PLAN (A)…a tiny cottage Larger homes follow, but let's begin with the three smallest cottages in this collection: Plan (A),used for designs 1, 2 and 3 comes in two variations. Designs 2 and 3 are two bedrooms and have a slightly smaller footprint than Design No. 1, which, being just slightly bigger, has space for a third bedroom, a Library and a second bath within its raised 'walkout' basement. This elegant cottage presents itself as a little jewel box, with each of its four facades perfectly symmetrical, although each is different. Above: PLAN ‘A’, DESIGN NO.2 PENNSYLVANIAN GERMAN~ The little 'pent' roof between stories recalls a feature of Pennsylvania Dutch in this pretty two-bedroom cottage. The footprint is just slightly smaller than in 'Design No. 1', but the plan is similar except for the basement being unfinished in this plan. Above: Plan ‘A’, Design No. 3 ~ TUDOR~ A cheerful little 2-bedroom, this makes a good starter home for those who feel 'priced out' of the housing market and it is amenable to future additions as the family grows. P L A N ‘ B Three bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms in just 1,370 square feet, this compact and easy to build home is fine for young families, is a classic American design and can be built for a reasonable sum. There are bigger homes shown farther along on this site, but this one serves well for those wanting to construct their first house without straining their finances unreasonably. Above: PLAN ‘B’ DESIGN NO. 4 ~ NEW ENGLAND COLONIAL~ Simple, foursquare and solid, this is a dignified example of nineteenth century style. Genuine materials and true divided light windows add to the cost but it is better to have a smaller house with elegant first-rate materials than a vast McMansion built of papier-mâché. Following the Georgian period and a precursor to the American Greek Revival era, the Federal style was the first to turn the building's gable end toward the street. Despite it's modest construction cost, Plan 'B', Design 5 (above) is quite gracious. The garage and porch add to the cost of this variation to Plan 'B' (above) naturally, but not terribly and are for two very useful items should homeowners choose to spend a little extra. P L A N 'C' In just 1,156 square feet, the three bedrooms and two baths of Plan 'C' - used with the three various exterior designs of Design Nos. 7, 8 and 9 contains the features of many larger homes. The low-slung tile roof of Design No. 8 prevents additional rooms in the attic, but Nos. 7 & 9 can provide extra rooms below the roof it such is desired. Above: Plan C Design No. 7 ~GAMBREL This cozy evocation of our colonial past permits several future additional rooms to be finished in the capacious attic as the family grows, at far less cost than building additions would be. Above: Although precluding the use of the attic for future expansion, the low-slung tile roof adds color, texture, style and character to this house, and its sense of solidity and permanence imparts to the smooth stucco walls below a feeling of strength and thickness which they might otherwise not have. It should be noted that these materials require next to no maintenance for many years at a time. PLAN ‘C’ DESIGN NO. 9 (above) Though not needing to be built on a sloping site as shown, for those with such a lot this English Tudor can easily tuck a pair of garages below. The large attic also allows for inexpensive future additional rooms. P L A N ‘ D ' Further down you'll begin seeing larger home plans, but Plan 'D' (for Design Nos. 10,11 and 12) is meant for those just entering the home buying market and who are watching their pennies. A mere 1,156 square feet, it may not have the features of a 2,600 square foot house (the average new home size today) but it contains all the necessary comforts and each of the three possible exterior variations come with a few little frills the way every decent building should have. Above: the little overhang which 17th century New England settlers employed in their new American dwellings originally began as a result of limited space in walled European medieval cities. As seen here in Plan 'D', Design No. 10 though, the detail adds considerable charm in its own right. The warmth and beauty of natural materials add beauty to the modest size of Plan D, Design No. 11, as exemplified by the '‘Shingle Style'’ which was popular during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Though very small at just 1,156 square feet, it is both an economical and charming 3-bedroom starter home, perfect for those nervous about the cost of building their first house, and is suitable for future additions as the budget permits. There is nothing shy about the bold silhouette of this Swiss-inspired house. It is not a plan for everyone- at 1,156 square feet it is mainly for first-time homeowners who intend to make future additions someday, but it's size does permit those with ordinary incomes to construct a home of their own in this age of inflated costs. P L A N ' E ' This simple-to-construct rectangular 3-bedroom, 2½ bath (for use with Design Nos. 14,15 and 16) has a fairly 'open' plan, and because of the basement being raised somewhat, can even accommodate a separate 1-bedroom in-law apartment (or spacious recreation room). The soaring barrel vault over the dining table is a dramatic feature. At 1,399 square feet it is hard to imagine where this would not be affordable to build, or a lot on which it would not fit. Design No.14, using Plan 'E', is a trim and smart Federal style residence. The scored stucco at the base and wood Chinese Chippendale balustrade adds a bit to the cost of this 3-bedroom, 2½ bath,1,399 square foot building, but are well worth the modest expenditure because of the way they turn this home into a 'stand out' in any neighborhood. This French Provincial style 3-bedroom, 2½ bath,1,399 square foot home does not need to be built on a hill as shown, although for those with sloping lots it would permit a garage to be tucked below the house. The dormers are especially charming in this stylish design, and whether on a hill or on a flat lot, it will become a much beloved family home for sure. Above:~LATE GEORGIAN~ (Plan E Design No. 16) ~Though called 'Late Georgian', this design emulates a time of transition between eras in American architecture; it also sports some Federal details such as the semi-circular entrance portico and lacy roof parapet - all melding together gracefully to add a certain gentleness to the solid, simple rectangular outline. Sparingly used, details such as light-colored windowsills, keystones and interesting blocks, or 'quoins' all provide additional interest to this 3-bedroom, 2½ bath,1,399 square foot home. P L A N ‘ F ' for use with Design Nos. 17, 18 and 19 This 3-bedroom, 2½ bath, 1,383 square foot plan can be built with a garden wall in front ensuring that, if built with a small front yard, there will still be a maximum of privacy from the street. It has been designed with very few side windows as well, for privacy from close neighbors. An especially good design for small building lots in crowded neighborhoods. ~Victorian~ (Plan F, Design No. 17) ~ Sparing use of ornamental woodwork in just a few very noticeable places provides this 3-bedroom, 2½ bath, 1,383 square foot house all the feeling of a much more elaborate Victorian home at a fraction of the cost. Plan F, Design No. 18 Certain universal features of Oriental architecture have here been blended to create a residence having a pronounced eastern flavor. The rectilinear outlines featuring the easily perceived dimensions of frame construction are common to traditional domestic architecture of Japan; the deeply overhanging eaves, supported by energetic brackets, are redolent with the influence of China and Korea; the richly pointed silhouettes formed by ridge boards having elaborately turned ends recall Siam; and lastly, the soothing serenity of a private courtyard -- all these combine to harmoniously create a powerfully exotic, exciting home. P L A N ‘ G ' (for use with Design Nos.20, 21 and 22) Three bedrooms, two baths, 1,139 square feet (more if additional rooms are added below the roof in design nos. 20 and 22 only), the staggered outline of this design is meant to direct views toward the backyard and provide privacy from the street. There is space in the somewhat raised basement (8' high and with many big, sunny windows) for a 3-bedroom separate apartment. BOARD AND BATTEN (PLAN ‘G’ DESIGN NO. 20) Very popular in the years following the civil war but highly unusual today, the 'Board and Batten' siding of this residence is easily constructed, very affordable, and quite striking. A strong flavor of New Orleans and of Creole architecture permeate this three bedroom, two bath, 1,139 square feet structure. ~ADOBE~ (Plan G, Design No. 21) A fluid blend of styles, this residence combines the exuberance and theatricality of Spanish Churriqueresque with the simple cubical geometry of pre-colonial Mexican and Pueblo Indian architecture. It consists of three bedrooms and two baths in 1,139 square feet and has the ability to include a separate 3-bedroom apartment if the basement is raised enough to permit large sunny windows. The serene delicacy of Japanese architecture is eloquently expressed with almost poetic simplicity in this 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,139 square foot residence. There is the ability with this plan to include a separate 3-bedroom apartment if the basement is raised enough to permit large sunny windows. The design is such as to permit a great deal of privacy from the street, with most views directed toward the rear garden. P L A N ‘ H ' Used for Design Nos. 23, 24 and 25, this three bedroom, two bath home measuring 1,209 square feet in a 26' x 48'-8"'footprint' can be built for a reasonable sum on just about any imaginable site. There is enough space in the 8' high, somewhat raised basement (with big sunny windows) to allow a 2-bedroom separate apartment. Above:DUTCH COLONIAL (Plan H, Design No. 23) The gambrel roof allows for additional future second story rooms at modest expense as needs arise and budgets permit. The sweeping 'Bell-Cast Eave', visitors benches at the entrance, the rhythm of the six porch posts and classic Dutch door all add charm. P L A N ‘H’ ~ D E S I G N N O. 24 A liberal interpretation of French provincial, this 1,209 square foot three bedroom, two bath home appears far larger than it is, and it has about it an atmosphere of restraint- as though the owners could have made it more elaborate but chose not to. Use of a shed dormer (discreetly placed on the rear facade only) would allow for extra rooms on a second story, and the somewhat raised, 8' high basement having generously sized windows permits future rooms on that level too. Above: PLAN ‘H’ DESIGN NO. 25 ITALIAN RENAISSANCE 'Simplex Munditiis' (elegant in simplicity) aptly captures the atmosphere of this 1,209 square foot three bedroom, two bath Italian Renaissance style dwelling.Like with Design Nos. 23 & 24, additional rooms can be added in the 8' high sunny basement, and despite the deceptive appearance of the long and seemingly low roof, there is actually enough space on the second level to add two more rooms when the homeowner wishes to. Each part speaks with one voice -- unified; related in proportion and detail with each other and to the whole -- resulting in a finished composition having the aura about it of great age and dignity. Smooth, pristine stucco offers a suitably reserved background on which is presented the crisply accented window surrounds and impressive yet welcoming portico. On a narrow lot, it may be turned sideways, and, flanked by garden walls for privacy, floor-length windows may be introduced. Basically a plain, easy-to-construct rectangle, this design relies on the idea that small concentrations of detail, made to stand out against a background and symmetrically arranged, create a dramatic appearance regardless of the building's size. Expect first-time visitors to whistle softly under their breath. PLAN ‘ I ’ Four bedrooms and two baths in 1,286 square feet is about as efficient as one can get, but those who've ordered this plan usually 'bump out' the kitchen a few feet for extra counter-space- and that is a good idea. If this is desired, one should check with the local building department if such a minor change would be considered inconsequential, or would throw the department into a general state of hysteria. The architect can provide, on his letterhead an 'Addendum' stating the kitchen is to be extended (X) number of feet if that would suffice. A classic Cape Cod, Plan 'I', Design No. 26 is a very small house at just 1,285 square feet (less than half the size of today's average new home) but still it manages to provide four bedrooms and a spacious living room with a vaulted ceiling, fireplace and three exposures to introduce sunlight and fresh air from three directions. Some have chosen to 'bump out' the kitchen 3 or 4 feet for extra counter-space, which with benefit of hindsight, the architect agrees is a good idea. ABOVE:(Plan 'I' Design No. 27) ~ ITALIANATE~ Unpretentious, this is a solid, old-fashioned all-American design taken directly from the 1860s. It uses Plan 'I' The 'Italianate' style features hipped roofs, deeply overhanging eaves supported by elaborate brackets; 'eye brow' windows on the uppermost story (a holdover from the immediately preceding 'Greek revival style'); tall, elongated windows; and delicate, narrow porches. A bold buttress makes for a theatrical silhouette on this version of Plan 'I' and the addition of the garage adds visual interest to the composition. Buildings like this have been popular in America since the 1880s and will likely never go out of style. PLAN K For use with design nos. 32, 33 & 34 This modestly sized house is cleverly divided to yield four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, kitchen, living, dining, breakfast rooms and even a library in only 1600 square feet. It accomplishes this by making conservative use of 'circulation areas' and by featuring not enormous, but reasonably sized rooms. Both the high basement with generous windows and the commodious attic allow for additional rooms on those levels. Above: PLAN ‘K’ DESIGN NO. 32 TIDEWATER GEORGIAN A dignified and proper family residence in just 1,600 square feet, this home will serve its owners well while remaining affordable to construct. Many people who have ordered this plan have chosen to spend a little extra to build the depth of the building 24' rather than the 22' shown on the stock blueprints - to double the amount of kitchen counter space, allow each bathroom to have a shower as well as a tub, and to make the room sizes a bit more generous at a reasonable extra cost. That is actually not a large change to be made in the field if the budget allows. Both the high basement with generous windows and the commodious attic allow for additional rooms on those levels. The simple addition of four stucco-clad block piers ( wood can be substituted if need be to reduce the cost) transform this simple 4-bedroom, 1,600 square foot, 2½ bath home into a vision of the American South of a century ago. As with all three exterior versions of Plan 'K', many who have ordered this plan have choose to spend a little extra to build the depth of the building 24' rather than the 22' shown on the stock blueprints - to double the amount of kitchen counter space, allow each bathroom to have a shower as well as a tub, and to make the room sizes a bit more generous at a reasonable extra cost. Above:~GOTHIC REVIVAL~ Mid-19th century American Victorian design, whimsical and joyful but whose judiciously used and fairly simple ornament is sparingly used to lower costs, Plan K, Design No. 34 delivers what most families could wish for and at a price most can afford. ABOVE and BELOW: Plan 'L', Design No. 35 "Turreted Tudor" is one of our most popular plans. At 1,800 square feet, this four bedroom, 2½ bath home is repleat with unusual features guaranteed to make it a cherished family seat handed down from one generation to the next. Above: This (4)bedroom, (2 1/2) bath, 1,899 square foot home has a 'footprint' of 44'x 23' (53' long with the porch). Beautiful sunny rooms with free flowing circulation, enough space for a growing family and peppered throughout with the details needed to impart that character and personality we all wish to have in our home. Above: PLAN 'O' ~ Design No. 44 2,000 square feet, 4 Bedrooms, 2½ baths. A roomy house in a traditional early American Colonial style; not a pastiche but a fairly historically accurate rendition with a few sensitively done adjustments for modern living. Obviously the expense of construction will be greater than for that of the 1,200 square foot dwellings shown earlier in this folio, but it is still within reach of most people. P L A N 'P' for use with design nos. 47, 48 and 49 At 3,000 square feet, this five bedroom home isn't really 'affordable' the way the preceding designs are - but is offered here for variety, to inspire reader's thoughts and because many can, and choose to build such houses. Many similarly sized houses today have rambling plans filled with zig-zag partitions and windows and doors of miscellaneous types carelessly mis-aligned. This plan seeks to incorporate the desires of today's homebuilders in a more orderly, traditional way where axes and symmetry, similar openings regularly placed and discreet rooms serving specific functions to bring serenity to the design. Plan 'P' Design No. 47 is a large 5 bedroom house with luxury features measuring 3,000 square feet. It is one of our most popular designs and-- thanks to it's Tudor half-timbering-- has the ability to seem to have stood on that spot for a hundred or more years from the day it is finished. Plan'P', Design No. 48 (Italian Renaissance) is a dramatic, impressive residence due to the four large columns at each end, and the fact that these porches increase the already considerable breadth of this broadside dwelling. It is 3,000 square feet, which is large- but seems twice that size. The five bedrooms and spacious formal rooms will serve any large family admirably. Above: French Renaissance, Plan 'P', Design No. 49 Like Design Nos. 47 and 48, this plan is guaranteed to make visitors whistle softly under their breath. Extremely elegant and restrained in it's French neoclassic lines and quiet, delicate detailing, Design No. 49 will surely impress, while at the same time it will be comfortable and pleasant to live in for its occupants. P L A N 'Q' This 2,477 sq. ft 3 bedroom 2.5 bath exuberant Victorian (or 3,256 sq. ft., 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath with finished attic) combines yesterday's elegance with today convenience and accommodates any size family. An elevator ties all four levels together, allowing an optional high ceilinged and sunny attic in-law apartment to be entered directly from the two-car garage below; or the elevator may be omitted (reserved for the future) with the shaft area initially serving each level as a large closet. The basement's many sunny windows and 8' ceiling is sufficiently large for a separate one bedroom apartment having its own private entrance from the yard should homeowners chose to finish it as such, or it may be used as pleasant recreation space. A clever feature is the oversized foyer completely open to the dining room- allowing the table to expand with many leaves during special occasions to seat as many as eighteen people by 'borrowing' dining room space from the foyer for large gatherings as if they were a single long room. Another clever feature are the visitor's benches in the entrance porch; these prevent strangers from strolling along the front porch looking into the windows should they not get an answer after ringing the doorbell. The building has been designed to be easy to furnish, and the blueprints for this dwelling are unusually detailed. Modeled on the famous 1888 Carson Mansion in Eureka California, this simplified version appears more elaborate than it really is. The details are all relatively simple and are all concentrated on just the front facade. The other three sides, while orderly with evenly spaced windows aligned vertically and horizontally, are fairly plain to reduce the costs. The building is essentially a rectangle with, on the main facade, a front porch, one stone arch, a square turret (similar to an oversized dormer in many respects) and one octagonal roof which the blueprints show can be easily constructed. Those four features transform this home into an authentically designed page from the past. Ideally, the house would benefit were the main turret constructed another 8-12' in height, but it has been designed this way in consideration of the fact that most communities today have much stricter height limits than was possible to do in the nineteenth century. If you live in an area where a taller turret would be permitted, the architect suggests you do so. The modest 31'-6" x31'-6" space in which this this house sits, the joyful exuberance of its playful Victorian details and the welcoming spirit of the design make this appear like a cottage- yet the imposing turret, the elegant porte cochere and tall gables give the impression of a mansion at the same time. Cottage or mansion? Surprisingly, it seems like both. At 1,800 square feet, with four bedrooms (more, if the attic is finished), a beautiful Parlor, Library and roomy Kitchen, this provides all the space a family needs in a residence endowed with the warmth and charm of the 19th century but neither so large nor elaborate that construction would mean financial ruin or that its upkeep would rule one's life. Please note the surplus of axes; a little understood or appreciated feature of traditional architecture which imparts not just expansive views through the residence, but that feeling of thoughtful orderliness sorely missing from todays 'builder-boxes' and McMansions. Many might insist on a larger master bedroom bath, more closets, a bigger kitchen (actually, more and bigger of everything…) but this is not a huge McMansion - at 1,800 square feet it is meant as a charming, comfortable, affordable home able to meet the needs of the average family. The Architect suggests a few revisions some may wish to make - namely substituting folding doors in a wide opening between Dining and Breakfast rooms which can be fully opened during the occasional large dinner - permitting the table to be extended very far, as if the dining and breakfast rooms were one space. Another suggestion (for those who must have a luxury master bath) would be to finish two bedrooms in the attic and use bedroom No.(2) as a very large master bath, allowing the existing bath to become additional closet space. For those with less budgetary limitations, the Library can be extended with a five sided bay window to gain approximately an extra 6' x12' for that room. AND NOW, BELOW, SOME CHAPTERS OF TEXT FROM THE E-BOOK (AND SOME OTHER WRITINGS OF MINE TOO) THAT HAVE ALL SORTS OF KEYWORDS SPRINKLED THROUGHOUT. USE THIS INVISIBLY IF YOU THINK IT WILL HELP:
The Parthenon, Pantheon and Pyramids would all fit your description; no; it isn't the density or complexity of patterns, the variety of colors or the number of details which matter. There is a subtlety missing from the International Style, simplicity and barrenness are different things. First, beautiful buildings exhibit the hand of man; International style buildings appear to have been designed by and for robots using the least effort and fewest materials possible. The best buildings appear to be enjoying themselves; they seem to be happy to have been built. International Style structures are just 'getting the job done' in a passionless and unfeeling way, grimly and humorlessly providing the programmed number of square feet while making it plain that no extraneous effort or thought was 'wasted' on the solution. There is a richness inherent in genuine architecture utterly lacking in both Bauhaus and it's impoverished offspring; missing is any sign that the builders did a thing more than was necessary and any trace of evidence people cared enough to spend more time and energy than just what was minimally necessary. THAT is the true meaning of 'minimalism'. Doing more; doing extra, adding things not strictly required or using heavy genuine fine materials provides a patina to structures; it proves someone loved what they were doing and that is another critical ingredient to anything- a meal, a painting, a landscape, a sculpture or suit of clothes-which is beautiful. Yes, architects these past sixty years are good at inflating language and condescendingly sniffing that ordinary citizens are incapable of seeing the fine clothes the King is wearing - but bloated jargon aside, the time has arrived where most are now admitting the King has been naked this entire time. I wrote to a client just now in reply to receiving photographs of a city block where the houses had been removed for construction to begin on our project: "My excitement at the... progress is tinged, as it always is with demolitions, with a certain sadness. I know it is for the best, but I can never help thinking of when the building(s) were built; the pride people felt, the care they took in their work, the first people to live in them, the joys and tragedies, screen doors slamming shut on hot days and the scrape of shovels battling snow in winter; passionate lovemaking and pie baking, the weddings, the suppers, late afternoon warm summer shafts of sun streaming through open windows while people laughed or cried, a midnight creak startling somebody, furnaces chugging along when the windows were frosted; the deaths that may have taken place- meaning those buildings were someone's last touch with this earth and children for whom the place will always be their earliest memories; proud parents arriving home with their newborns, Christmas mornings and backyard bar-b-q's and, finally, the very last time someone closed the front door before the building became officially abandoned. I ponder at the silence and the darkness of the empty rooms containing only a few scattered remnants of the last residents after that last closing of the front door; a doomed building with a rich history never to be entered again. I suspect I figure if buildings can be forgotten so too can we all." 'Jack and Jill' bathrooms. People love them, television shows and real estate agents extoll them and the idea seems good on paper - until one stops to think about it a little deeper. First, a bath opening into a hall can still be used by both bedrooms so there is no real advantage having it open directly into the two adjacent bedrooms and there are many drawbacks to this arrangement I will explain: Bedrooms already have an entrance door and one (or two) closet doors as well as one or more windows; adding yet another door makes these rooms very hard to furnish - and 'Jack and Jill' bathrooms must be enlarged to accommodate wall space for a second door, which is space put to better use some other way. Those using the bathroom must first remember to lock the door to the other bedroom (forgetting could lead to embarrassment) and must always remember to unlock the door to the other bedroom when they are done. If they forget, the person in the other bedroom must then walk through the first person's bedroom to gain access to the bathroom. That arrangement doesn't make any logical sense, and is a problem that a bathroom off the hall does not have. If someone is just beginning to fall asleep in the other bedroom the sound of a lock clicking could startle or wake them, and the sounds of someone taking a shower, operating doors and drawers to the vanity or the medicine cabinet or linen closet can disturb them. Furthermore, to permit them to swing, doors do not extend to the floor- there is a quarter inch (or more) between the floor and the bottom of the door. The sounds and aromas that are part of the human condition resulting from people relieving themselves escaping from bathrooms below the door are hardly noticeable in hallways as people quickly walk by, but for someone resting in a quiet, darkened bedroom these things can be quite noticeable from a bathroom door opening directly into their bedroom. The reason 'Jack and Jill' bathrooms are done is when architects cannot find a way to have the bath open directly into the passage; closets or some other thing in their design is in the way. Rather than solve the problem, they came up with the makeshift solution of calling the issue a 'feature'. So the next time someone seeing a 'Jack and Jill' bathroom on a television show exclaims "Oh! I love it!" remember that they've not thought out that it has many disadvantages in real life and not a single advantage.
Up until the mid-70s, the magazine would need ten photos to show a five room house (a pair of pictures taken diagonally across opposite corners of each room). That’s a lot of valuable space in a magazine. Manufacturers who took out ads in the magazine were also constantly pushing for more of their products to be seen in these pictures as well. Finally, some bright light at H&G realized that in a so-called “open plan” where there were no interior first story walls, just ONE photograph would show the entire house interior and all the ad-sponsor’s products! From that moment on, that is ALL the magazine would show and, now on television, they always and only show houses being renovated where the first thing done is always to remove all the first story interior partitions. What people see in magazines and on TV is what they then want, and so, as an architect, I’ve spent 30 years struggling to educate clients about all the many drawbacks ‘open plans’ have. And there are MANY drawbacks. It has been an uphill battle. The magazine holds an almost hypnotic power over people. Let me give you another example of stupidity born of a desire for more profits: Window manufacturers wanted more of their products shown so HGTV looked for more places to put windows. They started telling their readers/viewers that they simply ‘must’ have giant windows behind their bath tubs and now everyone wants that. It doesn’t matter that the whole idea is insane, that the water rots the wall from the sill down after a few years, that you have to climb into the bath tub wearing your shoes during the day to open or close the window or that the neighbors, in most cases, are only 20 feet away (meaning the moldy curtains are always kept closed, eliminating the very purpose of having a window, and keeping the bathroom unnecessarily dark). Yep. Better Homes and Gardens is a maelstrom of evil (hehehehehe) populated by the spawn of Satan!In my house, growing up, we entertained constantly and then as now guests stayed in the Living Room and not in the kitchen. Just like my parents before me, I plan the meal in advance and everything is cooking/keeping warm while I sit with guests until it is time to quickly bring everything to the table. Waiting for guests to arrive is no time to start cooking! A movie 20 years ago showed (an apparently hypnotizing) scene where a group of 30-somethings sat around an “island” sipping Chablis while the homeowner effortlessly whipped them up some Creme Brulee or something without ever needing to set a timer, wash a dish, make noise or read directions. The public has been transfixed by that fantasy ever since. That isn’t real life. First, no one should see the breakfast dishes in the kitchen sink upon first entering a house- nor see the clutter on kitchen counters while sitting on the sofa either. Second, there are better places for little Johnny and Susie to do their homework than in the kitchen where Mom is busy cooking. Fourth: ‘open plans’ where the whole house can be seen at once (after the third or fourth day of living there) actually starts making the house seem SMALLER, not bigger and the interior begins to look like a furniture store; Fifth: huge open spaces make ceilings seem lower- eventually an eight or nine foot ceiling in a 25’x35′ room starts to feel ‘heavy’ and as if it is pressing down on you; Sixth: ‘open plans’ force you to paint everything the same color- meaning there’s no ‘stopping point’ or way to have a yellow kitchen, flocked wallpaper in the Dining Room and a pale green in the Parlor. Everything ends up a bland neutral color. Even the furniture- you cannot have comfortable looking furniture in the front, somewhat grand carved walnut in the Dining Room, and sturdy, cheerful furniture in the Kitchen or it will all clash… so you end up with bland stuff throughout. Finally, the kids are going to develop severe mental problems always being under the never-blinking watchful eyes of their parents- it isn’t normal and it will, over time, cause them to become warped people.
As an architect I have clients every day who refuse to have any walls whatsoever on the first story; partly because they’ve been brainwashed by HGTV and (mostly) because their wondrous offspring can never be out of their sight for even a second. When I grew up, I was kicked out of the house after breakfast and reminded not to be late for supper. I spent the day traipsing through woods and fields and I loved every minute of it. That upbringing made me self-reliant, curious, thoughtful (because I had all of nature to examine and consider) and helped turn a boy into a young man. I think to myself these days, what a twisted, paranoid skittish mess I’d be today if my parents needed to stare at me every single waking moment…that is a prescription for mental illness. I’ll be apprehensively curious to see what kind of people today’s continually surveilled children become. Hermits I’ll wager.
I’m assuming we weren’t talking about children growing up in Aleppo….These so-called “helicopter parents” tend to be from comfortable, uniformly bland and low-crime suburbs. Yes, city parents can be just as crazy, true, but even there, generation after generation of children have grown up in the past without being made into prisoners or lab rats. It is, as I mentioned, a guaranteed way to give children mental problems. Every person, by virtue of their being human alone, needs privacy and freedom, and keeping them in an incubator until they’re 18, or 25 or maybe even 30 (these parents I’m sure don’t know when to stop) is grossly unhealthy.Removing all the walls in your house isn’t really all that different than having siblings wear bodycams, or making little Johnny and Suzie wear ankle bracelets. Thank God I wasn’t raised like that! I’d be a mental case by now….
I tell people decks and porches need to be at least two, preferably three 8" steps below the floor level of the house; otherwise the railing and any outdoor furniture blocks most of the view from anyone indoors standing up - and 100% of the view for anyone sitting down. No one ever does this; the 'HGTV' mentality makes everyone give up the view for the ability to avoid a couple of steps while moving to the porch or deck. My client removed their little master bedroom deck altogether and installed the long bank of windows I recommended- and they report that now they have a sweeping 180 degree view down the hill and out to the ocean that they never enjoyed before - they had spent the last twenty years staring at the interior side of the drab, solid, stucco-clad parapet railing! I'm bending over backward to adjust and give people what they want despite my misgivings. Some things, like windowless bathrooms & windowless kitchens in freestanding suburban houses, vinyl siding, fake window muntins and "Pergo" flooring I simply refuse to do- but I have tried very hard to "open" plans up and make kitchens the way people seem to want them. In my little kitchen, when I do cook, it is a dream; I never take more than two short steps between appliances and although just another few upper cabinets and three of four extra linear feet of counter would be nice, it works fine. One inevitable problem with these kitchens is you have to take ten steps between each appliance; this cannot be easy in real life; it just can't be. The reason these kitchens came about was Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Twentyfive years ago they discovered that rather than take two photographs each of-say- five rooms in a house they would be featuring - meaning ten pictures which take up valuable "real estate" inside the magazine and reduce available advertising space, they could show an entire house having an "open plan" (considered radical back in the late 60's and early 70's) in just three photos- maybe four. This is why that magazine began showing only "open plan" houses. Second; they need to show off as many building products, home furnishings and appliances as possible manufactured by their sponsors who take ads out in the magazine. Open plans allowed many more such products to all exist in a single photograph than previously. Third:kitchen "islands" with their row of stools began to be "derigueur" because kitchen cabinet manufacturers who took ads out in the magazine saw the opportunity to increase the number and types of cabinets they sold. They invented a new demand for a previously non-existant type of cabinet with the help of the magazine editors. An "island" is nothing more, really, than an overly-high kitchen table placed smack in the way of where you need to walk surrounded by uncomfortable chairs; they become "necessary" only because the kitchen walls and counters in the cooking area have grown so impractically far apart from one another. It becomes like two parallel kitchens alongside one another. It is also why, after window manufactures told the magazine they wanted to increase sales, that most bath tubs now have the insane feature of a window behind them. Nice I guess if you live on a mountain top- not so nice when your neighbor is 30' away, or when you have to climb into the bath tub to open a window or have no sunlight because the curtains are always drawn, or are paying for expensive repairs to correct water rot around the windowsill. I think the result is ridiculous- but people thirstily demand what they see in the magazines. I call 'islands' kitchen 'obstructions'- they must be negotiated around each time one wishes to walk between the sink, stove or refrigerator. The row of stools is crude; it turns the most expensive kitchen into a Diner and tall backless stools are not as comfortable as chairs, nor as easy or safe for children or old people. In my house, growing up, we entertained constantly and then as now guests stayed in the Living Room and not in the kitchen. Just like my parents before me, I plan the meal in advance and everything is cooking/keeping warm while I sit with guests until it is time to quickly bring everything to the table. Waiting for guests to arrive is no time to start cooking! A movie 20 years ago showed (an apparently hypnotizing) scene where a group of 30-somethings sat around an "island" sipping Chablis while the homeowner effortlessly whipped them up some Creme Brulee or something without ever needing to set a timer, wash a dish, make noise or read directions. But that rarely ever really happens- it is a scene from the movies. In real life, adults should sit at a comfortable table like grownups; a table that may be easy to reach nearby and in full view of the cook perhaps - but not smack in the middle of the path that the chef needs to traverse twenty times during meal preparation! In real life, while the husband is off raping the public on Wall Street, the wife sits forlornly with her coffee in a 20'x 50' kitchen feeling small and lonely in the vast space. It reminds me of Citizen Kane. The absolute maximum size any kitchen ought to be is around 15' x 25' ....beyond that it b Architect suggests for Kitchen backsplash to avoid the tired cliche of ubiquitous white subway tile and instead use brushed copper 4"x4" tiles with the grain of each at 90 degrees to their neighbors- creating a subtle checkerboard pattern. This is both traditional yet modern at the same time, is inexpensive yet beautiful and will make the kitchen a little different than everything that has been done during the last 30 years. SHELVES ARE FOR LIBRARIES The current fad of 'open shelves' in kitchens came about from television and magazines presenting home designs more geared toward looking good on film and in photographs than from the needs and problems of real life. There is a reason your parents and grandparent's homes had kitchen cabinets with doors. Flies. It is that simple. One does not want flies landing on your dishes and glassware in the summer; and every home no matter how grand has the occasional fly get into the kitchen. There is also the matter of making full use of the storage in your kitchen; closed cabinet doors permit the shelves to be chock-a-block with every conceivable thing the cook could possibly need and all kept within arm's reach. 'Open shelves' with a sparse collection of artistic objects displayed for the benefit of visitors hardly helps the chef. The rare 'oooh' and 'ahhh' wrested from friends impressed by your collections is hardly worth the price of making your every day inconvenient and difficult. So display your finery elsewhere, keep open shelves in the library where they belong and remember that kitchens are for cooking. Why true divided lights are worth the cost. Whoever invented fake muntins, including so-called 'grilles' (and those glued-on impostors as well) ought to be doing hard time in a federal penitentiary. How something so awful, so fake and in such bad taste ever came to be accepted by the American public will go down as one of history's mysteries. Let me explain why genuine windows are the key to the beauty of a building. Flat sheets of glass will always look like a gaping black hole in the wall; they have a vacant, blank look as if eyes which cannot see. Glued-on muntins cannot change that forlorn and melancholy, vacuous effect. Genuine divided lights, regardless of how new the window might be and irrespective of how costly the window may have been, will never align absolutely perfectly; they will always be imperceptibly tilted with respect to one another though by just a tiny amount. Why is this important and why is this good? Because each pane of glass reflects sunlight just a little differently - giving just a hint of sparkle and life - 'soul' if you will - to the structure. It imbues the building with a personality, gives it character, emotion and a kind of heartbeat. The difference between this and atrociously ugly glued-on muntins is the same as an eye with or without a pupil. Yes, people have become used to the phoney version of windows and may not be cognizant of why buildings today do not seem to have the life and soul their Grandmother's house had- but this is the reason. Chop off a room if you must; wait to replace your wardrobe, skip a vacation- whatever it takes- but spend the money you need to to get real windows. It matters. It is the key to what your house will look & feel like, and how you will think of the place while you live there.
These days, where a high basement is necessary due to climate change, such a berm hides the bottom three feet of wall, a fat horizontal band of trim around the top of the wall (just before the frame or brick or stucco portions begin) hides another foot, and shrubs can mask the little bit of remaining wall still showing. Furthermore, three or four steps lead up to a landing on the 'plateau' and then three or four more to the stoop or porch (usually at ninety degrees) and from there one ascends a last step or two into the house. Thus the visitor never realizes they are actually rising six, seven or even eight feet above grade to reach the door. A few feet of dirt surrounding the house is inexpensive to do, and has the additional benefit of allowing a garage or two to be slipped below the house yet whose door(s) remain at the natural grade level.
Ancient Greeks learned early that one must always have an odd number of openings and an even number of wall areas or number of columns on a facade, which is why there are always, for example, an even number of columns on a classical Greek portico and always an opening at its centerline. You will never see a Greek portico with a column exactly in the middle. Why? Because otherwise the building seems oddly split down the center; bifurcated and uncomfortable and - to use a modern analogy- as if the structure had a zipper down the middle. Two competing halves with neither one the winner, no 'center', no 'high point' and lacking balance. The same goes for windows and doors- there should always be an odd number of openings and an even number of solid walls or columns. This is a hard and fast rule in Classical and Renaissance design - and with all symmetrical buildings. There are some important exceptions though, in other types of architecture. The rule does not at all apply in asymmetrical, picturesque, romantic, rustic or quaint designs. Victorian buildings, and many Medieval or Gothic constructions quickly come to mind, but any building meant to be eccentric, quirky, whimsical or charming due to a pleasing collection of differing parts stitched together - either on purpose all at once or the result of centuries of additions and revisions - can safely ignore the rule of having an odd number of openings.
An Architects' Job: We live in an era when nobody admits fault or takes responsibility for anything; debts are incurred for future generations to pay, only the poorest of people are prosecuted for crimes, & even torturers are permitted the excuse that they were "only following orders". I am of a different era. An architect taking a commission shoulders the responsibility of a family's contentment with their physical surroundings, the convenience and ease of their future lives and their financial well-being. He must look out for and protect them, act in their best interest and do all he can to guarantee a good outcome. A good architect doesn't care about taking credit, examines criticism to see if he has made a mistake and quickly admits it if he has. His word must be stronger than any contract. Architects must also look beyond just client needs to public safety, to society in general and to architecture as both an ancient art and a modern profession. Client desires cannot cause lasting harm to the greater good and so it is often a balancing act. There is also a duty to history - a fidelity to the efforts of those who came before, consideration of those who will follow and even to those he will never meet. He is guide, confidant, confessor and advisor, a look-out, teacher and historian; banker, builder, dreamer and artist too. He is, in short, responsible. Why very few people build custom houses today, or hire architects. The problem has several parts. First, bureaucracy has exploded during the last thirty years- it has literally quadrupled. This means regular, hard-working cops, firemen, teachers and bus drivers who might have splurged a little and hired an architect for a somewhat special house back in the 70s and 80s are no longer able to - they cannot afford the additional 25% that red tape has added to the cost of construction, nor the army of professions it now takes to grind something through most building departments … a process that now often takes a year. Building codes and zoning laws have tripled in size and complexity during the last few decades, with added layers of new requirements written by people who never give a thought to what the cost of compliance will be. So 'ordinary people' are no longer an architect's clients. Secondly, all the policies of one political party (helped along by the other I should note) means all the money is now in the hands of a very small percentage of people- again slashing the number of people able to hire architects. Those same policies converted the U.S. from a system of competitive capitalism to one of oligopolies- everything that goes into building today is controlled by just a handful of large corporations who have driven up the cost of materials to where building things is now beyond the means of regular working people. The uncontrolled population explosion with the doubling of the number of people on the planet and in the U.S. means the pressure for land has driven its price up to where the idea of home ownership for the typical working person is often beyond the realm of possibility. Similarly, since the Reagan Administration when a reliance on borrowed money to run things rather than tax businesses and the upper class came into being, Washington began returning less and less money to the states and the states had to make up for it somehow- so they raised real estate taxes far beyond the rate of inflation for decades to where few now can contemplate building something. Wasteful administrative bureaucracy in colleges have doubled the cost of schooling and the steady reduction in government tuition assistance has left young people with 40 years of staggering debt - and similar developments in medical insurance and health care have soaked up another huge chunk of what people have left to spend. These things, taken together, mean that today only the 1% or big developers can afford to spend the time and money to build, or to get a building permit, or wait the year of pointless bureaucratic nonsense it takes to get the variety of necessary permits- and so 99% of the population now has to buy something of low quality- made mostly of plastic on teeny lots- that has already been built. Architects have always been a bit of a luxury- but we were once a luxury regular people could often afford if they really wanted something a little special in their new home. The forces I've described above makes that impossible these days, even for people willing to spend a little extra. They just don't have any money left. There are only a limited number of very wealthy people and big developers, so my "base" disappeared; I am a man 'out of time', someone from another era so to speak. Having inherited my home debt free from my family who built it back when a person's debts could be paid within thirty years, and before massive student loans became required. I am standing on a foundation built in the time of a different country - if I were starting out today, the idea of building a home would likely never enter my mind, nor that of any of my friends. "Interior Architects" There is no such thing as an "interior architect". One is either an architect or they are not. Those using the term are usually interior decorators who chose to skip the years of study, the hundred thousand dollar cost, the years of apprenticeship and endless series of grueling exams to get a license and instead prefer to illegally and dishonestly use that make-believe title. If you run across anyone using the term "interior architect" understand that what they are doing is illegal in all fifty states. I suppose, theoretically, a real architect specializing in interiors could use the term, but no self-respecting architect would downgrade himself by using a lesser title than the one he earned. WHY I DON'T SHOW FINISHED ATTICS/CELLARS ON BLUEPRINTS It is never in the client's best interest to show partitions in the raised basements and attic- the reasons are as follows: 1) The contractor when bidding, regardless of how often you might tell him that those spaces are to be completed in the future, no matter how much you stress the point, he will subconsciously see -while looking at the blueprints- a FOUR STORY MANSION having fifteen rooms ! His bid will be influenced by what will always look (on the plans) like a Vanderbilt house. 2) The Tax Man cometh ! When the local tax assessor arrives at a figure regarding the worth of the house for tax purposes, he uses the blueprints . Similar to the contractor, he will be influenced regarding the size/value of the residence from plans seeming to show a huge home regardless of how often he is told that the attic and basement are to remain unfinished at the time of original construction. Thus the tax bill will always be affected by whether these spaces are drawn in. 3) Attics and basements often have spaces lending themselves to self-evident partition locations. 4) These auxiliary spaces are often used for a great variety of purposes by different people; it isn't like the first story for example where you have a Living & a Dining Room, a Kitchen & a Foyer. In the attics and basements, different people have different needs; one wants another guest room, someone else wants a hobby room, some other person wants a media room...so designing just one set of rooms for these "extra" spaces would suit only a small minority of clients. Why I don't ask for photographs of completed buildings from clients: Somewhere in my book and on my website I (half-heartedly) do invite clients to send photographs of the finished buildings but only in passing and I never ask a second time; there was an time when architectural blueprints were considered instructions rather than suggestions, but that era is gone. I've found during the last 20 years people invariably "improve" the design during construction - incorporating every suggestion made by family, friends, employees and casual acquaintances with invariably unfortunate results. Changes to the plan have consequences that like the ripples reaching the shore of a still pond when a stone is thrown in, affect many other things down the line.These things are often not thought through by the person making the change. An example can be found for instance in a large tudor home I just did - someone at the last minute stuck a cheesy gas fireplace into the formal dining room: it looks like the afterthought it was, jutting out from the wall, and the person who did it never realized that now there's nowhere to put a china closet or sideboard, that there's now a "bump" in the master bedroom wall above to accommodate the flue pipe that ruins the symmetry of that room, and an eyesore of a big metal exhaust pipe now screams for attention on the rear facade. Whoever thought "wouldn't it be nice to put in an extra fireplace here?" stopped thinking at that point without examining the rest of the issue. Because every job seems to go this way these days, I have little incentive to ask too energetically to see photographs of the finished buildings- each has usually been "improved" to where they only vaguely resemble the plans. FITTING A MODERN HOUSE INTO AN HISTORICAL EXTERIOR: It is hard; very, very hard to take the complex asymmetrical functions of a modern dwelling and somehow get them to coexist with a pure historical facade and at the same time retain some semblance of the traditional "hierarchy" of formal vs. service spaces. As magnificent as the Petite Trianon and the Newport mansions and chateaux of the Loire valley may be, their architects had a simpler task. Kitchens, stables, service areas all were located in cellars or outbuildings or attics... modern homes are not run by staffs of servants running down endless corridors bring food to the dining room or fetching the carriage from a thousand yards away. The grand estates of the past had no bathrooms with their little windows interrupting a formal facade; no kitchen door or shorter windows above a kitchen sink, no attached garage with big ugly doors intruding on a picturesquely composed facade... there was no "guest lavatory", no walk-in closets, no laundry rooms on a principal floor- nothing like that. Only pure and geometrically shaped ornamental rooms arranged around some grand central space is all. Very simple to design a car with no need for an engine or trunk or dashboard! ELEVATORS: In homes I design over 2,500 square feet or so, I suggest including large closets- one on each story vertically aligned- giving the homeowner or a future owner the option, the POSSIBILITY of someday adding an elevator.Twenty years ago elevators cost a fortune but so many people started adding them to their homes in the last tow decades, the price has come down to as little as $15k or $20k- yes, still a large sum but not compared to a $750k house. In the case of people who want to grow old in the same residence, at age 75, 85 or even 95 they may begin to find stairs difficult, or simply a real effort at some point. People are living longer and it's not uncommon for otherwise healthy people to remain at home well into their late 80's and early 90's. It is also a fantastic selling point at time of resale; elevators can almost never be easily accommodated as a later addition because they interfere with every story; the odds are small that there will be a large enough unencumbered space one atop the other allowing for an elevator door to face the same direction on each story at some later date. Also, at the time of construction, the only cost involved is constructing big closets at minimal expense and people can ALWAYS use big storage closets. Even if an elevator is never built it never hurts to have that OPTION. . Lastly; sometimes an elderly relative comes to live with a family, or a future buyer has a disabled family member in a wheelchair making your house a prime candidate above all the rest for them to purchase, and sometimes a person has a temporary injury or accident leaving them in a wheelchair for a few months or a year...one never knows, and for the minuscule cost of some closets, I always advocate in homes of larger-than-average size allowing for the possibility of an elevator. A "MUD" ROOM is just the new name for a vestibule - but always includes a place for dirty shoes, a seat and a closet- not a bad feature really. Now.. as to these ridiculous kitchens. . . . BIG KITCHENS: I'm bending over backward to adjust and give people what they want despite my misgivings. Some things, like windowless bathrooms & windowless kitchens in freestanding suburban houses, vinyl siding, fake window muntins and "Pergo" flooring I simply refuse to do- but I have tried very hard to "open" plans up and make kitchens the way people seem to want them. In my little kitchen, when I do risk my life and cook, it is a dream; I never take more than two short steps between appliances and although just another few upper cabinets and three of four extra linear feet of counter would be nice, it works fine. One inevitable problem with these new kitchens is you have to take ten or twelve steps between each appliance; this cannot be easy in real life; it just can't be. The reason these kitchens came about was Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Twentyfive years ago they discovered that rather than take two photographs each of-say- five rooms in a house they would be featuring - meaning ten pictures which take up valuable "real estate" inside the magazine and reduce available advertising space, they could show an entire house having an "open plan" (considered radical back in the late 60's and early 70's) in just three photos- maybe four. This is why that magazine began showing only "open plan" houses. Second; they need to show off as many building products, home furnishings and appliances as possible manufactured by their sponsors who take ads out in the magazine. Open plans allowed many more such products to all exist in a single photograph than previously. Third:kitchen "islands" with their row of stools began to be "de rigueur" because kitchen cabinet manufacturers who took ads out in the magazine saw the opportunity to increase the number and types of cabinets they sold. They invented a new demand for a previously non-existant type of cabinet with the help of the magazine editors. An "island" is nothing more, really, than an overly-high kitchen table placed smack in the way of where you need to walk surrounded by uncomfortable chairs; they become "necessary" only because the kitchen walls and counters in the cooking area have grown so impractically far apart from one another. It becomes like two parallel kitchens alongside one another. It is also why, after window manufactures told the magazine they wanted to increase sales, that most bath tubs now have the insane feature of a window behind them. Nice I guess if you live on a mountain top- not so nice when your neighbor is 30' away, or when you have to climb into the bath tub to open a window or have no sunlight because the curtains are always drawn, or are paying for expensive repairs to correct water rot around the windowsill. I think the result is ridiculous- but people thirstily demand what they see in the magazines. I call 'islands' kitchen 'obstructions'- they must be negotiated around each time one wishes to walk between the sink, stove or refrigerator. The row of stools is crude; it turns the most expensive kitchen into a Diner and tall backless stools are not as comfortable as chairs, nor as easy or safe for children or old people. That fantasy of five or six '30-somethings' sipping wine while the homeowner joyfully and effortless whips up a gourmet meal rarely ever really happens- it is a scene from the movies. In real life, adults ought to sit at a comfortable table like grownups; a table that may be easy to reach nearby and in full view of the cook perhaps - but not smack in the middle of the path that the chef needs to traverse twenty times during meal preparation! In real life, while the husband is off raping the public on Wall Street, the wife sits forlornly with her coffee in a 20'x 50' kitchen feeling small and lonely in the vast space. It reminds me of Citizen Kane. The absolute maximum size any kitchen ought to be is around 15' x 25' ....beyond that it becomes impractical and hard to use. I've learned that modern rich people must enjoy shouting. There's another modern development that is silly in my opinion.... in a true mansion, it is OK to have 25'x 30' living rooms where groups of furniture can "float" in the center... but in middle class homes such rooms should never be the way they are often done these days... just a little too narrow for floating furniture groups yet too far for seating around the walls to make for easy conversation across the room. It needs to be one or the other.