How to: Avoid common floor-plan mistakes

You’ve worked hard and sacrificed many a smashed avocado in order to put away enough of a deposit to buy a home. But you don’t want this to be just any home, you want this to be entirely yours, so you’ve decided to create your own floor plan. However, looking at those little black lines can, at times, be confusing and overwhelming. Don’t worry, we at Reform Space have some simple ideas to keep in the back of your mind when you’re constructing a floor-plan so you don’t fall victim to some very common mistakes.

First things first, you need to consider your lifestyle. There is no point constructing a lofty studio apartment when you want to be the leading parent to a soccer team of children. A lot of people quickly fall victim to their constructed ideals, rather than factoring in their lifestyle realities, and get left with a home that doesn’t actually suit their needs. When you work late nights bedrooms that are situated away from the centre of the home are going to be the perfect restful havens. If you do have a lot of children, or, in particular, older ‘children’, maybe consider a ‘retreat’ for them (or for you) to hide that sneaky extra bottle of wine. Make sure you think about how much kitchen space you need, are you someone who makes the kitchen the hub of your home, or do you, like the infamous Carrie Bradshaw, use your oven as an extra clothes storage space? Should you have a window close to said stove for those days where smoke clouds may need to be fanned away? Are you the kind of person who loves to entertain outside, or do you want a designated craft corner or cosy indoor nooks? All of these ideas will impact the way you design the flow of your home.

Within these considerations there is also the offshoot of considering safety concerns and budgeting constraints that may arise from your lifestyle. Remember, those beautiful two-storey architectural features may look divine, but consider the ongoing cost of heating and cooling such a cavernous space. Many people merely think about how much construction of the actual house will cost without considering the ongoing implications. Also, if you have small children are those banisters, or exposed areas going to provide an unnecessary fall risk? This is the one time being an overthinking list maker will definitely be a sure-fire design asset.

Speaking of risky architectural designs, make sure you don’t fall victim to over-complicated room layouts. While a room may look amazing on the plan, it needs to be able to translate into a practical, use-able space. If you aren’t really going to use a formal dining room, maybe use that space for something more practical, if you find you’re really cramming a walk in robe into a bedroom, maybe think if it is really a must have, or just a want. Try to avoid angular walls and cabinetry, it looks pretty but makes furniture placement just that little bit more stressful.

Once you have the basic map drawn up in your mind it is important to start thinking about the smaller details that really come together to make or break the bigger picture. We at Reform Space have broken this down into five easy concepts.

1) Lighting:

The location of light switches is so important. Have you ever gone into your en-suite in the middle of the night and fumbled for a light switch that is actually inconveniently located on the opposite wall? This is also a good time to think about window placements, or even the overall positioning of a home. Will your house be oriented on the block in a way that it can most effectively take advantage of natural light? Are there adequate windows to ensure reliance on manufactured lighting can be minimised?

2) Storage:

Remember what I said about Carrie Bradshaw’s Oven-closet? Well now is the time to rethink your need for storage around the home, and in particular in the kitchen. Think about all your current knick-knacks and mentally log where in your home you will put them. Have a chat with your builder about where you could add an extra cupboard or two to avoid a cluttered home. As for the kitchen, this is probably the most important room in the house for storage requirements. Not only do you need to work out positioning for all your appliances but it needs to be mapped out in a convenient manner. Have a think of how you would cook your favourite meal and what kitchen set up would make this the most economical. Should the microwave be right next to the freezer for those T.V Dinners, or do you need more bench space for that home made pasta? Oh, and don’t forget space for that all important dishwasher.

3) Power outlets:

Power outlets are an often overlooked issue that are actually really important and need to be made readily available. Make sure you consider where all your major appliances are and where you want to charge your all important mobile phone overnight.

4) Bathrooms:

Think about how discrete you want your bathroom to be. Some houses place bathrooms near entertaining spaces for ease of use, but do you and your guests really want to be subjected to bathroom smells and sounds while enjoying a lovely cheese platter? I think not. Spare a thought for your neighbour when installing bathroom windows. Is their entertaining space looking straight into a full length feature window that displays you in all you glory every evening?

5) Garage placement:

I know in Australia we all love our cars, but remember to think about who inhabits a home, people or machines? The front door should be the critical element for the entry space of a home, not a forward facing garage that takes away from the personable welcome that you want to be giving your guests.

At the end of the day your floor plan needs to be designed to suit you and your lifestyle in the most convenient manner possible. Get some creative inspiration, hoard as much advice as you can, and just go into this open minded. You are the person who will know what you need best, you just need to trust yourself. As long as you keep these points in mind, it will be okay in the end.


Image Source – Ian Muir – Flickr Creative Commons

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