Photo by Adrienne Dufficy

Moving to a new home, constructing your own house or embarking on an extensive remodel is an amazing opportunity to create the dream home you’ve always wanted. Though there may be a lot to think about in the details of fixtures and fittings, first you need to start with the basics: your home’s floorplan needs to suit your lifestyle and the needs of your family.

The current fashion is for large, bright and airy open-plan spaces on the ground floor of a home. Kitchens are no longer small rooms relegated to the back of the house; they are now the heart of the home, and friends and family are encouraged to come together, eat and socialize in combined cooking/living spaces.

But just how much you want to commit to an open-plan design depends on your specific needs. If you entertain often and regularly welcome large numbers of people into your home, doing away with a foyer and bringing guests right into a spacious living/dining area is ideal. But this setup changes in a family home, especially if you have young children.

Open-plan spaces are great for keeping an eye on the kids without having to hover over them constantly, but this also means that toys, books, arts and crafts materials, sports equipment and games consoles will encroach on the rest of your living space! Consider having a separate playroom or designated area where kids can play and be messy away from the grown-up areas of the home. This can easily be achieved by locating your main living space at the front of the house, with the kitchen in the middle and the family area towards the back, creating a flowing, open environment that also benefits from having clearly defined areas.

Think about noise as well: in open-plan spaces, sounds will travel further, so if your home is single-storey then be sure to locate bedrooms and studies as far away as possible. In multi-storey homes, block off staircases or situate them further away from living spaces.

Also consider how much you use your outdoor space. If you live in a warmer climate you’re more likely to utilize a patio or deck (or even swimming pool!) fairly often, so easy access in and out of the house is essential, and it would be a good idea to locate a bathroom nearby for extra convenience. Even if you live in a cooler climate, consider how much access you’ll want to your outdoor spaces and try to design accordingly.

If you’re remodeling an existing home, then be sure to consult your architect before knocking down any walls; older homes tend to have more hallways and separate rooms and it’s not always easy to know which walls are load-bearing. If you need to accommodate anybody with mobility issues then widening doorways, removing steps or adding ramps will also be a concern.

If you’re in doubt about any design features then your architect will set you right; and whatever type of floorplan you choose, you can work together to create your dream home!