarking on or returning from backyard activities. If you have a lake behind your home or a yard large enough for running around, then the daylight basement can be used as a de facto mudroom and changing area. This way, people coming in and out of the house won't disturb people upstairs or disrupt the temperatures of climate-controlled rooms.

1 modest reason to choose a small house plan

Cost is often the reason for a smaller home purchase, but it's no the only consideration. Homeowners may want to consider small house plans not as the result of limited finances, but as an opportunity to reimagine their entire lifestyle. 

The real estate business has long operated on the concept of keeping up with the Joneses. As MSN Real Estate noted in the wake of the housing bust, average home sizes have ballooned over the latter half of the 20th century by more than double what they were in the 1950s. However, small homes have had a resurgence as of late, partly due to cost, but also due to homeowners' interest in reining in their houses' footprints. 

Smaller homes grant owners the opportunity to start fresh and live more simply. Homeowners will not have to worry about filling out large rooms with unnecessary material goods. Rather, they will have to downsize. With fewer things, homeowners will also have less space and appliances that require cleaning and maintenance. If the smaller floor plan, such as HHF-2259, is designed well powering and maintaining the home will be more efficient overall.

Rethink your dining room

Dining rooms can be a great place to gather family and friends for a meal, but many people neglect theirs in favor of more casual spaces around the home. People should rethink these spaces for other activities in order to maximize their space. Here are three houses that inspire new approaches to the dining room, so that homeowners can get the most out of their floor plans. 

The sitting room and the library
Often, dining rooms are situated just off the entrance to a home, so that guests may arrive and immediately find their place at the table. This placement makes for a perfect sitting room. Comfy chairs, couches and side tables make for a great place to have tea and welcome guests. It can also serve as a cozy gathering area while waiting for others to get ready before going out for the evening.

To make it an even more charming space, you can convert the room into a library. HHF-5586 is already halfway there, with shelves of books lining the walls of its dining room.  Not only do books serve as great decoration, but they also offer a quiet retreat in the home. Combining your library with your sitting room can even provide conversation starters and entertainment for guests.

Crafts and games
HHF-7139 has foregone the dining room in favor of what it calls a flex space. Homeowners should take that as a challenge and get creative. Dining rooms can make for a game room, outfitted with billiards, ping-pong or air hockey tables. You can also use the space as an arts and crafts room, complete with storage units for materials and a work table for crafting. HHF-7139's flex space conveniently overlooks the front yard, so parents can work on projects while keeping an eye on the kids.  If you are tired of cleaning a sprawling great room, you can even designate it as a kids' space for their messier activities. 

Joining rooms
The dining space in HHF-2808 is less of a room and more of an extension of an open kitchen layout. Homeowners who don't want to completely eschew the dining room concept may look to this kind of house plan, where the kitchen and dining room are combined to create a more inviting space. The open layout also provides new design opportunities, as homeowners can experiment with a larger room.