The main part of designing any dream home is deciding on a floor plan that works efficiently and effectively for your present life as well as the rest of your life to come! Here is a handy checklist of questions to get you started on creating the perfect layout.
- If you have already purchased a block of land or have one in mind, the very first question is to ask is how much space can you use to build on? Do you want to use up all available space or leave more room for a yard? Take regulations and restrictions – like setbacks and easements – into account.
- What do you love about the place you live in currently or any home where you lived before? What annoys you? Ask everyone who will be living with you.
- How do you live or how do you dream of living? If your lifestyle lends itself to lots of extended family dinners, a big dining room may be essential. Does your family mostly hang out watching tv together or do you like plenty of alone time reading or playing videogames? Do you entertain friends and neighbours a lot? Consider devoting more space to a larger BBQ or alfresco area. Do you need a dedicated arts or crafts room for the creative members of the household?
- What are your family’s priorities? If you’re dedicated to healthy living do you need a home gym (that you’ll actually use) even if there’s a park close by? Should a big kitchen with plenty of counter space for whipping up freshly home-cooked meals go higher on your wish-list? Work-wise; are you likely to need a full-sized, enclosed office anytime in the future or will a study nook suffice?
- What about family dynamics? Are you likely to have children or more children? Are there enough bedrooms for them? Will they be outgrowing their rooms or leaving home anytime soon? Think about making rooms multi-use. For example, a toddler’s playroom could eventually convert to a den for a teenager’s movie nights. Do you need a versatile guest room for the in-laws who regularly visit (alternatively do you not want to encourage that)? Don’t forget space for your current and future pets too – they’re an important part of the family!
- If there are pieces you love, how will your existing furniture fit the home’s layout?
- Which rooms are you likely to use the most and at what time of day? Your builder/architect can use orientation to help you capture natural light effectively. And consider energy consumption through heating and cooling costs. Can open areas be closed off, particularly if they lack or are over-exposed to natural light throughout the seasons?
- Are you looking to downsize or upgrade in, say, a decade’s time? Then look to balance your personal space usage with a floor plan that has resale appeal. That dream sauna room may have to wait for your forever home.
- Do you need more storage than you think? The answer is always yes.
- Close your eyes and envision the flow of your floor plan. Is it simple to move from kitchen to dining room, from bedroom to bathroom? What about when bringing your weekly shopping in from the car? Is the guest toilet or powder room conveniently placed for when you have visitors? How about accessibility? Will your favourite gran be able to pop by easily with her walker? If you’re planning to stay in this home forever, don’t forget about your changing needs as you age as well.
- It’s less fun to think about, but don’t skimp on space for usability. Does your laundry have enough room for you to do a big batch of ironing? Do you have a decent view or can you keep an eye on the kids while you’re doing the dishes? Does your entryway or hallway have enough room to shrug out of coats (and school bags and muddy shoes and umbrellas) and stow them away?
- Do two (or more) storeys suit you better than a single-level floor plan? The answer may not be so obvious. Multi-storey homes may offer more privacy, might let you retain a bigger garden and also allow you to build the same amount of floor space on a smaller block of land.
Take notes as you work through the above questions together, try not to pay too much attention to either trends or traditions and look at lots of examples of floor plans online. You’ll soon have a solid idea of how you need and want the inside of your new home to be built.