Category Archives: Estate Home Plans

Design Principals

We have been designing Luxury Homes since 1983. Over these years our theory for designing Luxury Homes has not changed.  Principal Archival Designer, David Marc Loftus, the founder of Archival Designs Inc., was a man of vision.

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David used classical styling principles and features in every home plan he created. He quickly garnered a reputation in the home plan design industry as the designer with the best innate sense for classical architecture’s proportional harmonies.

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The growing luxury home building community agreed that the proportions of a Loftus’ designed home led to a feeling well-being and serenity evident on crossing the threshold. World-renowned, century-old home planner Garlinghouse Company named David Loftus Best New Designer in 1998, and the Archival Designs reputation for outstanding home plans and luxury home plans still stands today.

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The Archival Designs guiding principle is designing classical residences emphasizing symmetry through proportional harmony. Through intensive study of history’s great classic homes, David realized that the principles of proportion were critical to outstanding home designs and luxury home plans that stressed uplifting elegance as well as comfort and relaxation. He strongly believed house design proportions should adhere to the principles in Leonardo da Vinci’s study of human proportions. Thus, a rectangular room’s length should be one and a half times its width, and its ceiling height dimensionally proportional.

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Proportional Harmony Works Is An Essential Element of Every Home Plan We Create . . . No Matter its Size. Elegance, spaciousness, functionality and exquisite proportion in luxury home plans is not exclusive to only the largest and most opulent homes. Archival Designs uses the same classical styling principles in all of its house plans, from 1400 square feet up to its 13,000 luxury home plans and castles.

His timeless designs are still recognized today as top luxury home plans. One of the key factors in creating a quality design that is successful is by generating the most clear and complete program list of the clients wants and needs, which is then used to guide the design process. Using our theories of proportion, space, and scale Archival Designs then creates a design that is timeless, livable and comfortable, adding value and inspiration for years to come.

The more information you give us, at Archival Designs Inc., about your lifestyles, the better floor plans we can design.

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

NAHB Study Spotlights Top 10 Features of Upscale Homes

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs’ Luxury Starter Castle, Corrineaux Estate.

NAHB Economists recently published a helpful study on HousingEconomics.com that breaks out data from the recently completed What Home Buyers Really Want survey to spotlight features that are especially appropriate for today’s high-end homes.

To narrow their focus on highly desired features within the luxury home market, the authors specifically looked at those items that were very popular among buyers who expected to pay at least $500,000 for a home but were not seen as essential or even particularly desirable in the lower-end market. For example, 42% of buyers who expect to pay half a million dollars or more for their next home were highly desirous of having a warming drawer in the kitchen, versus only 15% of buyers who expect to pay under $150,000 for a home who felt that way about this particular feature.

Other features that were in strong demand among upscale home buyers but not so much in the lower end of the market included a two-story family room, a kitchen with a wine cooler, an outdoor kitchen, a two-story entry foyer, an elevator, a wet bar, an exercise room, a home in a golf course community and a game room, in descending order. Below are each of the above-named top-10 features and the methodology used to identify them:



This study reports on the top features for an upscale new home, culled from a long list of items covered in NAHB’s recent survey on What Home Buyers Really Want.

Because a home is a complex commodity, with many features that can make it more or less desirable to particular customers, the NAHB survey included a long question that asked recent and prospective buyers to rate a list of many (approximately 120) different features on a consistent scale. The features spanned many aspects of the home, including windows, doors, kitchens, baths, specialty rooms, decorative features, accessibility, energy savings, and type of development in which it’s located. The survey asked buyers to rate each feature on the list as “essential/must have,” “desirable,” “indifferent,” or “do not want.”

Basic results were summarized two months ago in the May Special Study. This study reports on a statistical analysis of home features (described in Appendix II) that differentiated the preferences of upscale buyers from others. The analysis identified a group of features that cut across the gamut of kitchen, outdoor, specialty and community amenities and tended to be luxury items—not features strongly demanded by all home buyers, but luxury features usually appropriate in upscale homes, and usually inappropriate at the more affordable end of the price spectrum.

That the features grouped together this way tend to be luxury or upscale items is clear from the nature of the items, as well as the different ratings buyers assign to them depending on the price they pay for their homes. For items at the top of the upscale list, a considerably greater share of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 want the feature, and a considerably greater share of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 expressly do not want it.

The top 10 upscale features identified by this method are shown below. Next to each item, a graph shows the share of buyers who both do and do not want the feature at the extremes of the price distribution. Following the precedent of the Late Show with David Letterman, the top 10 list is presented in reverse order:

  • #10. A Game Room

Some homes have a game room intended for specific recreational activities like playing pool or table top games. Only 27 percent of all buyers in What Home Buyers Really Want rated a game room as rated essential or desirable.

However, the “desirable/essential” share for a number of the specialty rooms in the survey rises with the price of the home, and the game room is one of these. Over one-third of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 who want a game room, compared to 25 percent for buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. At the other end of the preference scale, 36 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 explicitly say they are unlikely to buy a home if it includes a game room, compared to 27 percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more.

Although these differences are significant, a game room is only #10 on the list of upscale features. For items higher on the list, the high-price/low-price spreads are greater than 10 percentage points, usually much greater.

  • #9. Home in a Golf Course Community

Nearly two-thirds of all buyers say they do not want a home in a golf-course community, making it the second most “unwanted” feature out of the 120 in What Home Buyers Really Want. Clearly, there are many successful golf course communities in the U.S., but it is something of a niche market.

It’s also clear that the niche is at the high end of the price spectrum. A sizable 50 percent of home buyers expecting to pay $500,000-plus who do not want to live on a golf course is fairly high at 50 percent, but the share is 77 percent for buyers of homes priced under $150,00. A golf course community qualifies as an upscale amenity not because it is always appropriate for the more expensive homes, but because it is seldom appropriate for homes at the more affordable end of the market.

  • #8. An Exercise Room

Much as some owners will set aside an area of the home for games, some want an area dedicated to exercise—often with a treadmill, weights, or other specific type of equipment. This is another of the specialty rooms in the “What Home Buyers Really Want” for which consumer preferences change regularly with the price of the home.

At the two extremes, 48 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 want a game room, compared to 28 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. And 33 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 explicitly say they are unlikely to buy a home if it includes a game room, compared to 18 percent of $500,000-plus buyers.

  • #7. A Wet Bar

As the term suggests, a wet bar is a place for mixing and serving beverages that includes a sink. Plumbing and installing plumbing fixtures is a type of job 93 percent of single-family builders always subcontract, according to survey of builders NAHB conducted in July of 2012.

Given the added cost, it’s not surprising that this is another upscale item for which demand is concentrated at the high end of the price spectrum. Nearly half of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 are unlikely to buy a home if it includes a wet bar, compared to only 21 percent for buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more. Forty-two percent of $500,000-plus buyers do want a wet bar, compared to 28 percent for under-$150,000 buyers.

  • #6. An Elevator

Number 9 on the list (a golf course community), was the survey’s second most “unwanted” feature overall. Number 6 is the single feature explicitly rejected by home buyers more often than any other—an elevator, something a full 70 percent of all buyers say they do not want.

Like a golf course, to the extent that a niche market exists for elevators in single-family homes, it is strongly concentrated at the high end of the market. Only 10 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 rate an elevator as at least desirable compared to 28 percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more. Even in the $500,000-plus range, half of buyers are unlikely to buy a home with an elevator, but the share is over 79 percent for buyers of homes priced under $150,000. The low desirability may be partly explained by a cost running into five figures, and buy the preference of a majority of buyers for a single-story home.

  • #5. Two-story Entry Foyer

The top half of the list starts with a feature that is also linked to the underlying preference for a home taller than a single story—a two-story entry foyer.

A two-story foyer creates a visually impressive entrance at the cost of space that needs to be conditioned or could be dedicated to a more utilitarian function. (From the builder’s perspective, it also introduces some complications in framing, covering and insulating the walls). This may help explain why 47 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 explicitly reject a two-story foyer when asked, compared to 26 percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more.

  • #4. An Outdoor Kitchen

Although an outdoor kitchen may be a relatively simple expanded grilling area, it may also be a more elaborate affair with many of the amenities found in an indoor kitchen, including a sink, refrigerator, lighting, cabinetry, and natural stone countertops. Variants of these products are sometimes designed specifically for use outdoors—by waterproofing them, for example.

It’s probably not surprising that what often amounts to a second complete kitchen constructed outdoors qualifies as a luxury item that seems primarily appropriate in upscale homes. Nearly half of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 rate an outdoor kitchen as at least desirable, compared to a little over a quarter of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. And 36 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 are unlikely to buy a home if it comes with an outdoor kitchen, compared to only 18 percent of $500,000-plus buyers.

  • #3. Kitchen With a Wine Cooler

Following the outdoor kitchen, #3 on the list of upscale features is an amenity sometimes included in indoor kitchens—a wine cooler. A wine cooler can be of almost any size, but when evaluating a cooler as an integral feature that would be included in the price of a home, most consumers probably envision something large enough to crowd out another appliance or essential general storage space in a smaller kitchen.

As a general rule, relatively few home buyers demand a wine cooler in their kitchens. In the survey overall, it was one of only three kitchen features rated desirable or essential by fewer than 30 percent of the respondents. However, 46 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 rate a wine cooler that favorably, compared to only 15 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000.

  • #2. Two-story Family Room

Like a two-story entry foyer, a two-story family room consumes space that needs to be heated or could be used for some other purpose. The space consumed is generally greater for a two-story family room, because there is more floor space in the typical family room than the typical entry foyer.

Over half of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 say they are unlikely to buy a home with a two-story family room, compared to 29 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000. And 32 percent of the $500,000-plus buyers rate a two-story family room as at least desirable, compared to only 18 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000.

  • #1. Kitchen With a Warming Drawer

Like a wine cooler, a warming drawer is a specialty item that takes up space which would be allocated to more general purposes in a small kitchen. Also like a wine cooler, it is one of the few kitchen features rated essential or desirable by fewer than 30 percent of home buyers overall.

However, a significantly larger share (42 percent) of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 want a warming drawer, compared to only 15 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. Only 14 percent of the $500,000-plus buyers say they are unlikely to buy a home with a warming drawer—the smallest “do not want” percentage for any item discussed above, which helps explain why a warming drawer in the kitchen ranks as the #1 feature most appropriate in upscale homes.

  • Honorable Mention and Other Caveats

It is purely a matter of convenience to truncate the list of upscale amenities at ten. Five other features missed the top-10 list by a very slim margin and deserve honorable mention:

  • His & Her baths
  • A laundry chute
  • An outdoor fireplace
  • Sensor-operated faucets and
  • A media room.

Another caveat is that the statistical analysis could only be applied to features that home buyers rated on the same scale. Features like swimming pools and equestrian facilities were covered in a separate, differently-formatted question on community amenities and couldn’t be included in this particular analysis. (An analysis of this question, showing that swimming pools often influence buyers to choose a community while equestrian facilities do not.)

A final caveat concerns the nature of a study that focuses on upscale amenities. It can be interesting and useful to analyze the high end of the price scale, but the lower end is extremely important and shouldn’t be ignored. The base of the U.S. housing market is supported by a large number of households with relatively modest incomes who can only afford homes at relatively modest prices. Over a broad range of house prices, the further down you go, the more potential buyers you reach.

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

Archival Designs’ Award Winning Latrobe Luxury House Plan

Today I’d like to showcase Archival Designs‘ award winning 4364 square foot luxury home plan, Latrobe, starting with alternate front elevations.

 

 

Its keystone arches and a pediment entry grace the facade of this luxury home.

Latrobe House Plan | Archival Designs | Foyer
Latrobe House Plan | Archival Designs | Foyer

Entering the grand salon,

you are offered a stunning view of the double staircase.

The family room, dining hall and library revolve around a central foyer with curved stairs.

An island gourmet kitchen is open to the family room and a sunny morning room.

The master suite is conveniently placed on the first floor and features a bath with spa tub, separate shower and two vanities.

The second level holds three bedrooms with walk-in closets and private baths, plus a bonus room that can be developed later.

Your family and friends will love the Terrace level with a game room, gym, office, game and rec room.  The guest room on this level makes it perfect for an in-law suite, guest room or teen room!

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range form 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!