Power Plays

Hasbro’s newly revamped game of Clue, with its expanded choice of murder weapons, spiffed up characters, and updated Tudor mansion (with a spa instead of a billiard room), has made me think about the changing nature of the home….Hey, they should have used a design from Houseplans.com! In fact, wouldn’t it be cool if you could select the house style before you started to play — I think I’d choose a French Country manor just to be different, like our Plan 48-244:

French Country

But I’m getting distracted. In any case, I like a house you can play in. Many of our newest plans embody this informal quality in a modern context, like our exclusive Spirit of Palo Alto Plan 431-11, from architect Greg La Vardera, inspired by the post-and-beam-and-glass Eichler tract houses of the 1950s and 1960s.

431-11p4-1985 living dining

The strong simple shapes and views between spaces contribute to the feeling of casual family living. Or try the Porch House, which is meant to be a year-round getaway.

Porch house with car431-7re-1066

The surprising openness of the porch-like ground floor — hence the name — which Greg designed as half “summer kitchen” and half bunk room, makes you realize right away that this is a place apart from the workaday world. The banana yellow convertible doesn’t hurt either.

Playful and Creative

I think almost any space or object can stimulate the mind in a creative or playful way. Here are some examples of playfulness in design that have recently caught my eye. Long ago Sunset magazine ran an article with the following somewhat puzzling headline: “When a Shower Needs a Friend.” Well here’s a shower that doesn’t need anyone:

Quixote winery shwr

It’s by the late Viennese artist-architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser and is part of the complex he designed for Quixote Winery in the Napa Valley. Antonio Gaudi meets Piet Mondrian: the colored tile design wakes you up before you step inside and turn on the tap — especially helpful if you’ve been drinking Quixote’s luxuriant petite syrahs. The outside of the winery is also a visual feast. It’s worth a visit.

Quxote winryIMG_0476

The finials are like giant chessboard pawns and every column is ceramic sculpture.

Meet a love seat that’s also its opposite: a splinter group.


It’s by Matthew Kroeker for Jane Hamley Wells. Reminds me of an inscription carved into a granite bench in front of a public building in downtown Denver: “If you wish to rest, rest not too long.”

For playfulness with a purpose, consider the Magnetic Chalkboard Panel Doors from the Simpson Door Company.

magnetic chalkkboard

They’re elegantly proportioned, versatile, and great for family artwork and notes. Chalk one up for creativity.

So as you search for the house plan that fits you and your family, think about how and where you’ll play.

One response to “EYE ON DESIGN: Game Plans

  1. I have seen a lot of these chalk boards being incorporated into almost any surface possible. I think they would work excellent for my son who often gets light bulb ideas and often writes on any surface.

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