Top Tips For Designing Your Own Home

November 27, 2023

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Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Designing your own home can sound like a mammoth task – and one that not everyone wants to do! But there are a lot of great things that happen when you take control of projects like this. Even for those who wouldn’t normally be picking up a paintbrush, designing a home that you will live in forever – and maybe even pass down to your children is a big deal! 

2 men discussing building plans

Photo by Mark Potterton on Unsplash

The thing is, when it comes to designing a house for you and your family to live in for years to come, you don’t need to rush it. In fact, it is much better if you don’t. Taking your time and working through some of these suggestions can help you put together your ideas ready to present them to a home builder.

Vision Board

Not everyone is into putting vision boards together – but they can be massively helpful with huge projects where there are a lot of visual elements. Your vision board can become the place that you go to to make sure that what you think you like and want all makes sense when it is placed together in a single place. 

vision board for interior design

It can be a good idea to create multiple ones- so that you can see all of the ways that you can move forward. You don’t have to make a real-life vision board – although it is a lot of fun. You can choose to make a few Pinterest boards too


The budget can feel like a limiting factor, but actually, it can also be the factor that forces you to think outside the box a little. Establish a clear and realistic budget range from the outset. Consider your financial situation – and be realistic about it, including income, savings, and potential financing options (maybe family is helping you out). Remember that unforeseen expenses will likely pop up, so allocate a contingency fund to accommodate these surprises.

It is suggested that you have at least 20% of the house’s total price in ‘spare cash’ for things that might go wrong. And although you like to think that nothing will, depending on the materials you have chosen or the timeline, things can be more costly. 

Not necessarily the time to DIY

Unfortunately, a few episodes on TV of people building their own homes from scratch won’t give you the know-how and the tools to make it work. Don’t worry; there will be plenty for you to do, but it probably isn’t the time to try learning wiring from a YouTube video. 

If you are not an experienced DIYer, it is a good idea to work with a contractor. A contractor can help you with everything from planning and design to construction and finishing. They can also help you to stay on budget and on schedule, which can save you money in the long run. 

Choose your contractor slowly because you need to make sure that you have selected the right person for the job. Try to keep in mind that the best contractors will usually be booked up in advance, but they are always worth waiting for. 


Lifestyle is one of the biggest places where some tips are handy. Planning on building your own home can be so exciting, that we easily forget some of the practicalities in the process (not for long, though). 

Family size and needs: Think about the size of your family now and in the future. Do you have children now or want children in the future? Are you considering growing your family from the size it is now to a little bigger? Do you have elderly parents or other family members who may need to live with you? 

Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need – mornings can be hectic for busy families! Be sure the house layout will accommodate everyone’s needs.

For those who have a small business or a hobby that takes up a lot of space – one of the things that can be high on the list of wants is a room or a space that can be dedicated to that. An office space is typically easier to create and design than, say, an entire woodworking workshop – but when you are designing your own home, anything is possible. 

So, take a look at what is important to you and what you would like to make room for. 


Lifestyle again, but this time, it is a little different. The first set of lifestyle considerations was focused more heavily on what happens in the house. But lifestyle extends outside the front door, too. Do you want to be close to work, school, or public transportation? Do you want to live in a rural or urban setting? 

Do you want to be close to parks, lakes, or other recreational facilities? One of the coolest things about designing your own home is that you can be very selective about where you buy land. You can make sure that no matter what you need or enjoy doing, to some extent, it is nearby. 

And while you might be dreaming of situating yourself and your family in a cozy but nicely sized cabin in the woods – the practical side of that will come into play at some point. How practical is the location that you are thinking about? 

A man looking at building plans

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

Textures and Shapes

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about designing your own space is that you have a lot of freedom to play with things like textures, shapes, materials, and finishes.

The materials and finishes you choose will significantly impact the look and feel of your home. It is essential to select materials that are durable and easy to maintain. You should also consider your personal style when choosing materials. Do you prefer a modern or traditional look? Do you like natural materials or artificial materials?

There are many different materials, so it is essential to do your research. You can find information about other materials online or in home improvement magazines. You can also talk to a contractor or designer for advice.

When it comes to choosing the right materials, you wouldn’t be the first person who had trouble getting the items that they have ordered from, say, Italy or Germany. Customs and delivery can be incredibly tricky, even when they look simple on the surface. Having your marble and wood stuck in customs can really slow down the process. 

It can be worth considering a combination of artificial materials, reclaimed materials, and natural options. They can work in unison to a beautiful degree. Or you can put in a lot of work in advance and make sure you know exactly what you want and have it all ordered. Considering things like Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood can be beneficial to look at before starting the building process.

Floor planning

Creating a floor plan isn’t always easy and is likely to pose a challenge when you haven’t done it before, but it is one of the most important parts of getting your idea across to the contractors. It is a very, very good idea to work with an architect on getting this done. 

Floor plans

For those who have ever watched TV shows where people build their own homes, only for the contractor not to understand the floor plan that the person had drawn themselves – you’ll know how vital this one is. It serves as a blueprint for architects, builders, interior designers, and homeowners alike, providing a clear understanding of the arrangement of rooms, dimensions, and overall design. 

Creating a floor plan involves careful consideration of space utilization, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.

Need or Want

When you are designing something, it is natural to put in as many of the things as you want as possible. After all, you are building a house that is supposed to be perfect for you, so it should have a lot of the things you love in it. When it comes to needs vs wants – you need to know where you will and won’t compromise. 

Needs are the absolute essentials, but they cover things like electrics, safety, plumping, and good foundations. Those are the true needs when it comes to building a house – because having exactly 23 steps is a want (but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen!). 

Just make sure that you are clear on what the needs and the wants are and where you will and won’t compromise. Be upfront about it with the contractors and architects so that everyone is clear on it. 

Expect the Unexpected 

One of the biggest tips that anyone can give you when it comes to designing your own home, is that you should always be prepared for the unexpected. A shift in the weather causes downpours or droughts, paperwork that has gone missing, permits that aren’t approved, materials that don’t work or have gone missing, and so much more. 

It is important to keep a cool head in the face of it all and keep on cruising forward to having the home of your dreams – that you designed. 




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