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New Trends in Home Floor Plans
May, 2004
Source: ‘Hard As a Rock’ Magazine


Sight Lines

Take two homes that have the same square footage - why does one seem so much larger than the other? This can be explained by something called sight lines! Sight lines are what you see from any given point in your home, whether you are sitting in a room or standing in a doorway. In designing any custom new home, Bridlewood Homes specifically challenges our clients on the various sight lines that should be taken into consideration when determining a potential floor plan. When sight lines are obstructed by a wall or a door the home will feel smaller but if you open things up with a hint of what lies beyond, the home will always look and feel larger!

It is a simple process to determine the site lines on a floor plan - all you need is a ruler and a pencil. Start from the middle of any doorway or opening and draw a straight line to various points in the new home plan. You will want to determine whether the line stops in that room, passes through several rooms, or if it will capture a glimpse of a fireplace or a window. It is important to check the sight lines from various sitting and standing positions in the home. As you move through a home, it is much more interesting to get a glance of what's to come with subtle hints of the spaces beyond than to be cut off from the rest of the home. When looking at home floor plans determine what you will see from your dinner table, sofa or the comfort of your bed! Many times there is little or no thought put into this process which can often lead to regret after the new home has been built.


Traffic Patterns

The success of a floor plan is how well you move through it, not just when you are seated or standing still. New homes today limit the use of hallways to move from one space to another. In today’s plans, other rooms have become passageways. This has the added advantage of making small rooms seem larger when they are open to other rooms with good sight lines. For example, when you walk from a main floor master bedroom to the kitchen, do you want to walk between the sofa and the TV? If your master bedroom is upstairs, do you want to walk down the stairs and pass through the entry in your pyjamas to get a glass of water? Take the time to mentally walk your plan several times and consider how you will live in the new home you are about to build. Doing this will help alleviate any potential improper traffic patterns.

Privacy and Shared Space

The placement of rooms relative to other rooms can play a role in how a family lives. Do you really want your child's bedroom directly over the master bedroom? There are times when even the closest of families need their privacy. The master shouldn't be too close to the family room, either. With the popularity of surround sound, TVs have become louder and larger. The best plans keep the master bedroom at a comfortable distance from other activities in the home, ideally in its own wing with nothing above or below and no common walls, if the home size will allow this.

Not all room adjacency issues deal with privacy. Sometimes it's about togetherness. For example, kitchens should not isolate the person preparing the meal. Eat-in kitchens are a great place to bring families and friends together. By combining food preparation and dining we create wonderful opportunities for conversation and togetherness. Thus, the emergence and continued existence of open concept plans.

Room usage and positions in new homes are changing as well. For example, take the games room concept. Instead of just converting an extra bedroom, families are finding children's retreats to be far more useful. A children's retreat consists of a common recreation/study that serves as the hub of the children's activities and is surrounded by their bedrooms. This area of the home becomes a special place just for the kids, where they can do their homework, play games or watch TV while mom and dad enjoy some quiet time with a movie or reading by the family room fire.


All About the Windows

Finally, after taking all sight lines internally into consideration, it is also important to take into consideration external sight lines. It doesn't take a lot of windows to make an impact on the character of a home. You just need to know where to put them. And as you may have guessed, that is why sight lines play a large role here, too. Pay special attention to the interior/exterior relationship created with windows. We suggest that you keep in mind, what direction the window faces and will it give morning or afternoon light? You may decide you want eastern exposure for a breakfast room window. Large windows with western exposure may not be a good idea for a family room with a large screen TV because of the glare. Thus, strategic placement of windows becomes an integral part of your sight line development.

Bridlewood Homes feels it is important that you take all of these factors into consideration when working on your new home plan. Whether you are designing your own dream home or sitting down with a professional builder it is very important to be sure you consider sight lines, traffic patterns and room and window placements throughout the new home plan you may be designing.

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