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7 Smart Strategies to Design the Perfect Floor Plan

Designing your log home is not only one of the most crucial phases of the process, it’s also the most fun! Our 7 smart strategies will help your plans take shape.

 Photo: fotolia.com/kritchanut
A home’s design should reflect the personality and lifestyle of its occupants. That’s obvious, right? But devising a floor plan that actually satisfies this requirement can prove something of a challenge. There’s a tendency for people to blindly follow current design trends whether they work for their daily routine or not. They think they are taking the right approach, only to be disappointed as to how the size and flow of the home functions for them after they move in.
Don’t let this happen to you! Here are seven simple tactics you can take to design a log home that fits your needs now and down the line.


1. Start with Stock.

Unless you’ve been fantasizing about your log home’s layout for decades, when it comes to drafting an initial design, you may not know where to begin. Nearly all log home producers offer standard (or stock) plans of tried-and-true designs. One of these may suit your needs perfectly, or you may use it as a jumping-off point toward a totally customized home. 

2. Find a Designer.

Your chosen log home company may offer design services, and if they do, this team is a great resource, as they not only know how to draft a floor plan, they have a deep understanding of the company’s building system. However, you may find that you want to hire an independent architect, and that’s a sound decision, too. Either way, keep in mind that you will be working closely with this person as you fine tune your floor plan, so make sure you feel comfortable with him or her and that you are on the same page with your wants and needs.
Meet face to face with your chosen designer several times during the process and don’t be afraid to voice your opinions and ideas — even if they seem far-fetched. A good designer is a good listener who strives to incorporate as many of your requests into your home’s plan as feasible, while also being transparent about how your wish list stacks up against your budget.

3. Take Money Matters into Your Own Hands.

Speaking of budget, be prepared for your designer (and everyone else involved in your build, for that matter) to ask you outright about yours. Be honest! It’s common for people to think they have to hide their real target price for fear of being “taken,” but it’s vital you share accurate information about how much you’re willing and able to spend.
It also may be tempting to think you’ll have your designer draft your pie-in-the-sky home first, then start cutting features and amenities until you reach a plan you can afford. This practice quickly becomes an exercise in frustration and disappointment, and it can actually end up costing you more in unnecessary design change fees.

4. Go Back to the Future.

For most people, building a custom log home also means building their last home. To find a plan that fits your life for the long haul, you have to consider both your current situation and what your future needs might be.
If you’re a family of five with children from tots to teens, then room size, traffic flow and privacy issues must be addressed. If you’re a master chef (or you like to think so), consider bumping up your kitchen’s amenities and budget. If you’re on the brink of retirement, a main-level master will make your log home easier to navigate as you age.
To help establish how much square footage you’ll need, log home designers suggest adding up the ideal square footage of each room you’ll require, then add an extra 25 percent for wall thickness, circulation, stairs, etc. To preserve precious space in a small-scale home, reduce the number of hallways and include plenty of built-in storage and shelving.

5. Add in the Extras.

With the essentials covered, it’s time to indulge in the fun add-ons. Bring your ideas to the table and ask your designer what will work within your budget. You may be surprised to find that many of your requests are feasible, especially if what you really want is the feeling of more space. Sky-high windows, a walk-in pantry and other clever built-in storage, as well as a generally open floor plan will make a smaller log cabin feel more spacious.
And remember: Just because it may not be in the budget today doesn’t mean it can’t be done one day. Unfinished basements and bonus rooms are great places to upgrade, if you prepare the space for how you’d like to use it later on. Laying the groundwork now for a future addition will make expanding less painless and less expensive.

6. Don’t Fear Change.

If budget or topography makes it hard to squeeze in everything you thought you wanted, don’t be too disappointed. A skilled designer is adept at suggesting alternatives and creating trade-offs so that you will have a log home that satisfies. Two review-and-revise cycles are standard, but your design process may take a few more rounds to get it right, which brings us to our final point:

7. Don’t Rush It.

Making impulsive or hasty decisions about your floor plan is never a good idea. Most people who express regret about some aspect of their homes usually preface it by saying, “If I’d only taken the time …” Don’t feel pressure to design your home fast. Savor the journey.

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