New Home Design Ideas for Efficiency


There are a number of ways to improve the design a house without increasing the size and thus the cost. By using logical and multiple use of space techniques, you can increase the usability of a house plan and still keep the construction cost under budget.

How We Define Space

space should be defined by how we use it…not simply what the dimensions are. Some rooms are volume rooms, like dining rooms while others are linear rooms, like bedrooms. Still others are a combination like great rooms. The definitions are applied to the rooms based on the way the rooms are used. Taking it a step further, the use of the rooms are applied based on the furniture we place in it. Let me explain.

A dining room is a volume space because the dining room table says so. The table is in the middle of the room with little need for wall space. A bedroom is a linear space since the furniture is placed on the walls. Linear spaces require wall space. A great room is a combination space since there is a little of both in the way of furniture placement.

Multiple Use of the Same Space

there are a number of ways you can use the same space for multiple functions. In a previous article, I used the example of the lower level and how finishing that space properly can actually save you on construction costs. Although this solution may not be applicable to all new home designs, it is for many.

One of my other favorite examples is found in the master bedroom. I like to use what I refer to as the “master bedroom foyer” to combine traffic patterns for that room at one place. Part of the reason this works so well is by understanding the traffic patterns of all rooms…in this case, the master bedroom. If you can share these traffic patterns, you save space…and cost. In the master bedroom, you have 4 traffic patterns. You have the entrance to the suite, the entrance to the room, the entrance to the bathroom and the closet door(s). It many designs, you’ll see the bedroom and suite entry points be the same door, but then the rest are separate. This means that the space to and from these egress points are dysfunctional as far as being efficient in their use. What I do, is place the door to the suite accessing what I refer to as the master suite foyer. This foyer would have the wic(s) in front, and the bath and bedroom on either side, thus the floor space for all would be the same. This will save a lot in floor space and make the master suite design more efficient. Keep in mind, space is defined by how you use the space, as described earlier.

Walk-in-Closets Take Up Less Space Than Linear

another spinoff of this is the use of walk-in-closets instead of linear closets. I always try (really, really hard) to do this on all of my designs. Why? This is a great example of efficient use of space. Take a typical floorplan with a linear closet about 8 foot in length. This could mean about 6 ft in doors, and unusable floorspace in front of them. The doors take up all the wall space, so you need more wallspace to put the furniture on. Now, move the wall with the closet doors on it into the room (making the actual room dimension smaller). This gives you a wic..and you pick up all the wall space wasted by the closet doors…and you have more closet space too. By making the room smaller you are actually making the usable space in the room larger. The room then functions like a larger room, without the cost.

not much cost you say? Wrong. If this room is on the 2nd floor, and in order to fit a 3 ft dresser in that bedroom with the linear closet, you might need to make the room bigger,…and the room in the floor below it,…and the foundation below that too. That could turn out to be a pretty expensive dresser.

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