Laying out the floor plan is an exciting milestone in your project when you begin to see your dream on paper. The more time you spend detailing your plan, the better. A good plan eliminates guesswork for the designer and contractors, who will be following your plans closely. Here are a few floor plan strategies for some of the most popular choices.
If you're planning an addition to a kitchen—the heart of the home—it's probably because you want a larger space with more flexibility. That can be for entertaining guests, doing projects or homework with the children, or sitting down for a family meal. These questions are a springboard for planning: Is the kitchen easily accessible from the outside? If so, it will be easier to take out the recycling or bring in the groceries. How do you and your family use the kitchen? If enjoying a meal together is the most important use, lay out a dining space large enough so everyone will feel comfortable. A couple who entertain frequently and have no children might want a larger workspace where friends can join in preparing food or visit while they cook. Do you need a separate space for paying bills or working on crafts with the kids? Build in a desk with storage out of the main traffic flow, but where anyone working there won't feel isolated.
A master bedroom should be as luxurious and private as you want. List everything you'd like to have in the suite. Will you watch television there? If so, include a sitting area with an armoire for the TV set and adequate distance for comfortable viewing. If you want to exercise, do you need a large, open floor space for a yoga mat or a partitioned area for a treadmill or exercise bike? What amenities do you want near the bed? You'll probably need a nightstand and reading light, but what about a music system? Do you want to be able to watch TV from bed? Arrange the sleeping area, sitting area, exercise area, bathroom, and other areas so they're convenient but don't get in the way of one another.
A home office must meet your specific work style. A massage therapist working from home or a parent doing office work from home probably want a quiet working space, for instance. But the massage therapist might want a space away from the main house that has the feeling of a tranquil retreat. A stay-at-home working parent, however, might want to be close to the main part of the house to keep track of the family.
If you'll receive clients at the home office (where zoning ordinances permit), you should provide a separate entrance so they don't have to walk through the house. There should be a bathroom nearby for clients and for your convenience during the workday.
How many people does the space need to serve? If you install more than one workstation, or if you'll set up a temporary workstation from time to time, allow extra space. Make sure you have enough storage for office supplies—built-ins are great for stashing supplies and displaying books and awards. They can also serve as partitions to break up the space.
A sunroom might be a place to grow plants year-round, to soak up the sunshine on a bright but chilly day, or to simply take advantage of the lovely view. To maximize the heat from the sun's energy, locate your sunroom on the south side of the house. Insulated glass will limit heat loss. Adding operable windows will provide ventilation when needed.
The best place to build a bathroom is where the new plumbing can connect to existing lines. This is easily done on a second story if there's a vertical path down to the first story's plumbing lines. If the new bathroom will be on the same floor as the old one, locate the new room nearby to share lines. A bathroom should be close to the rooms it will serve the most.
The plumbing rough-ins will determine where fixtures can go in the bathroom. Remember that once the plumber roughs in the room based on your floor plan, it will be expensive to change it. When you lay out the floor plan, make realistic estimates of locations for the supply and drain rough-ins. If the bathroom will feature a Roman tub, whirlpool, or elaborate shower stall, plan the room around that feature.