Usually, the home's support is hidden within the walls. But there's another type of house — the post and beam — that expresses its structure in a far more visible way.

Once the frame created by this structural system has been enclosed within an exterior envelope, the posts and beams provide a form of interior décor that is at once functional, attractive, and informative.

It's just as important to pay attention to the proportions of interior space in a post and beam house as it is in one that's conventionally framed.

A popular partial expression of a post and beam structure is to expose only the beams. But even in a conventionally built home composed of studs, joists, and rafters, there's the possibility of exposing at least some of the structure. By sheathing the roof with SIPs, the supporting rafters can be exposed to the room below. This gives the space a strong sense of order.

I've also designed homes in which we've exposed the joists between one level of the house and another, allowing the underside of the floor surface of the upper level to become the ceiling surface for the level below. It is an inexpensive way to get a wood ceiling, but be aware that sound transmission between levels is significant once there's just one layer of wood between the two.

Adapted with permission from Home by Design by Sarah Susanka, published by The Taunton Press (2004).