Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

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In your excitement in turning your first home into your dream chateau as a first-time homeowner, there are some things you might sacrifice or overlook when planning out your home’s layout, thinking it wouldn’t really be a problem.

But once you’ve started living in your home for some time, these things might come to be really annoying to live with. To rectify, might be costly. In worst cases, it might just be too late to correct these mistakes.

To save you the trouble down the road, we put together some of the layout mistakes you may be making as a first-time homeowner. Keep these in mind and try to avoid them when planning the layout of your home.

1. Underestimating the width needed for walkways

As much as you want to maximise your square footage, it’s important not to sacrifice walkway space in order to do that. For the main traffic areas in the home or in places where there is heavy footfall, you should set aside at least 90 cm of clear walkway space so that you can walk in and out without hindrance. Take that into account when planning carpentry and buying furniture.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: 9 Creation

In the bedroom, you can get away with a 60-cm walkway perimeter around the bed which allows you to get in and out of the bed comfortably. In the kitchen, aisle space should also be around 90 cm, although consider going up to 120 cm of walkway space if you often have two people working back to back in the kitchen.

2. Not taking into account swinging doors

Swinging doors need an allowance for swinging out. Clearance space should be about the width of the door, but accommodate a further 70 cm between the opened door and the next obstruction so your space won’t feel too cramped. This will also allow traffic flow around the door when it’s opened.

If you have cabinets, cupboards or wardrobes that have hinged doors, take note to accommodate enough space in front of the doors so that they can be opened fully. You will also want to add some space so you can stand in front of the opened door properly. This not only makes it easier to reach for things inside, it also allows any internal drawers to be extended without hindrance.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: Design Neu

You will also want to make sure that your refrigerator doors can be swung out properly. Some refrigerator storage boxes require the doors to be extended more than 90 degrees in order for them to be pulled out completely.

3. Placing your TV in front of a window or opposite it

The TV is often the focal point in a home and therefore one of the very first few things you think about when planning your layout. When locating your television, avoid placing it in front of the window, which can make for a really uncomfortable viewing experience during the day unless you opt for black-out curtains and shades. This is especially so if your windows are facing the west which has the sun at the hottest part of the day.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: Alpina Woody

Sunlight hitting your TV can also completely wash out the images on the screen, so you will also want to avoid placing your TV opposite your windows. To cut the amount glare, it’s best to place your TV perpendicular to your windows.

4. Forgetting to keep in mind existing structures

While a floor plan gives you the big picture for planning where everything should go, it’s still a two-dimensional picture of things. There are some things that are “invisible” in a floor plan, such as existing structural walls or piping that you may have failed to accommodate when planning your home layout.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: I-Chapter

Always align your plans with the actual site to get a more three-dimensional feel of your home before you decide to go ahead with any renovation work. You will want to avoid too many changes once renovation starts since that will often incur unnecessary costs.

5. Buying furniture and appliances before measuring things out

Sure, that huge chimney hood looks impressive in the showroom, but will it be overkill in your petite galley kitchen, making a tight space feel even more cramped? Or that adorable loveseat that would be perfect for the two of you but perhaps too small for your generous living space?

Often, first-time homeowners tend to buy furniture and appliances on a whim (or because of a discount), even before seeing their actual home. But it’s important to make the decision after measuring things out in the space, so you will know the sense of scale and whether that particular item is too big or too small for a space.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: In-Expat

A good way is to use masking tape and tape out the actual dimensions of the items you want to buy, whether on the floor or wall of your home. That way, you’ll get to visualise how they fit in inside your home without having to buy them first.

6. Not deciding where to place your air-conditioning units early

If you are getting air-conditioning for your home, plan out the location of your air-conditioning units early before the start of any renovation works. Make sure airflow from the unit can be maximised and dispersed throughout the room—rather than in just one direction—with no obstruction.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: Innerestic Interior

You will also want to get your air-conditioning installers to mark out where the piping will run, so you can make sure it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. In the event that it will be a huge eyesore, consider alternative routes or rope in your interior designer to ask for suggestions on how best to conceal them behind built-ins.

7. Keeping things too symmetrical

Many interior stylists employ the use of symmetry (where both sides of the room reflect one another) when decorating a space. It’s one of the easiest tricks in the book, can instantly add drama and pizzazz, and is great if you want a more formal tone to your home.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Layout Mistakes as a First-Time Homeowner?

Design: Inizio Atelier

But you shouldn’t keep your space too symmetrical if you want your home to look less like a show flat and more like a home. A space that is too symmetrical lacks character and can look overly generic. A good tip is to use symmetry as a base, but then build on it by mixing things up and adding personal touches.

Which of these layout mistakes are you making in your home planning? What other layout tips should first-time homeowners look out for when planning for their first home?


This article was originally posted on, Singapore’s leading renovation and interior design site.

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