One of the best perks of purchasing a new home is watching it be constructed from the ground up. Before the foundation can be laid and the walls framed, builders hire architects to design floor plans or drawings that layout the space and measurements for every room in your new home.

A floor plan is a bird’s eye view of the home, floor by floor and room by room. On each plan, you will see bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen labeled, as well as doors, windows, and special features such as fireplaces, standalone tubs, and balconies. In many cases, when you work with a new home builder, there are opportunities to make certain changes to the floor plans to suit your family’s lifestyle.

So, how do you choose the best floor plan for your family?

Measure for Measure

When you see a floor plan and the total square footage of the home, you may be dazzled. This is when you have to ask yourself: how much space is right for your family? It’s important that you consider what’s important to your family so that you can see if the floor plan measures up.

Do you need play areas for children? Do you like to entertain family and friends? Will you need two or three bedrooms? How about a home office? Floor plans are smartly designed and can maximize the use of the space, so the best way to prepare to choose one is to spend some time thinking about how you want to live in the home once it’s built.

Follow the Flow 

Imagine yourself walking through the home when you’re looking at a floor plan. Start at the front door and see where the home takes you. Go from the laundry room to put the clothes away. Is it convenient? Many floor plans have responded to this desire by placing the laundry room on the second floor of the home.

Does the flow of the kitchen to the dining area feel right? Can you imagine having friends and family over for dinner? Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms for your family? When you’re coming in with an armload of groceries, will you have an easy path to the kitchen? Will you park your car in the garage and come in through a mudroom?

All of these lifestyle questions are also floor plan questions. Envisioning yourself and your family is the fun part, and it starts the moment you see a floor plan.

On Your Level

What type of home best suits your lifestyle? Bungalows offer main-level living without any stairs. Two-story homes offer two above-ground levels and a finished or unfinished basement, and townhomes can be two, three, or four levels, depending on the design.

Choosing the right floor plan begins by knowing which home type is best for your family.

Traditional or Open Concept 

Today, many floor plans are drawn with an open concept design. This layout is appealing because there are fewer walls to separate the kitchen, living room, and dining room area. It’s ideal for entertaining and can also make the space feel bigger, with more room to socialize and spread out.

When you look at an open concept floor plan, think about how you will move from room to room. Do you like that there aren’t walls in between? Or would you prefer more separation?

Traditional floor plans will show walls separating the kitchen from the dining and living rooms with symbols representing swing doors, sliding doors, or leave a blank space for a framed pass-through without a door.

Choosing one style over another will help you find the one that’s best for you.

Must-Have Features

Make a list of must-have features so that when you look at floor plans, you can begin to narrow down your choices. Is a spiral staircase what you’ve always dreamed of? In your gourmet kitchen, is there an island with a breakfast bar? Do you want a gas fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves in your living room? Will you need a home office or do the kids need a study room?

All of these features and more will be outlined on a floor plan and the choice will be easier if you know your must-haves going in.

Find Extra Room

When looking at a floor plan and envisioning yourself living in this home, think of alternative uses for rooms that might seem like extra rooms right now. A formal dining room or living room could seem unnecessary right now, but you consider repurposing those spaces for a playroom, a hobby studio, a games room or a library. A bonus or flex room like a den on the main floor or an extra bedroom upstairs can also be transformed into a guest room, an exercise room, or a home office.

Look for Storage Solutions

No one likes clutter! Sometimes it can be hard to determine from a floor plan where you will find storage. Growing families always need more storage space and some solutions include built-in shelving on the main floor and in closets, a mudroom, and a garage. Consider adding additional storage space, if possible during the design phase.

Ask Away

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what you see – or don’t see on a floor plan. Most people don’t know how to navigate architectural drawings or floor plans and it is completely acceptable for you to lean on the experts and ask any questions you may have.

Choosing the best floor plan for you and your family involves a lot of decision-making, and it all begins with prioritizing what your needs are as a family. Once you know what you need, you can begin to envision yourself living in the home just by looking at the drawings.