When you choose to build a custom home, it’s up to you to decide on a floor plan and design that best fits your family and lifestyle. And while that might be a welcome freedom after living in homes with floor plans you don’t love, choosing the perfect floor plan is easier said than done. With so many options out there and a wealth of new design ideas popping up every day, it can be hard to settle and commit to one final design that you know you’ll love. We see many homeowners who are afraid of choosing a floor plan they won’t like a few years down the road, so we thought we’d offer a few tips to help you figure out a floor plan you can be satisfied with for years to come.

The simplest way to decide on a floor plan that will work for you is to decide first on what qualities your home absolutely needs, and then what qualities would make it feel like a true home. Here are a few tricks to help you narrow those needs and wants down:

What qualities of your current home do you like the most, and where do you currently spend the most time?

We’ve always found that it’s best to start positive. While most homeowners can talk for hours about the things they really don’t like about their current home, there probably are a couple of things about that house that you’ve gotten used to and find convenient. So, what about your current home do you like? Is it the amount of storage you have? The way you’re able to watch the kids playing in the living room from the kitchen? Or maybe you just have an amazing master suite that you’d like to keep in your new build. Keep those good qualities in mind, so you can apply them to the floor plan for your new home.

It’s also good to think about where you spend the most time in your current home, and then identify what aspects of your current floor plan, good or bad, drive that spot as your go-to hangout. For example, maybe your family spends most of their “together time” in the kitchen because there’s enough table space for the kids to do their homework and talk to you while you’re making dinner. Because your family naturally spends the most time there, you’ll want to put extra thought into the kitchen in your new, custom home.

On the other hand, maybe your family spends the most time in the kitchen because there just isn’t enough space in your current living room. If that’s the case, you’ll want to think about how you can either make your new living room more accommodating—by adding extra space for furniture, or even placing a desk for kids to do homework in a nearby nook—or connecting it to the kitchen openly, so that everyone can be comfortable, without feeling like they’re separated from the rest of the family.

Decide on concepts – what qualities are most important to you?

When it comes to deciding on a floor plan for your new custom home, you’ll hear homebuilders talk a lot about “concept.” In today’s world, that usually means either an open or closed concept floor plan. Open floor plans knock out as many doors and walls as possible on the first floor, in order to let in more light, and create a bit more flow within the home, so families can feel together even when they’re in adjacent rooms. They’re great if you have kids, and if you’re looking to entertain. Oppositely, closed concepts allow for a lot more privacy within the home, and give you dedicated spaces for different rooms. For example, if you work from home and need an office, a closed concept floor plan would offer you a completely separate room, with a door, to house your office space, where you can get your work done in peace.

So, you need to identify which qualities are the most important to you in your new custom home build. Do you prefer a more private first floor, where the kids can have a separate play room and you can have a quiet office space, or are you looking for a brighter, open space where you can see each room flow into the next? This choice is 100% based on which qualities are most important to you, from both a design and a functionality standpoint.

Consider light

Any quality home builder will help orient your home so that you don’t get too much of a greenhouse effect from your new home (hot afternoon sun streaming in too many windows and raising your interior temperature), but regardless of how your home is situated, you’ll still have to decide where to put what within the frame of the house. So, where do you like to have a lot of natural light, and where is it less welcome?

If you’re an early riser, you might love to have sun streaming in your bedroom in the morning, but if you sleep late, that could become a major issue. Most people love to have a lot of light in the kitchen, but if you have a living room or den, you might want to try and limit glare on your electronics, like your office computer or your television. Be sure to talk to your builder about which areas of your home are going to get the most light, and which might be a bit darker, so you can plan your interior layout accordingly.

What do you need?

Once you’ve figured out the major design elements, like whether you’re going to have an open or closed floor plan, and approximately where you want to put each room, it’s time to get down to specifics. That means deciding what your home absolutely needs, and what you can afford with the budget you’ve got.

Most builders ask that homeowners give them a firm budget before they start on any project, and your builder will be able to help walk you through what you can afford, and which might be a bit too much for the budget you have.

For example, you might be able to get those granite countertops you want, but only if you give up the second sink in the master bath. You will have to prioritize certain elements over others because unfortunately, everyone has some sort of budget to stick to, but your custom builder should be able to help you figure out a way to get in all of the things you can’t live without, like ample storage space and a fully upgraded kitchen. Once you know you’ve got all of your needs covered in that budget, you can figure out what additional wants you can afford.

Talk to family members

When you know how much room you’ve got left in the budget after all of your major rooms are taken care of, it’s a good idea to talk to the family living in your house—your kids and your spouse—about what they want from this new custom home. If you’ve got teenagers, they might want extra space in their room to put desks to do homework. Your younger kids might want a space connecting their rooms so they can share toys, books, and have playtime, but be able to be separated when it’s bed time. Your spouse might have their heart set on a walk-in closet or a double-sink vanity in the master bath. By talking to the family, you can get a better idea of how much space you’ll need for each different room in the house, and what add-ons everyone is looking for. Though it’s probably not possible to get everything all of you want, you should be able to figure out a way to make sure your new floor plan fits everyone’s day-to-day life as best as possible.

In the end, creating a design for your new custom home comes down to creating a list of the floor plan aspects you need and want, and working with your builder to make that list a reality that fits your budget. If you get stuck, try checking out some homes online at Houzz and some of the other resources out there for homeowners looking to build new. Another great idea is to do walkthroughs of some of your builder’s previous projects, as they’ll give you a more concrete look at what your home could look like when it’s done.

If you’re stuck deciding on the floor plan that will best fit your future custom home, be sure to get in touch with the experts at Whitmore Homes. We’re a custom home builder dedicated to ensuring our clients get exactly the floor plan that fits their taste and lifestyle. Check out our website for a gallery of our previous projects, and get in touch to talk about how we can make your dream home a reality.