Fitting your Magazine House Plan to a Timber Frame

By: Cyndy Gardner, Co-Owner of Homestead Timber Frames

Rustic Homestead Timber Frames great room The thrill of finding that perfect house plan in a magazine or online is hard to beat.  You love the exterior colors or the curb appeal – the window styles – and especially the floor plan.  If only you could just change the size of those bedrooms for the kids or turn the kitchen the other way – then it would be just perfect!

Well, you have joined the rest of us who always see how those little changes could make it better for our lifestyle.  Now you want it to be a timber frame home so you can create a warmer feel or make it more rustic in appearance.  How do we put a timber frame into this perfect house plan?

Adapting a timber frame to a conventionally built house plan does take some pushing and pulling to help with alignment for posts and joists. It’s not impossible and while we’re at it, we can help make those floor plan changes you feel are important.  Usually as the process begins, we hear of a few more additions or changes you see becoming important.  And now you are in the middle of creating a home that fits you – not the ‘general public’ out there just wanting a house in a plain subdivision without any personality.

Homestead Timber Frames first floor plan for Black Mountain

Click here to see more of our stock home plans.

This is the fun part of building – the Design Process.  And we see a lot of clients bringing in that magazine photo of the home they wish to build.

Our Team starts with each room asking questions that many of you have not thought of such as:  ceiling heights, window sizes, where do you like to play the piano?  Outside porches, and where?  You get the idea.

Then the real brainstorming starts and ideas flow.  Eyes brighten and smiles begin.  The magazine house becomes a real home that, while we talk, you actually walk through the front door in your mind and ‘see’ the fireplace or stairwell – the focus of what represents you and your home.

This is how a home should begin.

The other important aspect of the design process is of course budget.  If your magazine home is larger than you really need or want to afford, then this discussion process can provide insight as to what heads the priority list.  Is it the gourmet kitchen, or the wrap-around porch that wins out?  We can help with all these wonderful challenges and make it easier to make those important decisions.

So keep searching your favorite magazines or online sites to find that ‘perfect’ home that you’ve dreamed of for so long.  Then bring it in for us to match a handsome timber frame to.  Make it your own, and you’ll be happy for many years to come.  We look forward to seeing you!

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The English Mediaeval House

The English Mediaeval House 

By: Margaret Wood – Preface by Sir Mortimer Wheeler

Bracken Books – 1965

In this book you will find an absorbing study of the evolution of the English house.  Filled with Margaret Wood and other workers’ meticulous research, the book covers the period of time from the Norman Conquest to 1540.  Sixty pages of beautiful and instructive photographs are included as well as 150 plans and drawings that can only enhance such a wonderful book. This is the first major book on medieval domestic architecture for over a hundred years and is definitely worthy of its great subject!

 

Manor Houses in Normandy

Manor Houses in Normandy

By: Yves Lexcroart
Photographs By: Regis Faucon

Konemann – 1995

Open this book and you will be blown away by beautiful photographs that have captured the undulating woodland and lush meadows of Normandy.  Pays d’Auge is a region of Normandy that is a treasure-house of architecture in which the amazing manor houses are among its best-kept secrets.  Some are surprisingly small and some very grand.  They are built of timber or brick and stone. Very few of the manor houses are open to the public so grab this unique opportunity and enjoy this breathtaking pocket of Normandy.

Timber Finishes

By: Bruce Gardner, Co-Owner of
Homestead Timber Frames

Throughout the past three decades of this ongoing timber frame revival, timber framers have tried just about every finish available.  Some have worked well and some have failed miserably.  The challenges are:

1. to find a finish solution that is easy to apply, readily available and reasonably priced
2. safe to the user – the environment – and the occupant
3. durable and easy to repair
4. yields the desired surface appearance and is long-lasting.

That’s a long list and most finishes do some of these things and a few do most of them.

Natural Oil Finish – These finishes are typically composed of Tung oil, linseed oil and a natural solvent such as citrus extracts.  A natural oil finish is simple to apply with a foam pad, roller or brush and is allowed to remain on the timber surface for up to one day, soaking into the grain.  The resulting finish has a rich patina and scuff marks are easily repaired by using an abrasive pad saturated with finish.  While the finish is wet your home will smell like an orange juice factory, but the citrus odor dissipates in two or three days.  These products are a good choice, yielding an adequate finish that is easily renewed and with no toxic substances introduced to you or your home.

In addition to standard natural oil finishes, some manufacturers offer oil finishes with wax that can be buffed to a low luster.

Petroleum Based Oil Finishes – Cheaper to purchase than natural oil finishes, petroleum-based Tung oil and linseed oil finishes have seen wide use.  These finishes are a bit less forgiving in application as the excess should be wiped from the timber surface before becoming gummy.  These finishes are right-off-the-shelf available and yield an attractive patina.  Marred surfaces are easily patched.  The big drawback has to do with the environment.  The compounds are injurious to skin and lungs and saturated rags can combust.  Most importantly, out gassing of harmful compounds can occur over a long period of time.

Varnishes and Urethanes – Applying finish to timbers in a timber frame differs from applying finish to a piece of fine furniture.  The wood in the furniture is dry and pretty stable while the timbers are surely less stable and must be allowed to breathe while they dry (usually 4-6 years depending on the species).  Urethanes and the like seal wood surfaces, fostering mildew growth beneath the finish on green timbers and ultimately failing.

The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625 – 1725

The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625 – 1725

By: Abbott Lowell Cummings

Harvard University Press – 1979

An absolutely superb work of history on the early homes built in North America.  Mr. Cummings covers the English background, the House Plan, the Builders and their Resources and the Assembly and Rearing of the House Frame.  As you can imagine, you will read about our country’s first timber frame homes – some of which are still standing.  Spanning over 200 pages, this book ends with a detailed Appendix where you will find even more books on this splendid form of construction.  You will enjoy the many black and white photos, drawings, and maps of interiors, timber post and girt carvings and furniture of the era.  We use this book as a reference for carvings and timber sizes.

Timberframe – The Art and Craft of the Post-and-Beam Home

Timberframe – The Art and Craft of the Post-and-Beam Home

By: Tedd Benson – Forward by Norm Abram

The Taunton Press – 2001

Tedd gives us another lush book showcasing 23 homes and 6 timber frame additions of varied design which display the warmth, character, and versatility of today’s timber frame home.  Filled with 400 color photographs, drawings, and plans, you have a compelling source of inspiration in your hands.  Great for gathering ideas of what you do like in a timber frame home and especially what you don’t like in a timber frame home.

American Bungalow Style

American Bungalow Style

By: Robert Winter and Alexander Vertikoff

Simon & Schuster – 1996

If you’re looking for some great interior or exterior ideas for cozy nooks, fireplaces, porches, window nooks, etc., then this book can help.  Filled with over 300 color photographs of that charming Craftsman Style architecture, we are immediately drawn to its warmth and effortless design.  “The idea that simplicity and artistry could harmonize in one affordable house spurred the bungalow’s popularity – a rare movement in which good architecture was found outside the world of the wealthy.”  This remains true today – especially with a timber frame home.  Turning the pages of this beautiful book shows you how just a simple door can become a thing of beauty you could enjoy each and every day.

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The Forgotten Crafts – A Practical Guide to Traditional Skills

The Forgotten CraftsA Practical Guide to Traditional Skills

By: John Seymour

Dorling Kindersley Ltd. – 1980

In this beautiful book John Seymour celebrates traditional crafts in the best possible way – by showing and describing in fascinating detail just how they were done, and by encouraging us to keep them alive.  Filled with old photographs and lovely drawings, this is a fun book to have on the shelf.  John Seymour lived on a farm and worked hard to recreate life as it was so his writings are based on his experiences.  The subjects covered range widely from woodland crafts to workshop crafts and household crafts.  Something for everyone!

No Wasted Spaces

Submitted by: Cyndy Gardner, Co-Owner of Homestead Timber Frames

No Wasted Spaces – How to incorporate lots of ideas in a small home

Putting a home office or your library or a cozy reading nook under the stairs is just one way to slip in some useable space into an unusual spot in the house.  Other ideas to consider are:

  1.  Snug built in bunk beds under the eaves or on the side wall in the bedroom with a small closet on the end.
  2. In the kitchen, if your square footage doesn’t allow for a nice big walk in pantry, you might try to build a wall unit with several doors/drawers from floor to ceiling and about 14” deep.
  3. Put a chalk board on the back of a door or on the wall above the chair rail near the kitchen table.
  4. Create more livable space on your porch.  If you’re building new, you might think about making your porch area a three season room with large windows that also have screens for summer.
  5. Instead of a mud room, make your back door entry area large enough to incorporate built in bench with wall hooks and cubbies above.
  6. Consider installing your washer/dryer in the master bathroom or hall closet.

These are just a few ideas that help create a very livable home without a lot of wasted square footage.