Since FNV companion advancements, and considerable Skyrim graphical overhauls are both long-winded posts, I thought we'd start off with something... smaller.
Over the years of playing Skyrim, I haven't really used the big house mods like in other games. I generally got by with something in the base game; but they all have issues.
Whiterun's house is too small, Riften's, too; Riften has no smelter, Solitude has no smelter; Markarth is so far removed from anything that it's just plain inconvenient. Windhelm has it all -- plenty of space and storage, easy access to enchanting, smelting, smithing, and alchemy... but you have to play through damned near the entire civil war quest to even get the option of buying it. It was only recently that I slogged through that mess -- mostly for the express purpose of trying out that house. Not sure it was worth it.
In the realm of mods, the Riverside Lodge is nice. It's not really me though. I usually end up using it as a place to billet extra companions. The "build your own house!" house is nice, and has suitable requirements to not feel like you got given the place; but it's in the ass-end of nowhere, and a severe pain to get to when you're doing the whole no fast travel thing.
Then Hearthfire came along. Have to curry favor with the Jarl; buy the land, build the house as you go... all nice. Have their own smelters, forges, alchemy and enchanting equipment; the houses even have carriages for no-fast-travel. Trouble is, the Hearthfire houses are... limited. Each wing gets one of three options; and those three options can not be used in any other wing; EG: you get the expanded bedroom in the west wing, or not at all. Want a library? Then you can't have a kitchen. Want a deck outside on the north face of the house for the view? Then you have to have the store room, and don't get the alchemy tower or display area.
Eventually, the urge to mod won out. I had been putting off construction of a Skyrim estate, since I didn't much care for any of the tilesets; and didn't want to cop out and do my usual apocalyptic underground stronghold. Got bored enough to dig through the Hearthfire master one night, though, and saw that its pieces were pretty modular, and could be slapped together into something way less restrictive.
After scouting some areas, I decided on a spot across the river from the Solitude sawmill. It wasn't used for anything, was open and relatively flat; had easy access to water, fish, and so-on; wasn't near a major road-way; and with a mod to expand carriages, it was just a short ford across the river from the sawmill.
In my usual style, though, ideas got the better of me as to the size of the estate, and well...
...it ended up being like 2.5 Hearthfire houses in one.
Built up some rocks to serve as a base; added support posts, ladders, and stairs. The whole mess navmeshed surprisingly easy. Skyrim doesn't work exactly like the Fallouts in that regard, but the learning curve from one to the other was short.
The terrace running around the outside will have the garden planters:
As well as the outdoorsy crafting amenities:
While not completed yet, there will also be a pool (as soon as I can figure out which set of meshes people keep using to make them), and a sitting area. The view is nice:
It's also set up to accommodate dragon attacks:
As well, around the rocks that make up the base are markers for insects, and catchable fish in the river below; although no nets since I didn't figure authorities would take kindly to someone dredge-netting the river at its narrowest and shallowest point.
The interior didn't get very far, as I quickly realized that it will be a framerate destroyer as one cell; and I haven't thus far decided exactly how to break it up. Completed so far are the entryway:
Main dining area:
...Yes, the toilet is a chair with a hole in it sitting over a pipe with a shutter. It was the most plausible thing I could think of shut up.
Needless to say everything still has to be cluttered, furnished, and have accent lights added; but as you can also tell from the guests in some of the screenshots the whole thing is already navmeshed and NPC-friendly.
The basement, when constructed (you can see the access hatch in one of the kitchen shots) will have a well, some mushrooms growing, and probably a larder/root cellar thing going on.
In the exterior, I'll eventually be adding a stone wall at the property's edge, a stable, small barn, and path leading out to the road. The house will also be tagged and set up properly to integrate into the Radiant quest system; and marked off into its own area for the AI to have some more flexibility. In the end, I intend to have the girls moved from their current start location in Riverwood to the estate, with a complex package list similar to the one I use in FNV; so that they can live a day-to-day life when not traveling with me.
Sadly, this will all probably take quite a while; since time constraints in my day-to-day life aside, the Creation Kit's cell editor hates both me and my PC.