Pro tips: How to study floor plans
You’ve made the decision you want to take on a construction project. Whether or not that is your next home or a detached garage addition to your existing property, knowing how to study floor plans to determine if the design is right for you is an important tool to have.
“Whether you are looking to work with a professional designer to create a custom design or are walking through open houses, you need to evaluate each room and how the layout of the home comes together. What you are seeing may not be the ideal way the floor plan should be laid out. The key is bringing in your lifestyle and how you and your family use a space to make sure it is right for you," says Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs.
While this may seem daunting, Associated Designs has put together four tips and tricks that will have you reviewing floor plans like a professional designer.
A home design needs to allow for easy flow. What does that mean? The flow of a floor plan is all about movement. Is there a reason for a wall to be where it is? Are there dead ends? How rooms transition and are connected is key to a good fit.
“Measuring the natural flow of a design can be as simple as counting how many steps between the kitchen and dining room,” says McAlexander. “For instance if the dining room is a fair distance away from the kitchen, there is something wrong with the floor plan. How you move from room to room and how you move within a room matters."
As your study floor plans, try to envision moving through the different rooms. Also give consideration to how you live in your current home. What elements do you like? If you like having your bedroom removed from the hustle and bustle of the living area, then make sure the design you are looking at has a similar layout. Just as important as what you like about your current home are what elements would you change? If you dislike having your laundry room between the kitchen and garage, make sure that the floor plan you are considering has it located near the bedrooms.
A frequently overlooked design feature is the outdoor space. We’ve seen over the last year a spike in the desire for outdoor living, proving that living space isn’t just limited to the living room. Consider how you entertain. Do you spread out and allow guests to mingle in the living room, dining room, kitchen or backyard? If outdoor entertaining is in the mix, then make sure your patio or porch is built with that functionality in mind.
“Make sure to consider how much outdoor living or entertaining space you will need,” said McAlexander. “A reoccurring piece of advice to keep in mind regardless of the space being considered is — if there is something about your current home’s outdoor space that you like, be sure your new home has the same qualities. You want to have an equally comfortable exterior when compared to the interior.”
For example, if the beautiful farmhouse you are looking at offers a thin front covered porch and expansive back covered porch with outdoor kitchen. If you love grilling and preparing meals while enjoying the outdoors and can picture sunny, summer dinners with friends and family here, then this feature is a good fit. If you enjoy a warm beverage on the front porch enjoying the sunrise or greeting neighbors out on a stroll, you may find that thin covered space isn’t big enough for your favorite chair or porch swing. A simple modification to the floor plan may be required to make the front covered porch a more usable space.
Just as important as the size of the kitchen is how much natural light will shine in. A home design that does not offer ample light can feel dark and dreary. Each room should have a window, as natural light has a large impact on the feel of your home.
“As you consider floor plans, you want to make sure that you consider where the sun will be. A design may appear to be filled with windows, but if the direction of your home or lot is not considered you may not get the full effect of those windows,” says McAlexander.
Natural light is a simple but powerful influence when it comes to long-term happiness in your home. Too little light, and your modern prairie home will feel like a cave, so don’t forget to give special attention to windows.
The final tip for studying floor plans is about flexibility. Many of the pre-designed floor plans you’ll find online offer a labeled floor plan telling you what each room is intended to be. Keep in mind these labels are insight from the designer about how they saw the space being used, but that shouldn’t limit the potential of the room.
If you need a home office or exercise studio and the floor plan you are considering has a formal dining room you don’t see using, then that space can be turned into what you need. Similarly, four-bedroom house plans are not just for large families. If you desire a guest room and two home offices, then a four bedroom house plan could be your solution.
“Remember as you study different floor plans the design is open to interpretation, specifically your interpretation,” says McAlexander. “You can decide how that extra room should be used regardless of how the space is labeled on the floor plan.”