Exterior design considerations

  • Which direction do we want our home to face? (Factors include the view, winter and summer sun patterns, wind, storm directions, shade, and landscaping.)
  • Will there be good views from as many rooms as possible?
  • Where do we want decks, porches, or balconies, and how will they be positioned?
  • Do we have wide roof overhangs to minimize rain and snow on walls?
  • How can we incorporate trees, shrubs, flowers, rocks, a lawn, or other natural elements into our landscaping?
  • Do we have a foundation that rises 18 inches above ground to minimize rain splash on the lowest logs?
  • Is it designed for low maintenance — sufficient eaves, overhangs, gutters, and porches on sunny sides, and are the lowest logs raised sufficiently off the ground?
  • Do we have a stain color that accentuates the logs and blends with the surrounding landscape?
  • Should this home have dormers? Shed dormers or gable dormers?
  • Do we need a security system?
  • Do we want an attached garage? How about a breezeway?
  • Should the entry have an overhang to protect guests from the rain?
  • If our home will eventually be used for retirement, are entryways handicapped accessible?
  • What type of driveway material should we budget for (asphalt, concrete, gravel)?
  • Is there sufficient outdoor lighting around the house and driveway area?
  • Should we plan for a turnaround area and sufficient parking area for guests and family?
  • If we need a septic tank, where will it be located? Will it be above or below ground? How can we “disguise” it?
  • Will we have stairs in the front and/or back? Concrete, stone or wood?
  • If our lot slopes, can we incorporate a walk-out basement?

  • What other outbuildings would we like, such as a shed, bunkhouse, greenhouse, or boathouse?
  • Have we planned enough storage space for snowmobiles, motorcycles, golf carts, a lawnmower, snowblower, or other large items?
  • What about amenities should we consider, such as a private balcony for the master bedroom, a sauna, an outdoor fireplace, a hot tub, a patio, or a screened porch area?
  • Is there an access area for a satellite signal?

Kitchen design considerations

  • Would I like beams overhead or a flat ceiling? What sort of lighting do I want, for both day and night (track, accent, or a mix)?
  • What sort of view do I want, and from what area of the kitchen do I want it?
  • Does my “work triangle” have sufficient space for traffic flow while cooking? Do I have easy access to cookware, food, and ingredients? Is there room for another person to help cook?
  • Do I have sufficient counter space?
  • Will the island be used as cooking/counter space or as a breakfast bar?
  • Do I have enough storage and pantry space?
  • What type of woodwork and trim do I want? Should cabinets complement other wood in the house or contrast it?
  • How many people are going to be cooking at one time?
  • Do I want to look out over the great room when I cook so I can talk with people there?
  • Should a breakfast bar separate the kitchen from the great room?
  • Is there easy access to the dining room?
  • Do I have room for all the appliances I want?
  • Is the floor designed for easy cleanup?
  • Does the bar/island have sufficient leg space for seated guests? Is there enough space to fit the maximum number of guests?
  • Minimum recommendations for space allotments: Counter space 8-10 feet, 18-inch area for latch on one side of the refrigerator, 24 inches on one side of the sink (26 inches on the other side), 18 inches on each side of the range, and 18 to 20 square feet for kitchen storage.

Dining design considerations

  • How should I size my table — for my family along or for as many guests as I might have over at one time?
  • How important is a good view from the dining area?
  • What sort of lighting do I need for both day and night? Is there proper support for the chandelier I want?
  • Is there adequate space for movement around the table when guests are seated? Do I have access to hutches and storage?
  • Would I like distinct flooring to separate the area from the great room and kitchen? Can it stand up to sliding chairs and food spills?
  • How often will we use this room and what sort of ambience do we want to create: formal, informal, or somewhere in between?
  • What sort of art do I have or want that might embellish a nearby wall?
  • Is this area going to serve as a place for breakfast, lunch, and snacks as well as dinner?
  • Do we have easy access to the kitchen? Do I want this area to meld into the great room?
  • Would a fireplace be appropriate?
  • Do we want to be able to see a TV or wire the room for a stereo?
  • Is there easy access to a deck, great room, or another area to host additional guests?
  • If this area will also be used as a workspace for spouse or kids, is there proper connections for electrical and internet hookup?

Bedroom design considerations

  • Is it important to have a private balcony or patio off this bedroom?
  • What should the closets be like? Should there be two? Should they be walk-in?
  • What type of view, light, and privacy do we want from the windows? Do we want to enjoy morning or evening sun?
  • Should this bedroom be connected to a dedicated bathroom?
  • What decor is planned for this room? Are the bed, dressers, and the artwork all going to fit?
  • Have we planned for “sound buffers” (such as closets) between bedrooms and the adjoining rooms?
  • Where do we want this bedroom: near or far from family activity?
  • Should there be room for a sitting/reading area? Do we want easy access to an office or hobby room?
  • Should this room be one the ground level, one level up, or one level down?
  • Will we store linens and other closet items in this room, the hall, or bathroom?
  • Is there appropriate ceiling support for a fan?
  • If it’s a children’s bedroom, is there enough space to accommodate collections and clothes as they get older?
  • If it’s a guest room, is there easy access to bathroom? Is there enough privacy?

If it’s a master bedroom, consider …
• His & her closets
• An attached bath
• An area or separate room (and electrical/internet connections) for a hobby or office
• Dimensions for family heirlooms
• Access to a private balcony or porch
• Long-term plans: If this will be a retirement home, is there enough room for wheelchair maneuvering and a way to avoid stairs between the bedroom and major living spaces?

Bathroom design considerations

  • What sort of flooring would be appropriate?
  • Do we want in-floor radiant heat?
  • Do we have enough counter space?
  • Do we want a shower, tub, or both?
  • Do we want a view? What type of windows should we discuss for each bathroom?
  • What is the lighting going to be?
  • How much mirror would be good in here? Do I want art on the walls? Will there be space for it?
  • Are we planning for towel racks?
  • Would there be enough room for the toilet to have its own enclosed space?
  • Where do we want bathrooms situated throughout the home? Should we incorporate an additional one for guests?
  • Is the room going to feel large enough or feel cramped?
  • How quickly is hot water going to reach here from the water heater?
  • Do we have proper venting?
  • Will each bathroom have good lighting day and night at the vanities and in the bath/shower?
  • Will there be ample closet or cabinet areas for bath supplies (towels, soap, shampoo, medicine), either in the bathroom or in a nearby hall closet?
  • Should we plan space for a dressing area?
  • If we have young children, is the room flexible enough to accommodate them as teens?

If it’s a Master Bathroom, consider …
• A small seat in the bath/shower
• Two vanities
• If the home will be used in retirement, make sure it has enough room and amenities to meet your needs
• Stacking bathrooms (one floor on top of the other) or planning them side-by-side to save space and money
• Minimum recommended sizes: 5 by 7 feet for a full bath, 4 by 5 for a half-bath, and 3 by 3 for a shower
• Large bathrooms improve resale value
• Expanding with hampers or chutes, whirlpools, hot tubs, or saunas

Great room design considerations

  • Which direction will the windows be positioned? Will the wall across from the main windows be too dark? How will lighting be during the day? During the night? Do we want to incorporate skylights?
  • Do we the ceiling to be high or low? What about exposed beams or trusses, and in which direction? Do we want lighting from the beams?
  • Will we have access to a deck, patio, or porch from the great room?
  • What sort of seating arrangement do I want? Will the focal point of the room be the fireplace or the entertainment center?
  • Do we have room for all the furniture we want?
  • How close do we want the kitchen and dining areas?
  • How will we light this room?
  • What furniture and decor will go here?
  • Should the fireplace be located along the wall with the most windows, in the middle of the room, or separating two rooms?
  • Do I want a fireplace? What type of stonework? What about a mantel? What would rest on or be mounted over the mantel?
  • Do we want a sound system here, and if so, where would it be? Where would the speakers be located and if they’re not wireless, how would we hide the wiring?
  • Do I want bookshelves and a place for magazines?
  • If we want a TV in this room, where would it go? Will there be any problems with glare from the windows?
  • Is there enough space for movement or seating if I have a party or big family gathering?
  • Is it readily accessible from other areas of the home?
  • Is there a fan or a scheme to account for the fact that heat rises and accumulates at the ceiling?
  • Will there be a noise factor to other areas of the house?
  • What other rooms would abut the great room?

Other interior design considerations

  • Where do you want to position the stairs?
  • How do you want the rooms to converge?

  • What should the entry open to?
  • How much closet and storage space will we need to plan for? Where will it be located?
  • How will these areas be furnished and lit?
  • What flooring options should we consider?
  • Where will the laundry room be located? Can it be combined with a mud room/rinse-off room, tool room, or storage area?
  • Where will the furnace/water heater be located?

  • Are there any other large items that will need allocated space, such as an extra freezer or refrigerator, recreational equipment, seasonal items, and additional clothes?
  • Do we want to plan for interior specialty rooms such as a media room, hobby room, indoor pool, game room, bar, office, workout room, wine room and wine tasting area, hot tub, or guest room?
  • Can we account for traffic patterns?
  • Are there enough closets for family and guests? (It’s recommended that each family member will need 6-7 feet of closet space.)