Top Seven Design Trends in Timber Frame Homes

Timber frame homes offer so much flexibility that you’d think it would be hard to select which design features are the most requested.  But that’s not the case.  We  see several design options requested in almost every home.  Many of these requests are what draw homeowners to timber frames in the first place.
  1. Smaller Homes – We have had more requests for smaller, manageable space in recent years.  The smaller home costs less to build, less to heat and cool, less to maintain long term.  Some people are drawn to a more “human” scale that a smaller timber frame home offers.  Whether this trend is driven by economy or by a wish to have less home to maintain,  I believe it’s a trend that is here to stay.
  2. Flexible Living – Timber frames are a natural for this option.  Life is full of surprises. Flexibility allows you to adjust your space accordingly.  A timber frame typically has no bearing walls, so adding a door, moving or removing a wall is an easy option.
  3. Energy Efficiency –  Energy costs continue to soar, so most homeowners are looking for some insurance, in the form of an energy efficient home, to help them keep the costs in check.  A timber frame home, wrapped in energy efficient structural insulated panels, will help to keep those costs in line…long term.
  4. Accessible Design – Wider doorways, room to navigate with a wheelchair, limited hallways, and living space on one floor are options that are always discussed early in the design process.  Often homeowners opt for having a bedroom suite on the second floor for now, but plan to move downstairs when and if navigating stairs is a problem.  Elevators, either installed as the home is built or in space planned in the original design for installation later are becoming a standard design discussion item.
  5. Open Kitchens and Dining Space – A look back at large country kitchens where families gathered at day’s end give insight into today’s kitchen and dining area design.   Kitchens are no longer tucked in the back of the house, accessible only by a closed doorway.  Dining rooms are seldom designed as separate formal spaces.
  6. Outdoor Living Spaces – Whether this means a great porch that expands the indoor living spaces through the seasons, a screen porch for dining sans-bugs, or a pavilion with an outdoor fireplace or kitchen, timber frames make living outdoors an easy option.
  7. Earth Friendly and Natural – Timber is a naturally renewable resource that is minimally processed and requires almost no maintenance.   Natural wood floorings and wool rugs are a natural for timber frames.  Wall to wall carpet is still an option in certain areas, but there are very few requests for it in great rooms and more public living areas.  Natural stone for flooring and showers and low and no VOC paints and finishes top the lists of specifications that will help everyone breathe easier and live more comfortably.
So plan your home to help you live well and when you build, Build Boldly!
Bonnie Pickartz

Which Comes First – The Timber Frame or the Home Plan?

Timber frames come in many shapes and forms and fashions. They can be complex or simple, heavy or graceful (or both), and they can be a focal point or a subtle background. Timber frames are structure. They are designed to support and their beauty is an extra perk.

While you have some flexibility in choosing the timber frame design for your new home, form should always follow function and the frame should be designed to work perfectly with your floor plan. Instead of trying to force the frame to work with the floor plan, focus on the details and on how the frame enhances the space.

Your timber frame home plan should begin with a some basics. The style of your new home, be it lodge, craftsman, or traditional (or one of many, many more styles), and the space are the two elements that you should design around. And, another critical element…your budget.

If you want a single story ranch, your options are wide open for hammerbeam bents. However, if you want a story and a half home with open lofts and living space upstairs, your open area will need to be sized to accommodate a hammerbeam without overwhelming the space if a hammerbeam is critical.

Your timber frame designer should be flexible enough to help you achieve the look you want and tough enough to say “that won’t work” when confronted with apples and oranges in the timber frame/floor plan design.

Can you take a timber frame and build a home around it? Of course, but your space will be defined by the timber frame. This isn’t all together bad, but there are limitations.

So, think carefully as you design and build your new home. Remember that a little flexibility can go a long way in designing the home of your dreams.

And always, always Build Boldly… Bonnie Pickartz

Winter in Timber Frame Homes

Many wished for a white Christmas, and many got their wish. The Christmas Storm of 2010 will be remembered as one that snuck upon the East Coast and the South, bringing snow to places that hadn’t seen Christmas snow for decades…or ever. Homes were cloaked in white. Timber frame homes were especially beautiful, with their white roofs and lights through the windows.

Goshen timber frame homes are wrapped in energy efficient panels, keeping the cold out and the warm in. Even with vaulted ceilings and expansive open spaces, no heat was lost. Roofs showed no warm air escaping, no tell-tale lines of heat leaking into the cold.

Timber frame homes are classic.  They can be designed to fit any style that pleases you and can be designed to fit any locale, any neighborhood.   They can have walls of windows to help “daylight” the home and to bring the outdoors in.

Timber frames make perfect smaller homes.  With no need for load bearing walls, spaces open up easily and with flexibility unavailable in other types of construction.

So as you ponder your dream home, think timber frame.  Check out the timber frame plans at Goshen Timber Frames and sign up to be the first to see new plans at TimberStead.  And however you build, build boldly!

Timber Frames, Heavy Timber, and Post and Beam Construction

You’ll often hear the term “heavy timber” and “post and beam” when timber frames are discussed.  The terms have come to be used interchangeably, but there are also differences.

Heavy timber can be used to indicate large lumber which is usually expressed in actual sizes (an 8 x 8 timber is really 8 X 8 ) instead of nominal sizes where a 2 X 4 is usually 1 1/2 X 3 1/2.    Timber frames are always built with heavy timber.

Post and beam can indicate heavy timbers attached to one another with metal plates, bolts, joinery, or a combination.  While the term is often used to mean “timber frame”, it doesn’t have to be traditional timber framing.

A 12″ X 22″ X26′ timber ridge beam, shown below, definitely qualifies as heavy timber as it becomes an integral part of a timber frame home.