How NOT to Design Your New Home

Research almost any how-to topic, and you’ll find limitless information on how to do it. That’s thanks to the great information highway known as the internet. You’ll find far less, however — online or anywhere — on how NOT to tackle a how-to topic.

If it exists, it’s usually tacked on the end of a post, article or video, or couched as “tips.” Since there are few greater how-to undertakings than buying, planning and designing a new custom home, How NOT to Design Your New Homewe’d thought we’d have some fun and turn our how-to advice into how-NOT-to tips.

Creating a royal mess you’ll regret is easy if you overlook some simple yet time-tested caveats. As Florida’s Custom Home Builder, ICI Homes has built all over the state for more than three decades, and our designers, architects and planners almost have seen it all!

We say almost because we know someone will come along and teach us something new about how NOT to design your new home. Then we’ll add it to our cautionary list below. Read on if you’d like to avoid — or make — some really regrettable home-design mistakes.

I have a choice? Says who?

You do! Remember to bring your ideas, inspiration and research to your design sessions, which is when you meet and work with your designer(s) to choose building materials and finishes, among other things.

Customers who are not prepared often wear bewildered expressions and flinch when someone pulls out a color wheel or product samples. In fact, they abdicate decisions to the pros in the design studio, who would rather use their expertise to guide and educate customers rather than choose for them.

“Beige,” is these customers’ wrong answer to nearly every design question. “Just go with beige,” they say about paint, trim, flooring and bathroom tile choices. “It matches everything.” (The other default here usually is “white,” but you dig what we’re saying).

Of course there’s nothing wrong with beige if you truly adore it, but chances are you’ll want to vary shades, textures, accent colors and finishes, right? Please!

Since you’re building a custom home, our design and building teams want you to be happy with unique choices all your own.

You mean I have to look at a floorplan?

Not only look at it, but carefully consider how living spaces and rooms will be sited throughout your future home. “So the garage is at the end,” a customer may say. “That’s all I need to know.”

No, it’s not. Some of the most common, frustrating design mistakes involve four crucial components of a new home — the garage, kitchen, bedrooms and laundry (or utility) room.

Let’s start with the garage, which should adjoin the kitchen. Residents usually do what once they’ve parked in their garage? They haul items out of vehicles into the house. What if those items include 24 bags of groceries? Do you want to lug them all across your entire 3,000-square-foot-home to the kitchen? Every week? For 52 weeks? Every year? We thought not.

The same is true with bedrooms and laundry (or utility) rooms. “I like to read in bed at night,” this customer will say. “I don’t want to listen to the washer and dryer at the same time.” This same customer won’t be any happier hauling laundry hampers down two stair flights — or to the other side of the house —  to access the out-of-the-way laundry room by the garage.

While we’re discussing a lack of planning…

I eat, sleep and watch TV. What else is a house for?

If this is all you do, we want your life. But we suspect yours is a lot more complicated than that. We also suspect that customers who only consider the necessary bedroom-bathroom-kitchen building blocks will end up frustrated later when their overall space doesn’t fit their lives.

“One linen closet’s enough,” says a customer with four children under the age of 10.

Repeat after us: you can never, ever have too much storage in a home.

“I don’t need a home office,” says another customer. “I’ll just sit on the couch with my laptop.”

While four kids actively, noisily play alongside.

You, the customer, must think outside the bedroom-bathroom-kitchen box, if only for 10 minutes. You might enjoy turning the concrete patio that exists on your selected floor plan into a small summer kitchen. How about a screened-in back porch to enjoy sunsets or flower beds?

If you work from home, or know that you might, plan a quiet, workable space for that activity. As for closets —there will never be enough. Grab as many as you can.

And the corollary to not thinking about how you use your space…

What? Me (us) change?

We bet our Florida oranges you will, if you live in your new custom home for any length of time. The saying, “the only constant is change,” is true. Work, family and personal lives are ever-evolving, even when we go through stretches where everything feels status-quo and the kids seem like they’ll be bratty 12-year-olds forever.

Nope. You’ll get promoted. Or finally retire. Kids grow up and graduate, even though recent trends indicate more adult children returning to the nest because of economic reasons. Elderly family members may no longer be able to live on their own and you want to help.

On the practical home-design side, suddenly you’ll be done with your crafting craze, and the spare bedroom-turned-craft-room sits forlorn. Or, you’ll downsize to only the two of you, and no longer need the big dinning room and barn-sized table that seats 14.

What to do with it all now? If you know you want to stay in your home, you’ll have a sketched-out plan to turn those empty spaces into useful ones. A home office in the former craft room. A dance floor in the former dining room, because why not?

An air conditioner is an air conditioner is an air conditioner

So wrong. The mere fact you can choose between a heat pump and a furnace-AC duo should tell you that.

“You do this every day,” this customer will say to our builders and architects. “You know what I need better than I do.”

Our talented and experienced folks probably do. That’s still no excuse to go AWOL when you review choices for your new home’s mechanical systems and construction processes.

We get that these systems aren’t sexy and often not even interesting, but you want the best-quality, most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly ones available. You also want longevity, high performance and minimal service calls.

At ICI Homes, we build EQ Factor homes, which feature tighter construction, greener building materials and systems, plus extra attention to technique and craft. You already have that in your metaphorical back pocket when you plan your new home with us. So don’t whiff on your choice of air conditioners. Get the one that’s truly the right size for your new home.

Here’s another reason not to ignore your future home’s internal organs…

It’s too hot outside. close the blinds.

People! Where do you (or will you) live? The Sunshine State. Why would you want to block it out?

“I don’t want to pay a giant power bill,” a customer will gripe.

Then see above. Build an EQ Factor home with us and choose the best mechanical systems for it. For example, today’s window glass repels heat and shades your interiors more efficiently than ever before, which means you don’t need heavy curtains to block Mother Nature.

“But it’s so bright outside,” another customer grumbles. “I need it darker inside.”

Then you may pay a higher power bill because you’ll likely require more artificial light. Instead, think siting with your builder and architect. Can you choose a lot with existing trees for natural shade? Flip the floor plan so that living areas don’t take direct afternoon sun?

A few thoughtful tweaks can ease your heat intolerance and power-pill paranoia, plus allow you to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle you may have moved to Florida for! Don’t shy from cheery windows and comfortable porches, lanais and pools. Trust your new home’s ability to help you keep your cool.

Full disclosure: we totally understand customers with medical conditions and allergies who must limit their sun and natural-elements exposure. Those are even more good reasons to be extra-attentive during the design/build meetings for your new home. You may not be able to loll in midday sun, but you can enjoy the beauty of it from a carefully-sited porch.

Ready to NOT make mistakes designing your Florida home? You want ICI Homes. Talk to us here.