You're building your dream home - How exciting! As an interior designer I get excited to help my clients with the myriad of choices they get to make. There are so many decisions that go into building a home. The must haves, the to do list, and the what not to do list.

Poor planning can in turn create costly mistakes and errors along the way. Be sure to take the time to think about what your priorities and wish list of spaces you'd like to have. You must consider your current and future lifestyles, such as family planning for expanding your family or preparing for them to leave for college. Most importantly, be sure to meet with an interior designer and a contractor to discuss your options and get you thinking of what your priorities and lifestyle needs are.

10 Steps to Designing Custom Home
  • Here are a few questions to keep in mind -

  • Will this be your forever home?

  • Do you have children living with you? If so, how many and what are their ages?

  • Will your family be expanding?

  • Do you need a study or play area for your children?

  • Are you empty nesters?

  • Do you entertain guests often? If so, maybe you want a larger dining room or kitchen?

  • Do you have out of town guests stay? If so, maybe you include an additional guest bedroom for them?

  • What styles are you drawn to? Traditional, contemporary, transitional, beach cottage, other?

  • Do you like to cook?

  • Do you need an outdoor kitchen and space for entertaining in your backyard?

  • Are you wanting a pool, fire pit, putting green, or dog run?

  • Do you have pets?

  • Do you want a movie theater or media room?

1. HVAC SYSTEM Poor planning here can lead to issues with moisture and terrible mold growth. This can lend itself to great health concerns. Furthermore, careful attention should be giving to the size of your units. Models that are too small will be under performing and won't cool and heat your home efficiently. When your home is too cool in the wintertime and not cool enough during the hot summer months, those that are too large will utilize too much energy.

2. SPACE PLANNING Unless you have plans to build a very large home, space planning and design is crucial. Ample storage is necessary, but pay attention to where you place your storage space. Does the master bedroom really need an over sized walk in closet, or is it more important to add space to the bedroom or master bathroom? Depends on what your priorities are. There should be one closet in each bedroom and one in the main hallway for linens and other immediate use items. Too much storage takes away from the living spaces, so choose placement wisely. If you don't need a coat closet in the entry or foyer, don't add one. It could be space you could use otherwise such as a wine cellar or a pantry. Or maybe you would rather a mud room if you live in a cooler climate, therefore space to take off your wet boots and coats is important. If you need more space that's fine too, but adding specific areas and making the each room flow one to the next is crucial. When designing your own home you should take your lifestyle and habits into consideration. How long do you plan on staying in this home? Will you need to accommodate safety features for new or young children? If this is your forever home you may want to think of your needs later in life as you reach retirement age and beyond. Think ahead, long term, to plan where you want to be and how you want your home to function and grow with your lifestyle needs.

3. LIGHTING Light fixtures and outlets should be plentiful, as should windows. Windows should be present in every room and be as large as possible. Natural light is best, when possible, and should be the main source of light. Think about adding skylights as well, which add unique features and ambiance to any space.

4. UTILIZED ROOMS The addition of a child's playroom, game room, a home gym or multipurpose room sounds enticing, but only plan to build a specific room that will actually get used. Often an unused room becomes a place for all the things you don't use. If you plan on adding a spare room, make sure that it is a room that can be transitional from everyday use to easily prepare for occasion guests to stay. This is sometimes the case with offices or craft/sewing rooms. Be sure to plan for storage space in the closet so that it's out of sight when your guests are staying there.

5. PLACEMENT OF LAUNDRY ROOM This is a very personal decision. Placement of the laundry room should be relatively close to the bedrooms for convenience and easy accessibility. Upstairs laundry rooms have become more popular, but it may be best to have it on the first floor, closer to the kitchen, which makes cooking and doing the laundry much more efficient.

6. PLACEMENT OF BEDROOMS If you're building a one story home, the bedrooms need to be as far away from the noise and traffic as possible. The master bedroom should not be near or above the garage if members of your family are likely to be coming and going while you are asleep or resting. The master bedroom away from the central living areas and furthest away from the garage. The master bedroom ideally, should not share a common wall with the central living areas or bedrooms if you can help it. If you're planning on building a two story home, mostly if not all bedrooms should be upstairs for more privacy and more serene environment purposes.

7. PLACEMENT OF THE KITCHEN I had homes where the kitchen was nowhere near the main point of entry. When it came time to bring in the groceries, one had to walk through the house in order to transfer everything to the kitchen. This was not a good location. The kitchen should be placed, preferably near the garage or or back entrance. The kitchen tends to get alot of through traffic and it would therefore be best to divert the foot traffic from constantly traipsing through the main living areas.

8. PLACEMENT OF THE GARAGE It is standard to have the garage on the main level, near the kitchen or mudroom. This is where groceries, backpacks, dirty shoes and coats are dropped off before entering the home. Here flooring materials need to be well planned and though out. Tile or a hard surface material that is easy to clean is the best option for this area and throughout the kitchen.

9. MATERIAL SELECTIONS When selecting materials throughout your home keep in mind what functions will occur in each space. If you have pets or small children tile or laminate that looks like wood is the best option for cleaning and maintenance purposes. Wood is beautiful, but more maintenance is required, so it's probably best to install in the living and formal areas such as the dining, family and living room. For bathrooms tile is always recommended with implementation of larger tiles on the floors and walls with small amounts of grout, which means much easier cleaning. Carpet is still great for the bedrooms for warmer spaces. Area rugs can be added if you have wood flooring installed to warm the space and enhance your overall color scheme throughout your home.

10. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL Last, but certainly not least, it is most important and crucial to interview and hire the right professionals to help you with the entire process. There are 3 professions you need on your jobsite to help things run smoothly every step of the way. From day one you will need a builder who specializes in building new or custom homes, an architect for all of the structural drawings and and details decisions that need to be implemented, and a professional interior designer who is certified and experienced in whole house design, who helps to select all of the materials and fixtures throughout the homes structure and all furnishings such as furniture, window treatments, lighting, as well as finishing touches in the artwork and accessories.

So there you have it!

If you have any questions or need direction with planning your dream home, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to help you make it become a reality!

Best Wishes,

Audra Wrightson, CID, Allied ASID Certified Interior Designer #6422 WEBSITE -

www.audrainteriors.com Phone - (714) 904-7431 Email - audra@audrainteriors.com


Audra Wrightson, Certified Interior Designer

Over the last two decades, Audra has become one of the most sought-after interior designers in Southern California. Named one of Orange County’s top 5 Interior Designers by CBS News and the recipient of many design awards, Audra has gained local recognition for her work, and enjoys being active in giving back to local charity organizations in Orange County, California.