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Thursday, August 18, 2011

National Plan Service

National Plan Service was a prominent house plan company that was in operation from 1902 until 1997. NPS specialized in middle-class house designs, working to meet the huge demand for homes during the post-war years of the 1950s and 1960s.

NPS, like most companies at the time, collaborated with lumber and building suppliers. They printed brochures containing sets of plans for distribution to home builders in an effort to entice them to purchase the complete plans and materials. Most of the brochures bore the name and contact information of the building supplier.

The homes were small by today's standards, given that most Americans in the 1950s had an average income of $5,000 to 10,000 a year and generally purchased homes in the 1000 square foot range. Average square footage had grown to just over 1200 square feet by 1960.



  1. Holy cow. I want one of each. I can't pick a favorite. I love the layouts and the sizes. 1200 sf is perfect (maybe even a little big) for me and my boyfriend. I'm off to dream about furnishing one of these gems!

  2. @Flo: I'm in a 1200 sf house with my two dogs, and I could live very comfortably in a smaller place. I think people would be surprised at how much they could downsize if they were more concerned with the environment and less concerned with bragging about the square footage of their McMansions.

  3. we've opened up Pandora's box, and the question now is can we stuff everything back in. I lived for 5 years in a mid century modern, built circa 1955, a 48x24 ranch- 2bed 2 bath, lots of full glass walls and a tricked out kitchen which included a wall hung refridge. We loved it, but after 5years it was time to move on. This house sat on 2 beautifully landscaped acres, the next one on a 60x120 in town lot with a 2800sf house built in 1908. We've been there for 30 years, so much better staying power. I could move back into a mid century home, but my wife is less thrilled about it. The key is to design places people will love, both now and in the future.

  4. @Thomas Potts: That's the beauty of houses like yours built in 1908 and mine built in 1950. Enough homebuyers find them charming that they haven't been bulldozed and replaced by some hideous McMansion. Not everyone wants to live in a mid-century home, and not everyone wants to live in an old Victorian, but enough people love both styles to insure that they'll be around for a while.