Interested in designing a floor plan of your own? There are a few things you need to keep in mind before getting started. So, if you haven’t yet taken the time to read through the 3 Things You Need to Know Before Designing a Custom Floor Plan, now’s a great time to check it out!
Great, now that you have a better understanding of how important the floor plan design is to the remainder of the structure, we can dive into some of our expert designer’s top floor plan design tips.
Take Advantage of Your Location
Location, location, location… we hear it all the time, but how does location relate to floor plan design you might ask?
Well, when referring to location in the context of floor plan design, we are referring to where your house is located on the property, and how you plan to design the home to take advantage of the natural elements.
When designing a floor plan, you want to take into account the orientation of the home on the property, where it will sit, and which direction it will face. In certain situations, you may want to orient the structure to take full advantage of an expansive landscape view, while in other situations, you may want to create a sense of seclusion from neighbors and pedestrians.
Beyond just the location and orientation of the structure on the property, you must also take into account the location and orientation of each individual room within. Think about where you will spend most of your time within the home, and spend time orienting those locations within the floor plan to maximize the natural assets.
Keep in mind, you can shift furniture from room to room, but you cannot shift the house once the foundation has been set!
Plan For Traffic and Convenience
When designing a custom floor plan, it is not uncommon to prioritize aesthetics over convenience. Instead, you should be prioritizing a fluid traffic flow, with aesthetics to match.
So, what do we mean by traffic flow?
Traffic flow refers to the fluid movement of people, pets, and objects throughout the structure. Traffic control refers to the proper orientation of living spaces with respect to one another, the layout of furnishings and appliances, as well as other design efforts that can be made to improve traffic flow.
Tips to Optimize Your Floor Plan for Traffic Flow:
- Maintain close proximity between Bedrooms and Bathrooms
- Orient the kitchen based on the location of the garage and or the main entrance of the structure to minimize distance traveled when hauling groceries, appliances, etc…
- Orient the indoor and outdoor dining areas in close proximity to the kitchen
- Ensure the width of hallways and stairways can accommodate two-way traffic.
- If the primary living space is located on the upper level of the structure, orient the stairway so that it is easily accessible from the main entrance of the structure
- Think into the future – A living space designed to fit you or your family now may not be suited for expansion in the future or vice versa
Keep Heating and Cooling in Mind
Heating and cooling may sound like topics that should be saved for another discussion, but it may surprise you how much floor plan design can impact the efficiency of your structure.
Large and expansive rooms such as the main living space of the home require more energy to heat or cool thoroughly while smaller rooms such as individual bedrooms can be climate controlled at a lower cost. So, if keeping energy costs is a goal, keep in mind the scale of each room.
The location of the source of heating and cooling as well as the circulation of the structure will also make an impact. A wood-burning stove for example should be located in the largest room where you intend to spend the majority of your time to achieve maximum efficiency. On the other hand, baseboard heating and cooling is more costly, but can easily be regulated throughout the structure.
Planning For Children
Whether you have little ones of your own or are expecting some on the way, designing your floor plan for the safety of your children should always be on the front of your mind!
This all comes back to the idea of designing for practicality rather than just aesthetics. You may have seen some really neat features on another floor plan or in someone else’s home, but it doesn’t always mean that it is practical for your situation.
Certain elements of a home can be very dangerous to young ones such as stairways, lofts, balconies, and certain appliances. During the design process, you must be conscious and aware of these potential dangers. Workarounds may involve tweaking the design to be more “childproof” or simply eliminating the dangerous elements all together.
The safety of your loved ones should always come before style, so just keep in mind what is realistic for you and your family both now and in the future.
Create Relationships Between Spaces
Another key thing to keep in mind while designing a custom floor plan is the relationship between the different living spaces within the home. Specifically living spaces such as the great room, dining room, kitchen, and outdoor living space.
Think about where you will spend a majority of your time as a family or entertaining guests, and orient those living spaces so that they flow openly from one to another. This helps create an open and friendly environment, minimizing seclusion, while increasing traffic flow.
Just think about it, if your children or grandchildren are causing a ruckus in the great room, you would like to be able to keep an eye on them and maintain communication from the kitchen.
Gather Inspiration But DON’T Fall in Love
We highly encourage going out and gathering inspiration on floor plan designs but try not to fall in love!
It can be a fun experience to walk through some open houses, visit friend’s and family’s homes, and gather some inspiration along the way. You just need to understand that not every design element is possible in every structure.
Depending on where you plan on building, the style of home you plan on building, and your budget, your possibilities may be limited.
Certain architectural elements may be incredibly eye-catching and appealing, but the price tag may make you want to turn your head and run.
Other elements may not be hindered by cost but instead by feasibility. You’ll have to work out with your designer what is realistic vs what is not because case by case it is going to differ.
The final thing you have to be conscious of is the local permitting and code requirements. Some architectural or design elements may not be up to code in your local jurisdiction and you will need to find a way to compromise. In most cases, your designer will be able to help you find the nearest feasible alternative.
Don’t Forget About Furnishing
It seems like common sense but you’d be surprised how often people will design a floor plan without fully taking into account how they intend to furnish the space.
If you are planning on moving with the furniture you currently own into your new custom home, it is smart to take measurements of each piece and keep a record. That way, you can factor the furniture directly into the floor plan so that you are confident it will fit and flow with the new design.
If you plan on furnishing the structure with new furniture and appliances once it is completed, you will need to be very calculated during the design process. Think about what you are going to need in each space, the size of the furnishings, and how traffic will flow around them.
Planning for Elderly Accommodations
Similar to designing a floor plan for the safety of your children, if you plan to grow old in your home or host elderly guests, planning for accessibility and safety is key.
When designing a floor plan for elderly accessibility and comfort, you must keep in mind the width of the hallways and stairways, the width of the doors, the location of the primary living spaces, as well as the potential for a ramp, lift, or elevator.
A good rule of thumb is to design hallways, doors, and stairways with a minimum width dimension of 3ft. This allows enough space for wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobilization devices to easily enter and exit the home and then individual roofs within. For optimal traffic control, the stairs and hallways should be designed significantly wider than 3ft to allow for two way traffic.
The location of the primary living spaces is especially key when designing for elderly accessibility. In a multi-story home plan, the great room, master bedroom, and kitchen should all be located on the level of the main entrance. This minimizes excess trips up and down flights of stairs over the lifetime use of the structure.
Planning for the installation of further accessibility mechanisms is also something to keep in mind. One example is removing any steps leading to the main entrance, or at a minimum, designing the steps so that they can be easily transformed into a ramp when needed. Another example involves increasing the width of the stairways so that a lift mechanism can be installed if needed in the future.
Figure Out Your Stairs First
Stairs, as simple as they seem, can be one of the most daunting aspects of floor plan design. Shifting a set of stairs on a custom floor plan typically involves a fresh start on the designs and a complete re-orientation of the layout.
Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to begin your design by nailing down where you would like the stairs to be oriented within the structure. Think about where you would like your primary living spaces, and start there.
If your kitchen and great room are on the upper level, you’ll want to orient the stairs nearby the main entrance of the building for easy accessibility. If your primary living spaces are located on the main level, the stairs leading to bedrooms, offices, etc, should be located for convenience and optimal traffic control. In a home with multiple stairways leading to the same level, they should be located on opposite ends of the structure.
Planning for the Resale
Not everyone plans to grow old in their home and we understand that; that’s why we encourage everyone to design their home for resale potential.
Designing a home for resale can seem intimidating because you want to make sure you’re making the right choices on layout, aesthetics, and everything else in between. In reality, it is not something you should worry about, just think practical.
The most desirable sized home in the United States is 3 Bedroom 2 Bathroom 2-5 thousand square feet. So, don’t spend your time worrying too much about the aesthetic, or the finishes, design for practicality.
When you design a floor plan that is much larger or much smaller than that size, you are venturing into a more unique custom home market. Appreciation on the structure will not be impacted, but the selling cycle once the house hits the market is likely going to be longer than a smaller home.
We want to hear from you!
Now that you’ve read through our design teams Top 10 Tips for Floor Plan Design, we want to hear what you have to say!
Do you have any floor plan design tips or inspiration to share?
Want more information on a specific tip that we touched on?
Leave us a comment, give us a call, or reach out on social media and we will be happy to get in touch!