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Green, Stylish, and Functional House Plans

I get to talk about cool house plans all day long (eat your heart out George Gray), so I'm pretty excited when one comes along that hits all my favorite features. This 3-bedroom retro-Modern design (Plan #116-1100) is just one such house.


Favorite Feature #1: Big Green

This home has the potential to be a pretty awesome green home design. The designer definitely had this in mind when he started this project. From his site: "Being earth-friendly can be fun, and can save you a lot of money, Buy [house plans] that [use] natural lighting, and maximizes your view of the outdoor world." Natural lighting is proven to reduce stress. It's also proven to save on electricity bills and, if done right, heating and cooling bills. Passive solar design is by far the most effective and efficient way to use the sun's energy.


Passive solar refers to a house with southern facing windows (north hemisphere) to let in the rays. This not only lights your home but heats it as well. You may be asking, "Why would I want to heat my house all year long? I might save in the winter, but spend twice as much cooling the place in the summer." Well, the trick is to adjust your eaves to block out the high sun in the summer and let the low sun come through in the winter. Deciduous trees planted in the right place can also facilitate this. Proper eave adjustments on this house design, while facing all those big beautiful windows south, would accomplish a nicely designed passive solar house. Talk to your local builder, and perhaps an engineer or architect, about passive solar details for your location.


Retro-Modern, 3-bedroom house plan


Other green features include all that flat roof space, which is perfect for additional vegetation. Green roofs require special engineering, but dramatically increase your roofs r-value (insulation) and provide another great location to enjoy the outdoors. Simple changes could be made to attach the master suite's private deck to the garage rooftop. Stairs could even be put in to reach the top of the roof. Your engineer can do this as he/she is setting it up for plant life. The pool (though it would not actually show up in the plans) is another green opportunity given its great location. It will cool the summer breezes as they pass over it and into the house. Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright used this technique at "Taliesin West". This would facilitate natural ventilation in the summer and continue to reduce utility costs and energy demand. I could go on, but suffice it to say that this home is set up for some easy green optimization.


Favorite Feature #2: Retro-Modern

Funky and fresh, this design has all the clean lines and box shapes one could wish for, but with enough juxtaposition to keep it interesting. My favorite? The grid-like nature of the home against the rough-cut and wild nature of the rock. Oh yeah. Wanna know what else? That sleek garage. The one that anchors the lot, providing balance and flow instead of taking up the whole place. Yeah, that's the one. Sleek, modern buildings started around the 1920s and by '78, they were pros. This piece is timeless, bold, and just really cool.


Favorite Feature #3: Function

Let's get serious here. A house can be flashy and neat, and bask in the sun rays all it wants, but if it doesn't work then it's useless. What does it mean for a plan to work? It means it fits your lifestyle, both private and public, and allows you the stability and flexibility you want from your home, your respite. The open kitchen/dining/living area is perfect for both formal and informal gatherings including both lazy Saturday mornings and chic Friday night parties. The secluded bedrooms offer privacy. Keeping one on the main floor gives the option to house guests without showing them your private sector. The house is effectively set up in zones to give order and stability, but kept open and lofty for flexibility and multi-purpose. Isn't that what we demand of our homes every day? That's a pretty tall order for something a little more boring and a little more regular. This home was born for this (or will be born when you build it).

first floor plan of this retro-Modern home with open floor plan

Favorite #4: Package Deal

Every now and then I have to sit in long business meetings where we talk about productivity and optimization, etc. I'm good at paying attention (most of the time) but the majority of what we talk about is what we already know, a lot of which is intuitive by now. However, there is an awesome principle that applies to great architecture, as well as many facets of life, and that is synergy. Synergy is the idea that the result is greater than the sum of its parts. In architecture, as in Plan #116-1100, that means that when you add up Big Green, and Retro-Modern, and Function, and interweave them the way this designer has done, then the package deal is greater than simply summing up the benefits. Having a sleek, functional, and green home all together is like having your cake and eating it too. Cake is good, and eating is good, but eating cake is another thing altogether. Remember that as you search through our vast and expansive collection of house plans. Switch sleek with whatever you want (i.e. traditional, craftsman, southern, prairie, etc) and the equation is the same.

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