Modern House Plans: Essential Guide to Modern Home Design

Open an issue of Dwell Magazine and you are sure to find stunning photos of Modern house plans. Built with an open floor plan and clean interior finishes. Wide, expansive windows to allow for an abundance of natural light and a majestic view. Not to mention the spotless interior completely devoid of all the normal household items.

Look a little closer and there’s a shot of a charming outdoor sitting area that seamlessly blends between the living room and backyard. It is the perfect place to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset. Life is good and everyone lives happily ever after.

This is the dream of Modern home design. We all want it.

Here lies the problem with Modern architecture. Most of the modern house plans featured in design magazines are located in beautiful Southern California. It is no surprise that the Modern design movement began in Los Angeles where the sun is hot and the rain practically nonexistent.

The Stahl House, Case Study House #22

The Stahl House, Case Study House #22 / Photo

In the 1940’s Arts & Architecture Magazine sponsored the now famous Case Study House experiments. The intention was to showcase how new industrial materials like steel, concrete and glass could be used to build efficient homes during the post war housing boom. These homes were designed by architects like Charles and Ray Eames, Richard Neutra, Pierre Koening and many other Modern Architects.

While only a handful of Case Study Houses were built their influence is still clear in Modern house plans today.

Ideas for Modern House Plans

Photos of modern house plans in magazines often fail to show the realities of living in a modern home in other areas of the country outside of Southern California. The fact is that if you live in anywhere between the Northeast and Northwest your lifestyle involves rain, snow, wind and cold temperatures many months out of the year.

The dream of living in a Modern home with large windows and comfortable outdoor living room may seem out of reach for many. Fortunately there are many ways you can use design elements from Modern house plans in other areas of the country.

Are modern homes not your style? Feel free to read our Craftsman House Plans guide.

Design with the Site in Mind

One of the primary design elements of modern house plans is its relation to the site. The orientation of the house can impact natural light, ventilation, energy costs and outside views. Unfortunately most suburban homes built today are designed to minimize construction costs without consideration of the site elements.

Before the design process begins you should take the time to visit the site and note important landscape elements. For instance, note how the sunlight change throughout the day and during different seasons.

Check to see if the backyard will be covered with shade or exposed directly to the sunlight. Also pay attention to the site’s proximity to nearby roads or highways. Use the design to protect exterior spaces from noise and maintain privacy.

As you can see there are many site elements to consider when designing modern house plans. Be observant, take notes and seek the advice of an architect for additional ideas.

Place Living Spaces on the Southern Side

To take advantage of exterior views and natural light the primary living spaces must be placed on the southern side of the house. This will allow for sunlight to reach into the house during winter months and maximize energy efficiency.

As the major living spaces like the kitchen, living and dining room are often the largest rooms in the house they are also the most expensive to heat. Modern house plans are carefully designed to use the sun to maintain comfortable interior temperatures throughout the year. In conjunction with energy efficient building materials, the correct layout of living spaces in modern house plans can help reduce energy costs throughout the year.

Design Outdoor Space with Weather Protection

If you enjoy spending time outside in the spring and fall but live in an area with frequent rainfall consider designing covered outdoor spaces. Even a small sitting area that is protected from the rain can create a fantastic place to relax even when the weather is less than perfect.

This weather protection should be considered for the front porch or entryway while guests wait outside during the fall or winter. Keep in mind how you will enter the house from the driveway. Is there a way to design a protected path or side entry for easy access?

Use Room Adjacencies to Create an Open Plan

The open plan is an essential element of modern house plans. Creating spaces that connect with each other can turn a small house into a comfortable home. While designing your dream home try to layout the kitchen, dining and living room in a way that maximizes open space and natural light while still maintaining intimate and comfortable living spaces.

Other important adjacencies are the kitchen and living room in relation to outdoor spaces.

Consider the use and flow during the summer months when the doors are open and family members are spending time outdoors. Careful planning of indoor and outdoor spaces can greatly increase the available living space.

Be Creative with Storage Solutions

One of the most obvious design elements of Modern house plans is the open and minimalist interiors. Architects and Homeowners featured in design magazines seem to be the only people on Earth that can live in an empty house. The attraction of Modern architecture for many is the simple and clean lifestyle that comes with well designed spaces.

For anyone that wants to achieve the simplicity the see in their favorite design magazines but still needs the necessities of daily life the secret lies in creative storage spaces. Using built in furniture or well design closets, the “stuff” that never seems to disappear can be quickly put away and organized.

Designing successful modern homes starts with a small dose of inspiration. Begin by collecting images of your favorite modern house plans. Browse a collection modern homes we love on Pinterest.

Consider calling a local architect for ideas on how to properly use your land to maximize sun exposure and outdoor space. Even if you want to complete your home design journey alone a quick consultation with a professional may help to guide and inspire you along the way.

Updated: