As part of our end-of-the-year series on trends from 2011, Builder took a look at which plans from Builder House Plans won this year’s popularity contest. What we found was that these star performers had a lot in common. For one thing, while not shockingly small, modest sizes are decidedly in fashion. Of the top 10, seven came in at less than 3,000 square feet, with Nos. 1 and 2 just a hair larger than 2,000 square feet. When it came to exterior aesthetics, all of the plans stuck to classic looks with a strong preference (eight out of 10) for side-loading garages. There was also a large showing of outdoor living spaces, from screened porches to lanais to barbecue patios to all of the above. Inside, seven of the plans were laid out on a single level—a trend likely to continue as Baby Boomers age.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.