It is an over simplification to say that there are only three types of two story homes but the vast majority of the mid priced homes follow simple logical patterns that divide homes into three basic types. By asking questions of your customers it is likely that you can guide them to one of these three types making design easier for you and still letting them believe the home has been customer designed just for them.
A typical home has either five or six rooms on the first floor; kitchen, breakfast, family room, living room, dining room and sometimes a den. The kitchen and breakfast area are next to each other for obvious reasons and in nearly every case adjacent to the family room. Because kitchen is more enclosed due to cabinets and cooking areas the breakfast area is almost always between the kitchen and family room. While I have done the opposite – kitchen separating the family room and breakfast – it has not worked as successfully. Even the home owner for whom I built it regretted the decision after the fact.
The kitchen-breakfast-family room area makes up the primary family living area. The family will spend most of its' waking time in these three rooms and even when entertaining this is the area most often used. For privacy these three rooms are nearly always at the back of the house away from the street.
The dining room will logically be next to the kitchen.
The resulting layout has the family room, breakfast and kitchen along the back of the house with the dining room in front of the house next to the kitchen and the living room the other side of the front door in the front of the house. This is a very functional and therefore popular plan. Nearly every builder has a version of this plan in their portfolio and it is usually their most popular five room plan.
This layout also places the family room adjacent to the living room. If the client likes having additional entertaining area you can open the living room to the dining room. If the family likes separate spaces so one member of the family can escape to read in the living room while the rest of the family watch action movies the family may want to close off the opening and create separate use areas.
If the family wants a "den" you need to determine why they need it. If it is to be an office work area with possible client visits the buyer will likely want the office den at the front of the house. If this is the case you put the family room behind the garage with the breakfast and kitchen along the back. To create more room at the front of the house the den is placed next to the kitchen but at the back of the house. The den office and the dining room are then placed either side of the front entry. If the dining room is placed next to the living room so that a single large room the dining room table can be expanded into the living room to accommodate large gatherings.
If the den is really a guest bedroom then the room can be created by sliding the garage forward and placing the family room behind the garage.
There are any numbers of variations most significantly the location of the powder room and first floor laundry, if desired, but the vast majority of two story homes will fit into one of these three templates. When we designed a custom or semi-custom home before we started the plans would ask the family a couple of questions:
If the family is usually together we would open up the family room to living room. If the family wanted two separate areas we would either close off the family room or put it on the opposite side of the house.
Select the first floor plan that meets their need and you have a semi-custom template from which to work.
Original content copyright 2011 Thomas Robinson