Home Floor Plans

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Whether you're building, buying, remodeling, or redecorating, home floor plans are always a great starting point. This space, after all, is where you will live. You might envision a little bungalow with a wide porch, light streaming in from an eastern exposure, and deep-set dormers looking onto trees. Suddenly you remember your aunt's Greek revival colonial and the mission-style house across the street with its red tile roof and smooth, mustard-colored stucco siding.

But maybe you don't know where to begin. Perhaps this sudden opportunity to do what you've always wanted to do--design your own home from the ground up, from exterior facade to home floor plans--paralyzes you. If so, step back for a minute. Take a deep breath.

Think of houses you've seen and admired and, above all, been comfortable in. Put them in your mind's eye and remember the details. What was it that appealed to you, made you so at ease? Maybe a review of the possibilities of different home floor plans and house types will help.

Home Floor Plans: a Quick Review of American House Styles

Most houses in the United States, whether 250 years old or under construction, have been built with either a vague or an obvious attempt at being fashionable as well as utilitarian and comfortable. They tend to follow one of four very broad architectural traditions--classical, renaissance, medieval, and modern. What's so interesting about domestic American building is the periodic combination of elements across these styles, which is sometimes effective and admittedly sometimes discordant, but always home.

Ancient classical is based, of course, on the low pitched roofs and symmetrical facades of Greek and Roman architecture. Renaissance classical derived from the more detailed and ornate Italian movement of the 15th and 16th centuries. Europe's medieval period influence showed in steeply pitched roofs and gables and typically asymmetrical facades and home floor plans. The modern period began with the Arts and Crafts movement that turned its back on historical precedent for ornamentation. In its austere machine age movement, typified by Frank Lloyd Wright, it eschewed very nearly all architectural traditions.

A number of other traditions, however, have also left a strong imprint on American house styles and home floor plans. The Spanish influence has been particularly notable, especially in the West and Southwest. Red tiled roofs, asymmetrical facades and floor plans, and adobe techniques are typical. Pueblo revival, Spanish eclectic, the octagon movement, and exotic revivals of the mid- to late 19th century have also worked into the richly mixed bag of domestic American architecture. You--like builders and architects--can draw effectively from any of these influences as you build or renovate or decorate your own home. It's a wonderful opportunity!

Home Floor Plans: Moving Forward with Your Own House

Your challenge is one of two. First, you'll make the most of the space you already have and possibly add to it in the process. Second, you'll effectively conceive and then design space you will one day have. You'll consult with designers, architects, and builders.

In building a new home, you'll start the process by thinking about what style you prefer and the ideal square footage. After that comes the question of how many bedrooms and bathrooms. Needs morph into wants very quickly. Online research pays off if you haven't already sketched out several sets of conceptual home floor plans on your own. The Internet is rich in architectural resources, firms that use their websites as a catalog of house plans they've designed and are more than happy to tailor to your needs.

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