pencil to paper – designing a floor plan

There are several ways to come up with a floor plan. There are tons of companies online that sell floor plans, some builders have standard plans they use, or you could design it yourself with a builder and/or architect, which is the path that we took.

Before the first meeting with a builder/ architect, we toured a lot of homes and reviewed a lot of floor plans to get a feel for things we liked and didn’t. We searched floor plans online of different builders and looked at websites like, eplans and dream home source. When the first meeting came, we walked in with a list of what we wanted in the house and we definitely aimed high. Here are some things to consider:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Number of stories
  • General elevation style (porches, columns, brick, stone, etc.)
  • Open concept
  • One two-car garage door or two single garage bays
  • Ceiling heights and features (tray ceilings, coffered ceilings, wood beams, etc.)
  • Formal dining room/ formal living room
  • Breakfast nook / eat-in kitchen
  • Kitchen island
  • Walk-in pantry
  • Butler’s pantry/ wet bar
  • Fireplace
  • Laundry room up or downstairs (if two stories)
  • Master suite on main floor or upstairs (if two stories)
  • Soaking tub and shower in master
  • Split master bedroom vanities
  • Split bedrooms (if one story)
  • Planning desk or office
  • Walk in closets
  • Outdoor living space

It is important to think about how you are going to use each space to maximize the area and also the effectiveness. Until this process, I didn’t realize some of the things that were really important to me in a house. We knew we wanted an open concept living area but I didn’t realize how important it was to me to have the working side of the kitchen island facing the TV/ fireplace in the living room. It sounds like a basic concept but it makes a big difference. I also didn’t realize how much I dislike angles other than 90°. Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but right angles are the only way to go in my opinion.

Open concept
Example of the working-side of the island facing the TV/ fireplace in the great room
Another thing I’ve come to realize and appreciate is there isn’t one right floor plan and it’s all a matter of give and take when you have a limited space you are working in. Everything you move in a floor plan affects the way another area is laid out.  Over the past few months, our floor plan it has evolved and barely looks like the same house we started with. In my opinion, that’s a good thing but it isn’t always an easy concept to accept. You learn things as go, not only about flow and room arrangement but also personal preference. Everyone has their past experiences and memories that shape their opinions.  It’s good to listen to other’s ideas and decide what will work best your family. And remember, always keep an open mind and have fun!


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