We have all heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, at some time or another. It can be used in reference to many things, but today we are going to apply it to house floor plans and elevations. You can look at two homes with the same floor plan, but each having distinctly different elevations can make you like one and not the other. But wait a minute, they are both the same. So how can you both love and hate identical house floor plans at the same darn time? Well, the answer lies in what comes or is seen first, the horse or the cart, or in this case, the elevation or the floor plan?
Many internet house plan browsers tend to look at house plan elevations, or what I’d consider the cart. I say this because some people tend to put the elevation before the floor plan. They decide either they like the entire house or not based on the elevation alone. They may not even look at the floor plan if the elevation doesn’t appeal to them. Nonetheless, if the floor plans are acceptable, they often become an afterthought because the elevation didn’t pass muster. Maybe you are looking for a specific architectural style. Perhaps you want to make a small house appear larger or smaller. In many cases, an elevation design can be a smart and economical solution. Don’t let a good horse go by because you couldn’t see pass an unattractive cart, aka the elevation.
The architectural style of a home can sometimes eliminate a crowd of onlookers if the style is not of their taste. Granted, sometimes a floor plan layout can have an effect on the elevation and present limitations within a certain style of architecture. But this is, in a lot of cases, the exception and not the rule. This is especially true when dealing with stock house plans because they are mostly designed in a way that makes adaptation possible. So before you speed pass what you consider an ugly house, look a little more to see if there is beauty beneath the exterior. And by beauty beneath, I’m talking about the floor plans.
I have two examples that I will share to further illustrate my point on redesigning or modifying the look of a house elevation to your liking. A couple of designs from my craftsman house plans collection, the Bradbury A – DE033A and the Maybeck A – DE034A, were modified from their original arts and crafts themed elevations to a more suburban traditional look by the respective builder of each home. As you will see, the changes are moderate, but they completely change to architectural definition.
For some of you who are reading this blog post, these are changes to a slight degree. However, these are modifications and not a complete redesign. An example of a redesign is seen when comparing the aforementioned Maybeck A plan to the Radcliffe house plan – DE134, which is where the Mayback was derived from. The floor plans are identical with the exception of the detached garage on the Maybeck A design. From the outside looking in, you would not connect the two as having the same floor plan layout. Before taking a look, revisit the Maybeck rendering above to see the craftsman style design. Now scroll below to see the Radcliffe.
Although the elevations are inverse of each other, the differences would be great even if they were not. These examples show how you can create a modified or a completely new design of an elevation using the same floor plan. So it’s OK to hate an elevation, but let’s look at both parts before discarding a good plan. Remember that judging a plan by its elevation is akin to judging a book by its cover. To use one more phrase in closing, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. If you like the house floor plan, keep that baby and redraw the bath water otherwise known as the elevation.
How many home designs, or shall I say floor plans, have you ignored because you didn’t like the front elevation?
Professional Building Designer and owner Design Evolutions Inc., GA, specializing in residential design. Visit online at http://www.designevolutions.com
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