12 Insightful Questions to Ask Before Designing Your Dream Home
To those that have not had the chance, designing your dream home sounds like a lot of fun. Creating a space that is uniquely you and tailor-made for your family and your lifestyle seems like the homeowner’s ultimate fantasy. No more compromising, no more “putting up with”, no more “I wish it was like this” – just a clean slate and an opportunity to create whatever you want.
While it is unquestionably all of those things, it can also be an extremely daunting prospect. The phrase “designing your dream home” alone creates a lot of pressure and expectation. And, given the amount of money involved, it is something you will probably only get one shot at.
But you have bought the perfect block and have some ideas about what you want and what you really do not. Now you just need to work out how to bring it all together and make sure that it is everything that you dreamed.
To help with this, we’ve prepared a dozen important questions to ask yourself before finalising your design. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we have intentionally left out the obvious ones (e.g., how many bedrooms do you need), but it should help steer you in the right direction and (hopefully!) allay some of your anxieties.
1. What features of your current home would you hate to replicate?
Most people will naturally look to replicate the features they liked in their previous homes, into their new home. While that is completely fine to do and is a great place to start your design, you want to avoid replicating the problems. So take some time to think about the parts of your current home you are going to be happy to leave behind. Also, consider why it is you do not like these features and keep this in mind as you work through the design process.
2. What is your favourite feature of your current home?
While you may not want to copy everything from your current home, chances are that there are some things you love about it. These are not necessarily things you can, or will want to, incorporate into your new design, but they can provide some valuable insights into what you like and how you live. They may also give you a better understanding of what makes a place feel like “home”.
3. How do you want to feel living in your new home?
This might sound a little out there, but “home” is as much a feeling as it is a place. What triggers that feeling differs from person to person. For some, it will come from the sense of calm created by sleek lines and polished surfaces; for others, it will be about the warmth created by soft edges and a rich colour palette. Whatever it is for you, your new design should evoke this feeling every time you see it.
4. How do you want to live in the new space?
There is no set layout for a home, and your dream home should be designed to suit you, your family, and your daily life. The best part of building is that you get to tailor the space, so do not be bound by tradition and expectation. Think about how you will actually use space and how you will move between them, and if there is anything you want to change about how you currently live, make sure your design reflects that.
5. Where do you spend the most time?
This is kind of a build on the previous point but thinking about where you spend the majority of the day will not only help shape your design but it can help you define your priorities.
For some people, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home. They cook in the kitchen, gather there, converse there, entertain there, and live there. If you are one of those people, an open plan design with a large island bench may make perfect sense. If you are not, devoting so much of your floor space (and budget!) to the kitchen would be a waste. Maybe a bigger living room would be better, or a smaller overall footprint for your house to allow more outdoor space
6. What are the best and worst features of the land you are building on?
Regardless of where you are building, the block will have its good points and its bad points. Maybe the elevation will give you great views across the city from a second storey. Maybe there is a grand old tree you can hang your design around. Or maybe you are heavily overlooked on one side and need to design carefully to create private spaces. Whatever it is, knowing the best and worst of your land will help you come up with a stronger, more functional design.
7. What style of home do you like?
Knowing your preferred architectural style can really help guide your design. Maybe you like the ornate elegance of a French Provincial property, the sophisticated simplicity of a Hamptons home, or the sleek angularity of contemporary construction. Once you have worked out what appeals to you, try to find ways to incorporate elements of that style into your design.
If you are not exactly sure what you like, take a drive around your new neighbourhood and make a note of the houses that grab your attention. Chances are, there will be common elements that you are drawn to that you can bring into your own design.
8. What materials and finishes would you like to feature?
These days, you can use almost anything in the construction of a house. However, every material has its strengths and weaknesses. As such, the materials you want to use in your new home – and particularly the ones you want to make a feature of – can have a significant impact on your design.
9. How much effort are you willing to put into maintaining your home?
The hope would be that you get to live in your dream home for a long time. As such, it pays to think longer term and to consider your design at a practical level.
Elements like natural stone and timber are undoubtedly beautiful. However, they also take a lot of work to keep them looking their best. As such, if you are not willing or able to stick to a stringent maintenance routine, it might be best to avoid these elements.
Your preferred maintenance level should also be a major consideration for your landscaping. You may love the idea of a massive expanse of green lawn, but are you willing to put in the hours to keep it looking lush and tidy?
10. What does each family member want in the new house?
Your new home will be a space for your whole family, and it is important that everyone feels like their wants and needs are reflected in the design. This means that if you are a couple, you need to be able to talk openly about what you want, and what you do not. And if you have kids, ask them what they want most in the new house. Often some of the best design ideas come from the simple requests of a child.
11. How is your life likely to change over the next 5 to 10 years?
If you are planning for your dream home to be your forever home, it is important to consider future-proofing in your design. If having kids is on the cards, you will need to make sure there is enough space and that the overall design is safe for those just starting to walk. Alternatively, if you are moving into your golden years, accessibility and mobility might be more of a consideration.
12. What are you willing to compromise on?
Once you have worked out exactly what you want, it is worthwhile considering what you could do without. Building projects are notorious for running over budget, even with careful planning and a healthy contingency. If this happens, you may need to make some tough calls just to get you to a point where you can move in. While hopefully it will not come to that, thinking about what you could cut early in the process can take a lot of emotion out of the situation and help you avoid making rash decisions at the last minute.
Talk to us about your dream home
The directors of Carmel Homes are well known for working closely with our clients in order to see them happy in their new craftsman built dream home. We operate throughout Melbourne, but have found a particular niche in the eastern suburbs.
We invite you to contact us today to have an initial discussion about your plans.