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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 new year is looking bright, thanks to a host of fresh LED products designed to better light house and home. Featured in EcoBuilding Pulse's eco-friendly weekly product roundup, these lights merge sharp design with improved efficiency. For future homeowners, the potential cost savings of LED lights are worth a look. For people interested in energy efficient house plans, LEDs should be their first consideration.
These lights range from organic hanging fixtures to lamps to LEDs that resemble incandescents, building off of years of development and buzz. However, some consumers may be confused about the advantages and drawbacks of LEDs. While there has been plenty of debate over the benefit of LEDs, it seems that they may be the future of home lighting.
The value of LEDs
LED stands for light-emitting diode, and it is a relatively new alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, LEDs have the potential to be more energy- and cost-efficient than incandescent bulbs, due in part to a longer life and better performance in extreme conditions. Additionally, because they don't use a filament, they are more compact, easier to maintain and more durable than other types of light bulbs. The Department of Energy has even made the claim that LEDs could cut general lighting energy use nearly in half by 2030, thereby reducing energy expenditures as well as carbon emissions.
LEDs are often used as underlighting for counters, stairs and halls, or backlighting for shelving and appliances. Usually, they are embedded as part of a series of LEDs that lend themselves as a form of subtler track lighting. However, as LED products improve, they are being utilized as single bulbs in a fixture.
Still in development
While LEDs seem to be a perfect solution, there are a few reasons why they haven't become more popular in homes already. First, LEDs do not naturally produce white light, meaning that researchers and developers have had to put considerable effort into making LEDs practical for general home use. Second, the quality and efficiency of an LED light can vary greatly depending on the producer as those developers continue to fine-tune LEDs. Finally, the upfront cost for LEDs still surpasses incandescent, meaning that consumers are more reluctant to make the investment, even though LEDs can bring returns above and beyond that initial financial loss.
Because researchers are always improving upon LED designs, it's important that even skeptics keep up with the most recent developments in the field. With the proper research, energy conscious consumers are likely to find an LED product that suits their needs. If not, it's much like what Mark Twain wrote of ever-changing New England weather – if you don't like it, wait a minute.
A new year
Of course, that minute may have already come. More recent LED developments combine improved efficiency bulbs with interesting and innovative designs. One of the more distinguished lights to hit the markets are the Bio Mass Pendant Lights from Jay Watson Design. These slender, cylindrical hanging fixtures are made from a hollowed-out ash tree branch, with LED lights installed on the ends. This organic display would fit in perfectly with a rustic, country home, such as HHF-7908. Less showy are the recessed LED modules from Lutron, which can be adjusted for directional lighting, suitable for desk or kitchen tasks.
If you are still reluctant about making the switch from incandescent to LED, there are also a number of designs that aim to resemble incandescent. Philips' SlimStyle A Shape and Switch Lightings' Switch Infinia both take on the familiar bulb shape that make them fit well with lamps.
No matter what kind of home you're planning to build, you will inevitably have to allocate some floor space to the washer and dryer. Whether working off of luxury or small house plans, consider the following pros and cons before deciding between a downstairs or upstairs location.
The common choice
Downstairs utility rooms, such as the one outlined in HHF-3601's floor plans, are often the preferred choice to house washers and dryers, and for good reason. These appliances can often be loud, and having them stored downstairs can be a great way of keeping noise to a minimum at times when people are still in bed. If, for example, you prefer to do laundry in the morning, children can still sleep soundly. People who prefer to do laundry later at night need not worry about keeping people up.
Keeping your washers and dryers downstairs can also be an efficient use of space. The utility room in which they're stored can double as a mudroom. As mapped in plan HHF-4093, the garage leads straight into the utility room, and even offers side nooks that can be used for storing boots or hanging coats.
Downstairs utility rooms may keep washers and dryers out of sight and better used, but upstairs washers and dryers offer their own advantages. First and foremost, it means homeowners won't have to trek up and down stairs and across their home to do the laundry. Traveling back and forth can get especially exhausting if you're already doing chores in the bedrooms. With an upstairs utility closet, the laundry process – from washing to folding – is streamlined. The layout drawn in house plan HHF-2514 demonstrates a well-situated upstairs utility room.
By locating your washer and dryer upstairs, you would also be cutting down on noise pollution downstairs. While it may mean you can't do laundry very early in the day, it also means that people can relax in the living room or entertain in the dining room with little distraction. Furthermore, you won't have to worry about guests stumbling into the utility room to find it in a state of chaos.
The only major downside to an upstairs utility room is if your appliances break or flood. Leaking water can wreak havoc on your upstairs floors, and removing the washer can be a huge hassle if you have to replace it. In this regard, at least, a downstairs washer can be better because the potential damage is relatively contained to a lower floor.
Homeowners may be perusing more floor plans in 2014, as the housing market in the new year looks to be a slowing but steady continuation of last year's recovery, according to USA Today. Home construction may be a key component in that process.
A slow improvement
According to MSN Real Estate, home prices are expected to rise in 2014 as the market continues its recovery. Clear Capital, which provides real estate data, found that 225 of 276 U.S. cities saw an increase in home prices. Nationwide, that came to about a 10.9 percent bump in housing costs, at a median increase of about $30,000, MSN reported.
While an increase in price may seem like a bad thing, it means homeowners with previously worthless mortgages may no longer be underwater, and can start selling old homes and buying or building new ones. In 2013, the housing recovery also pushed buyers into taking advantage of low prices and mortgage rates, resulting in limited housing selection and bidding wars. The upcoming year's slowed but steady growth could signal more stability and a less frantic market.
"You want boring in the housing market," Svenja Gudell, Zillow director of economic research, told USA Today.
What to expect
In addition to price increases, homeowners can also expect higher mortgage rates and more home sales, albeit at a slower pace, according to USA Today. That means that as the market moves more toward sellers' advantage, there is a shrinking window to take advantage of the current prices. Homeowners who do not want to buy may consider housing construction, another part of the industry that's expected to continue recovering. Goldman Sachs Asset Management told USA Today that, while construction won't return to normal levels, it will still be strong enough to be a main component to the housing recovery.
"The construction revival is primarily a matter of when, not if," Tom Teles, GSAM head of securitized and government investments, told the news source.
Tips for buyers
More homes being built means more jobs for construction workers and manufacturers. It also means a more stable time to build a home. Homeowners who are unsure where to start looking into construction may also want to consider the benefits of a newly constructed home compared to buying. According to U.S. News & World Report, newly constructed homes often require fewer repairs than existing homes, as well as less maintenance. Customization also means homeowners know what they are getting. Finally, mortgage-financing perks could be accessible through builders, according to the news source.
Craftsman house plans can be outfitted with a wide range of siding options. However, if you are looking for ways to better regulate the temperature of your home, you may want to choose brick, as offered by HHF-4696.
Some materials retain heat better than others. Wood is not very good at absorbing heat. Concrete is on the other end of the spectrum, able to absorb a lot of heat and release it slowly over time. Brick, while more expensive than wood, is closer to concrete in heat absorption. This ability is not the same as insulation, in that it doesn't help a building regulate a temperature independently from the outdoors. Rather, the ability of siding to absorb heat and release it can help moderate fluctuations in daily temperature.
So, a house with brick siding and a layer of insulation could have less of a fluctuation of interior temperature than a house with wood siding. This trait is especially effective in temperate climates where temperatures may drop off significantly in the evening and peak at midday. A brick wall with no insulation on the interior, however, would not be an effective insulator.
In addition to moderating temperatures, interior brick walls can be used to help passively heat a home. If you have an interior wall that gets direct sunlight, you can clad it with brick. It will absorb sunlight as long as it gets light exposure and then release that thermal energy back into the house. The best part about an interior brick wall is that it will release the heat slowly, meaning that you can still get passive heating from the wall well into the night, depending on how much energy was stored during the day.
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.
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.
When it comes to the bathroom, saving water can mean saving money. While energy efficient house plans can help conserve your energy usage as well as your bank account, there are still a number of design tips you can employ to be more efficient, no matter what kind of house you are planning to build. Here are just some of the techniques you can use to save some money in the bathroom.
The cost of a toilet
Toilets consume an incredible amount of water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets make up almost 30 percent of an average home's indoor water use. It used to be the case that toilets flushed 6 gallons of water per flush, though legislation in the 1990s meant that low-flush toilets soon had their day in the sun. Back then, these toilets only used half as much water without any changes in flushing design, meaning that the toilets were less effective, according to HGTV. However, technological developments, including better gravity-assisted flushing, wider flapper valves and pressurized air have made these toilets just as effective as the higher water capacity toilets.
One of the more recent designs to capitalize on the recent green-building and sustainability movement in the U.S. is the dual-flush toilet. It comes with two buttons for flushing. One is designed for solid waste and flushes the new average of 1.6 gallons of water. The other button is for liquid waste, and only flushes 0.8 gallons of water, thereby saving half of the water normally used for a flush. These toilets are a great way to save water.
Showerheads and faucets
The other two big culprits for water use in the bathroom are faucets and showerheads. Showering makes up 17 percent of indoor water use. Faucets account for more than 15 percent of indoor household water use, according to the EPA. Combined, the two consume roughly the same amount of water as household toilets. The amount of water used by both appliances can be significantly reduced.
The standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while high-efficiency showerheads use less than 2 gpm. If a shower is taken in the same amount of time with either head, that's at least a 20 percent reduction in water use. You can also use high-efficiency faucets or, if you can't spend the money, you can add aerators to your faucets, which add air to water flow and reduces water usage.
Look for labels
If you're unsure what kind of product to use, the EPA-approved WaterSense label lets consumers know whether an appliance is water efficient, meaning it's at least 20 percent more efficient and performs as well or better than its counterparts.