Slush and snow are great arguments for the value of a mud room – a place where people can take off boots and coats before entering the main rooms of a house. While there are plenty of craftsman house plans that offer them, it's still important for you know how to best design for them. Here are five tips for designing a great, functioning mudroom.
Install large tile floors
Mudrooms are going to have a lot of dirt and mud on the ground, so you're going to want a floor that's easy to clean. Larger tiles are a great option because there is less grout – and therefore less cracks – where grime can collect. Whatever material you choose for flooring, however, make sure you can easily hose it down. Wood may be aesthetically pleasing, but difficult to clean.
Include a bench
Taking off wet and dirty layers can be an involved process. While a bench may take up a little more of your floor plan, you'll be thankful come the winter months when you have a place to sit. Make sure the bench is big enough to seat at least two people. The mudroom designed for HHF-8383 offers plenty of space.
Have plenty of storage
Coats and boots will need to have proper storage in your mud room. Store boots under the bench and install a coat rack on the opposite wall. That way, all dirty clothing stays in one space. You can have dividers for the boots, but resist the temptation for cubby holes. You want your shoes to be able to dry and drain on the tile.
Allow for easy drainage
Before anything else in the room, you'll want to have a drain installed. This will keep water from pooling and help avoid mold. A center drain is fine, but the more discreet you can make the drain, the better. The opposite corner of the bench, preferably hidden under a cabinet, is a good spot. Just make sure the floor is slightly angled so that the water pours toward it.
Choose a good color
Paint provides an opportunity to bring some life to your mud room. Lighter shades will make the space feel brighter and bigger, but will reveal more dirt if not cleaned regularly. Dark colors will make it feel cramped, but dirt won't show. Choose a color somewhere in the middle if you're looking to compromise.
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.
As the housing market makes it slow return to normalcy, homeowners are becoming more interested in specialty rooms, according to the American Institute of Architects. While in-law suites, mudrooms and home offices have all drawn homeowners' attention, the most popular specialty room this year has been the outdoor living area.
During the economic crisis, specialty rooms fell by the wayside as the size of homes shrank. Instead of having special function rooms, spaces were combined to maximize efficiency. At its worst, economic and housing activity was at 78 percent of its normal state, according to the National Association of Home Builders. However, economic and housing activity has since reached 86 percent normalcy. With that increase has come a growing interest in most specialty rooms, save for the home office, which saw no change from last year, according to The American Institute of Architects' Design Trends Survey. The survey asks residential architects what trends are increasing or decreasing in popularity. Mudrooms and home offices tied as the second most popular special function room, the survey found, with both trailing behind outdoor living areas.
Home sizes have increased during the recovery along with the growing interest in special function rooms. Interestingly, however, lot sizes only continue to get smaller, according to the AIA. Approximately 25 percent of respondents cited a decrease in interest by consumers in lot size. Instead, homeowners are continuing to get creative with limited space, opting for multi-function rooms and choosing to blend indoor and outdoor spaces. Outdoor living areas are a common amenity for craftsman house plans. Such spaces include decks, patios, porches and verandas as well as outdoor rooms and lanais. Many of these rooms feature more sophisticated approaches to the outdoor living space.
A model home
HHF-1895 is a great example of a more complex outdoor space that easily interacts with other rooms. The floor plans feature a lanai as well as a BBQ porch, complete with fireplace for cooking food. These spaces are best used in the summer, however, they can easily be converted for use all year long. If the space is screened in, homeowners can install glass panels that help retain heat during the winter, along with a heater to keep the space warm. If there is already glass in the outdoor area, thermal blinds can further help to keep heat indoors. With that house plan in particular, the doors to the family room and nook may be opened to create a blended indoor-outdoor space.
Your dream house blueprints are already drawn up, and you are desperate to break ground and start building. While it may seem hard to believe, it is possible to build a house in winter, and sometimes it may even be cost effective. However, there are plenty of caveats to this project. If you really want to get started in making your floor plans a reality, consider these aspects of home building in winter.
How it's possible
As The Washington Post wrote last year, a home can be built in practically any kind of weather. One of homeowners' greatest concerns is that snow and rain will somehow rot out the wood as it is being framed, due to the fact that everything is open to the elements. While some wood may swell if it is not properly protected, it all will dry out over the course of the building process. Remember that there are rainy days in the summer and homes are still built then. Concrete may be harder to pour and the ground may be frozen solid, but the use of ground heaters can likely fix that problem.
How Stuff Works has made the claim that building in the winter could even save money. The thinking goes that contractors can get lower prices from subcontractors, and may even offer their own discounts when business is slow. If you live in a warmer climate, where snowfall is irregular and the weather is relatively temperate, then some of the hassles associated with winter construction – such as having to clear snow or hold off building because of a storm – can be avoided.
While there is some truth to the possibility of saving money, you shouldn't rely on that as a guarantee. Cold weather means slower workers, more dangerous working conditions, potential difficulties transporting materials to the building site and the obstacle of breaking frozen ground. Those heaters that make it possible to break frozen ground aren't cheap. Also, even the most experienced builders can have difficulty working in cold and possibly slippery conditions. If they aim to do their job right, it will probably take longer and end up costing more.
If a house is going to be built in the winter, then it's still best to break ground and lay the foundation in the fall. Best of all is to get the house under roof before winter storms, so that builders can work inside over the season. Otherwise, wait until later on in the winter, when storms are less frequent and the days get longer.
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, 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.
Potential homeowners who are concerned about the environment as well as their energy bill may want to look into energy efficient house plans. However, no matter the kind of home you build, there are simple ways to lessen your footprint even further. Window blinds are one easy way to cut down on electricity and better heat your home.
With the advent of electric cooling and heating, it has become easy to forget that there are more cost effective ways to heat and cool a home. One method, which doesn't require electricity, is the implementation of window blinds. In the winter a house can be partially heated simply by raising blinds when the sun is shining on the window. For example, if the front facade of HHF-4422 were to face south, then it would be a good idea to have the blinds open during cold days. At night, closing the blinds helps to retain that solar gain. During the summer, keeping the blinds closed during the day will help keep rooms cool.
The quality of the blind will help determine its effectiveness in regulating the temperature of a home. Thicker, denser and darker blinds will absorb heat and release it over a period of time. Special enclosed blinds, such as the ones recommended by Energy Star, can increase thermal efficiency by up to 104 percent, reduce solar heat gain by 77 percent and reduce heat loss by 28 percent, according to Energy Star.
Skylights have a wide range of appeal. They provide natural light for poorly lit rooms, they can help heat a home and they also provide an opportunity for a singular decorative element in a home. Plenty of craftsman house plans make use of skylights. With the right planning you can find the perfect skylight design for any room in your house.
The advantages, in-depth
Skylights are mainly used to introduce natural sunlight into a home. This is especially useful for rooms that don't get enough light from windows, either because there aren't enough or they face a direction that doesn't get a lot of light. Skylights are especially useful because they don't even need direct sunlight in order to brighten a room. Diffused light from the sky will keep a room softly lit all day, according to HGTV.
Depending on the direction of the window, the skylight can also accept solar gain, thereby warming a space. If the skylight is operable – meaning that you can open and close it – it can also help cool a space. Because heat rises, the skylight will provide the most direct route for heat to escape.
The shape, size and setting of the window also make for interesting decoration. They can be flush with the roof, inset, square, round, frosted or even gridded like colonial windows. These designs can be used to echo other decorative features in the room and the house overall.
The importance of planning
The many potential uses for a skylight mean that careful planning is required in order to make sure they function properly according to your needs. An improperly placed skylight could overheat a room, or let in too much light when it's not wanted. If the skylight is too small, it may not let in enough light or even stand out as the decorative element you intended it to be.
The biggest concern when placing a skylight is its location in relation to the sun's path. Southern-facing skylights on a slanted roof will accept more sun than any other skylight. During the summer, the sun will only get higher and make a room hotter. This placement can be beneficial in colder climates, but in warmer weather it can make a room unlivable, especially if the skylight is large. Eastern-facing skylights will let in the morning sun, which is fine unless sunrise is earlier than you care to wake up. Western-facing skylights will accept light from sunset. Northern skylights provide diffuse light, but will not receive much solar gain.
The slant of the roof, the size of the window and the seasons further define the effects of the skylight. In the northern hemisphere, slanted roofs on the southern side of the house will accept more light than on a flat roof. The northern side will get more light from a flat roof than a slanted one, especially in the summertime.
Some general considerations
You should consult with your architect or contractor in order to determine the best locations for skylights. Often one or the other will have a chart that maps the angle of the sun throughout the year. They can help you determine whether a skylight is necessary or advisable, based on the kind of room and its location in the house. For example, the placement of the skylight in HHF-2599 is workable because the foyer would otherwise not receive much natural light. It could also face south without much problem because the skylight is a reasonable size and, because the foyer is a transitional space, the heat from the direct sunlight won't bother anyone.
It is also possible to control the effects of the skylight daily and seasonally. Foliage from strategically placed trees can mitigate overheating in the summertime, while allowing light in during winter. Frosted windows and special blinds can also help diffuse light.
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.
Fireplaces are often the heart as well as the hearth of a home. Plenty of craftsman house plans offer living room fireplaces, but it is up to the homeowners to decide how to incorporate them into the overall layout of the space.
Orientation of the room is key to incorporating a fireplace. Some of your major considerations should be the purpose of the room, where you will put the fireplace and how you will place the furnishings around it. There are a number of factors that determine the final design, but here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Locating the fireplace
You have two basic options when choosing the location of the fireplace. You can either center it on a wall or you can place it a corner, as is done in HHF-4812. Generally, a centered fireplace lends itself to a more symmetrical room layout where the fireplace is a focal point of the space. A corner fireplace is better suited for an off-kilter design. However, these are just guidelines, and you can design a room however you see fit. The purpose and size of the space will help determine whether a corner or a centered fireplace is best.
Front and center
If the fireplace is to be the main focal point of the room, then all of your major designs in the space should emphasize that fact. First, the furniture in the room – ideally couches and chairs - should be oriented around the hearth. No tall furniture should block people's views of the fireplace. You may also want to make the design of the fireplace itself special. A larger, bumped-out hearth will make for a distinguished design element, preferably of brick or stone. You can also extend the height of the chimney all the way to the ceiling for more dramatic effect. While mantels can be a nice decorative element, you can make the fireplace more imposing without one.
Televisions will compete with the fireplace for people's attentions. For rooms where the fireplace is to be central, it is best either to leave the television for a different room or else incorporate it into the space so that it doesn't distract from the fireplace. This kind of design is best for living rooms generally used for activities like reading, games or casual meals that don't make extensive use of a television.
A nice accompaniment
If you prefer a television room where the fireplace is a side feature, you will have to be smart about the design layout. The television and the fireplace will pull people's attention in two different directions, which can be awkward and even off-putting. When incorporating a fireplace into a television room you can scale down the visual impact of the hearth by insetting it so that it is flush with the wall. You can also move it off-center or onto a different wall as the television. The corner fireplace already does this to some degree, as it literally relegates the hearth to the side. However, if the fireplace is more visually stunning than the television, it could make the furniture that's oriented toward the television feel poorly aligned. Either a larger television or a smaller fireplace could compensate for that problem.
A common practice is to place the television over the fireplace. While this seems to be an efficient solution, heat and smoke may cause damage to the television. Furthermore, if the fireplace is well-designed, then a television may feel like an eyesore over it. Consider the scale of both furnishings before choosing this option. If you have a great room, you may be able to place the television and fireplace on opposite ends of the room. Floor plans will help determine what is possible, as that setup would not work in a narrow room.
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.
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.