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If you are ready to purchase house plans or are just curious about building a home, you are bound to have some questions. For definitions of interior and exterior house features, check out our Glossary. All the terms we use on our interior details diagrams in the house plans section of our site are explained here.


An upholstered bench along a wall, sometimes accompanied by a table and chairs in a kitchen or breakfast room.

Example of a Banquette

Beamed Ceiling

A type of construction in which the structural and/or ornamental overhead beams are left exposed to view from the room below. Exposed beams can be rustic or highly finished, painted or stained. They can be made from solid timber or “boxed,” as well (see Boxed Beam).

Example of a Beamed Ceiling

Boxed beam

Beam or girder framed with wood outside and often hollow inside. They can be finished with traditional molding or be wrapped in sheetrock to create a contemporary look.

Example of a Boxed Beam

Built-in Dresser

A chest of drawers typically used for holding clothes and personal items attached to or recessed into the walls and floor during construction.

Example of a Built-in Dresser

Canted Walls

A wall that is built at a vertical angle to the surface of another wall.

Example of a Canted Wall

Cathedral Ceiling

A cathedral ceiling has equal sloping sides, meeting in the middle of a room at a ridge and also has the same pitch as the (outside) roof structure. The interior is constructed by enclosing the roof rafters with a ceiling material such as tongue-and-groove cedar or sheetrock/plaster.


A narrow walkway or open bridge that typically overlooks a lower level – especially common in an industrial installation.

Example of a Catwalk


An outside wall of a room or building that rises above an adjoining roof and contains windows. Clerestory windows are used to bring indirect light into a space from overhead without the heat that comes with alternatives such as skylights.

Example of a Clerestory Window


A recessed panel in a vault, ceiling or soffit. A coffered ceiling features a grid of beams and coffers to add texture and dimension to a room.

Example of a Coffered Ceiling


Groups of small boxlike enclosures or compartments, open at the front, in which people can keep their belongings. Mudrooms often feature cubbies to store schoolbags, team equipment or purses.

Example of Cubbies


A small structure on top of a building, often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air. It also usually crowns a larger roof or dome. The cupola is a development during the Renaissance of the oculus, an ancient device found in Roman architecture, but being weatherproof was superior for the wetter climates of northern Europe. Barns often have cupolas for ventilation.

Gambrel Roof

A usually symmetrical two-sided roof with two slopes on each side and vertical gable ends. The upper slope is positioned at a shallow angle, while the lower slope is steep in an element of home design that provides the advantages of a sloped roof while maximizing headroom inside the building's upper level and shortening what would otherwise be a tall roof. The term gambrel is of American origin, although various shapes of gambrel roofs are sometimes called Dutch gambrel or Dutch Colonial gambrel with bell-cast eaves.

Hall Tree

A piece of furniture, usually found in hallways or near the entryway of homes, on which people hang items such as hats, coats or other clothing. They often have mirrors and drawers to store personal items such as wallets, sunglasses, money, etc. Many incorporate a bench to sit upon while putting on or taking off footwear. The bench seat is often hinged with a storage space underneath often used for shoes, hats and gloves.


A chimney corner or a small recess that adjoins a fireplace in a home design. The inglenook originated as a partially enclosed hearth area, appended to a larger room. The hearth was used for cooking, and its enclosing alcove became a natural place for people seeking warmth to gather.

Keeping Room

A secondary living room that connects to the kitchen area. It was a popular home design element in Colonial times due to the fact that the heat from the kitchen kept the keeping room warm, making it one of the few heated areas in the house.

Example of a Keeping Room

Kitchen Island

An unattached counter in a kitchen that permits access from all sides.

Kitchen Peninsula

A cabinet or series of cabinets that are only connected to the main body of the kitchen on one side.

Example of a Kitchen Peninsula

Light Well

An unroofed external space added to a home design to allow light and air to reach what would otherwise be a dark or unventilated area. Home designers may create light wells that are lined with glazed bricks to increase the reflection of sunlight within the space and give an illusion of having a view outside.

Open Riser

The open space between two adjacent stair treads – the part we step on – when not closed by a solid riser – the part we kick.

Pass-through window

An opening in a wall between two rooms through which something, like dishes, may be passed. These are typically found in kitchens between the breakfast or dining rooms or between the kitchen and an outdoor dining area.

Example of a Pass-Through Window


An arbor or a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars which usually support cross-beams and a sturdy open lattice, frequently upon which woody vines are trained.

Example of a Pergola

Pocket door

A sliding door that disappears into the adjacent wall when fully open.

Example of a Pocket Door

Pulldown stair

A collapsible ladder that is permanently attached to the attic floor. House designers use these ladders to provide access to attics without requiring a portable ladder.

Secretary Desk

A writing desk originally for writing letters by hand. It usually has a top that closes to hide current work, which makes the room containing it look tidy, maintains privacy and protects the work. The closing top may contain several joints so that it can roll closed, or may simply fold closed. The writing surface or table that works well for a laptop typically folds down, perhaps being the lid, or slides out to preserve the compact size when closed. They often have small drawers or “pigeon holes.”

Spark Arrestor

A metal and wire mesh cap often used to minimize burning debris from rising out of the chimney.

Standing Seam Metal Roof

A roofing system made from metal panels or tiles, usually connected with folded seams running downslope.

Stepped Crown Ceiling

Use of one or more layers of plaster or sheetrock to add detail to the corner between a wall and a ceiling.

Tongue and Groove

A joint made by a tongue on one edge of a board fitting into a corresponding groove on the edge of another board. When used in flooring, the joints are often flush. V-groove tongue and grove is often used as wall and ceiling paneling.

Example of Tongue & Groove


A window over a door or another window is a popular element of home design, sometimes referred to as a "fanlight." If created in a semi-elliptical shape, it is occasionally known as an “overlight” or “hopper.”

Tray Ceiling

A ceiling under a gabled roof at a height part way up toward the ridge having the appearance of an inverted tray. These celings can be “trayed” on just two sides or on all four.

Example of a Tray Ceiling

Truss Ceiling

A structural framework of timbers designed to bridge the space above a room and to provide support for a roof. Trusses usually occur at regular intervals, linked by longitudinal timbers such as purlins. The space between each truss is known as a bay. Timber roof trusses were a medieval development by home designers.

Vaulted Ceiling

A vaulted ceiling as part of house plans can offer unequal sloping sides, a single sloping side or a curved/arched slope. Vaulted ceilings are not typically constructed using the same pitch as the roof and are often framed using scissor trusses.


The lower 3 or 4 feet (about 1 meter) of an interior wall when finished differently from the remainder of the wall – usually paneled or tiled.

Window seat

A seat that is built or placed below a window. 

Example of a Window Seat


This is the place to find answers to some of the common questions we hear from our customers. If you don't see the answer to your question there, just shoot us an email or give a call and talk to a real, live person - a novelty these days!

What’s in an Estimating Set?

Once you have found a TBH&H house plan you love, consider which set of of plans you will need first. Do you want to ask a contractor for a preliminary estimate of the costs to build the house before you fully commit to building that plan? If so, you will want to purchase an Estimating Set. This is an abbreviated set of drawings with enough information for a contractor to be able to give you a rough estimate, but not enough to build it. This set lacks structural information, materials specifications and builder’s details required to get the house just right.

What’s in a Construction Set?

Once you know for certain that you want to build a specific TBH&H house, you will need to purchase the Construction Set. The Construction Set is a full set of drawings with all the information required to build the house.

Do I need both sets?

If you purchase an Estimating Set first and then purchase a Construction Set, TBH&H will apply the cost of the Estimating Set towards the Construction Set - as long as both sets are from the same house plan.

What is included in the TBH&H Interiors Packages?

At TBH&H, our plans are so much more than four walls, a floor and a ceiling. Unlike most major house plan companies, all TBH&H plans come with extensive interior architecture features, such as ceiling treatments, paneled walls and custom built-ins. Most house plans on the market today require that the homeowner choose their own kitchen cabinets, lighting, hardware and other interior details. We go much further. TBH&H creates that distinctive look with unique Interiors Packages designed for each TBH&H house! For a small additional fee, we provide you with the necessary design choices and to customize your Kitchen, brighten your rooms with great lighting and provide beautiful hardware throughout your home. We specify high-quality options for you to save research time and the headache of purchasing house parts that don’t quite measure up.

What is included in the Kitchen Package?

When you order a Kitchen Interiors Package, we specify all the cabinetry needed for the Kitchen you’ll build. We recommend the appliances that fit, good-looking tile and stone, excellent plumbing fixtures, flooring and finishes. You will receive detailed plans for the room and a shopping list and source for every component we specify.

What is included in the Hardware Package?

A Hardware Package includes the door and window hardware and hinges, as well as the hardware for all the built-ins in the house. Each package has a signature style, and you can choose from a variety of styles. Every package provides a detailed shopping list, including the proper sizes and finishes and the vendor information.

What is included in the Exterior & Interior Lighting Package?

The Lighting Package specifies every chandelier, pendant, sconce, flush-mount light, under-cabinet light and recessed light in and on the house. We make sure they are all properly proportioned and provide good lighting for each area. The package also includes a detailed light and switching plan, so you see which light goes where and our recommendation for all the switch locations. Lighting a home can be a challenge. We make it easy for you.

How many times can you build from a TBH&H plan?

The TBH&H Licensing Agreement enables you to use the plans one time only, to build on one specified lot. Should you want to build the house again, you will need to secure a new agreement with TBH&H. If you are a developer, please contact us for special pricing and limitations.

Do TBH&H plans conform to local building codes?

Codes and building requirements vary from region to region. While TBH&H plans are designed to meet stringent California building requirements, you must have all TBH&H plans checked by an engineer or builder to determine whether the plans will meet your local guidelines for permits and construction. If your state requires an architect or engineer to wet stamp the plans, you will need to have them stamped by an architect or engineer licensed in your state or region. Your builder is responsible for ensuring that the house is built according to the building codes with quality materials and using proper building techniques.

Can TBH&H plans be modified?

Yes!  While Tim Barber House & Home does not provide modifications in-house, we have partnered with a third party firm that specializes in home customization services.  If you are considering purchasing a plan from TBH&H that you would like to modify, contact Architectural Overflow, Inc. directly. Lee and Peter will explain their process and give you an estimate for their services.

Architectural Overflow, LLC
(866) 772-1616