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Planning a home is a big, enjoyable job

SHARE Planning a home is a big, enjoyable job

If you put six houses in a row, each with 3000-square-feet inside, you will most likely have six completely different homes. What causes this diversion?

Space planning, in short. When the architect and the builder or homeowner get together, the needs of the people who will live in the prospective house will be determined and, hopefully, met.

One family might need an extra room for romping children, while another would be looking to house a live-in maid. And a family of five living within 3,000 square feet will design a different home from the empty nester family of two given the same square footage.

Developing just the right floor plan from scratch could be quite a task unless you have a talent for or a background in architectural space planning.

Another way to go about it is to study floor plans of homes that already exist.

Many trade magazines have floor plans displayed within their pages. Find two or three that seem to fit your needs then take the best of each and see if you can come up with just the right combination of rooms and sizes that suit you. With a floor plan in front of you, you can move walls to make some rooms bigger or smaller according to your needs. Then cut out rooms that are just right and try to arrange them in good flowing order. Of course, you will need to take your 'masterpiece' to an architect to make it all work, but at least you will have laid the groundwork.

Reading floor plans is easy once you get the hang of it. These are drawn from a bird's eye view, looking down into the rooms as though the roof were removed.

Floor plans are drawn to scale. What this means is that though what you see on paper is obviously much smaller than the actual house, the proportions will remain the same. Everything is reduced in size so that a fraction of an inch represents a foot of actual space in the physical structure. Most plans are drawn to a scale under which each quarter inch on paper represents one foot in reality. Magazine floor plans are drawn to scale then shrunk further to fit the page. Unfortunately, once shrunk, they do not have an exact scale you can measure, but they do give a proportioned, overall picture of the plan of the house.

When planning your home, be sure all your space requirements are met. Don't forget to allow for storage. Some of your square footage can be used to give character to a room such as vaulted or high ceilings. Sunlights and clerestory windows serve to enhance the personality of a home, too.

Traffic flow, is an important factor to deal with. You don't want a living room that is so small you have to walk around the furniture to get to the next room. All rooms should be easy to get to. When one room will be used as the main activity hub, it should be planned so that the most direct route to and from it is across a corner or along one side in order not to interrupt activities in progress.

Besides the main traffic routes, each room will need its own little traffic path. Furniture placement will determine this path so plan the furniture arrangement right from the beginning to avoid headaches and disappointments later. For example, all rooms need windows, yet you do not want every wall in the room to be cut up by windows/doors or other breaking points so there would be little wall space for furniture placement. If you intend to have a king size bed in the bedroom, make sure there is an uninterrupted wall big enough to hold the headboard and two nightstands.

All this seems like a big task, and it is, but just relax and take it one step at a time.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, is president of Rosemary Sadez Friedmann Inc. in Naples, Fla.