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Are you building your own home or renovating your house, and wondering what are the key areas to focus on for both style and investment to make it your dream home?
The other day my brother asked me to review his house floor plans to answer these very questions and give him my expert interior design advice.
He is doing a BIG renovation to update his small cottage style home to make room for his family of 6 (plus two pets) and make it a fresh Farmhouse meets Cottage Style home.
He wanted me to review his cottage style floor plans to:
You may be wondering when is the best time to ask these questions. When you are designing your house floor plans!
Today, I wanted to share the best design tips I shared with my dear little brother to achieve these goals.
Whether you are renovating your home or building a new home, a mansion, a small cottage, a farmhouse, or any type of home, today I’m sharing the top five principles and guidelines on where I start to create the perfect house floor plans and charming cozy cottage vibes in your own home.
It all starts with the house floor plans, and these five key areas. Once you’ve worked out these areas, the rest is a breeze.
The first, and probably most important areas that I spend a lot of time and energy on are the kitchen and the living room layout. No matter how big or small your house is, this is the hub of the home.
This is where most families spend their time and where guests love to hang out. So I want to be sure we really think about the connectedness, the kitchen layout, and the plan design for this main living space.
Their current floor plan is very closed off, and in order to make the house floor plan work for their family, we had to decide if we want to consider an open floor plan.
A huge question that people ask me as an interior designer is “should I take down all the walls, none of the walls, or some of the walls” or in other words, how much of an open floor plan should I have in my house?
Similarly, I get asked, should I even have an open floor plan house?
Truly, there’s no right or wrong answer on whether you should or should not have an open concept home. I often walk through old homes, where the earlier house floor plans had a lot of separate individual rooms. They still feel welcoming, connected, comfortable, and planned well for a family home.
It really depends on the homeowner and how your family uses the space.
To answer that question, I ask myself, “which spaces do I want to keep connected?”
For my brother’s house, we are working with a very small cottage style house. There is not a lot of square footage, and he’s got a big family. His kids are very young, with three of their kids under the age of 5. For his wife Jamie and him to be able to keep an eye out in the kids, I recommended they remove the wall between their kitchen and open it up to the living room.
My brother actually wanted to remove more walls, to which I said no. Why? As an interior designer, here are some of my expert design tips when creating your home design floor plan:
There are certainly a lot of great and not so great kitchen design trends out there. To keep it timeless, and consider the cottage style layout of his home here was my expert advice to him:
This is actually a big question that clients wanted to know, “Isn’t three feet enough?” I actually recommend a minimum of four feet, so at least two people can do a cooking project together. As well, you can take a very small house and instantly make it feel spacious and airy with just a little extra room around your kitchen island.
This is also a great place to add that cozy cottage style he wants. Right above we can go back and add pendant lights, a pot rack, a large or small light fixture, or some other design feature that’s them.
Another important quality I recommended to my brother was to let lots of light into the home. It is an older home, so we want to really energize and inspire it. One of my suggestions was to remove some of the cabinets that they had initially wanted in their cottage house plans to allow for more windows to flood through the kitchen and family room.
Suggestion: remove the upper cabinets
Suggestion: Add windows in the kitchen
Here were some of the other things I looked at when designing or giving him my interior design expertise to optimize their kitchen design:
Once we opened and connected the family room or living area with the kitchen, we wanted to be sure we looked at family room design next.
One of my brother's questions was, “How big should the room be?” It was important to make sure there was a comfortable, cozy sitting room for him, his wife, their four kids, their pet Labrador, and even for some of our family when we come over and visit.
My best tip if you aren’t sure how big your living area should be? Add in a furniture plan based on how you plan to use the room, and make sure there is at least 3’ of circulation around the furniture like sofas, consoles and coffee tables, in front of tv cabinets and more.
A very popular question we get asked is: “Should we just get rid of the dining room?”
This is a room that I actually keep in all of my design projects, and very critical in floor plan reviews.
Everything we design, create, and manufacture is built around our company values.
And dining rooms tie into one of our deepest values → connection.
Just like in a living room furniture arrangement, this is a room where people can be connected and feel connected.
The dining room is the perfect backdrop for that.
I have some of my fondest memories in my parents’ house in the dining room and in my own home right here at our dining table.
When I think of designing a dining room, the type of dining room furniture, such as the dining table to use, the type of dining chairs, the wall treatment, the ceiling treatments, the chandeliers, the scones, and so forth I think of the style my client is looking for to address the element of authenticity as well as creating a warm, inviting, cozy, beautiful space where friends and family want to linger for hours and feel connected.
When my brother initially showed me his house floor plan, I noticed that he has a great glass wall that, when he or anyone else opens it up, they end up right into the kitchen about three feet away from the island. There’s no transition area; it goes from backdoor to kitchen island.
I immediately knew this would be one of their biggest regrets after building. That's because as soon as you come in, all the backpacks, purses, and shopping bags would be dropped into the middle of the kitchen.
You have to think of the back of the house, as the most important hub of the house. Your mudroom design should be a top priority on your home renovation or new build, sometimes even more important than your foyer design!
This is where I recommended a place like a “drop zone,” or a backpack zone, a place to put shoes away, or to hang up coats; all of the sorts of things that can be dropped in a certain area before you transition into the main part of the home. With a little mudroom organization, you can create the perfect transition area from outside in to inside out.
You can dream up all sorts of mudroom design ideas; mudroom ideas are endless. The way to narrow down the options into something you can live with forever is to imagine your habits as soon you enter your house and what would help you transition from the outside world into your home:
In my home renovation, we were constrained on space, so I could not have a super deep coat closet or a sink - this process of elimination will also help you land on a final layout. You may even be able to create a laundry room mudroom mix to save space.
Are you starting to get the idea?
When designing a home floor plan, always be sure to create a space for a gorgeous walk-in pantry.
This is one of the first things we look at when renovating or designing a new home project.
If you can, this is an excellent addition to any home. I created a walk-in pantry in my home by taking over the space that was formerly our garage, and I absolutely love it and recommend it to anyone.
Last but not least, if you can, one of my favorite things to include in a home renovation or new home construction is a passion room.
I know that sounds kind of crazy, but we all have a passion. That was actually what my entire company was founded on; following my passion for French Country style home decor, chalk painting furniture, antique furniture, art, and so much more.
So, I recommend dedicating a room for this in your own home. In my particular home, we converted a room that was barely being used to our passion room for crafting, photography, and creating.
In my brother's home, we carved out a room where they can create something around their passions. You don't have to necessarily create a whole new room. This could be a repurposed bedroom that you're no longer using. In our homes, we want to be ourselves and have it be an authentic representation of us.
There you have it! Those are the five areas that I look into first on any renovation project that I'm working on.
To recap, before you jump into any other part of the home, obsess on these areas:
Which of these rooms do you wish you had done differently? Leave a comment and let me know!
Until the next time we meet, keep making your home amazing with your design gifts!
To shop many of the furniture and decor pieces you may have seen in this video, please stop by our retail store in Houston, Village Antiques.
We are open, Tuesday - Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
As always, I pray this message finds you and your family in good health and spirits.
With my deepest gratitude,
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