Modern Style on a Budget: 10 Tiny, Cool House Plans

By Aurora Zeledon

Clean, modern lines work well with small square footage.

Eye candy is fun. When you're looking at home design plans with photos, scrolling past stunning home after stunning home, it's easy to spend hours dreaming. But finding equally Insta-worthy options that are affordable to build (and that your builder will love) is possible, too.

Here are ten standout small plans. And while everyone's definition of affordability differs (for example, what's reasonable to build in Tennessee might break the bank in California), these all feature simple footprints and open layouts under 1,500 square feet. And, of course, cool modern exteriors.

1. Vacation Getaway

A contemporary take on a classic A-frame, this simple design will stand out in rustic location. The open living areas step out to a porch, so you can grab your coffee and sip it outside while enjoying the view.

2. Modern Farmhouse

Here's a good example of the red-hot modern farmhouse trend. Plan 933-8 takes a much-loved style and streamlines it to an easy-to-build box shape that gets extra curb appeal from vertical siding, a porch, and dark window frames. The kitchen island provides a ton of room for meal prepping and hanging out with friends or family. Upstairs, you'll find a huge shower in the master bathroom and a flexible office, as well as the laundry room.

3. Tiny Home with a View

This striking design, plan 479-12, takes splendid advantage of a scenic lot. Walls of windows let light stream inside to illuminate the open living spaces. On the main level, the kitchen invites everyone to hang out at the island, where there's seating for four (and the range also lives here, letting you saute dinner without turning your back on guests). The upper level lets you store tons of books in a row of bookshelves. Grab a volume and hop into your big bed.

4. Window Wall Turns Heads

It's hard to believe, but this unique home (plan 923-6) holds a modest 1,098 square feet with a slim (28'6") width. That means that this design would fit well in a narrow city lot, where land can be expensive. A sleeping loft provides room for visitors, while owners get a comfortable suite with a walk-in closet and private bath on the main floor. The eat-in kitchen offers plenty of room for a table to create a casual vibe.

5. Mid-Century Modern

Love that Palm Springs look? This design, plan 489-1, recreates the same effortless, outdoor-centric feeling of those classic homes. But unlike a home from the 50's or 60's, this floor plan feels totally up-to-date. Sliding doors lead from the great room to the patio for seamless indoor-outdoor living. A large, curving island provides a main spot for enjoying drinks and appetizers with friends. For dinner, head a few steps over to the open dining room. The master suite includes a large shower and spa tub with a view.

6. Fun Curb Appeal

Plan 25-4578 grabs your attention and doesn't let go. The intersecting roof planes create an exterior with tons of dynamic energy. A see-through fireplace gives warmth to both the living room and the bedroom, which connects to the luxurious bathroom through the closet.

7.  Social Kitchen

There's room for three people to sit at the built-in table in plan 48-685, a great space-saving feature that means you don't have to devote more space to a dining room. A fireplace adds a cozy focal point in the living room, which steps out to the patio via sliding doors. Bedroom 1 also steps outside, so you can greet the day first thing. Vaulted ceilings in both bedrooms and the living room add a feeling of volume.

8. Super-Open Layout

The rustic touches (including a decorative truss and stone-covered columns) on plan 23-2316 give a warm, rugged look. A super-open layout inside makes it easy to move from the island kitchen to the dining room and living area, where a fireplace contributes a bit of definition. Relax in the master bedroom, which enjoys private access to the bathroom. 

9. Emphasis on the Outdoors

This sleek, small home (plan 484-6) opens along most of its side to flow seamlessly onto the impressive deck. Here's a look from inside:

Wow! Can't you imagine this at a lakefront or mountain location? The bedroom even has room for a queen or king bed.

10. Classic Ranch with Sleek Lines

Maybe you don't want to go fully modern. Simple but striking, design 497-55 shows how adding a metal roof gives a contemporary twist to a ranch style. The bright and breezy interior keeps it simple with the kitchen along one wall. For additional privacy, the master suite opens directly into the bathroom.


January 26, 2018


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