home design

Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Residential Home Design

Edgar Pena Places Third with His Spanish Style Texas Home

Layout page featuring Edgar's winning spanish style residental design

By Jake Murray

Edgar places third in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest! Edgar’s achievements have led to his own business, Pena’s Drafting & Design, located in his hometown.

“I am from McAllen, a small town in south Texas, where I started technical drafting in High School. I obtained my Architectural Drafting Associates Degree at South Texas Community College and have designed homes since 2003. After months of planning and researching, I decided to go with Chief Architect. I have been using Chief Architect since 2013, and am glad I made the right choice. Besides customers being amazed to see their home in 3D, I love being able to do a preliminary floor plan in just hours instead of days. Now I can complete a full set of construction drawings in two to three days.”

Chief Architect has changed my life completely.

Winning Design

Thank you, Edgar, for sharing your design with us in the Residential Design Contest. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!  If you want to learn how to use Chief Architect to complete a full set of construction documents, like Edgar, check out this training video: Creating Layouts and Construction Documents.

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Kitchen Design, Student

Alexis McDaniel places 2nd with her contemporary kitchen

Interior rendering of a contemporary kitchen with a waterfall island and white cabinetry.

By Kendra Dorosh

Alexis places 2nd in the Chief Architect Kitchen, Bath, and Interior Design Contest! She is a Chief Architect Certified Apprentice who has found her passion in interior design.

Alexis McDaniel, Chief Architect Certified Apprentice

Alexis McDaniel, Chief Architect Certified Apprentice

“I’m a senior at Klein Collins High School in Spring Texas, who at a young age fell in love with interior design. My high school has a class where we can design living and commercial spaces using Chief Architect software. It has truly ignited the flame in me to design. I gain so much joy and pleasure from what I do. I have been using Chief Architect for around 3 years, and plan to continue using it. I prefer Chief Architect over other software products because it’s easy to use, and the renderings make a design really come to life.

“I, along with my fellow classmates Mary and Krystina, became a Chief Architect Certified Apprentice last year, which is a huge accomplishment to me. I would also like to mention my teacher Mrs. Mock, who has pushed us to be our best in what we do and has helped in my realization that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”


Winning Design

Exterior rendering of a house built on piers. Interior living room overview rendering with a L-shaped couch.

Exterior Rendering and Living Room Overview

We want to congratulate Alexis on finding her passion in life and look forward to seeing where it takes her!

Did you know that you too can become certified in Chief Architect Software? Learn more about the process for both students and professionals here.

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Residential Home Design

Thomas Kretz Wins Second Place with His Custom Home Design, BrückenHaus, Featuring Bridges and Cantilevers.

By Jake Murray

Thomas placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest! After retiring as a Production Art Manager, Thomas continues to showcase his design abilities through a remodel and custom home design.

Thomas pictured on his recent wedding day.

“I grew up on the farm my family settled in 1852 in the small town of Cedar Lake, Indiana. I had always gravitated towards art and drafting in high-school, but it was a field trip to Chicago that truly inspired my fascination with architecture. So much so, I broke with family tradition and spent the summers of my Junior and Senior year working as an artist for a graphics company. I then attended Ball State University for the first year of their Architecture program.

“Financial difficulty led me to a transitional job with an upstart graphics firm that had been founded by two salesmen also from that same previous employer. That “short-term” position turned into a 30-year career as their Production Art Manager. Over the years, I discovered that even though the design capabilities were limited, the CAD systems I had procured for cutting large-format graphics could be adapted for drawing scale floor plans. More so just a hobby at this point, I would spend my downtime (and occasionally work time) searching for challenging properties for sale and then designing spec-houses for them.

“I finally got my chance to prove myself in 2002 after purchasing a one-acre hill-side lot, there I designed and built my first residence. After about a year of design work, I took my CAD floor plans to a local architect, who was able to download them and convert them to blueprinted construction drawings. Another year and a half (February 2004) of construction produced a 5,700sqft, Contemporary Prairie, constructed 75 feet up off the main road, into the side of a 19-degree slope. I loved every minute of it.

“Fast forward to July 2017. Early retirement at 49 and a new girlfriend I had met on a property scouting trip to Lake Tahoe, brought me to Indianapolis.  I had long been researching architecture software, looking for that perfect blend of technical features, professional work-product appearance, and a manageable learning curve. Chief Architect Premier highly complemented all of those requirements and has far exceeded my expectations. So in August, I purchased X9, as a 50th birthday present to myself. After reading through the reference manual and watching about 50 or so of the online training videos, (I now find Scott Harris’s voice extremely soothing), my first “trial” project was a remodel/addition to my fiancée’s home.

BrückenHaus is a complicated structure that features bridges, cantilevers, and many custom design elements.

“We had purchased the property at 1945 Northwood through an estate sale a few months earlier, but I was still sketching and developing the concept at this point. Once I felt I had the conceptual work where it needed to be, and the topography survey was completed, I began the design process for BrückenHaus. I added a second monitor so that I could properly utilize the 3D applications. Having the ability to prove spacial requirements in real-time, and render conceptual ideas to others from a 2D environment is absolutely brilliant.  Chief Architect X10 is the tool that brought my concept to life. I have begun the process of exporting the plans to layout, and will then submit them for engineering approval. We are hoping to break ground in the summer of 2019, with its completion in the fall of 2020.”

Winning Design

Thank you, Thomas, for sharing your custom home design with us!  We want to wish you the best of luck on the next steps of your project and can’t wait to see the final product. To see more renderings of BrückenHaus, check out the design gallery below.



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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Interior Design, Kitchen Design, Professional

Zak Rathgeber Wins 1st Place with His Modern Inner-City Kitchen Design!

By Jake Murray


Zak placed 1st in the Chief Architect Kitchen/Bath & Interiors Design Contest! A start with Lego houses has led to a long career and successful company of his own, Livara Design Inc.


Zak, his wife, and two children. With a passion for design that began at an early age, his work is the product of an experienced and talented designer. Congratulations on winning 1st place!

“I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with a small stint in British Columbia.  I always knew I wanted to design homes.  I can remember sitting on the floor as a kid building Lego houses and hotels, and I always gravitated to drawing sprawling dream homes over all the other topics little kids usually draw! I was gifted my first drafting table when I was 13 or 14, and I was off to the races.  I had a great Drafting & Design program in my high school and it definitely solidified my want to do this for a living. Continue reading…

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Residential Home Design

Jennifer Lazarus Places 2nd with Her Stone Tudor Home Design

Dream Home that has evolved over many years,

By Emily Black

Jennifer placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest! Her passion for design began when she was 10 years old and has flourished in her career as a home designer.

Jennifer Lazarus

I chose Chief Architect because of its realistic appearance, reasonable price, and user-friendliness.

“Unofficially, I started drawing house plans on graph paper when I was 10 years old, and I knew that designing was something I wanted to pursue as a profession.  Officially, I started designing in 2005, when I began working for and training with a local designer in my hometown of Memphis, TN.  In 2010, I began doing freelance residential design while also pursuing a career in another field.  I founded Ideal House Plans, LLC in 2017 and am currently working on growing the business.

“I’ve been a Chief Architect customer since May 2018.  Earlier in the year, I knew that I would need quality 3D renderings to post on the new website, so I began my search for the right software to use.  I downloaded several trial versions of various software to determine what would work best for me. In the end, I chose Chief Architect because of its realistic appearance, reasonable price, and user-friendliness.”


We really enjoyed seeing Jennifer’s work. To see more examples of her designs, visit idealhouseplansllc.com/shop. We wish Jennifer the very best with the launch of her new website.

Continue reading…

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