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Design Inspo

How To Design a House Online

When designing a home, you must work from the outside in. Let’s break down how to design a house online and what tools you’ll need to do it.

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Designing a home online is a big undertaking, but it can be a breeze with the right online design tools. Before you get bogged down in details and costs, imagine the kind of home Future You would want to live in. Then, we’ll discuss some common problems you might encounter in modern home designs, come up with contemporary solutions before you break ground, and share the design tools you’ll need to make it all come together.

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Things To Consider Before Designing: Planning for the Future

Forgetting about potential changes in your family life is a typical mistake first-time (and sometimes even veteran) home builders make. You want a house design that changes with your lifestyle needs.

Space for Changing Needs

Remember Future You may have a larger family down the road, so it’s important to get an idea today of the square footage you think you’ll need tomorrow.

For example, consider building materials. You adore the maple floors you installed in the whole house, but when you want to add another bedroom, the same floor is nowhere in sight. If that extra bedroom is a must-have for the future, for continuity’s sake, you might want to build it now. Your future self will be thanking you later.

A Design That Stands the Test of Time

Be prepared to adjust your square footage and design features to stay within budget. Oh yeah, did we mention the budget? Not setting a budget from the beginning of the design process is another big error new home builders make. Whatever you think you can afford, assume it will cost more. It’s best to set aside 20-30% of your project’s total cost for unexpected things that will come up when renovating.

The Right Location

When you envision this dream home, where is it located? Countless home plans are scrapped because they are drawn up with no location in mind.

Do your research on the city and lot type you’d like to live in. Check the local real estate market. Contact the city manager’s office for details on zoning laws, building codes, and building permit information. 

Once you’ve found a lot, deciding how to place your home on it will make a big difference in how your home functions. Prioritize the placement of rooms relative to the sun throughout the day. Make sure the rooms that need the most natural light will have it. If you want to sip coffee as the sun rises, that gorgeous bay window better be facing east. 

Check Out the View

While thinking about windows, don’t make the mistake of thinking the land around you won’t change over time. Plenty of people have built homes in the middle of nowhere, only to be surrounded by homes looming over theirs in a couple of years. 

Does Future You want a view of the garden from your living room or someone else’s trash bins? Do you want your bedroom and bath windows to be somewhat screened from a possible two-story next door?

You get the idea. Progress happens, so plan now to preserve your privacy before it is an issue. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

A huge mistake we can make in home design and life is to be too proud to outsource some of the work. The good thing about designing your own home is that you always have the option to bring in a professional to give guidance or finish the job. There’s no need to make this a completely DIY project; hiring a consultant might even save you some money.

Local HOA rules may dictate the architectural style, color, and layout of your future home. A contractor can help you get these details in order, along with the required permits.

Now is also the time to discuss energy efficiency with your builder. State-of-the-art construction materials may cost more during home building but can reduce utility bills when your house is up and running. You can also take advantage of government rebates or tax credit programs when applicable. 

Whomever you bring in to help with your house plans, it is easy to share your materials list, budgetary guidelines, and room layouts with Spoak’s project planner tool

The Fun Part: The Floor Plan

Designing the layout is the part most future homeowners look forward to. Our online design tool makes creating a floor plan or room rendering (and dealing with inevitable changes) easy. 

Direct the Flow of Traffic

Avoid a common oversight in home layouts by ordering rooms in your home for ease of traffic flow and convenience. Think about where your entrances will be located. If you’ve ever had to lug groceries through a house to get to the kitchen, you’ll bless your new home design whenever you come home from the store. 

You know your home best. If mud and dirt will be tracked in, skip the upstairs laundry room and keep your washer and dryer in the mudroom by the back door. 

Consider which rooms should be accessible from the hallways. A flex space can most easily transition into an extra bedroom if you don’t have to walk through another room to get to it. A bathroom that doesn’t open into the dining room seems like a small detail, but it’ll make loads of difference to your dinner guests. 

Bedrooms and World Peace

This is your custom home design, so the intentional placement of your primary bedroom is key. One reason buyers pass on homes in today’s real estate market is that there are no downstairs bedrooms. Our needs and abilities change over time, and the home needs to be adaptable.

You may place the primary bedroom upstairs with the children, yet on the other side of the house, anticipating Future You’s dislike of their teenage music choices. The same goes for other traditionally loud and busy rooms like living rooms and kitchens. Who wants their sleep interrupted by those dishes finally being loaded into the dishwasher … at 11 p.m.?

Your bedroom needs may change, so build in enough flex space in your home so that the guest room can one day be another bedroom if your oldest child revolts and kicks the youngest out of their shared room.

Practical Bathrooms

The same forethought applies to bathrooms. Don’t only install standing showers, assuming you’ll never want a real bath. It may not be practical for you and can lower the resale value. 

One of the joys of designing your house is planning the bathroom of your dreams, so dream big. Bathrooms are a great example of how just a couple of square feet stolen from one room can make a huge impact on another. 

Looking for a few tips that might invigorate your space? Try these:

  • Account for the rest of the family and how sharing a bathroom will work as children age. Start where practicality and luxury meet. Sure the Jack-and-Jill bathroom from The Brady Bunch is cute/nostalgic, but wouldn’t you rather have double vanities instead?
  • Think about the weather. If you live in a cold-climate locale, other items that can make a big difference are radiant underfloor heating or a heated towel rack. 
  • Take the design scheme up a notch with a claw-foot tub or dramatic wallpaper. Just be mindful when applying wallpaper to a restroom — keep it away from areas that experience direct moisture. 

Just Enough Storage 

We get it. Everyone is going more minimal. But even hard-core minimalists need a place to put the vacuum and extra linens. On the contrary, we’ve all been to the mid-century home of a friend that had a hallway of closet doors. That may not be your vibe, but no one ever complains about too many closets. It’s all about finding a balance.

Lack of storage space is a top complaint of many new homebuyers. Appease your minimalist side by including out-of-sight storage in the attic. 

Take your recreational activities — not just the number of cars you own — into account as you plan your garage space. Relish the opportunity to put your perfect storage solutions right into the blueprint. 

Start Designing

Is the dream of your future home starting to look more concrete? Let Spoak’s interior design tools walk you through the process. Our Project Planner is one handy place to keep all of your designs, notes, product wishlists, and more. After tinkering with your layout and delving into interior design, Future You will wonder what Present You was waiting for.

Photo Credit: (Left) Sunset


7 Ways to Get the Best Work from Your Contractor | House Logic

Ultra-Efficient Home Design | Department of Energy

Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics | Department of Energy

Solved! What Is a Jack-and-Jill Bathroom? | BobVila

Radiant Heating | Department of Energy

Adding a Mudroom: Is It Worth It? | US News & World Report

Don’t Be One of Those Homeowners Who Go Over Budget on a Renovation | House Logic

Join Spoak to start designing your house online and bring your vision to life.

Date Posted
February 20, 2023



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