house plans
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Use promo code THANKS10 for 10% off all house plans now thru 11/30/15!
Question or to order
Home >> House Plans >> Article
Search entire site
House Plans
House Plans

The A-Frame House Plan: Revisting a '50s Sensation

Tags : , , , ,
Published On : 07-02-2013
Author :

No, it’s not Elvis... but the triangular A-Frame house plan design with its striking, dramatic and steep rooflines was taking the country by storm in the 1950s -- and it is finding plenty of fans today in it form as an affordable vacation home or mountain retreat.


While by no means an extravagent home design, the A-Frame is a striking one. It is also an affordable house plan to build, which may explain some of its recent popularity. Home builders and homeowners looking to build a vacation or second home often find the A-frame design particularly attractive both for managing a buget while also building a design that makes a statement.


The A-frame’s unconventional roof shape, open floors and decks, large windows, eaves and gables fueled the mood for fun and whimsy.  Whether the home was in the mountains, the wilderness or lake areas, the A-frame design was perfect. At vacation spots in snow country, the sloped roof prevented the collection of snow. In addition to its versatility, the A-frame was easy to build and economical.


The A-Frame’s Rise to Popularity

The idea of living in an A-frame was inspired by Rudolph Schindler, an Austrian-born architect, who worked for Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago, and then eventually settled in California. Schindler built a home in Lake Arrowhead, California in 1936 for costume designer Gisela Bennati. The house’s A-shaped roof that almost reached the ground, open floors, and glass gables attracted much attention.

California A-Frame       

California A-Frames: The 1936 Bennati House in Lake Arrowhead and John Campbell’s 1952 Leisure House in Mill Valley. 

It was not until the 1950s that the A-frame actually took flight when young architects from Northern California designed and constructed variations of the style.  Much like the Chicago Group that pioneered the Prairie Style, these bold architects found new ways to experiment with interiors, entrances, and outdoor fixtures in their creations. The Postwar years were times of economic boom and progress. The U.S. was prosperous, jobs abounded, and the middle class was thriving. All around, the mood was of optimism, adventure and experimentation.  Things were so good that people could afford a vacation home or weekend hideaway for relaxation and fun.  


In 1951, John Campbell developed a plan for a Leisure House, “an affordable and attractive design that engendered more initial interest in the triangular form than any other.”  Campbell’s concept was of a simple house with a plywood exterior and white interior with minimal furnishings – a place adaptable for the winter and summer and suitable for all seasons.  He packaged his plan and successfully marketed it nationwide. A year later, Campbell built his own Leisure House in Mill Valley, across from the Golden Gate Bridge. It was the perfect embodiment of his design – simple, versatile, affordable and fun.


The A-frame’s popularity surged through the next two decades as more architects around the country offered up their own interpretations of the triangular house.  One of them was renowned New York architect Andrew Geller who built A-frame beach houses on Long Island. The most widely publicized was Reese House - completed in 1955 in Sagaponack, NY.  Geller’s A-frames and other beach houses were modern, innovative, inexpensive, and playful, with shapes described by The New York Times as “whimsical”.

Geller A-Frame          Levitas House

Two of Andrew Geller’s A-Frames:  Reese House…                            ... and Levitas House (1962) in Martha’s Vineyard



What About the A-Frame Today?

Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Americans reveled in the charm of the A-frame. But by the mid-70s, in the era of huge estates and mansions, simple was replaced by big and elaborate.  Soon, the A-frame began to fade, including the iconic buildings of Campbell, Geller and other A-frame architects. 


Today, a few existing A-frames are being renovated and there are plenty of signs of new construction now -- as opposed to only a few years ago.  These designs take the best elements of A-frame house plan design and include modern amenities and conveniences, such as this A-frame house plan from The Plan Collection. A compact A-frame design, this house plan still includes three bedrooms, a galley kitchen with breakfast bar, and plenty of outdoor living space. 

A-Frame House Plan Design from The Plan Collection


The A-Frame's floor plan exhibits all the classic elements of an a-frame home but also includes plenty of modern conveniences like two full bathrooms, a walk-in closet, and even a mud room.

First Floor.          


Americans still dream of weekend getaways and a second home. For some, the A-Frame is an ideal vacation retreat. So slowly but surely, the A-Frame is getting a revival.  And like the circle of life, it is returning to the consciousness of those interested in simple but versatile homes. 

The A-Frame House Plan: Revisting a '50s Sensation
House Plans
A-Frame Homes: Perfect for Living in the Country
House Plans

Search House Plans

 1  2  3  4  5+
 1  1½  2  2½  3  3½  4+
Stories Garage Bays
 1  1½  2  1  2  3+
Square Feet
View Results
Enter Plan #:
Glossary of Terms
Understanding Blueprints
Understanding Copyright
What's included in a set of house plans?
Why pre-drawn house plans?
Building a home plan with an indoor basketball court
House Plans
Plans with Indoor Basketball Courts
House Plans
1. Building on slab vs. crawl space vs. basement? Advantages / disadvantage
House Plans
Garage Plans with Shops, Mother In-Law Suites, Apartments and Bonus Square Footage
House Plans
Luxurious Mountain Craftsman House Plans
House Plans
Beachfront, Coastal and Key West Home Plans
House Plans
European and Luxury House Plans, Large and Small!
House Plans
The Finest Duplex, Town House, and Multi Unit Home Plans
House Plans
The In-Law Suite Revolution
House Plans
Florida and California House Plans With a Tuscan Style
House Plans
A Frame House Plans A Home Builders Opinion Air Conditioning Tips All Hallows Eve architectural styles Architecture Arts and Crafts House Plans beachfront house plans Beachfront Houseplans blueprints Building House Plans building log building lots building mistakes bungalow Bungalow House Plans Buy House Plans Cape Cod House Plans celebrity home designs Charity Christmas Coastal House Plans Color Photos Color Schemes
Christmas Lighting Hazards: Keeping Your Home Safe for the Holidays
House Plans 101
10 Thanksgiving Home Decor Ideas – From Front Porch to Dining Table
House Plans
Best House Plans for Holiday Entertaining
House Plans 101
10 Hot Trends in Home Design for 2016
House Plans
Installing the Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Your New Home
House Plans 101
4 Ways the Kitchen Island Has Become a Hot Spot of the Home
House Plans
Dos and Dont's: Trends in Modern House Plans for 2016
House Plans 101
5 Remarkable Fisher House Homes That Reflect Local Style
House Plans
The Halloween Story: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About “Trick-or-Treat” and All Hallows Eve
House Plans
Barkitecture: Livability Research Gives Pets Top Priority at Home
House Plans 101
© 2015 The Plan Collection, LLC