How to Build a Custom, New Home Layout

Fill out this room-by-room checklist to create a new home layout that reflects your lifestyle.

The morning light seeps into your east-facing master bedroom as you drift in and out of sleep, roused by the smell of freshly brewed coffee. 

Lazily, you wake up and slip on your robe in your walk-in closet and amble the few feet to your in-bedroom coffee bar before pouring yourself a cup. 

There’s nowhere to rush to this morning, so you pull out your newest read and snuggle up in a lounge chair next to your floor-to-ceiling windows. 

-Hold on-

Or do you prefer to sleep in absolute darkness? Scratch that first bit and add remote-controlled black-out blinds. Prefer tea over coffee? No problem—switch out the coffee maker for an electric kettle. Have kids that rush into your room? Add a TV for Saturday morning cartoons. 

When your house is custom-made, you have the luxury of designing it around your lifestyle. So whether you prefer one scenario to the other, it’s your choice. 

Print or save this article and go through this room-by-room checklist with your custom home builder to get a house that’s specifically built for how you spend your days.


1. Your Lifestyle

Let’s get to know you. This will help your home builder uncover features that will cater your home to your lifestyle. Most importantly, this list focuses on the way you and your family will use your home, not solely on the resale value. 

Catering to your lifestyle:

  • What life stage are you in?
    • Are you single or in a relationship?
    • Do you have kids? How old?
    • Are you close to retiring or retired?
  • Do you want your extended family to live with you?
  • How many years do you want to spend in this home? 
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you like entertaining?

Now, consider ways your home can accommodate these things. Are there any must-haves that cater to your lifestyle? 

Once you’ve thought about your present needs, think of what could change within the next five to ten years as your life evolves in this home.

2. Your Routine

Focus on who you are and the things you love to do. That way, you can shape your home around your routines rather than providing cookie-cutter rooms.

What are your favourite parts of the day and what is your least favourite? Does your home play a role in that? 

Use these questions as a starting point to map out your day and as you answer them, think of how it changes for each of your family members.

What does your morning look like? Are weekdays different from weekends?

If you work, what is your job? Is it at home or do you commute?

Are your kids in school and is it nearby? Or are they out of the house and visit on holidays?

Do you cook or order in? Just for yourself or do you host parties and gatherings?

What does your free time look like? Is it biking in the mountains, movie nights in, restoring cars or gardening? 

How do you relax? Is it a soak in an oversized tub, a dance party in the kitchen or crushing video game levels?

What does your bedtime routine look like? Putting kids to bed, watching late-night TV or a 10-step skincare regiment?

As you finish this section, revisit each question and see if there are hurdles in your current home that could be alleviated in a new build. Do you have enough storage? Are your outlets in the wrong places? Is there enough counter space?

What are the pain points in your current home?


3. Room-by-Room Customizations

Lastly, go through each room of your soon-to-be home and decide what best answers the questions above. 

What delights you? Is it your shoe collection? Building hobby airplanes? Showing your kids how to climb? Keep those favourite parts of your day in mind so we can make them a focal point in your home. 



When you think about your bedroom, you want to know if you revel in turning your alarm clock off and sleeping through the morning or if you’re up with the rooster and off to other things. Start by asking yourself:

  • Do you prefer to spend time in your bedroom apart from sleeping? 
  • How much room do you need and how do you envision yourself using the space?
  • Do you like to wake up with natural light or sleep in complete darkness?
  • If you have kids, do they end up in your bed or spend weekend mornings in your room?

Next, pick features that match how you’ll use the space and customize them to what you need and want. Select all that apply:

Master Bedroom:

  • Located on the first floor | upstairs
  • King or queen bed
  • Bedside tables 
  • Dresser
  • Armoire
  • Walk-in closets
    • 1 or 2
    • Hanging space | shelves | shoe racks | island with storage  
  • Lounge area with seating 
  • TV | home theatre | wired speakers
  • Coffee bar
  • Curtains | blinds | blackout blinds
  • Balcony
  • Large or standard windows
  • Master bathroom
  • Built-in lights | lamps | sconces 
  • Room for a bassinet
  • Pet bed or stairs 
  • Laundry shoot to your laundry room

For the rest of your family or guests: 

  • Number of bedrooms
    • Children | guests | extended family
  • Location
    • Close to the master | on another floor
  • Number of attached bathrooms 
  • Large or small closet space



Is your Sunday night spent soaking in a deep tub with candles lit and a roaring fire or do you prefer quick showers just long enough to rinse the suds off? Whether the bathroom is your sanctuary or purely utilitarian, we’ll put more or less focus on this room, but let’s find out first:

  • Do you use soap and water or a 10-step skin routine to cleanse your face?
  • Shower, tub or both?
  • As you age, will you need accessible bathrooms?
  • Will your teenage children need a Jack-and-Jill bathroom?
  • Do you need a tub to bathe your kids?

As you answer, pair your responses with the best options. 

  • Number of bathrooms 
    • Full or half baths
    • Placement in the home
  • Shower
    • Steam | rainhead | single-nozzle
  • Tub 
    • Statement | shower combo | whirlpool | standard
  • Accessible bathrooms 
    • Curbless doorways | seated tubs | roll-in shower | stability hardware
  • Toilet
    • Height | hidden | bidet
  • Storage
    • Near the sink | linen closet 
  • Vanity 
    • Height | size | number of sinks | seated
  • Fireplace



Whether you’re a Food Network enthusiast or reheat delivered meals, your kitchen is what nourishes you. Cater it to what you need and use most:

  • Do you cook for just you and your family or do you entertain a lot?
  • Do you need uninterrupted views to watch your kids play while you cook?
  • For breakfast, do you have smoothies or eggs?
  • Coffee or tea?
  • Are your kids aspiring chefs or live on cereal alone?

As you imagine a piping hot meal, whether on the stove or in the microwave, pick out the best features and furnishings.

  • Large or small kitchen 
  • Countertops 
    • Island | height | amount of space
  • Type of fridge 
    • Fridge | freezer | French doors | wine fridge
  • Oven & Stove 
    • Gas | electric | wood
    • Slide-in | wall oven | cooktop
    • 1 | 2
  • Appliances
    • Microwave | dishwasher | espresso machine | kettle | blender | mixer
  • Pantry
  • Garbage 
    • Recycling | compost | bottles
  • Spice drawer
  • Number of outlets and placement 
  • Pet food drawer 
  • Seating 
    • Bar | kitchen table | bistro set | formal dining table


Living Area 

Is your ideal evening spent cozying up on the couch eating a bowl of popcorn and binging the newest release, or would you rather host a sophisticated soirée with charades and cocktails? How are you using your living room now and how do you see yourself using it in the future? Answer:

  • Do you cuddle up for family movie night?
  • Do you host formal dinner parties or cocktails?
  • Do your kids scatter their toys across the floor? 
  • Is a fireplace part of your Christmas morning ritual?

With your answers, decide what to include in your design. Just don’t forget those special times of year like holidays, birthdays, etc. 

  • TV
  • Reading nook 
  • Play area 
  • Seating 
    • Couch | loveseat | chairs
  • Flooring 
    • Carpet | hardwood | tile | laminate 
  • Fireplace 
  • Built-in bookcase
  • Open concept with the kitchen 
  • Mail desk | desk for kid’s homework
  • Large or standard windows 
  • Wall space for art
  • Ottoman 
  • Coffee table 
  • Sofa tables


Home Office

Are you a stay-at-home parent who does the family bookkeeping, a work-from-anywhere entrepreneur or a downtown big-office commuter? The year 2020 might have changed this for you, so whether you worked from home previously or just started, chances are this is a room that could use more thought:

  • Do you work from home full-time or part-time?
  • Is this a recent change to your work?
  • Do you require a large desk for a printer, scanner and dual monitors or do you work from a laptop?
  • Do you need a quiet space with artificial light when you work or do you prefer natural light accompanied by the soundtrack of a bustling household?

With your answers, pick the perfect spot in your home for your new office, with all the right furnishings.

  • Full office or desk 
  • Number of offices 
  • Part-time or full-time use 
  • Light
    • Natural | artificial
  • Storage options 
    • Cabinets | desk drawers | shelves


Laundry Room

Once shunned to the darkest corner of your basement, the laundry room has made a big shift in the home. Now, it can be a beautiful space that’s truly functional with space to fold and racks for drying:

  • Are you the type to iron your freshly washed sheets or do they sit in the hamper until they’re ready to be used again?
  • Do you enjoy doing laundry?
  • Is it more important that this room be accessible or do you prefer to have it tucked away?
  • What’s the source of most of your laundry? Linens, clothing, work clothes?

Knowing how often you use your laundry room and what for can help shape this room.

  • Type of machines
    • Stacked | Side-by-side 
  • Folding table 
  • Laundry shoot 
  • Hanging rack 
  • Which floor 
    • Main | upstairs | basement 
  • Washbasin 
  • Storage options
    • Cabinets | countertops | drawers



Muddy paws, snowy boots and grease-covered overalls don’t belong in your home but they can be dealt with in a well-thought-out mudroom. Answer:

  • Do your kids need somewhere to drop their bags and tuck away their hats and mitts before coming inside?
  • Does your dog need a bath after a day of running wild?
  • Do you need a place to sit and tie your shoes?

Design a well-organized, Pinterest-worthy space with these features:

  • Bench 
  • Hat and coat hooks 
  • Shoe cubbies 
  • Coat closet 
  • Dog washing station



Is there something you wish could be on the main floor of your home but your partner won’t let you? Perhaps a retro arcade game or crafts room? Start dreaming:

  • Do you want somewhere quiet to hide away?
  • Could you use a space that’s just for your kids?
  • Will you turn this into a guest suite for friends and family?

Let your imagination run wild with these starter ideas, and add to the list as needed.

  • Guest Suite 
    • Bedroom | bathroom | kitchenette
  • Entertainment room 
    • Surround sound | TV | projector | seating | gaming consoles
  • Hobby Room 
    • Sewing | board games | bowling | pool and darts | gift wrapping
  • Bar
    • Wet | dry | beer taps | wine fridge
  • Bathrooms 
  • Spare bedroom



The options are limitless for making your custom home perfectly unique. What other elements of your life should be reflected in your customization? 

  • Is your daily workout an essential part of your routine?
  • Do you want to host family reunions on a large outdoor porch?
  • With your new home, are you purchasing that sports car you’ve been dreaming of?

Whatever else you can dream up, add it to this list. These are the items that are most likely to make your home unique, so think big!

  • Gym
  • Hot tub 
  • Balcony or wrap-around porch 
  • Garage 
    • Number of cars | storage | bikes | skis | motorcycle 
  • Outdoor fire pit
  • Sauna or steam room 
  • Sunroom
  • Hidden rooms
  • Grand staircase
  • Firepole or indoor slide
  • Solar panels 
  • Wood-burning pizza oven

Now For the Fun Part—Design!

You’ve gone through this long list and hopefully had some fun imagining what the perfect house could look like for you. 

Whether you filled it out on your own or with the help of our team at Melanson Homes, you’re now ready to move into the design phase where we take this list and bring it to life.