Building a House: Theme and Variation
Near the towns of Sonoma and Petaluma, California we’re developing a string of variations on the classic suburban ranch house. They’re all designed by Houseplans.com architect Nicholas Lee and together show how flexible the form can be. Two were built on spec and have been sold; two are nearing completion for separate clients; and another, the newest design, Plan 888-6, shown here,
is now under construction. The long single gable extends over porches at the sides and, with the board and batten siding and tall double hung windows,
creates an iconic image of home. Inside it’s all about modern living in a split layout where the master suite is on one side of the great room and the children’s bedrooms are on the other. With this latest plan in the series I thought it was time to ask Nick to talk about the design and its relatives.
What are the key ideas, inspirations? Simplicity, proportion, and setting. Given the simple form of the house, it was important to simplify and refine the few elements that the house does have — columns, windows, doors, and the fireplace. We liked the idea of tall, slender proportions for the doors and windows and repeated this throughout the house.
Suitable for what type of lot? Climate? Orientation? This house is designed for an open site with good views on both sides. The covered porches are intended to provide outdoor living places throughout the day. Drink your coffee on the Morning Porch, then watch the sunset on the ‘Mai Tai Lanai.‘ Designed for a place with hot, warm, and mild temperatures throughout the year. Best orientation would be to have the porches or long sides of the house facing East-West. This gives more sun exposure on the long sides of the house. Orienting the house with the long sides facing North and South would not give you much warmth from the sun and would make the house dark, especially during the winter months.
Can you suggest ways to customize the plan? Where would you put a garage? Or how would you make the front door more obvious? Adding a garage really depends on your site, but I can see two different options. One would be to create an attached or detached garage connected by a breezeway adjacent to the kitchen. This would allow for easy access from the garage to the kitchen. This is nice especially when you have a large load of groceries to bring in. The other location would simply be an extension to either end of the house.