About the Book
How the Book is Arranged
About the Author
The Design Approach
Separate Apartments and Future Additions


This volume presents to those of ordinary means simple, affordable home plans and makes blueprints for them available at a reasonable cost (see order form for ordering information).

Logically and efficiently arranged for ease of construction and economical use of material, these carefully wrought buildings are none-the-less genuine works of architecture. Though modest in scale, these structures reveal the artistic judgment and philosophical thoughtfulness, the historical accuracy and knowledge of construction techniques brought to their creation by the educated hand of a professional; each dwelling will stand out among its neighbors and bring credit to the builders.


Each plan (A,B,C, etceteras) is followed by three alternative exterior designs for that plan (design No.1, No.2, No.3, etc.). Each design is illustrated to show how the finished building should appear and each has been carefully checked for accuracy. Blueprints for every plan include whatever modifications are required by the particular exterior design selected.


David Carnivale, R.A. was born and raised in the restored 18th century village of Richmond town on Staten Island, New York. His architectural practice now concentrates on large commercial works in Manhattan, but it has extended to include projects now standing in such diverse places as Rome, Cape Cod, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and New Jersey. In addition to his practice, Mr. Carnivale employs his time as a college lecturer, renovation consultant, and as a construction manager. His hobbies include carpentry, landscaping, rendering, travel and invention.



The first rule of construction is that projects always take longer and cost more than anticipated. With this in mind, first-time homebuilders are well advised to take a conservative approach in planning.

This volume is concerned with presenting a series of basic house plans; simple yet elegant, efficient while gracious.

Similar books to this often feature homes of three or four thousand square feet of area requiring a half-acre or more of land; the plans here range between (860) and (1,400) square feet, employ ordinary building techniques, fit comfortably on small building lots, and rely on careful attention to design and details for their charm. Each can be easily added onto in the future, and most are adaptable to include a small separate apartment --to provide for members of extended families or to create rental income for the homeowner.


In planning homes of any size, certain principles are universal: each room must be of a size and shape suitable for its intended purpose and likely furnishings; each should, if possible, face the compass direction most appropriate for its use; rooms for receiving visitors should be distinct from private family quarters; certain rooms, such as bed rooms and bathrooms, must not provide the only path to other spaces; and rooms which rely on each other, such as kitchens and dining rooms, should be convenient to one another.

Additional considerations when designing a modest house include: reducing as much as possible the building's floor area eliminating costly or unique structural methods, and avoiding designs calling for a rambling, extended structure having a many faceted silhouette, and which meanders over a great deal of land. One method of reducing the number of square feet in a building without sacrificing comfort is to reduce the amount of corridor space; another is to consider the likely placement of furniture when dimensioning a room.

The author's philosophy calls for an adherence to a stringent set of rules; that is, attention must be given to axes, balance, symmetry, and the idea, currently unusual, that each side of a structure should be equally presentable.

To explain further, it is commonplace today to observe homes where balanced and orderly street facades give way at the sides and rear to a riot of variously sized windows and doors, of different styles and types, puncturing the structure in a seemingly random, almost haphazard way. Adding to the chaos is the typical side and rear wall covering, often of a different, less expensive material than found on the front. This design method assumes buildings are always viewed from just the front. The poverty of this approach is obvious, yet reasons for it exist which will now be explained.

Symmetry and balance are not the same thing; identical windows on either side of a door, and at equal distances to it are symmetrical and, of course, balanced; a single large window to one side of a door may respond well to a set of three small windows on the door's opposite side however, and thus be balanced without being symmetrical.

The fastest, most expedient way for an architect to design a house is to begin with the assumption of a symmetrical (or at least balanced) street facade; design the building to exist behind that, and to simply allow the variously sized window and door openings demanded by the asymmetrical functions within to fall where they may on the sides and rear of the dwelling. The pushing and pulling and fatiguing revisions needed to eliminate this from a design is enormously time consuming, and explains why usually only the finest homes can boast of having all their facades treated as carefully as the front. Every facade of every design in this volume has received equal care.

Another unfortunate feature found within many new dwellings is the size and placement of interior doors, and in their relationship with each other and with nearby windows; it is not unusual to discover residential corridors lined with doors to bed rooms, bath rooms, linen closets, clothes closets, etceteras -- each door being a different size and type, and all within sight of one another. With forethought, doors can be made uniform and placed at regular intervals for a much improved appearance. An unusual feature of the following plans is the placement of bed room doors; a master bed room for example, may require four or more doors -- the entrance, one to a bathroom, and two doors to closets. Were these four doors carelessly placed, they, along with two or more windows, would combine to produce a room impossible to furnish. The following plans often show master bedrooms having all four doors adjacent within an alcove (which presents a paneled appearance when all the doors are closed), leaving three walls free to be furnished in any number of ways. Similarly, minor bed rooms are frequently shown having their entrance and closet doors located along the same wall for the same reason, and often feature an arched recess for a dresser between them, further reducing the amount of floor area required just for essential circulation.

The centerline of a window or door is the imaginary vertical line down the middle of the opening; the centerline of a room seen on a plan, or of the plan of a house, of a driveway, a staircase, or even of a piece of furniture.

It is an imaginary line drawn across the middle, or down the center of the length of the object. It is difficult, given the variety of purposes served by different rooms in a residence, to arrange the center lines of doors and windows to align. When they do, an 'axis' is formed, adding both drama and grace to a home. For example: picture yourself looking through dining room french doors, through matching doors to the living room across a foyer, onward through a perfectly aligned archway into a sun room and finally through a last pair of french doors leading to a porch. Each of the spaces mentioned might actually be quite small, yet when seen in such a view, the effect is one of tremendous distance. The following designs contain as many such axes as possible.


Imitation materials, such as aluminum siding pretending to be wood, metal roofs mimicking shakes, or stucco scored to vaguely resemble brick have always been, and always will be, in bad taste. Counterfeit materials burden a building with an atmosphere of cheapness and poor quality recognizable from a great distance, and the appearance of fake materials are somehow maintenance-free; not so. Aluminum siding, for example, with the passage of time becomes faded, pitted, dirty and even dented. It also prevents the homeowner from ever changing the color of the structure. Readers are advised to select only genuine materials in the construction of these designs.


A house built for a modest sum can only be of a certain size of necessity; the choice then becomes how to best divide the available number of square feet. Homes having less than three bed rooms can sometimes be difficult to sell; thus, all but one of the plans which follow have at least one master and two minor bedrooms. Many of the master bedrooms enjoy a private bathroom, and all boast generous proportions and ample closet space. Minor bedrooms are efficient but comfortable, and often can be combined by the removal of a partition into a single large chamber. Walls are used to divide the square foot equivalent of ‘eat-in’ kitchens into cooking areas and formal dining rooms. Hallways are kept short, bathroom and foyer dimensions reasonable. Library/ sun/ sewing/ recreation/ laundry rooms; these are left for future additions. If included at the time of general construction, porches and garages do not ordinarily add greatly to the construction sum; the square footage listed for each of the following residences do not include these. Porches and garages, where not already called for in the plans may be easily incorporated into any of these designs.


Except where faithful adherence to a particular architectural style forbids it, many of the homes which follow call for capacious attics below simple, bold roofs to allow for fast and easy future expansion at an almost negligible original cost. Similarly, placing the residence on a raised basement -- high enough to admit ordinary windows -- accomplishes much the same thing. Care must be taken however to place the foundation bottom below the deepest point that the earth can be expected to freeze. Known as the ‘frost line’, this depth varies according to the climate. Such a basement permits the inclusion of a garage conveniently located below the house, several additional sunny rooms, a workshop, or for a separate family or rental apartment. Most of the plans on this page are adaptable to include such distinct dwellings, ranging in size from one to as many as three bedrooms. Over the years, domestic architecture has evolved to include ever more numerous features, and each of the designs incorporate these accordingly. Each exterior however, is an accurately executed example of the style in which it was rendered; an inhabitant of the period and place which gave rise to the style would see nothing amiss. Where liberties have been taken, or variations made, such is noted in the text.