Building Series – Floor plans and Budget cuts

I’ve been meaning to get back around to this building series for a while now. Last week, I shared the 2nd half of our video home tour on Instagram (you can still view it, because I saved it to my highlights) and I got SO many DM’s about floor plan questions, that I thought I would talk about it a bit on the blog today.

Getting the right floor plan when you are building has to be a top priority. You can change wall colors, flooring, windows or whatever down the road, but in most cases, it’s hard to change the floor plan. Unless your hubby is more understanding than mine when it comes to knocking down walls in a brand new house? ;)

But how do you decide what you want in a floor plan? For us, this is was our 5th house, so there was some trial and error involved. We made a list of all the things we loved in our previous homes and all the things we didn’t love or rooms we didn’t use. We wanted to make sure we were going to use every square inch of this house. We had an office at our last house that no one ever stepped foot in (in fact I never even blogged about it!) and we wanted no wasted space this time around.

lake house sunroom

For example, once we built the sunroom on our old house, we never ever sat in the living room, because the sunroom was so much nicer. We decided in this house to make our living room  feel just like a sunroom. We added all the windows of our previous sunroom, but put the fireplace and comfy furniture in here too – now it’s the best of both worlds.

White Lake House living room

We also realized having a lake home means we entertain big groups a lot in the summer time. We would much rather have large open living spaces that can accommodate lots of people and have smaller bedroom spaces. I wanted the bedrooms to feel cozy and the living spaces to feel spacious. Everyone gathers in our kitchen area, so I wanted to have the living room/dining room/kitchen all open to each other again even if it meant sacrificing on bedroom size.

A dining table and kitchen

Another must have was a basement area in this home (which wasn’t possible with our last lot) so that as our kids grow into teenagers they have their own hangout space that’s still close by and open for us to check on them. We wanted a bathroom in the basement for everyone in the basement to use, but also one that connected to the outside, so that there is easy access from down by the lake – I don’t want wet feet running through my house. This worked out great for our kids because that meant they both got their own bathroom, but it was practical for the floor plan too.

Lake House family room blue and white decor

We also realized if it rained and we had a lot of people over for dinner we could only seat 6 in our last dining space, so at this house we have a more formal dining space plus our eat in kitchen area and we can comfortably fit 14 people for dining upstairs.

Lake House Kitchen with breakfast nook

Storage was also high on our priority list this time around. We wanted a space down by the lake so we could store life jackets, tubes, kayaks, outdoor furniture or whatever. Those double doors on the bottom left corner open up to not only storage, but to the bathroom as well.

Charcoal grey and white lake home

Our list looked like this –

  1. Big living spaces, smaller bedrooms.
  2. Open floor plan.
  3. Indoor/outdoor spaces.
  4. Sunroom like living room.
  5. Eat in kitchen area.
  6. Deck off master bedroom.
  7. 2nd living space for kidzone
  8. Bathroom accessible from the lake
  9. Designated workout room.
  10. Storage by the lake.

We cut lots of things out of the budget to get the house the size and shape we wanted. We knew the other things we could change out down the road, but the footprint of the house was key for us. So, what can you cut from your budget if need be?

All of the cosmetic things that are easy swap outs. For us that meant using nice quartz countertops in the kitchen and master bathroom, but laminate everywhere else because that’s an easy change down the road if desired.

Lake house master bathroom blue cabinetry

Another place we saved on budget was using cheap carpeting in the basement. I originally picked out this really cool patterned carpet for that inset space that would make it look more like a rug, but it was $6 a sq foot. I swapped it out for this much cheaper carpet that we can replace later if needed (assuming my kids will eventually destroy it anyway).

Lake House family room blue and white decor

We also put plain jane fiberglass showers in everywhere. Even our master as the cost of putting a tile shower in our bathroom was the same cost as putting the ceiling treatment in our living room. To me, it was more important to have a wow ceiling in a room we use all the time than having a wow shower that just the Mr. and I use. It’s totally doable to rip out that shower someday and tile if we feel the need. Although we would need to look into a better water filtration system, because our well water is hard and rusty. It’s hard to keep even the fiberglass shower clean let alone a tile one, which was another factor that made this an easy budget cut. Put a pretty shower curtain on it (weird fact I hate glass shower doors) and no one even knows it’s not tile. But can you imagine our living room without this ceiling? No way!

A large wagon wheel light fixture

So places to cut costs, flooring, wall treatments (board and batten etc), countertops – basically cosmetic changes that are easy swaps! You can even use inexpensive lighting and fixtures to swap out down the road.

My biggest recommendation is to make a list of your must haves! Think about how you live, how you use your space, and what is most important to you. We are so much happier with the spaces in this house and it is so much more functional for us.

lake house living room

I hope that helps and again if you want a video tour of our house there are 2 highlights on my instagram – upstairs and downstairs!

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  1. You truly have a knack for this, you’re home is beautiful. We are currently in the process of planning our ranch style lake home also with a walk out basement in WI. So much to consider. Your ideas on how to cut costs will definitely come in handy. I have several questions while we are in our list/budget making process. As far as flooring, we are considering a wood look tile plank. We have a rather large dog and when our kids come to visit and bring their 3 dogs, it’s a brawl. Currently have hard wood flooring and cringe every family get-together. Any recommendations? Also another big question our builder proposed was what kind of windows. Can you tell me what brand/type you used and why? We also want to capture a similar view that you have. Thank you again!

    1. Thanks KB good luck with the build! We don’t have big dogs so I don’t have a lot of suggestions there. Our windows are casement window from NorthStar – hope that helps!

  2. Completely understand. How about contact info for your architect? We are looking for own to draw our new house :)

  3. Hey! Love love love your house and looking so hard to find something similar for our build. Have you shared the floorplan or would you be willing to?

  4. Just saw the the posts about not being able to share your floor plans. Completely understand. Could you tell me the dimensions of each room and the entire square footage? Thank you!

    1. Our home is about 3800 sq ft and I don’t know all the dimensions off hand but our great room is 21×22 and the kitchen is 15×22 hope that helps thanks!

  5. Hi Kelly,

    I have been following you for a while and adore your home(s)! Thank you so much for sharing all of this insight during your build series! My husband and I are in the process of closing on our dream home and planning the full renovation now, so I’m so glad to have read these posts and found this resource!
    You may have already covered this in other posts, but can you share what paint colors you used on the interior–specifically your basement living room and the whites?
    I, also, am an emerging blogger and would love the opportunity to partner with companies as we work through this renovation. Do you have any suggestions or tips for going about that process?

    Thank you so much!

  6. I would love to see your floorplan. We are currently designing our new house and picking out a floor plan is so tough. There are so many things to consider. Thanks for all your input.

    1. I would love to see the plans, as well. We, too, are building a lake home, and the Lily Pad Cottage is the very best I’ve seen.

  7. We’re in the beginning stages of evaluating floor plans for our new lake house. Your house is exactly what I’m looking for; but perhaps on a smaller scale. I’ve searched online for a plan similar to yours, but haven’t happened on it yet. Do you recall where you found your plan or was it a custom design? What is the square footage of your home? Thanks in advance!

  8. You are such an inspiration. Your home is stunning and your family is adorable as well! Your post is very helpful to me as we’re in the planning and preparing phase of building our forever home. Thank you for presenting such an organized outlet of design and helpful info. Can’t wait to see your holiday decor later this year!

    1. Thanks so much Brooke! I’m so glad you are finding these posts helpful. I’m hoping to put together a few more building posts this fall yet – thanks!

  9. Thank you for sharing your beautiful home. After a year of living there, what would you do differently “next time”?

    1. The main level is 2000 and the lower is 1800 finished – we have some unfinished storage area down there – thanks!

  10. First of all I love everything about your home! Second, I’m glad I’m not the only one who purposely chose a fiberglass shower for our master, having had tile and not liking the upkeep. We also chose a design that looks like white tile and it’s so easy to clean. I also HATE glass shower doors – I mean, why would anyone want to be on display when showering, lol….nevermind all the cleaning involved. No thank you!! I’d rather easily and inexpensively swap out a new vinyl shower curtain anytime it starts looking yucky, and I can change my decorative shower curtain on the outside anytime I feel the need for a style change. We have a lot more in common than just this, too – so fun to connect with others via blogland! =)

    1. Thanks Holly! Glad to find another glass door hater ha, I can’t stand seeing all my shampoo bottles and stuff either. Clutter makes me nuts!

  11. I never realized you just did a plain jane fiberglass shower in your master….love it!! When we built our house we made the decision to not do a fancy tiled shower, as well. It was both a cost decision (I could spend that $5k somewhere else for bigger impact) as well as a cleaning one. I HATED cleaning our tiled shower at our previous home. That grout just was a thorn in my side. Now it’s much easier to keep clean and honestly it doesn’t look cheap at all to me. Though we do have a shower door – but I miss pretty shower curtains! :) Anyway, soooo happy to see someone else make that decision because I honestly sometimes feel it’s a negative for if we ever sell….which is silly. So thanks for reaffirming my decision! :)

    1. Hey Kim, it’s not a popular option but I’m with you that amount of money can make such a bigger impact somewhere else! We had one in our last house too and sold within 3 days so I don’t think it was major resale factor in our case anyway.

  12. Love this post! We would like to build in the future and these are all great points I’d like to remember. Thanks for posting!

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