If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a quick glance at the 10 best-selling house plans of 2008 from Hanley Wood's BUILDER House Plans (Hanley Wood is the publisher of BUILDER) clearly shows that this was the year of budget-conscious design.

While many of the plans share common aesthetic features such as vaulted ceilings, appealing rooflines, and secluded main-level master bedroom suites, space and cost-efficiency were also recurring themes. Smaller square footage, adaptable bonus rooms, budget-friendly square configurations, open floor plans (eliminating nonstructural walls helps reduce construction costs), and compact yet flexible floor plans were prevalent design elements.

A majority of the plans were less than 2,500 square feet, suggesting that the era of the McMansion may be ending, thanks to the current economic climate and conservation-minded consumers, designers, and builders.

1. Narrow Lot Charmer 
Although only 42 inches wide, the vaulted family room and adjacent two-story dining room give this plan the perception of abundant space. While the master suite is secluded on the main level, the two additional bedrooms—complete with French doors—share a full bath on the second floor.

2. Countryside Living 
The gables, stonework, and appealing multilevel rooflines contribute country charm to the exterior of this plan. Indoors, the dinning and living areas effortlessly blend together giving the illusion of one capacious room; attached to the gourmet kitchen is a delightful aberrance: an octagonal breakfast room.

3. Hallmark Home 
This compact, 1,500 square foot plan is best characterized by one element: simplicity. The foyer flows into a light-infused, two-story great room, which in turn seamlessly transitions into an open dinning and kitchen area.

4. Intimate Cottage Feeling 
The thatched roof and flower boxes lend the exterior of this plan quaint, cottage appeal. Inside, the placement of the kitchen—between the formal and informal dining areas—illustrates that accessibility was a priority in the configuration of this layout.

5. European Dream Cottage 
The exterior of this European-style cottage displays high-pitched rooflines, decorative arches and a medley of stone, stucco, and brick. The interior features a great room with an arresting window wall—ideal for maximum natural light penetration.

6. Delightful Bungalow 
The foyer in this 2,139-square-foot bungalow opens up to the dinning area and a vaulted family room. Fluidity is extended throughout the floor plan: a sunny breakfast nook easily leads the way to a secluded master suite equipped with French doors and a tray ceiling.

7. Petite and Practical 
This floor plan is the appropriate answer to the challenge of a small lot. Aesthetics aren’t surrendered for practicality—the laundry room is thoughtfully obscured near the garage, and side lights and a multi-paned dormer window maximize light penetration in the foyer.

8. Perfectly Petite Layout 
Numerous vaulted ceilings give this 1,085-square-foot layout the appearance of grandeur and loftiness. Boundaries seem to dissolve as the great room transitions into the dinning room, which in turn flows into the kitchen.

9. A Split Bedroom Plan 
The master bedroom is awarded privacy in this one-story house; it’s secluded on the left side of plan while the additional bedrooms are on the right. The sunlit breakfast nook unexpectedly commands interest by featuring a projecting bay window with a vaulted ceiling.

10. Family-Efficient Floor Plan 
In this layout, boundaries are defined without enclosing space; the open design allows for fluid transition between the foyer, dinning area, and great room. The utility room is flanked by the kitchen and master bath, enabling plumbing costs to be significantly reduced.

Sola Ayeni-Biu is an administrative assistant at BUILDER magazine.