You've decided you want to build a new home. Where do you start? First, we suggest you purchase your land, as this will surely impact the design of your home. Second, start putting your ideas together before visiting your architect.
Start with a vision of your new home. Is there a certain architectural style you prefer? Colonial? Cape? Saltbox? Farmhouse? From there, start with the basics in home design. How many bedrooms will you need? Do you want a Master Bedroom with or without a Master Bathroom suite? Will it be located on the first or second floor? If this is a vacation home which will become your retirement home, you may prefer to have the main rooms located on the first floor for easy access in later years. Do you want a large, eat-in kitchen or a separate dining room?
Are you planning to entertain small or large groups of people in your home? Is a cathedral Great Room on your list of priorities? Will you need a living room or media room separate from your Great Room? Do you have a specific hobby or interest that requires a separate room or area?
Compare all of these areas with your current home. Does the space you have now fit your needs? Write down the measurements of your space and then mark whether or not the space is adequate. Wherever possible, look for areas to reduce the living space. For instance, if you have a large laundry room now and you only really use half of the space, mark it as a potential space saver. Anytime you reduce the square footage of your new home you will save money in initial material costs, but in energy costs over the life of the home as well.
A home fulfills many purposes, but it can also satisfy numerous personal, aesthetic, and emotional requirements that can be difficult to describe in words. In starting to imagine your home design, it will help your architect if you identify and communicate how you want each space to feel. How?
You may find it a challenge to explain how you want a room to feel. Start by doing some simple exercises. Pick up a home magazine or imagine a home you are familiar with. Find a room you like. What do you like about it? The way the afternoon sunlight casts shadows within the room? The room's intimacy or its abundant space?
Think about other spaces you enjoy – the park, the library, your friend's home. How does the space make you feel? What creates that feeling? Be specific, and write down what you like about it. For instance, you might write, “I like how the room's color tones change as the sun sets” or “I love how the outdoors is brought inside”. These small realizations will help the home design to evolve from a floor plan to a custom home that is an extension of your life philosophy.
Do this for each room in your home design. It is also helpful to describe what you don't like about certain floor plans, rooms, or space. For instance, if you are not fond of having to walk through your closet to enter your Master Bedroom, document this. Perhaps you like the great room in a magazine photo but you don't like the television being the center of attention. Or, you may like the space but find it lacks the intimacy you're looking for in your home – a cozy corner where you can chat with another couple, a well-lit reading area, or a secluded spot for your cell phone chargers, mail and telephone. Keep all of your notes together. Cut out full pages or small photos that describe your likes and dislikes. As you go through this process, you can update your thoughts with text and photos. Eventually, you will come to a good understanding of what you want your custom home to look and feel like. Bring your notebook to your first meeting with your architect. Starting with your vision in hand will expedite the design process while guaranteeing success.
Your custom home architect will spend time with you to guide you through this process and will translate your ideas into a preliminary design for your consideration and review. The result will be much more than a home with a standard floor plan – you will have a custom home design that matches your philosophy and lifestyle, a reflection of who you are, your dreams and aspirations.