Hudson Cottage Interior Animation

Simply Elegant Home Designs has added an Interior Animation of their Hudson Cottage house plan.  The home includes an open family and friend gathering room accomodating cooking, eating and sitting areas.  The space features a vaulted wood ceiling with exposed truss framing.

New House Plan Offering

Simply Elegant Home Designs is offering a new house plan called the "Hudson Cottage". This home design is their first plan that offers a main floor master suite and the opportunity for one level living. The Hudson Cottage offers an open floor plan with connected spaces that are perfect for cocktail parties, family gatherings or just hanging out with your friends. The images below depict the new design.

You can obtain more information on this plan and others at Simply Elegant Home Designs.

Mother In Law Banished to Garage!

Fine Homebuilding is looking for good examples of "mother in law" units that they can publish in an upcoming book (click here).  

This reminded me of a project I designed a few years ago at Ron Brenner Architects.  The project was actually for grandpa.  A couple we were working with wanted their single 80 year young grandfather nearby, but Grandpa still wanted to live independently.  The solution was to utilize an attic space that already existed above their detached 3 car garage.  With a little planning we were able to create a plan which accommodated a kitchenette, media / sitting space, bill paying / desk space, bedroom zone, dining and a bathroom.  See photos below.

It turned out to be the perfect space for a single guy, but by the time the project was completed, Grandpa..... well.....he found other accommodations with his new tootsie!  That's alright though because the space is perfect for a college student, a young person starting their career, or even for a long weekend visit from Grandpa AND his new gal-pal!!!

Creating a Niche through smart design

Recently I have been trying to emphasize that builders can create a "niche" for themselves through good design.  The following interview which was posted in Realty Times reinforces this concept. 

All Marketing, All the Time: What's New in Smart Design

[Note: To follow is an excerpt of an interview with Lori Snider of Creativity for Rent, a professional speaker, author and marketing strategist. To listen to, or download the show archive MP3, go to]

Mosca: Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, philosopher, poet, and leader of the transcendentalist movement in the early 19th Century once said, "build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door." How can a property owner differentiate visually from the competition through creative marketing strategies enhanced by smart design?

Snider: Over the last 30 years, we have seen design explode in this country. Smart design has become an affordable commodity. Take a look at Target for example. Target sells smart design at a cheap cost and that's been one of the greatest measures of their success over the years. The consumer today expects you to be different and to be smart in your design. They do value smart design and they will pay more for a well-designed and well thought out product.


Simple,Unique, Creative and Green House Plans

Cookie Cutter House Plans

I live in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis / St.Paul, where we have one of the largest Parade of Home tours in the country.  Every year I look through all of the Parade offerings to see if I can identify any new trends.

A couple of things have struck me;  1) how very similar many of these houseare and 2) this economy can not be a great environment for many home builders.   The question begs to be asked;  if you are by-and-large building the same house as your competition, how is your much sought after customer going to decide which house to purchase?    Right, pretty much on price alone.    This doesn't seem like a good business formula to me.

As an architect  I have worked with a number of builders that understand the benefits of  a creative and well thought out home design.   Builders such as this  are not afraid to separate themselves from the pack.  Now more than ever architects and builders need to examine whether their current business practices are serving them well.  Perhaps this is the time to consider doing something completely different because quite honestly the consumer has become much more savvy and selective!  They are going to demand smaller, efficient, better designed, and more economical homes.  Cookie cutter homes, clone homes, and yes even McMansion homes may always have a share of the market, but I believe if we don't as an industry, embrace and adapt to the ever changing building market, we will continue to see one business after another close their doors for good.  Now how sad is that?

Trend to Smaller House Plans

I ran across this article the other day -  "trend toward smaller homes for thriftier seniors"

The article sites the following housing trends for the 50 and over market:
  • New house plans are getting a bit smaller - down to about 2300 sf average
  • People are looking for affordability
  • Folks are doing a lot of in home entertaining,  so open floor plans and kitchens with island seating are important.  Didn't I see this on a golden girls episode?
  • People are seeking smaller house plans that still feel large - quote "more space-efficient design concepts include using less space for hallways, fewer walls to give a more open feel, and more storage under stairways and above kitchen cabinets"  Are you kidding me?  These are cited as revolutionary concepts?
  • Seniors are open to smaller lots and higher densities
  • Clients are making less expensive choices - eschewing granite counters for other alternatives
Well I say it's a great feeling to be in style again!  These are exactly the kinds of homes we have been designing for years at Ron Brenner Architects, and exactly the kinds of house plans I offer at Simply Elegant Home Designs.

And I have news.  The trends cited are not exclusive to the 50's and over crowd.  These are the kinds of homes that our clients have been seeking for quite some time.  And most of our clients have been 30 and 40 somethings.  They are looking for a smaller yet highly functional and livable floor plan.  A house plan that is smarter and nicer.  Around here we call that "just plain good design".