Custom Home Design Tips: A Guide for Home Owners

The planning stage of home design often determines whether or not your custom home design will fulfill the dream you had envisioned. Victor Hugo wrote, “Where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.” Hugo was certainly right as far as custom home design is concerned. To avoid wasted time or chaos follow these six tips to help your designer create the perfect custom house plan for your family.

1. Start simple.

It isn’t necessary to invest in fancy software to begin making decisions about your custom home plan. All you really need is a pencil and a piece of paper. Brainstorm and sketch your ideas. Making lists of features you want each room to have will help you get your idea onto paper and into your custom home design.

2. Think about the future.

Consider the future of your family and how you will accommodate for different scenarios, such as having children, accommodating grandchildren and grandparents, taking care of elderly parents. Even accommodating extended family for holiday occasions should be considered in your house plans. Similarly, if you hope to transition from an office job to operating your own business out of your home, your custom home design should include an office or flexible space. When you think about the amenities in your custom home plan, be sure to not limit yourself or the growth of your family.

3. Prioritize features.

Once your ideas are recorded in rough form, begin prioritizing features for your new house. Custom home design can easily exceed a budget if you let your fancies run amok. With so many luxuries to choose from, it’s important to prioritize the most important aspects of your design. For instance, if you’ve always dreamed about a box window in the kitchen where you can grow herbs, you may want to prioritize that over installing a line to facilitate a gas stove.

4. Consider function and flow.

As you and your designer begin playing around with where various rooms should be located, consider how your final design will flow and how your family might function in each space. For instance, to reduce noise in sleeping areas, it’s wise to place bedrooms away from the communal areas of the house. Likewise, if you’re the kind of family that tends to gather around the kitchen, an open floor plan with easy flow between the living room, kitchen and dining area will suit you well. This kind of design also allows for excellent flow between rooms.

5. Reflect on light.

Light has a powerful influence on humans. Indeed, in areas that see little natural light during the winter months, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not unusual. This disorder brings feelings of depression, along with weight gain, daytime sleepiness, social withdrawal and lethargy. If you have suffered from SAD in the past, or if you’re moving to a place with long, cloudy winters (such as the Pacific Northwest), it is smart to add skylights to your custom house plan in order to maximize the natural light in your home. Heck, even if you’ve never felt sad on a cloudy day, skylights are smart because they reduce the need for artificial light and provide as much as 30 percent more light than vertical windows.

Natural lighting should also be figured in the floor plan design in a custom home plan. As an example, if you want to enjoy natural morning light in your dining nook, it would be wise to face the nook east, where it will catch the morning sun.

It’s also wise to think carefully about how electrical lights in your home will facilitate comfort. For instance, a custom home designer would suggest installing bright task lighting for kitchen countertops to facilitate food preparation. Lighting can also create a mood – for example, dimming sconces in the bedroom can create a sense of romance or peace.

6. Showcase and maximize the lot.

Usually, those in the market for custom house plans already own the property where the home will be built. If you already know where your custom home will be situated, be sure to consider the topography, size and best features of the lot. For instance, if your lot overlooks a beautiful natural setting, you might choose to face the living room toward the feature so you can showcase the wonderful view. Alternatively, if you have a brook or stream running though your property, you might choose to place bedrooms nearest the stream so you can enjoy the beautiful sound of running water while you sleep.

In addition to thinking about which windows should face the home’s best views, you’ll want to consider whether the land is sloped. A custom home design for a steep slope will look very different than a design for a flat lot.