Houseplans Blog

Design Chat: Sandi Erdman

Design Chat: Sandi Erdman
3 bed 2 bath ranch house by Sandi Erdman is all about easy indoo
Sandi Erdman loves two quotes by Stendahl, a famous French writer of the 19th century, who wrote, “Beauty is the promise of happiness,” and “There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness.” She has been fascinated by design since she was a child and her parents drove around residential neighborhoods looking at houses for fun; they even built a couple of homes from their own plans. Erdman, who earned a degree in architecture and is now a design consultant with Neil Kelly Design/Build in Portland and a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS), has designed two homes, Plans 519-1 and 519-2, that are available on

What inspires your designs, and do you have any favorite architects whose work has inspired you?
“On the theoretical side, the stars of modern architecture have always inspired me, as well as our local stars here in the Portland area—John Yeon, Pietro Belluschi, and Saul Zaik. And on the practical side, two of the many visionaries I’ve been inspired by have homes available on—Mid-Century Modern Developer Joseph Eichler (the Eichler plans available on were designed by architect Claude Oakland],

and architect Sarah Susanka " [NOTE: this collage shows examples, reading clockwise from top left: by John Yeon in the cover of a new book on his work; Eichler Plan 470-5, and Susanka Plan 454-5. The authoritative biography of Belluschi is Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect, by Meredith Clausen.]

What are the top features that make a great house plan?
“When all of the various components of the house work together as a whole. When the spatial arrangement, design elements, materials, exterior elevations, roof system, etc., are all informed by a unifying concept and skillfully joined. This can apply to any ‘style’ of house you’re looking for. The actual features that make a great house plan can differ for each person. A lot of what people want in a house is a combination of, among other things, what fits their lifestyle (or wished-for lifestyle), visual preferences, and what they find comfortable and meaningful when they think of ‘home.’ As far as livability features go, I usually start with the indoor-outdoor connection, plenty of natural light, an open concept and designing to human scale.”

What are the most
popular features of your plans?
“The one-level living of Plan 519-2 (shown at the top of this post, with the layout here) appeals to a lot of people, as well as the connection and adjacency of

indoor and outdoor living spaces—these spaces are visually connected, and there’s easy access to an outdoor kitchen area. People also like the openness of the inside space, the separate access to the backyard

from the master bedroom, and having the laundry room located close to the bedrooms. Plus, the house has a modern feel. It’s got clean, casual lines, it’s not fussy. It’s ideal for an empty-nester couple or small family.  

Plan 519-1 (shown above) was designed as a getaway home for two couples with space for kids. For front-facing, view properties, it works great because, with the main living areas on the upper level, it takes

advantage of a view. This design also has excellent indoor-outdoor flow, open living space and allows for the

separation of kid space on the lower level.”

Who are your typical clients, and what are some simple ways that homeowners can customize your plans?
“I would say for the ranch plan the typical client would be an empty-nest couple. It could be customized to some degree easily because of the simple roofline. And the vacation home plan could be modified by adding space in any direction, making rooms larger, or adding a garage off to the entry side and repurposing the small garage space.”

What is your advice for anyone looking at house plans?
“There is so much to consider when looking at the floor plan of a home. Most people don’t have the experience or skill to translate the plan to three-dimensional space in their mind’s eye. Having a design professional look at a plan you’re considering can be very helpful. They can point out problem areas or issues you may not have anticipated when you’re just looking at a plan. And 3-D renderings or photos of the built space are critical. Also, think about the spaces you’ll occupy daily. Are they well situated, easy to access, and what will the windows be looking out to? This leads to asking how will the house and its orientation relate to the lot and the surroundings that you plan to build on?”

Do you have any new plans coming out soon?
“While I don’t have any new plans ready for purchase, just for fun, I’ve created some designs that meet certain limitations, such as narrow-lot homes, homes with an interior courtyard (inspired by some of Eichler’s mid-century modern homes), and a ‘remake’ of the house I live in.”

Design Chat: Sandi Erdman Inspiration

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