Although custom designs are one of a kind, they do deal with certain recurring conventions: open flow, windows with a view, tall ceilings, few hallways, great rooms and more. By familiarizing yourself with these standard features, you’ll gain confidence about arranging them to suit you. This section will lay the groundwork for your design and offer insight into dealing with design professionals.
1. Visualize your home.Imagine yourself living in each room of your home. How will it look and feel? What will you see in front, behind, above and below? What sounds will you hear?
2. Show, don’t tell.Give your designer a notebook of clippings (or images saved to your computer or tablet) of homes and features that speak to you so he’ll have an idea of what you want your home to look like and an indication of the quality you expect.
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3. Chart your lifestyle.Consider your family makeup (adults only, adults and kids, aging parents), how you live (formal or casual, hectic or relaxed) and whether you like to entertain or have special hobbies. For example, a casual couple won’t need a formal entryway or dining room, whereas high-octane families should consider cozy, peaceful spaces to regroup.
4. Size things up.Bigger isn’t always better. It does cost more, though. Before you waste space, make sure the number, type and size of rooms reflect what will take place in them. Think of your rooms in terms of activities: Instead of “kitchen” and “living room,” think “cooking” and “family time.” Some experts recommend downsizing square footage by as much as 30 percent and putting the money saved into higher quality materials.
5. Map out a plan.Identify access points for vehicles and pedestrians, then within those boundaries, determine the shape of the house and direction it will face. Use your list of activities to position rooms. Start by breaking down your list into private and communal activities and identifying where each one should take place. Then use bubbles to represent rooms and group them according to where you prefer they be positioned. Finally, square off the bubbles to create a rough floor plan, adding enough space for walls.
6. Account for extras.Architectural components are integral to your home, but they can hog space and cost money, so don’t forget to figure them into your budget. Some popular elements: window seats, large windows, massive trusses, dormers and hipped or gabled roofs.
7. Compromise.If you can’t afford everything you want, make cuts that work for your lifestyle, whether it’s shaving off square footage, minimizing special features or reducing quality. (Be careful with lower-quality items; some things you shouldn’t skimp on, like windows and doors.)
8. Customize a stock plan.Instead of starting from scratch, look at your timber company’s standard plans for ones you can tweak to fit your lifestyle and home site.
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