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On-the-Boards Designs for Today's Homebuyer

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House Review

On-the-Boards Designs for Today's Homebuyer

Pro Builder's House Review design team's ideas for meeting the needs of today's buyers, whether they're seeking a luxury single-family home, townhouse, or bungalow

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer October 1, 2022
DTJ Design for The Cottages front elevations
DTJ Design's rendering of The Cottages front elevations. Scroll down to find out more about this on-the-boards project.
This article first appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Pro Builder.

Historically, “on the boards” refers to early-stage sketches of a designer’s or architect’s ideas and concepts on an actual drawing table or “board.” That age-old practice has since been replaced (for some of us!) by computer software—which, ironically, tries to make the images appear hand-drawn.

The following designs offer a glimpse into the early visions of our design team, ranging from a luxury single-family home to townhomes, cottages, and narrow-lot bungalows—all of which reflect the ever-changing needs of our home builder and consumer clients and our initial ideas to meet them.


The Northwood

DESIGNERS: GMD Design Group, Scott Gardner, scott@gmddesigngroup.com, 919.320.3022
Donnie McGrath, donnie@gmddesigngroup.com, 770.375.7351

DIMENSIONS: Width: 59 feet / Depth: 75 feet / Living area: 3,948 sf + basement


GMD Design Group front elevation for The Northwood


This “on the boards” luxury home is designed with a walk-out basement on a downslope site.

Abundant natural light and volume ceilings help the home, including the basement, feel spacious and open. Generous secondary suite bedrooms upstairs and in the basement provide privacy for a ground-floor primary suite.

Using stone and contrasting natural gray and brown horizontal siding on the exterior offers a modern take in combination with traditional roof lines.

In the basement, a covered porch with a fireplace provides outdoor living opportunities, while expansive sliding glass panels open to the great room and dining areas on the main level, making the home ideal for entertaining and family enjoyment.

GMD Design Group floor plan for The Northwood


A. Basement-level bedroom suite

B. Covered outdoor patio and porch above

C. Ample, flexible-use storage in basement and garage

D. Scullery/pantry/prep kitchen

E. Bonus room with windows for natural light and views

F. Three bedrooms with en suite baths and walk-in closets


GMD Design Group basement and second-floor plans for The Northwood


Pinnacle Hills Townhomes

DESIGNER: Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, larrygarnett@larrygarnettdesigns.com, 254.205.2597

DIMENSIONS: Width: 20 feet / Depth: 80 feet / Living area: 1,490 sf

This two-bedroom townhome offers traditional exterior styling with an open floor plan and an attached two-car garage accessible from a private rear lane.

The brick and stucco exterior features an intricate cornice detail reminiscent of the historical neighborhoods located near this proposed mixed-use development.

Targeting young professionals who may work remotely on occasion, the plan offers an office alcove and a secluded second bedroom that can double as an additional office space or a video conferencing area.

Front elevation of Larry Garnett's design for the Pinnacle Hills Townhomes


A. Open kitchen, dining, and living space

B. A courtyard and covered porch offer secluded outdoor living areas

C. Rear-loaded attached two-car garage for better street presence

D. Primary bedroom with office alcove

E. Secondary en suite bedroom

Floor plans of Larry Garnett's design for the Pinnacle Hills Townhomes


The Cottages

DESIGNER: Seth Hart, DTJ Design, shart@dtjdesign.com, 303.443.7533

DIMENSIONS: Width: 50 feet / Depth: 80 feet / Living area: 3,980 sf

As part of a new development in Denver for McStain Neighborhoods, this home was designed to tackle key wish list items that address the lasting lifestyle adjustments resulting from the pandemic—specifically, flexible office space, additional storage, retreat spaces, expanded garages for hobbies, and privacy.

The development offers a more charming, nostalgic community feel via its traditional elevation styles—a shift from the modern-look elevations that have recently dominated this market. Each home utilizes three highly stylized elevation types that are unique from one another, which creates a beautiful, vibrant street scene.

DTJ Design's renderings for the facades of The Cottages


A. Double tandem garages optimize vehicle, work, and storage options

B. Back kitchen offers extra storage and can flex into a second home office

C. A loft to the front of the home delivers noise separation from public spaces below and completes a “kid’s wing” upstairs

D. A retreat space in the primary bedroom offers private relaxation

E. A direct connection from the primary closet to the laundry room adds convenience

DTJ Design's floor plans for The Cottages


Sea Colony Bungalows

ARCHITECT: Donald F. Evans, AIA, The Evans Group, dmichele@theevansgroup.com, 407.650.8770

DIMENSIONS: Width: 24 feet / Depth: 76 feet, 4 inches / Living area: 2,485 sf

When talking narrow lots, typically the width of the house is set by the width of the garage, and the layout within that envelope determines the marketability, salability, and, ultimately, the livability of that home. Ideally, a buyer should never notice the width ... so long as the design incorporates open floor plans and taller ceilings with lots of natural light.

This 2,485-square-foot home dedicates the first floor to public spaces and the second floor to private spaces, with every bedroom having a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom.

A large hangout upstairs enables an “anything space” for TV/gaming, lounging, homework, or homeschooling. An upstairs laundry room just makes sense!

The Evans Group's design for the Sea Colony Bungalows front elevations


A. Open floor plan with leisure room

B. Side porch adjacent to the kitchen is perfect for grilling

C. Rear-loaded, two-car garage achieves a better streetscape in front

D. Hangout room offers maximum and multiple-use flexibility

E. Secondary en suite bedrooms

The Evans Group design for the Sea Colony Bungalows floor plans


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