Choosing the right floorplan for your dream home is based on two things:
1. Your basic “wants” and “needs”; and
2. How your family will ultimately utilize the spaces within your home.
Now is the time to explore floor plans and begin to scrutinize the layouts and the little things within each of them.
You’re not looking for the “perfect” floorplan at this point.
You’re just trying to find as many floorplans as you can that are “close” to what you might actually want. (Those that have the most things positioned roughly in the places you’d be comfortable with.)
How To Evaluate Floor Plans Quickly & Easily
In our case, the goal was to try & rule out as many plans as possible… and as quickly as possible. (The fewer the number of plans that actually meet your needs in the end, the better — especially when it comes time to ultimately choose one to go with!)
So, to help me rule out plans faster, I asked these questions as I looked at each one:
Is the kitchen in a good place, in relation to the rest of the house? This will likely be the hub of all activity in our home, so it needs to be accessible from many angles.
Is the kitchen large enough and shaped openly enough to accommodate our needs? The last thing we want is to be bumping elbows or hugging the countertop whenever someone else walks by.
Are there lots of windows in the kitchen? I’m not crazy about a closed-in kitchen — especially since we spend so much time in there. I didn’t want it to feel like a “box”, but rather an open & welcome space that leads into other key areas of the home.
Is the master bathroom large enough to permit two people to get ready at the same time? We currently don’t have that luxury, so it quickly became a priority in our new log home. Plus, we wanted a huge tiled shower room this time — with built-in seating, shampoo shelves, and multiple showerheads. By cutting out the bathtub altogether, we were able to give a bit more attention to the shower area.
Are the closets big enough? I like an uncluttered house, and that means everything needs to have a place behind a closed door. Particularly for the master bedroom, we looked at plans that had large walk-in closets. Bonus points if you don’t have to walk through the master bathroom to get to the closet! Triple bonus if there is enough space to get dressed in privacy near the closet area.
Is the kitchen pantry bigger than the norm? I’m tired of the wire shelving units placed inside a coat closet being called a pantry. This go around, we’re looking for enough space to accommodate permanent cabinets and shelves with lots of space and lots of doors (ie. cabinets) to organize (and hide) the contents of our pantry.
Is the laundry room actually a room, and not just a washer & dryer placed behind a couple of bi-fold doors? Better yet… is it on the same level as the master bathroom? Best of all… is it situated in such a way that we could place a hamper in an easily accessible area (or create a “laundry chute” from the master bed, bath, or closet area) to deposit our dirty clothes directly into the laundry room itself? For me, mudrooms for laundry rooms are out! Who wants the laundry room to become the “catch-all” room in the house? Not to mention the fact that it’s such a chore to lug all your clothes to (and from) a faraway room that is so disconnected from the rest of the house and its actual living spaces.
Is there a wide covered porch at least the full length of the back of the house (where the view will be the best)? Bonus points for a wraparound porch or an additional porch in the front of the house as well. Decks just aren’t as appealing to us… there’s something about being protected from the elements while being in the great outdoors. That, and being able to utilize railing on the porch to let our dogs run free, without being able to escape.
Are there separate spaces that could be used as offices for the two of us? We’ve tried the whole “work in the same room thing”… and it didn’t go over well. I like to have the TV on in the background while I’m working. Jim prefers music. Not to mention the fact that we just naturally interrupt each other a lot, which means we only get a fraction of our work done, before we become sidetracked over and over again.
Is this floorplan open and logical for our lifestyle, or does it have a lot of hallways and space that completely separated from the rest of the house? Our “dream home” has a lot of dual-purpose rooms, and multiple ways that you can access different rooms. In our soon-to-be-built 2,500 SF log home home, there’s hardly a spot I could stand, where Jim wouldn’t be able to hear and/or see me without obstruction.
Are there enough windows in this home? What about the placement of the doors? The challenge for me was this: I wanted LOTS of windows and NO curtains. I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that, but we’re close. The types of windows & doors you choose will also play a role in the amount of privacy you ultimately have without having to “close” off your home to the rest of the world.
Are there any rooms that would get very little use? If so, eliminate them now… while you can. You don’t need to settle for (or pay for) wasted space inside your dream home! Instead, do whatever you can to maximize your usable space. This might mean making certain rooms larger and others smaller, or eliminating some spaces (like a formal dining room) altogether.
Are the stairs in the right location? The surprise challenge for us turned out to be the placement of the stairs which lead from the garage to the basement & the first floor of the home; and the first floor of the home to the second story loft area. While many people place the stairs near the front door/foyer area, I didn’t want that, because that’s the part of the house we’ll utilize least! We’ll be going in & out of the back doors (which lead to the covered porches, yard & garage) much more than the front doors. The same is true when coming in from the car, or down from the loft… typically the kitchen will be the destination. That’s why we decided to modify the stock floorplan and move the stairs to a location that’s better for us — near the back of the house.
Is this home pet-friendly? Our home was definitely designed with our dogs in the back of our mind at all times. From the location and placement of the windows …to the types of doors we choose (that they’ll ultimately be nudging open with their noses) …to the access to the backyard …to the ability to keep them restrained (on the porches & in the backyard) without having to use leashes all the time …and we even considered the placement of their dog crates in relation to our furniture … and ways that their feeding stations and water bowls could be placed “out of the way”, unlike in our current home.
These were the most important to me… you may have different questions.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).