Sandi Erdman loves two quotes by Stendahl, a famous French writer of the 19th century,
who wrote, “Beauty is the promise of happiness,” and “There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness.” She has been fascinated by design since she
was a child and her parents drove around residential neighborhoods looking at
houses for fun; they even built a couple of homes from their own plans. Erdman,
who earned a degree in architecture and is now a design consultant with Neil Kelly Design/Build in
Portland and a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS), has designed two
homes, Plans 519-1 and 519-2, that
are available on Houseplans.com.
What inspires your designs, and do you have any
favorite architects whose work has inspired you?
“On the theoretical side, the
stars of modern architecture have always inspired me, as well as our local
stars here in the Portland area—John Yeon, Pietro Belluschi, and Saul Zaik. And
on the practical side, two of the many visionaries I’ve been inspired by have homes
available on Houseplans.com—Mid-Century Modern Developer Joseph Eichler (the
Eichler plans available on Houseplans.com were designed by architect Claude
and architect Sarah Susanka " [NOTE: this collage shows examples, reading clockwise from top left: by John Yeon in the cover of a new book on his work; Eichler Plan 470-5
, and Susanka Plan 454-5
. The authoritative biography of Belluschi is Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect
, by Meredith Clausen.]
are the top features that make a great house plan?
“When all of the various components of the house work together as a
whole. When the spatial arrangement, design elements, materials, exterior
elevations, roof system, etc., are all informed by a unifying concept and skillfully
joined. This can apply to any ‘style’ of house you’re looking for. The actual features that make a great house plan can differ for each
lot of what people want in a house is a combination of, among other things, what
fits their lifestyle (or wished-for lifestyle), visual preferences, and what
they find comfortable and meaningful when they think of ‘home.’ As
far as livability features go, I usually start with the indoor-outdoor
connection, plenty of natural light, an open concept and designing to human
are the most popular
features of your plans?
“The one-level living of
(shown at the top of this post, with the layout here) appeals to a lot of people, as well as the connection and adjacency
indoor and outdoor living spaces—these spaces are visually connected, and there’s
easy access to an outdoor kitchen area. People also like the openness of the inside
space, the separate access to the backyard
from the master bedroom, and having
the laundry room located close to the bedrooms. Plus, the house has a modern
feel. It’s got clean, casual lines, it’s not fussy. It’s ideal for an
empty-nester couple or small family.
(shown above) was designed
as a getaway home for two couples with space for kids. For front-facing, view
properties, it works great because, with the main living areas on the upper
level, it takes
advantage of a view. This design also has excellent indoor-outdoor
flow, open living space and allows for the
separation of kid space on the lower
are your typical clients, and what are some simple ways that homeowners can
customize your plans?
“I would say for the ranch plan the typical client would be an
empty-nest couple. It could be customized to some degree easily because of the
simple roofline. And the vacation home plan could be modified by adding
space in any direction, making rooms larger, or adding a garage off to the
entry side and repurposing the small garage space.”
What is your advice for anyone
looking at house plans?
“There is so much to
consider when looking at the floor plan of a home. Most people don’t have the
experience or skill to translate the plan to three-dimensional space in their
mind’s eye. Having a design professional look at a plan you’re considering can
be very helpful. They can point out problem areas or issues you may not have
anticipated when you’re just looking at a plan. And 3-D renderings or photos of
the built space are critical. Also, think about the spaces you’ll occupy daily.
Are they well situated, easy to access, and what will the windows be looking
out to? This leads to asking how will the house and its orientation relate to
the lot and the surroundings that you plan to build on?”
you have any new plans coming out soon?
“While I don’t have any new plans ready for purchase, just for fun, I’ve
created some designs that meet certain limitations, such as narrow-lot homes,
homes with an interior courtyard (inspired by some of Eichler’s mid-century
modern homes), and a ‘remake’ of the house I live in.”