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.


15/ Place a study area near the kitchen In today’s day and age, it is inevitable that children will access technology and the internet. With this comes the stress of monitoring online activities to optimise your child’s safety. This can also help with having to do daily tasks in the kitchen & helping your children with homework at the same time.


16/ Give the kids their own play zone or a second living room. An important space to consider if having children is a specific zone allocated purely for your children. This space can be flexible, versatile and multi-functional as it grows and changes with your children’s needs.

It can then transform into a chill-out zone, a kids’ TV or games area and a place to hang out with their friends.

Later in life, this zone can be reconfigured into a quiet study area as your growing children begin to prepare for exams or complete essays as they journey through their teenage years.


17/ Consider sight lines if planning a pool for safety One thing you should consider with your initial house plans is this: If you are going to put in a future swimming pool, what will your sight lines look like as children need constant pool supervision?

As they grow older and become confident swimmers, it is still imperative that they are supervised with a watchful eye. Even if they are not swimming, you will always need to be able to see the pool area if children are playing outside. For this reason, I would highly recommend that you check and double check your sight lines and ensure that the pool area is placed in a position that maximises child safety.


18/ Think of your young children

I would also make sure that there are no areas where a small child can fall from such as stairs. Suggest to carpet children's areas (or use linoleum) or something that reduces impacts. Even though the carpet can get messy, when they are learning to walk and bump their heads/fall all the time, they have a softer landing. And carpet also absorbs noise.

Being able to section areas such as the kitchen zone or the living room with child gates is also a good idea too.


19/ Think of your backyard design When children grow, so do their needs. This includes active outdoor play.

When designing your initial backyard, factor in where toys & outdoor play spaces such as swing sets, trampolines or cubby houses may go.

Add a Shed for storage of Bikes & lawnmowers etc.

When designing garden paths, you may want to make sure that they are big enough for a child to ride a bike on. Or you may like to allocate an area for an edible garden where your children can grow and harvest their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Depending on your own lifestyle choices, you may choose to keep a space free for a future cubby or you could prioritise a large grassed area instead.


20/ Make your house a home for your family In our opinion no matter what you do, ensure the house you build is designed in such a way that it is able to grow with you and your family.

Optimise functional space and layout over finishes as changing the floor layout, plumbing and moving the walls of a home can be costly and difficult to do once built.

Expensive finishes such as stone benchtops and high-end lighting or tapware can always be updated as your needs and finances change.

Try not to become overwhelmed with choice and enjoy the process of turning a set of plans into a house, and making it into your home.

Contact us today for a free quote to design your next dream home - www.gapdesigners.com.au

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