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Young or new families have different needs than empty-nesters or those just starting out.
Many people wonder what the best type of home for new families is, but there is no catch-all solution. Luckily, we have some suggestions for you. In this article we’re going to cover five home design tips for new families—with a bonus tip at the end of the article.
Open floor plans have become exceedingly popular, and for young families there are many specific advantages.
For new parents, open floor plans make it easy to keep an eye on young children while you’re attempting to do chores like washing the dishes or cooking dinner. It also enables you to interact and converse with your kids while you do these things.
Hosting large groups is always more fun with an open floor plan. If you have a big family and plan to be the host for the holidays, open floor plans mean you’re not bumping into each other in doorways, and your party isn’t split up between different rooms.
And speaking of holidays, it can be annoying to try to make room for decorations like a Christmas tree in a closed layout. But with an open floor plan, it’s super easy to rearrange furniture and make space for those large decorations.
A dedicated playroom can go a long way to keeping your house tidy, especially if you often have guests who just pop by. The key to a functional playroom is having plenty of storage for toys but also having plenty of space for play.
Rubbermaid bins or toy chests are iconic and easy to acquire, but they don’t necessarily utilize the space well. Vertical storage will help you maximize the play area that your kids can use, and it also helps you keep toys that require supervision out of reach. Rotating toys can also keep the clutter under control while allowing kids to not “get bored” or overwhelmed.
It’s also very important to consider what materials you use in your playroom. White carpets, of course, are a bad idea. Laminate flooring or luxury vinyl plank will make spills, or things like Play-Doh, slime and paint super easy to clean up and the same goes for your walls. We recommend a high-quality, satin-finish acrylic paint to balance appearance and cleanability.
Oftentimes your laundry room can be more accurately described as a laundry closet, so the vertical storage we mentioned before can help you here too—and so can stacking your washer and dryer in small spaces. In fact, front-loading machines are highly recommended because they’re so versatile when it comes to optimizing space, allowing you to use the space above the machines for a folding counter or to install cabinetry.
Another great way to manifest more space in your laundry room is to install floating shelves, or upper cabinetry which will allow you to slide your front-loading machines underneath.
We also recommend you consider installing a utility sink—every home needs a heavy-duty sink for the gross, hard jobs. While the utility sink is often overlooked, it's a great place for rinsing off “extra” soiled laundry, emptying mop buckets, or cleaning paint brushes. Ideally having the utility sink in the laundry room will allow it to be used easily for laundry, but if it’s not an option, the utility room is a great alternative.
And while we’re talking about sinks, here’s another great tip for child-proofing your home. Installing only dual-handle faucets—meaning faucets that have a handle for both hot and cold instead of a single handle that you turn like a dial—means you can foster independence with your kids by teaching them to turn on the cold water only without worrying about burns. Luckily, new homes are required to be equipped with a mixing valve to prevent serious burns, but it’s always best to teach safe habits!
If you’re lucky enough to still be working from home, one downside of having a young family is how loud it can be. It’s great that you can take your lunch break with your family, but when it’s time to work you need a space that can facilitate that while preventing little ones from using your paperwork for craft time.
While it may be enticing to situate your home office in the living room—so you can keep an eye on your kids while you work—you may come to regret that when it’s time for an important Zoom meeting or phone call. We suggest designing your home so the office is away from high traffic areas like main hallways or active rooms like the TV room.
It’s important to know that using your bedroom for activities other than sleep has a negative effect on your sleep cycle. So while a home office may be an afterthought, if you have the opportunity to design a dedicated home office, don’t pass it up. And if you’re not sure where to start, check out this article.
Sometimes it can be hard to childproof an existing house. But when you have the advantage of designing your own home, you have a great opportunity to make life with a young child less stressful.
Starting in your kitchen, childproofing can be as simple as choosing rounded corners on your countertops. Making sure you have cabinet space or drawer space for dangerous utensils is also important.
We highly recommend non-slip flooring in the bathroom and in the bathtub. This type of investment will also help with the resale value of your home, as non-slip flooring and non-slip bathtubs are highly recommended for seniors as well.
Finally, designing your own home allows you to put more emphasis on things like overhead lighting—which will reduce the number of cords that are lying around. Consider your other electronics as well. Routers and modems can be wall mounted and their cords can run behind the drywall; mounted TVs can also have their wiring hidden from little hands by strategically running electrical conduit.
Grab a pen and paper and write down the reason for each room in your home design. Can you justify each room? Do you need a separate dining room, or can that space and budget be used for something else? Once you’ve done that, think about the function of each room. Is a dining room also a family game room? If it is, do you need to consider more shelving or built-in cabinets?
This brainstorming will help you think of things you hadn’t considered before and will help you stay focused as you move on to the next steps.
It’s also important to consider your budget at this step as well. But where do you start? Home shows are a great place to meet contractors and to learn about products and materials. If you plan your day right, you can learn a lot and have a good start on how much things might cost.