Custom Home Design Floor Plan Considerations

Key Items to Consider when Desiging a Floorplan for Your Custome Home or Home Addition

By Mark J. Donovan

When developing a custom home design floor plan there are a number of features you should consider to ensure you maximize the benefits of your new custom home. Several key areas to consider are:

  • Open Concept
  • Ceiling heights
  • Traffic patterns
  • Recreation rooms
  • Lines of site
  • Exterior Views

Open Concept

One of the most important aspects today of a good custom home design floor plan is large open space.

Gone are the days of long, narrow, boring hallways interconnecting rooms. They waste space, block interior and exterior views, and reduce an otherwise large custom home into a number of small rooms. A good custom home design floor plan maximizes the custom home’s square footage, while still creating a sense of separate spaces. Key to this is creating small transition walls with large entranceways between rooms. For example, today kitchen and family room floor plan designs are frequently connected to each other via minor edge transitional walls or step-downs from one room to the other.

Ceiling Heights

Vaulted ceilings and taller ceilings are another trend in creating the Open Concept custom home design floor plan. It is not uncommon to see great rooms in new custom homes with ceiling heights approaching 20 feet. Frequently kitchens, dining rooms and even bedrooms in new custom homes have ceiling heights of 9 to 10 feet.

Traffic Flow Pattern

Another extremely important aspect of a good custom home design floor plan is the expected traffic flow pattern within the home. This is particularly critical in a large open concept custom home.

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In large single story custom homes the bedrooms are commonly located off of a large family room or bonus room. The family room also frequently connects to the kitchen. Care in the custom home floor plan has to be made so that people are not crisscrossing the family room to get from a bedroom to the kitchen. Bedroom doors should be lined up so that people exit into the family room in a space that is similar to a hallway but without the walls. This walking space shouldn’t cut across the line of site between sofas and the entertainment center.

The location of stairways is another extremely important consideration in assessing traffic flow patterns. You may want to prevent stairways from entering into particular rooms or major entranceways pending your privacy concerns.

Large Recreation Rooms

With the proliferation of home technology and home theaters it is increasingly becoming necessary to have larger recreation rooms in custom home floor plan designs. Care in the recreation room floor plan has to be given to identify where the television screen will reside or what wall the flat panel screen will secure to. In addition, the identification of speaker hookups and home theater hardware/electronics also has to be properly identified.

Consideration of a wet bar also needs to be made. If the recreation room will not be attached to the kitchen does it make sense to have a wet bar in it? This too is a traffic pattern consideration.

Line of Sight

As already mentioned open concept is becoming an increasing theme in new custom home floor plan designs. Part of the reason for this is that it helps to open up lines of sites between rooms and the outside. It is critical when looking at a set of custom home design plans to check that walls and doors do not block lines of site. If they do, the house will feel smaller due to all of the visual obstructions.

You can check the floor plans for lines of site issues by using a pencil and ruler. Locating yourself in doorways and expected sofa and chair locations, use the ruler and pencil to draw straight lines in the directions you prefer to see in the distance. The distant views could be in or out of the home. If in doing this exercise you run into walls or doors, consider modifying the floor plans.

Exterior Views and Sunlight

The location of the house footprint and the floor plan of the custom home can make or break your ability to maximize the outdoor views and sunlight from the interior of your home. Care should be given on the positioning of the home’s footprint. If you want certain rooms to be bright in the afternoon, then you may want to position the home so that these rooms receive south and west exposures. If you want the kitchen, on the other hand, to be bright in the morning you may want to position the home, or the location of the kitchen, so that it has an easterly view.

If your custom home’s property has views of mountains or lakes, you will want to ensure that the floor plan takes advantage of these views by including picture style windows in strategic places.

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The windows should be positioned so that as many lines of sites as possible can see out of them. One large window need not be your only alternative. A number of smaller windows configured together can create the same visual affect as one larger one, but in addition, add a level of unique customization to your home.

Rarely does a homeowner get more than one chance in their lifetime to have a custom home built. Take the time necessary to review your custom home floor plans prior to starting construction. Do not hesitate talking with, and suggesting changes, to your architect to get the finished custom home floor plan you want. In the end, it will be you who will be living in the home and not the contractors and architect.

For more help on building a home addition, see’s Home Addition Bid Sheets. Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home construction building costs.