Home design includes interior decorating but also every other aspect of how a home looks: the style of architecture, layout and floor plans, utility hookups, and the actual construction methods and process.
Housing architecture definitely varies according to the region of the country and the specific neighborhood in which a home is located. For example, houses in the northern part of the country will require steeper roofs to keep snow loads off; more southerly abodes may have flat roofs when there is no danger of a buildup of heavy precipitation. Certain historic cities or neighborhoods that draw tourists, like Saint Augustine, Florida or Santa Fe, New Mexico, may have certain building requirements to keep all architecture looking consistent and within a particular chosen aesthetic. For instance, buildings in Santa Fe are required to stick to the traditional earth colors of adobe. While the tendency in many suburban housing developments is toward the cookie-cutter vinyl siding residences, one can still find variety in established or older urban locations and rural areas where there are fewer ordinances or rules to follow.
There are many different styles of houses. A split-level has an entry door that opens into a small foyer; from there, one can either go to the upper or lower level. A ranch house is a larger one-story house. Of course, many families like traditional two-story homes, with the living areas on the lower level and the bedrooms secluded on the upper level. A townhouse is a narrow two-story house that is connected to other units in one contiguous building. Townhouses are often located in specific developments with rules about exterior colors and landscaping; one must pay association fees that contribute to the maintenance of the sidewalks, parking lots, and other common areas.
The materials used to build a house will also vary from place to place. In southeastern Pennsylvania, stone houses are very common, as the ground is full of rock that settlers used to build with, and this tradition continues today. Homes in the southeastern and desert parts of the country may be adobe. Forested areas will of course yield many wooden homes and log cabins. Brick is a long-lasting, traditional option that can be painted or left in its typically red color. Stucco is a form of plaster finish that is popular in southern and western areas with warmer climates.
External design elements are plentiful. The number of windows affects the appearance of the home from the outside as well as the lighting conditions on the inside. Some homes have a breezeway, an semi-enclosed walkway that connects the main part of the house with the garage or carport. A wraparound or enclosed porch is nice in a temperate climate where there is time to relax and enjoy the lovely weather; some people even set up a home office in a sun room, which is like an enclosed porch that is sealed with glass windows so that the climate can be controlled comfortably as it is in the rest of the house. A two-story house or house set on a hill may have a deck for lounging, entertaining, and barbecuing. Some people like to install a hot tub out on a deck.
Outside features are also important when designing a home. Flower beds, a garden, and landscaping increase a home’s curb appeal and also appeal to hobbyists and enthusiasts. Lawns will differ across the country. Desert homes sometimes have landscaping done with stones and cactus to avoid the need to water frequently; keeping a lush, green lawn in this type of environment is an expensive proposition. Perfectly green lawns are desirable in other areas, whereas wooded areas may not be ideal for grass growth. Homes in the woods feature lots of moss and pine needles on the ground; these homes are frequently further apart in rural areas, so it is not as important to maintain drive-by glamor with manicured sod.
A swimming pool is a big draw for many people, but you must have enough land and the right spot to install the pool. Even an above-ground pool will require permits and possibly grading of your property to put it in the right spot. Installing a swimming pool is a huge expensive, so be sure it is something that the whole family will use frequently. The good news is that a pool will surely increase the value of your home.
Many people want a garage, but not necessarily to park their cars in. A lot of men use a garage, either one-car or two-car, as a workshop or man cave. A garage can be a great place to store tools, sporting gear, a deep freezer, and lawn care equipment if one does not have a shed or outbuilding on the property. However, with the right organizational skills and tools, one can have it both ways by keeping these things in the garage and being able to park at least one car in there as well.
Layouts and floor plans have changed a great deal over time and are definitely a matter of taste from one homeowner to the next. Older houses featured lots of separate rooms with doors to shut them off. This helped to keep certain rooms warm when it was a chore, and sometimes a danger, to keep many fires lit inside the home. Modern homes have developed into very open floor plans. While bedrooms are of course still separate for privacy, the living, den, kitchen, and dining areas have melted together into what is now called a great room. Mothers can cook in the kitchen and still be able to watch their children playing in the living room or talk with guests who are seated at a dining table. The prevalence of central heat and air makes this a convenient option. Many people who buy older homes can often take out a nonsupporting wall to create a more free-flowing space.
Speaking of fireplaces, they are now considered quaint instead of necessary, but there are people who do enjoy a good, old-fashioned wood fire in their home. Newer developments have led to gas fireplaces that can be controlled with switches and do not require firewood; this gives the same relaxing ambiance as a real fireplace without the hassle. Some homes have wood-burning stoves that double as heating elements to supplement a central heating system. If you have access to firewood and have a multi-level home, it may be economical to consider putting a wood stove on a lower level in the home. This will keep heating bills much lower.
Plumbing, electricity, and climate control are considered part of home design as well. While many elements of these systems are unseen, the engineering is part of the blueprints that are used to build the house. A system must work with the layout of the house and still be economically viable for the homeowners. It is still logical to put bathrooms and kitchens near one another to keep all of the plumbing in one location and to make their design similar as with counters and the kitchen flooring options. Electricity does not seem important unless you have ever lived in a home where it wasn’t planned out well. Sometimes three-pronged outlets are installed upside-down, and sometimes there are not enough outlets in a room. This is a particular problem in older homes, where people simply did not have as many appliances and electronics as we use today. Modern homes also need cable and Ethernet wiring installed, many times not just to a living room and den but to all rooms in the house.
Housing construction can be done a few different ways but is usually determined by the architectural style of the house. The guts of the house may be a post-and-beam, A-frame, or other basic skeletal style.
The interior home design is a factor that is more controlled by the homeowners. Once the basics of a home are in place, there is much that can be done to enhance their functionality, energy flow, and aesthetics.
Bedrooms should be seen as an oasis from the daily hustle and bustle of life. It is important to keep these areas uncluttered. All that is needed is a bed, bedside tables, and perhaps clothing storage like a bureau or dresser if a walk-in closet is not available. The Chinese art of feng shui dictates that a bed should not be in direct line with the entry door; this contributes to a feeling of privacy and security. Another good feng shui practice for the bedroom is to keep the area under the bed clear; while it seems like a prime area for storage, clutter in this area blocks the flow of energy while you sleep and can cause insomnia and less refreshing sleep.
Bedrooms for family members are important, but many people like to have a guest room available. If guests are not constantly flowing in and out, one might choose to make this a multi-purpose room, such as a combination library, craft/sewing room, overflow or off-season storage area, home office, and guest bedroom.
Bathroom design can vary and really depends on the overall square footage of the home and how much time people spend in this room. For many women or couples, a large bathroom is important. Both partners may be getting ready for their day at the same time, so features like double sinks and a separate tub and shower come in handy. A toilet may also be hidden behind a partition for privacy when there is another occupant in the bathroom. Vanity sinks provide plenty of storage for supplies; if pedestal sinks are chosen, there should be an ample linen closet in the bathroom for this purpose.
Kitchen design is a huge priority for homeowners. Everybody has different taste when it comes to the layout of their kitchen. Some people want lots of cabinet and counter space; others who do not cook often may not want their square footage taken up by a large kitchen area. Some people like to have a separate work island in the middle of the space. A galley kitchen is a long, narrow room lined on both sides with cabinets, counters, and appliances. These kitchens are typically found in apartments and smaller, older houses. Deciding on the right countertops can be tricky because they come in different varieties and appeal to different people but one should be careful or it can break your budget quickly, especially when you look at quartz countertops prices. Older countertops were laminate surfaces which can burn and scratch easily, but many people still like the relatively low cost and endless array of shades available. Solid surfaces like Corian became popular, as they are similar to stone, but the synthetic material is a bit lighter and less expensive. Granite countertops are very popular, but like anything, will eventually give way to something else.
A living room is sometimes the primary relaxation and entertainment area in a home; other times, there is a separate family room or rec room in the basement, while the living room serves as a “parlor” for guests and parties. This will usually be one of the largest rooms in a home.
More and more people are working at home, even part of the time. A home office space and library is becoming a requested space in the home. Some people will use an extra bedroom for this purpose. Other homes will have a specific office space built into the main level. Still others set up room in a finished basement for this purpose.
When planning the design elements of your home, remember not to go too trendy, and do not choose things because you think they will impress others. If you want to select certain materials because they will contribute to the value of your home, that is a wise decision. When it comes to permanent fixtures and finishes, try to stick with classic looks that you can redecorate around if you get bored and that other homeowners will not have to completely redo if you should ever decide to move and sell your home. Many new home buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready, not renovation projects. Keep it simple and add your own personal touches with floor tile patterns, furniture, and accessories.