April 2014

Straw Bale Construction

Straw bale building now part of national building code -- basic information about this construction method.

Performance Windows

High performance windows and doors are key elements in the passive design of the Karuna House.

Low Toxic Paints

Top interior paints for non-volatile off-gassing (VOC) and low toxicity.

Build a Deck

A simple deck designed to make an easy transition from house to garden.


Formaldehyde-free plywood is becoming widely available. Here's what you need to know.

Ceramic Tile News

We all know that digital technology has transformed photography and the music business. It has also transformed the ceramic tile industry, creating new and intriguing possibilities for home interiors.

Essential Dimensions

Room-by-room guide takes the guesswork out of where to hang that towel rack or how long a curtain rod to buy.

Outdoor Showers

What you need to know in order to add an outdoor shower.

Energy Efficient Building

Building an energy efficient house begins with orientation to the sun and taking advantage of thermal mass.

Kitchen Island Tips

A veteran architect shares his strategies for marrying function and style.

Tiny House Trend

How and why the trend toward building tiny houses is growing.

Island Dimensions

Standard heights and other dimensions for kitchen islands along with a round-up of different types of islands and their functions.

March 2014

Sunset Idea Houses

Take-away ideas from Sunset's 2013 Idea Houses at Seabrook, Wasington, designed by architect Peter Brachvogel.

What's Selling Now

A quick update on popular plans for Spring 2014.

Contemporary Getaway

A new plan by architect Peter Brachvogel celebrates living in touch with nature.

Pantry Ideas

Julie Carlson shows a wide range of compelling approaches to the classic English larder (or pantry).

Garden Sheds

A wide range of garden sheds and outbuildings to spark your imagination.

Contractor Checklist

Key questions to ask before you hire a builder or remodeler.


New firepits from a partnership between Eco Smart Fire and Brown Jordan Furniture.

Plan Variations

Showing ways to customize one plan with variations in exterior treatment.


A tiny farm outbuilding doubles as a bathhouse and guest house with a wide wrap-around porch.

Most Saved Plans

Each of these five home plans has been saved more than 200 times so far in March, 2014.

Craftsman style

Bud explains the key elements of the Craftsman style for today.

Spring Plan Sale

Showing the wide range of house plans on sale -- including many HOWIE Award Finalists -- through March 30, 2014.

Vacation Homes

Key elements for your dream vacation home.

Home Trends

Experts at the 2014 Home Builder Show listed new home buyer trends, including rising interest in sound proofing, matte finishes, maximizing storage, and more.

Engineered Wood Floors

An introduction to engineered wood floors.

Bricks and Stones

Six new brick and stone products to consider for your new home, from pavers to walls.

Home Libraries

Katherine Salant explains the difference between library and home office.

Favorite House Plans

These house plans have been saved the most so far in 2014.

Spa-Style Bath

How to create a master bath that feels like a spa in 150 square feet.

New 3 Bedroom Plans

New 3-bedroom plans for 2014.

Red IKEA Kitchen

Selected winners from the 2013 Watermark Awards (for innovative kitchens and baths), sponsored by Builder magazine and Custom Home -- reviewed by Custom Home editor-in-chief Amy Albert.

Multi-Generation Living

Demand for multigenerational housing shows no signs of abating. Builders in the West were first out of the gate with targeted designs, but the rest of the country is catching up.

Straw Bale Cabin

A new house in a rugged and isolated location is designed for energy independence.

Built Stock Plan

How a couple found and built a plan by Peter Brachvogel and Stella Carosso.

Oscar Worthy Plans

Nominees for Best Kitchens & Baths in Supporting Roles! (More Finalists in our HOWIE Design Awards...)

Smaller Luxury Homes

Some high-end homeowners are shaving square footage off of their new homes. But nobody will accuse them of skimping on amenities.

February 2014

Passive Soar Strategies

Cost-effective ways to use passive solar heating to warm your new home.

Entry Ideas

Ways to streamline your entry, from built-in niches to iPhone charging stations.

Radiant Heat Options

Explaining how electric and hydronic radiant heat in floors works, and the basic ways to use it.

Fireplace Home Plans

Floors plans with well situated fireplaces, plus new fireplace insert products

Green Product Questions

Debunking some myths about green products.

Small Bath Steam Shower

Replacing an old tub with a steam shower and updating vanities rejuvenated this bathroom.

Colonial Style Trim

Explaining the exterior trim pieces that express Colonial style for houses.

Laundry Rooms

Convenient locations for the laundry/utility room in your new home.

Luxury House Plans

Luxury Finalists in the Houseplans Design Awards offer special twists -- double axels? -- to compete for dream house gold.

LED Bulb News

Newsflash: 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs are no more.The new LED replacements last much much longer.

Tall Doors

What you need to know about large tall sliding glass doors: materials, cost, energy-efficiency and more.

Adaptable Home Ideas

Home design ideas that work for young families and for aging in place.