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January 28, 2011

15 Essential steps you need to know, when designing your dream home. Part 1 of 5

What does your dream home look like? Contemporary, Traditional, Craftsman?

Lake Washington Residence contemporary landscape

Whichever style you choose, there are important steps to follow.  In this 5 part feature, we will be looking at 15 steps guiding us to complete the home of our dreams.Today we'll cover steps one to three.

1. Selecting your perfect structure.
We all know to keep a folder of tear sheets of desired looks, from magazines. Don't worry about cost just yet; I want you to keep your mind open at this point.  Tear out anything at all that catches your eye or makes your heart flutter!

After accumulating several photos, look for a similarity. In general do you like ranchers or multi-level homes? Stone, brick, wood, stucco?  Lots of windows, or cozy and quiet?  Come up with a theme - 'your look'.  Speak with your builder and architect about which type of home can be placed on your lot.  Often something we like can be incorporated into what we can afford.

McIntosh Poris Associates traditional exterior

The style of your exterior architecture should influence your interior design. i.e. Victorian homes generally look best with traditional interiors; lodges look wonderful with structured, but casual furnishings.  Remember to bring that exterior feeling inside.  For example, exterior rock siding also works for the interior fireplace surround. 

Boston Architects: Eck | MacNeely Architects inc. contemporary exterior

2.  Floor plans and elevations:
Melina - floor plan traditional exterior
On to the inside.  Have a copy of your floor plan available, this is a must!  If you are not building a new home, you can hire a design firm to draft out your existing floor plans. Elevation plans  are also important - they allow you to visualize the finished look of a vertical wall. An elevation is a view of an interior or exterior wall. You are standing back, looking directly at the wall. This is a flat, two-dimensional view. Only the height and width are obvious. This view of the wall shows items that cannot be clearly shown in plan. This could be wall moldings, doors, window sizes, light switches, electrical outlets, or a finish pattern that is applied on the wall.
3.  Function:

List the needs you have for your house. How do you really live? Be honest!
Do you need a: play room, large kitchen, four bedrooms, den, or a large family room?  Write a list of what you do each day - down to the nitty gritty- including things like how much laundry you do, which door you generally use to enter a home - garage, side or front door. 

Things like these really let you customize your home to your unique needs. For example; when I come home I rarely enter via the front door. I park in the garage and usually bring things from the car into the home. I immediately enter the laundry room, so, I need a place right near the door to set down my bags of groceries, design sample boards, etc. 

Laundry Room traditional laundry room

Knowing how to customize your floor plan really helps you plan a home to really suit your needs.  A pet peeve of mine is when you enter the home from the garage, come inside, then open the closet door to put away your coat - while someone in your home is trying to greet you - but they are blocked by an open closet door.  To avoid this, ensure the door swings are drawn in on the plans to all you to have smooth sailings whichever door or hallway you use!

Stay tuned for the remaining steps!

If you need help designing a dream home, or just the perfect room, Reflections Interior Designs is here to help.

Please email us at, let's create something beautiful together!


  1. There is nothing more exciting than planning your dream home and if you are smart you will enlist a professional to help. If you are a professional you need to talk to others . It's just very hard to make all of those decisions yourself.

  2. You are right Mona! There are so many decisions to be made and made quickly - it's imperative to hire a trusted professional.


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