Why Look at a House Floor Plan if I Hate the Elevation Design?

There has been a time or two where I’ve heard, “I hate the elevation design” from clients. This is why many Residential Building Designers choose to present floor plans first, followed by the elevation when possible. It’s because we know if your are sold on the floor plans, we can redesign the elevation to fit your taste in almost all cases. This is all part of the process involved with creating the perfect house design for clients.

Don’t prejudge

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 in their mind they are thinking, “I hate the elevation design”. 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.

Change the style of the elevation design

The architectural style of a home can sometimes eliminate a crowd of onlookers. This is especially true 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 hate the elevation design…but wait, a few moderate changes may help

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 bungalow house plans collection, the Bradbury A – DE033A and the Maybeck A – DE034A, were modified from their original arts and crafts themed elevations. The new styles took on a more modern traditional look.. As you will see, the changes are moderate, but they completely change to architectural definition.

This is the original version of the Bradbury house plan (A elevation) shown in its craftsman style. It is built according to the specifications of the blueprints.
This modified version of the Bradbury house plan (A elevation) move away from the craftsman style to a more basic traditional suburb look common in many metro area neighborhoods.
craftsman style home plan
This is the architectural rendering of the Maybeck house plan (A elevation) as originally designed.
traditional style home plan
This is the modified version of the Maybeck house plan (A elevation). The craftsman style look was stripped down in favor of a more traditional look. Further changes in the exterior finish materials make for even more of a different look at first glance.

A complete elevation redesign is even more dramatic

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. The Mayback was actually derived from the Radcliffe. 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.

This is the Radcliffe plan from our designer house plan collection. Despite having the same floor plan as the Maybeck A, the elevations are completely different. To the average person looking from the outside, this fact goes unnoticed.

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 were thinking,”I hate the elevation design“?


  1. Thanks for the great article!