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Designing an Efficient Floor Plan: 11 Key Steps

From researching local building codes to maximizing natural light, we share expert tips and tools to make the process of creating an efficient floor plan smoother. 

Blog | Home Design
11 characteristics of a good floor plan
Sam Applegate

Whether planning an entire home or remodeling a single room, creating a good floor plan is the first step to realizing your perfect space.

You'll need to balance functionality, flow, and aesthetics while staying within budget and on time. A good house plan should combine all these elements to ensure your project runs smoothly.

If you're ready to tackle this challenge, read on! We'll equip you with everything you need to know.

1. Do Your Research

Before we get to the creative part, you'll need to start with some important homework.

Learn the local building codes and regulations. These cover essential aspects of your project, such as:

Professional contractors will be aware of local requirements, but familiarizing yourself with them before starting the design process could save you some headaches further down the line.

"My top tip is to really spend time planning and dreaming up your perfect space. Do your research, get some pro advice, and use tools like RoomSketcher to see your vision come to life. It'll make your project run smoother, and you'll be way happier with the end result!"

Erik Dill, Owner of Wilmington Concrete Contractors
research before creating good floor plan

2. Set a Budget

You'll need to create a budget for your project. Break down your expenses into fixtures and fittings, labor costs, legal fees, and any other professional services you'll require, such as engineers, architects, plumbers, and electricians.

Remember to shop around and always get multiple quotes to save on costs.

Setting a budget ahead of time will provide some scope and stop you from getting carried away during the floor plan design stage.

Budget Mind Map

3. Measure Up

Before you can draft any plans, you'll need to measure the space you're working with. You mustn't make any mistakes, so double and triple-check your dimensions!

For most projects, a standard tape measure will suffice. Consider investing in a laser measure if you have a large area to cover. This will make your job easier and more accurate.

Measure everything, from wall lengths and ceiling heights to interior and exterior doors, windows, stairs, and corridors.

"Homeowners make a lot of mistakes when planning their room(s). That's why we never trust measurements unless we take them ourselves. Often time, homeowners don't double or triple-check their measurements. If you're going to be ordering tens of thousands of dollars worth of materials, you want to make sure that they fit!"

Thomas Borcherding, Designer & Owner of Homestar Design Remodel
floor plan with measurements

4. Personalize to Your Lifestyle

Start thinking about how your space will be used, who will use it, and its purpose. This can help you focus on your priorities as you flesh out your house plan.

For example, a family home plan requires multiple bathrooms, large dining, and sitting areas, relaxing private spaces, plenty of storage, socializing areas, and soundproofing for specific areas.

Alternatively, a small studio for a single professional should maximize the limited space available with practical and efficient design solutions.

Lifestyle Trinagle

5. Create Zones

It makes sense to think about your design in terms of zones. This high-level approach forces you to think about how your space will be used and stops you from getting overwhelmed by all the intricate details.

It also breaks down the design task into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Here are some common zones to consider:

Defining zones helps you organize your layout and logically position each area.

You can also create zones within individual rooms. For example, a bedroom can have a dressing, sleeping, storage zone, and an area to relax or chill out.

Zones in a good floor plan

6. Maximize Traffic Flow

Once you have the purpose of your floor plan and well-defined zones to match that purpose, consider how you'll get from one point to another within your space.

This is called traffic flow and is a crucial part of creating an efficient floor plan.

The kitchen work triangle is a classic example of optimizing traffic flow within a single room.

Ideally, you want to make the distance between the refrigerator, stove, and sink as short as possible. You also want to avoid obstructions and leave enough space for 2 or 3 people to move without getting in each other's way.

"When creating a floor plan or room layout, it is essential to take into account the natural flow of the space. This includes providing clear pathways throughout the room, as well as allowing for flexibility in accommodating different activities and furniture pieces."

Jennifer Spinelli, Founder & CEO of Watson Buys
Kitchen work triangle examples

7. Don't Forget the Outdoor Area

If your canvas includes outdoor space, include it in your floor plan. Why not install an outdoor kitchen to take advantage of those balmy summer months? Or else a garden seating area to read a good book.

Remember that outdoor appliances need to be weatherproof and therefore tend to cost more than their indoor counterparts, so budget accordingly.

Pergola on deck

8. Future-Proof

Consider how your priorities and requirements might change in the next few years, and try to build these potential developments into your floor plan.

Whether you're planning on extending your family, caring for elderly relatives, or retiring, laying the foundations now will make future updates much easier (and less costly).

Future-proofing could be as simple as splitting a large bedroom into two or as complex as extending your property to create an annex or widening hallways and doors for wheelchair access.

"Take the time to think about the layout of your home, both now and in the future. Consider how each space will be used, what activities or functions you plan to carry out within it, and any possible changes that may happen down the line."

Keith Sant, Head of Property Acquisition & Co-Founder of Texas Cash House Buyer
Plan for the future, office to retirement

9. Use Appropriate Room Sizes

When it comes to room sizes, you're performing a balancing act. By making one room larger, you'll compromise the available space for other rooms.

This is why thinking about your priorities and lifestyle is important. If you love hosting dinner parties, maximize your living zone and compromise on bedroom size. Alternatively, a large kitchen and lounge may not be your priority if you spend most of your time eating out.

Room sizes also determine the amount and type of furniture you can install.

Appropriate room size in a good floor plan

10. Don't Overlook Storage

When asked what's most important in the kitchen, 64% agreed that "countertop and cabinet space" was a priority.

Your circumstances will determine how much storage you need, but remember; you can never have too much.

Having plenty of options available will help you maintain a clutter-free home. There are some clever solutions to choose from, including under-stair closets, under-bed drawers, corner shelves, cubbyholes, and ceiling hangers.

Staircase wine storage

11. Optimize Lighting

Designing a good floor plan means considering both natural and artificial lighting. Think about sun orientation and window positioning to take full advantage of natural light sources.

You can also install mirrors and use bright reflective tones to make your space feel extra roomy.

Spotlights work well in functional zones like kitchens or bathrooms. For a more relaxing vibe, use ambient soft lighting and install a dimmer switch.

"If you are looking to ensure a functional and aesthetically pleasing space, the best thing to do is incorporate natural lighting."

Daniel Cabrera, Founder of Sell My House Fast
sun rotation over house

Putting It All Together

Now you know what's involved in creating an efficient floor plan, it's time to get started. And the good news is you don't need to be a professional architect or have an engineering degree.

The RoomSketcher App makes drawing 2D floor plans a breeze. Simply enter your dimensions, position your windows and doors, drag and drop furniture, and experiment with different layouts.

You can even render stunning 3D images of your designs to help visualize your creative ideas.

Get started for free, and upgrade for more advanced features.

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