20 tips for designing a family-friendly home

Updated: Dec 1, 2019

Designing a home can be one of the most exciting and disconcerting things we have done in our lives. People who feel that they can attempt to do it whilst looking through other designs and connecting a jigsaw puzzle for the first time, can lead to a complicated process. There are so many things that can be overlooked during the initial ‘floor plan’ design stage, especially for those who are about to be first-time parents. For those who are planning on building your own home and you want it to be a place where you can watch your family grow, here are 20 things you may like to consider before the timber frame including the bricks and mortar start to appear on your site.

1/ Plan for a Garage or a Carport – for the family car and don’t forget the wife’s car or future boat.

2/ Aim for additional garage storage If space allows, try to allocate additional storage space in your garage design. This is especially important if the backyard area is too small to accommodate a garden shed. You can even create a ‘mud room’(secondary entry) inside your garage to enter the home or keep all of the extra bits and pieces out of view from inside the home.

3/ Plan a study room to be located close to the Entry

Great for small business working from home or a private area to create a Library.

4/ Plan Bathrooms close by to Bedrooms or Living areas.

This will help high traffic when you have a larger family or guests visiting.

5/ Plan an open-plan kitchen that is clutter free An open-plan kitchen with children can easily turn into an open-plan mess. However, if you plan ahead and think of the additional things your kitchen will need to store as the pitter patter of tiny feet arrive, you could continue to maintain a clutter-free zone.

The key to being clutter free is storage. When planning to build, aim to maximise storage wherever possible. If budget is a factor, then predict where you could utilise space effectively to create storage solutions in the future.

6/ Consider placement of rubbish bins … You may need to consider where simple things like the rubbish bin will go.

Check if your floor plan has a concealed bin area for both recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Not only does this help with environmental sustainability but it will keep those little explorers away from unhygienic areas, too.

7/ … and brooms and dustpans The same goes for brooms and dustpans. Check your floor plan to see if there is somewhere you can store your household brooms and mops. There is nothing worse than needing to shove a broom between the fridge wall cavity because it is the only vertical space you can find.

8/ Raise the ceiling height If your budget allows, see if you can raise the ceiling height a few courses and ensure that this extra space is also utilised in storage areas such as pantries, cupboards and wardrobes.

Raising the ceiling height will not only give you more potential vertical storage space throughout, but it will create more of a spacious, light, airy and open feeling to your home, too.

9/ Add a Butler’s Pantry or Scullery, If money and space is no issue, a first-class scullery or a smaller type known today as a Butler’s Pantry in your home could keep it looking clean, tidy and highly functional.

Consider having a door access so you can quickly hide the mess away when unannounced visitors pop in to say hello.

10/ Check the size of your breakfast bar Breakfast bars can become a future multitasking saviour that keep the household connected and functioning like clockwork.

When building, check the size of your breakfast bar, including the projecting amount of the benchtop that a chair sits under. Make sure there is ample room for several people to sit comfortably at this space and try to visualise what it could look like with your complete family gathered around it or for entertainment purposes.

11/ Make space for a mudroom or a secondary entry As children grow, they need space for their school bags, sporting gear, hats, raincoats, umbrellas, shoes and all of the other items that eventually come with tiny bundles of joy. For this reason, I love the idea of incorporating the design concepts of a mudroom into a family home.

If you are limited with space and do not like visual clutter, it may be a good idea to think of a way to incorporate a coats & umbrellas closet to store these future items.

12/ Check laundry size and storage With children, the laundry could become your main place of residence so check functionality and reconfigure layout if needed to maximise available bench space. Look for ways to add additional storage as your family grows. Check plans to see if there is an area to store the iron and ironing board and try to allocate an area for a retractable drying rack.

Keep the area close by to your drying yard in case it rains. Or add a Dryer.

13/ Add More Linen Cupboards – Don’t rely on Bedrooms to store your extra blankets or sheets. Clothes and Shoes tend to multiply as the family grows.

14/ Morning Sun

Check your floor plans and see if the children’s bedroom windows can possibly avoid the direct light of the early morning sun to help prevent early morning wake ups (unless, of course, you love early risers). You may like to carefully consider window placement and size or think ahead of possible shade & privacy blinds or shutters to correct the lighting effects.