Today's new home floor plans reflect the latest innovations in homebuilding.
Homes have come a long way from the modest ranches of the 1950s, which had a simple layout, a large picture window in the living room, small windows in each bedroom and small closets.
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Today the open floor plan reigns with the kitchen integrated into the breakfast, dinette and family room for one large gathering space. A kitchen island and walk-in pantry are often an integral part of the space.
The master bedroom has evolved into a luxury master suite with private bath that includes his-and-hers, walk-in closets, dual vanities and walk-in shower.
When homes back up to a wooded area or scenic views, large windows frame the picturesque surroundings. Flex rooms, drop zones and unusual options also make an appearance in modern floor plans.
Here is what some builders offer in their new home designs.
Rock Creek Homes
Rock Creek Homes presents a ranch design for easy, stair-free living at Henning Estates, a new home community set in the Huntley countryside.
The beauty of a ranch design is that it allows architects to put volume or dramatic vaulted ceilings in every room because they won't impact rooms on an upper level.
This concept plays out well in the New Haven model where elegant, soaring ceilings give the home a grand, spacious feel, yet it is still warm and inviting, said Jennifer Arndt, marketing consultant for Rock Creek Homes.
"This large living space with no walls and warm tones says classy, elegant, and is a nice welcoming space that's great for entertaining.
"It has a really great kitchen with a large central island for everyday casual eating and a dinette area off to the side. With scenic outdoor views, large windows bring the outdoors in for the enjoyment of owners. It's a nice, bright, cheery spot," she said.
Off the foyer, French doors open to a study or home office, which is a desired feature today with many people working from home or telecommuting.
For the ultimate privacy, this home features a split-style bedroom arrangement with the master suite and secondary bedroom on opposite sides of the home. The large master suite with all the bells and whistles features a soaking tub and separate shower.
A popular space in this floor plan is the garden room that is open to the kitchen, yet tucked away in the back part of the house behind the great room.
At the garage entry, there's a drop zone with closet, separate laundry room and multipurpose bonus space that offers several possibilities for homeowners.
The Graham floor plan by Airhart Construction sits in College Station, a small development in downtown Wheaton near the College Avenue train station.
"This is a great spot for those who work in the city or want an in-town location, and we're also getting couples downsizing who like being able to walk to the train," said Christy Whelan, director of sales. "Even if they're not still working, they want to jump on the train and have dinner in another town or have fun walking to dinner in Wheaton."
In this urban-inspired floor plan, the main level is very open -- with no walls, and the great room, dining area and kitchen combine for one large, casual open space.
The kitchen features a long island with sink that overlooks the whole area while a big round table sits in the dining area, part of the open casual space, as many people no longer favor formal dining rooms.
An unusual aspect of this plan is the first-floor master suite layout, which is difficult to find in an in-town urban location, Whelan said.
Upstairs, a large loft is a standout feature that offers several options for homeowners. It can be outfitted as a great room with a large TV screen to host football fans for a game. It could be a workspace retreat for homeowners, a quiet space to concentrate. Or if the owners have kids in college, they can have a bedroom upstairs with a bath for their own private space.
"Even more exciting, this plan offers the option of walking out from the loft onto a roof terrace," Whelan said. "It's cool. It's really cool. Buyers may have given up the big house and garden, but here they can have an outdoor garden in pots and sit out there and have a glass of wine."
The lower level offers even more flexible space for an office and bath or bedroom and bath with access to the garage.
In the Saratoga plan at Lions Chase in Huntley, D.R. Horton shows a unique kitchen design with an angular-shaped island, almost like a partial U, said Chris Naatz, vice president of sales and marketing.
With six people seated at the island, they're not all lined up because the island isn't linear. It's in the middle of three areas in the open space, which is conducive to conversation and entertaining.
Although not included in this plan, the builder offers the option of having a staircase for homeowners to get from the garage to the basement, which is an unusual feature, Naatz said. "Instead of dragging outdoor Christmas lights through the house, they can go from the garage to the basement. It's a great option to be able to connect these spaces."
The Cascade model at Cambridge Lakes shows flex space in the front of the home as a family command center rather than a living room. It's shown with an "Internet cafe" with a countertop, bookcase and a large counter-height table for using laptops and iPads, working on school projects or poring over homework.
Another popular option is the Serenity Shower -- a large, walk-in shower with body sprays where every day you feel like you're in a spa. It's a doorless shower because it's so big you don't need a curtain or glass doors, Naatz said.
"A lot of people out there never take baths, and they like having a luxury shower experience."