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planning a dream house home

If you’re like most people, you have some rough idea of what your dream home might look like. You know you want a certain element here and there, like a huge patio for entertaining, or a spiral staircase, or a certain wood on the floor. You might even have a few basic sketches of the layout on a piece of paper somewhere. But for most, that’s as far as it goes — and their dream home remains out of their reach, not for lack of finances, but for simple lack of planning the design through to the end.

If you’re serious about moving into your dream home, the foundation starts with design. You have to know exactly what you want to begin with, and then you can slowly figure out where to compromise and change, or where to stand firm and insist. Design ideas for your home are easy to find — it just takes a little digging. This list will help you get started.

1. Begin with what you know

Start with where you are right now — it’s the place you know best. Look at your existing home and ask yourself: What do you love? What will you miss when you move away? Those are elements that you absolutely must incorporate into your new design.

Then look at what you really can’t stand. What will you be very glad to walk away from? Put those elements in a “absolutely not” category. Start a list of the things you adore and the things you hate, and then build on that by moving to other things you know: The homes of friends and family, public spaces that move you, and even homes you have seen on television that you admire.2

2. Media is your friend

Social media, that is. As well as magazines, books, websites, and anything else devoted to houses. The key here is to not get bogged down by so many ideas that you lose sight of what your dream house really looks like. How can you possibly narrow down that wealth of information?

Go back to the list you made in the first step and find suitable keywords; for instance, if you are really determined to have an impressive fireplace, words like “fireplace” and “hearth” and “chimney” are good ways to begin narrowing down the articles, pictures and more into a shorter list of things that apply to your particular dream.

3. Hit up home shows

Home shows are filled with an almost ridiculous amount of inspiration and information. Go prepared with a few hard-and-fast ideas of what you want, and use the home show ideas to fill out your dream vision. But don’t let yourself be swayed by homes that completely eradicate your list of “must-have” and “can’t stand.”

When you go to a home show, try to focus on the smaller elements, such as the kitchen cabinets that would work best, countertops that call your name or even the trim that might make a room pop.

4. Talk with a pro on layout

Create the layout of your home by combining existing floor plans with your “must-have” list. Look at things like the flow of traffic through the house, the location and the view, and the size of the rooms to meet your particular needs. This can be tricky, so it helps to talk with a professional who can help you figure out exactly what you need — and most importantly, why you need it that certain way. A pro can be detached from your dream, and that means that they can see things in the layout that you might not.

5. Create a dream book

The design process often takes a long time, and you can become discouraged along the way. To help avoid that feeling, create a “dream book” of the things that truly move you. Clip amazing photographs from magazines, take your own pictures of spaces that inspire you, and even create lists of prices and options that will make your dream home complete.

Revise this on a regular basis, and revisit it when you start to feel hopeless about the design process. This book should remind you of what you really, truly want — and that can help streamline the process and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Set your dream in motion

The closer you get to the perfect design, the more eager you will be to get into your new house. Start right now by planning for the other parts of your dream: Obtaining or perfecting the land, building your savings, securing financing and taking other steps that will eventually make your dream house a reality. Stay determined and move forward, even if it’s in baby steps — and before you know it, the dream house design will begin to take shape into a beautiful, solid reality.

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.