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The Four Elements of Home Design

April 13, 2019

The Four Elements of Home Design

Regardless of how big or small the house may be or how many rooms or square feet, Traditional style or Tuscan, there are really only four main elements of home design:

  • Kitchen
  • Family Room
  • Master Bedroom
  • Master Bath

Here is where I’d like to walk you through each element:


After thirty years in the construction industry, there is one thing I know for certain: people LOVE their kitchens. Our job is to create a kitchen that clients not only love, but will love for all the right reasons. And that leads us to some specific questions you might not think to ask, such as:

  • Where do you want the kitchen?
  • In the middle of the house, in the front, in the back?
  • Or, let’s get more specific: Do you want it on the left leisure side of the home?
  • The right leisure side of the home?
  • And what do you want in it?
  • How big will it have to be to accommodate, say, a central island or double door refrigerator or breakfast nook?

 All of these answers are critical as we move onto the next major element of home design, the family room.

Family Room

Homes are like puzzles; they must fit together, so depending on what your wants, needs and plans are for the kitchen—which is why we start with that area of the house—we can then move on to designing the family room.

If you want your kitchen on the right leisure side of the house, perhaps you’ll want the family room on the left. Or vice versa! Or, maybe your kitchen is the centerpiece of your house and you really want it to blend into the family room in a way that is unique and different.

As the floor plan begins to evolve and take shape, you can see the importance of these four elements of design and how they not only fit together, but begin to inform and color the feel, tone and tempo of the home itself.

The kitchen and family room elements are also integral to the style of home you’re looking for. We see a lot of Tuscan and Texas Hill Country Traditional here, as well as a kind of loft-like, farmhouse style, the castle look and the Mediterranean look, etc.

You can apply almost any style you want to almost any house, but the best styles match inside and out. So knowing the feel, tone and tempo you want for your house can help you pick both the style and have that style influence the size of rooms, the brightness and layout, etc.

The typical square footage for a family room is generally 18 x 18-square feet, or 18 x 20. That would be the size we would suggest you shoot for.

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is the third major element of home design, and provides a wide opportunity of style, size and fixture choices. Here we have a variety of choices to make, such as size and style, of course, but also widow treatment, closet size, flooring, etc.

Do you want a walk-out balcony? A parlor or sitting area? Built in fixtures or flat walls? High arches or ceilings, slanted, low or cathedral? People spend a lot of time in their bedrooms and, like the family kitchen, tend to take a lot of time planning this room out to be both comfortable and personal.

When it comes to size, most of our master bedrooms come in at 13 x 14-square feet. That is our default measurement and the standard by which we go, with the understanding that making the master bedroom bigger or smaller will generally affect the size of adjoining or connecting rooms.

Master Bath

The fourth and final major element of home design is the master bathroom. Again, like the relationship between the family room and the kitchen, the choices you make with your master bedroom will affect your master bathroom.

The larger your sitting area or walk-in closet, for instance, the smaller your master bathroom might have to be. Or do you want the master bath in the front of the suite, to the side or in the back?

Our designers and sales people will help you see all of the facets, options and opportunities involved in your choices, and perhaps help you reach compromises that allow you to have the best of both worlds when it comes to your master bedroom and master bath.

When it comes to designing the master bathroom, there are other considerations to make as well. Do you want the master bath to be just for the master bedroom, so that the flow is quite organic from one room to the next? Do you want the master bath next to the master bedroom? Do you want the master bath to join two rooms, equally accessible to both, in what is known as a “Hollywood” or “Jack and Jill” style? Again, it’s like a puzzle; the choices you make for this room will affect other rooms, and so require careful consideration and lots of visualization!

I always say, if you’re going to scrimp on certain elements of the house, never scrimp on these main four elements; kitchen, family room, master bedroom and master bathroom. There are four main elements for a reason; because this is where, traditionally, home owners spend the most of their time.

In fact, when we begin to design a custom home for our clients we not only start with these four elements but really try to “wow” future homeowners with our designs for these four areas. If you can’t get clients excited about their kitchen, family room, master bedroom or bath, how in the world can you hope to get them excited about the guest room or garage?

It’s Not Just You: Designing for Resale

National averages reveal that most Americans live in their home for an average of seven years before moving out and moving on. While that’s not something you want to dwell on as you invest precious time, energy and financial resources to the design of your new home, it is something to consider in the design of that home.

You will want to create a design that’s not just attractive or comfortable to you, but that will appeal to potential buyers as well. We love to encourage our clients to be as personal, unique and inventive as possible when it comes to designing their homes, but not so unique that they’ll be the only ones to ever be able to live in it!

That’s why we try to blend the best of what we know, and families’ love, with what each specific client brings to the home design process, as well. Once again, this gives them the best of both worlds; ideal living conditions while they own the house and optimal resale value, if and when, they ever decide to sell.