We’ve been in the new house for about two months now. We’ve had time to live in it, learn how we use and interact with it, and hone in on what’s missing. We imagine ourselves being in this house for a while. Not forever, but we’ve moved so many time over the past few years we’re both ready to stay put for a while. I think we’ll be here for at least 5 years if not more like 10. A note on that: for me it’s so weird that that’s not weird. Throughout my 20s I hated the idea of being in one place for that long, let alone one single house. But, right now it feels so good to know that barring any unexpected changes I’ll be somewhere for a while. It’s funny how things change. Anyway! What I was saying was that we’ve had enough time to really analyze the space and understand our wants and needs. But, we can’t change everything at once and since we’re planning on being here for a pretty significant amount of time we have the luxury and putting some projects on the back burner and instead focusing on other more pressing ones. This is where master planning (aka house planning) comes in.
House Planning: What a Master Plan is and How it's Helpful
Okay, to start, I’m not sure if this is the exact explanation of master planning, or if the way Xan and I use this phrase is unique to us. But, for us master planning is thinking about all of our goals for our house, putting them together pretty specifically, and then using that as a guide for all our short-term decisions. For instance, we know we eventually want to add some outdoor space to the backyard so when we were master planning we talked through all the options and decided on what we want that to look like. Because we also need a shed or some sort of storage outside and that’s probably more urgent, we wanted to be sure that we didn’t eliminate future options by adding the shed in the wrong place or getting the wrong size. By knowing all your long term goals for your home you can create a more cohesive house and have a much smaller chance of making changes that will box you in for future projects thus not allowing you to achieve what you wanted. Another example of how this helped is that we want to move the kitchen from where it is currently one room over. Then we want what was the kitchen to be a master bedroom. That means that at some point we’ll take off the whole back of the house and remodel, adding space and changing the layout. With that information we now know it’s a good idea to hold off on any major changes to that part of the house. For instance, I’d like to redo the floor in the downstairs bathroom, but if we’re going to take everything out and start from scratch in a couple years there’s no point in spending the time or money on that project. Instead I can focus my efforts in other areas of the house and not something that would get scrapped shortly after completing it.
The process is so liberating. It helps you know that what you’re working toward makes sense. You have a common goal. And, honestly when you have a ton of things you want to do it can feel kind of crappy to not be able to make it all happen at once. No matter how unrealistic that would be. But, when you have a master plan it’s so much easier to live with the things you want to change because you can see why it’s not a good idea. And those things that are worth making a temporary change for become clear. Maybe you realllllly hate your kitchen cabinets and a coat of paint could change them drastically. Well, knowing your long-term vision it might be worth the cost of paint and the weekend you’ll spend painting them. Even though you know that they’ll change when you’re able to remodel your kitchen. Sometimes a small “band aid” makes total sense if it makes you a lot happier with your space.
So, if you’ve recently bought a house or if you’re feeling like you have a lot to do and are having trouble with where to start then I encourage you to do some master planning/house planning. Whether it’s a list or drawing or collage of what your goals are. Get as specific as you can about what you want your floor plan and outdoor space to be used for when it’s all said and done. And then use that as a guide to help you decide which projects are the most important or can be done with the least resources and slate others for a future time. It will also make the waiting easier if you have an end date in mind. And this is not to say that you can’t make any changes in the future, you absolutely can. But if you’re been in your space for a few months and feel like you really understand it then it’s unlikely that you’ll drastically want to change the floor plan that you took time and thought to carefully plan out. And if it does then hit the drawing board again and revise what you’ve got. Happy planning!