Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
Floor 1
2,050 sf
Floor 2
429 sf
2,479 sf
Daylight Basement
467 sf
Unfinished Basement
1,134 sf
Entry Faces
South Glass

The Atrium home features a central atrium that brings sunlight down into the center of the home. With the front designed to face northwest, this plan will fit lots oriented at an angle to the sun. The angled orientation also allows for more rooms on the south to receive sunlight although the passive solar performance is sacrificed. It is also not a plan for climates with hot summers as the southwest side could overheat. Homes with natural cooling instead of air conditioning will be better able to vent the hot air.

1st Floor

The kitchen is open to the dining as well as the central atrium and hearth. The dining area opens onto a screened porch that leads to a deck that wraps the south side of the home. With the front bedroom by the entry, it would serve equally well as a study or nursery being not too far from the master suite. The linen closet also opens to the laundry for convenient placement of dirty clothes and clean towels.

Second Floor

The quaint loft above with low sloped ceilings has a study area that overlooks the hearth below and the atrium above. The front dormer is a cozy nook for meditating or reading. The quaint bedroom and bath make this loft a child's dream.


This plan comes with a full basement. If your land slopes to the south, you could modify it to allow for sunny bedrooms. The southeast is best since it is not shaded by the deck. Garage The attached garage is separated from the house by an area with a mudroom entry and mail nook or pet area. Nearby is a half bath conveniently located near the kitchen and dining. If your lot was narrow, the garage doors could be moved to the front.

Attached Garage

The attached garage houses two vehicles. As with most Sun Plans' designs, the garage can be easily detached or removed without affecting the design. Detaching the garage can allow for greater flexibility in placing the garage on the site and frees up more wall of the house in which to place windows.

Construction Info

The great room, dining, part of the kitchen, and corner sunroom have vaulted ceilings and are very open. The masonry mass walls in the sunroom help absorb heat. The other south floors can be covered with thin mass since this is of our house plans with lower solar gain.

Modification Ideas

Since these ideas may affect energy performance and structural integrity, they should only be undertaken with professional assistance.

  • Flip the laundry and half bath to put the laundry near the kitchen and mudroom. The half bath could then have a tub or shower added to function as a full bath for the front bedroom.
  • Remove the second floor so that all first floor rooms can be vaulted.
Construction Drawings

For this plan, the following drawings are included with Construction Prints and CAD Files:

  • Cover Sheet/Site Plan
  •  Basement Plan
  • First Floor Plan including Attached garage
  • Second Floor Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Section 
  • Kitchen Elevations
  • Schematic Electrical Plans
  • Schematic Framing Plans
Comments and Photos

Thanks to Joe and Paula, the original home owners of the Atrium, for the comments on their home, which was built in a cold climate. They reversed the Atrium with the screened porch on the southeast, added Hydronic radiant floor heating, and made a full-finished basement.

"You've asked about the comfort level of the house. I didn't feel I could answer knowledgeably until after I lived in my glass house through the winter. Well, it was 12 degrees last night. The comfort of the house is astonishing.

"With the large amount of thermal mass and the radiant heat, any temperature change is so gradual that it is subsequently unnoticeable. In our former home, you were warm when the furnace was running and cold after it shut off. In our new home we're always warm and never even aware of which parts of the heating system are running... The best part is, instead of always wanting to curling up under a blanket you walk around barefoot.

"We also enjoy living in a house "warmed and brightened by the sun. The benefits include sitting in the sun enjoying a good book, seeing a beautiful sunrise as you're getting ready for work, cooking with fresh herbs gathered from the sunroom and saving money by heating with the sun. And while the sun doesn't shine everyday in Ohio, there is a good deal to be said for being able to see outdoors even when you don't want to be outdoors. Even on a grey winter day, the house is an open, comfortable space with plenty of natural light.

"While we moved in on July 25th, the house was not completed until August 16th... Once we moved in, we could open up the house at night -- three of the atrium windows are operational and have electric motors installed -- and then close the house back up before the heat of the day or before leaving for work. So far this... home has not only been more comfortable to live in, it has also been less expensive to operate than our previous home of 1,700 sq. feet."

They also wrote:

"We continue to be delighted with the way it flows and feels. The downstairs is spacious and graceful, light and airy. The upstairs is funky and cozy - we rearranged things a bit in the bathroom and bedroom up there, finding that the bathroom was too tight as planned.

"In February, we found the house comfortable, with nice direct sunlight. We oriented the house exactly as outlined in your plans. The house stays wonderfully cool in the summer - that's been a really pleasant surprise. We open the Atrium windows at night, and in the morning the whole house is crisp, despite some very muggy and hot days and nights. All in all, climatically it has been great. And, aesthetically, it's beautiful! We got lots of comments about how unique it is, and I'm always amused when people try to come up with what "type" of house it is. I use that moment to wax on about the passive solar design."