When it comes to what people want to buy, consumer surveys only go so far. A far better indicator is actual sales data. Which raises the question — What does an analysis of Houseplans’ best-selling plans tell us buyers are looking for in a home?
Updated traditional elevations
Despite all the attention lavished by the consumer press on contemporary design, most people — at least those buying home plans — are more interested in traditional homes, especially Craftsman and Cottage style designs. Several top-sellers, such as Plan 48-542
, shown at the top of this post, emphasize natural materials but aren’t afraid to use them in unusual ways.
Informal living arrangements
Most best-selling plans dispense with formal living and dining spaces in favor of informal open spaces that
combine kitchens, family rooms, and dining spaces as shown in Plan 888-13
, above. Kitchens are often anchored by large islands — here’s a another good example, Plan 80-119
, which actually has two islands --
that provide enough counter space for taking a meal or conversing with company.
One-story homes predominate, a reflection of the aging American population. Plan 48-476
is a good example in a contemporary style that has sold well, with an efficient 3 bedroom 2.5
bath of 2,557 sq. ft. all on one level.
Even two-story homes often have a first-floor master bedroom, as
shown here in 3-bedroom 2.5 bath Farmhouse style Plan 901-11
The master bedrooms in these homes are typically a manageable size. Interestingly, most of the best-sellers -
- including Plan 48-476
and this one above, Plan 140-149
, have walk-in closets separate from the bath.
Desire for integrated outdoor space — whether a front porch, a lanai, or even a gazebo — is strong, as
shown in the extensive backyard-oriented covered porches of Plan 140-149
. Also, witness the great integrated porches in this home, Plan 120-162
Outdoor space is not only a cost-efficient way to create living space, but including it from the beginning
rather than adding it later on creates a much better looking home.
Room to grow
Several best-sellers feature bonus rooms over the garage or in the attic that buyers could build out later as their income and family grows. This classic farmhouse Plan 137-252
includes an optional rec room that could also become a suite for a boomerang child or in-law.
Easy to build
Most of the best-sellers are modest in size with square footage that ranges from 1600 to 2600 square feet. For example, see Plan 461-6
They tend to be easy to build, with simple geometric proportions and few bump-outs -- here's the front elevation of Plan 461-6
And the rooflines make judicious use of gables and dormers.
Place to work
Virtually all the top-sellers have space that could be used for an office, whether it's dedicated or not. In this
versatile Plan 48-542
the office space could be reconfigured as a second master by drawing in the powder and vestibule.
Boyce Thompson is the former Editorial Director of Builder
Magazine, and the author of The New New Home