Designing the Living Zones in Your New Timber Framed Home

Check out our guides to designing working, bath, sleeping, storage, kitchen and parking zones.

It is in the gathering space under your elegantly crafted timber frame where you and your family will interact daily to make memories. The main living zone should reflect your lifestyle, first and foremost. Start by asking yourself some basic questions when creating your design.

Formal or Informal?

A formal design is one that separates living and dining rooms, where meals and gatherings are carried out in a formal setting. Everyday activities typically take place in the family room. Some homes include a breakfast nook off the kitchen for informal eating.

Informal design combines living room, family room, and eating areas into a single space, often called the great room. The room plays host to all forms of eating and entertaining. There are no areas set aside for formal dining or entertaining.

Open Space or Compartmentalization?

Take into consideration the personalities of your family members. Are they predominately extroverts, where people recharge by socializing? Or are they introverts in need of private space to recharge and rest? If it’s a mixture of both, consider compartmentalizing open spaces with furniture or large archways.

Togetherness or Separation?

Use a model furniture cutout kit or inexpensive home-design software to test furniture arrangements. Even if you’re after an overall informal design, you can still isolate activities from each other. The television, by way of example, can be set off in one section, leaving the remainder of the great room for other activities.

“Use a model furniture cutout kit or inexpensive home-design software to test furniture arrangements.”

Determine Preferred Traffic Patterns

Do you want the living room placed so that all traffic must go through it or would you prefer a hallway to shuttle the flow directly to the family room/kitchen area? Or would you prefer the most often used entrance (likely coming from the garage) to allow traffic into the kitchen, pantry and utility or mud room? How will you locate the bedrooms in relation to the common areas? Will a hall or stairs from the bedrooms lead directly into the great room/kitchen/dining area or would you prefer a different arrangement?

Determine Furniture Locations

Furniture cutouts allow you to plan out furniture placement and to ensure there is ample room around windows and doors for proper ventilation and light exposure. Knowing approximate furniture location ahead of time can help in locating electrical and service outlets for today’s increasingly high-tech homes. Cable television, alarm systems and phone jacks (if you’re still using land lines) all require special wiring. To avoid unsightly wiring all around the living space, plan ahead for locations of these needs in advance and have the wiring run inside walls or behind baseboard trim. Plus, your back will thank you later.

Discover Other Activity Zone Design Strategies

We know there’s a lot to think about when designing your home and the Woodhouse design team brings the experience of over 1,000 successful design projects to helping you do it right. While it is tempting to jump right into figuring out a floor plan, it is best to spend time on form and function first in relation to your building site. Each area of a home serves a certain function, which will generally dictate eventual form. Check out our guides to designing other activity zones, including working, sleeping, bath, storage, kitchen and parking zones.

“We know there’s a lot to think about when designing your home and the Woodhouse design team brings the experience of over 1,000 successful design projects to helping you do it right.”