Flexible Layouts and How to Identify Them

By Aurora Zeledon

An adaptable layout means you might never have to move again.

Building your dream home takes plenty of time and money, but also gives you an unparalleled opportunity to express yourself. You get to pick the exact layout you want (and perhaps make some tweaks with our modification service), from number of bedrooms to location of the master suite, the openness of the kitchen, and many other details.

But life is hard to predict. Your needs may change. An elderly parent may come to live with you, making it less-than-ideal to have the guest suite upstairs. Children get older and want their space. Perhaps your job will allow working from home part or all of the time, so you'll want a quiet office space.


Well-planned layouts can handle this growth and change. Many new floor plans include spaces labeled as flex rooms, like plan 20-2263 above. Let's have a closer look at the layout:



The flex room sits near the front, where it could become a traditional living room if you like entertaining guests in a dedicated elegant room. It could also be a dining room for special occasions. For other families, it may make more sense to use this room as a playroom for children or a home office. Note the bench and lockers off the garage entrance; this keeps clutter at bay and gives kids a place to drop backpacks and such when coming home. 


If you work from home at least part of the time, consider a flex room with a door that you can close, so it can become a functioning office. That way, you can signal to family members that you're on the phone or concentrating hard and need quiet time. Plan 1066-14 above has a room that fits the bill.


What if you want your office to do double duty as a guest room? Many new plans from Donald A. Gardner Architects feature offices that adjoin full bathrooms so they can serve as a guest suite at the drop of a hat. Plan 929-1037 (see the lovely exterior above) provides a great example:


Take a look at the bedroom/study near the front. The room opens to the front of the home, a common configuration for a home office. But the door to the bathroom is what adds the extra usefulness, since guests can access the bathroom without leaving their room. Importantly, the master suite sits nearby, making the front bedroom perfect for use as a nursery. For older kids, the lower level holds two more suites and a rec room. 

Another flexible feature: a bonus room. Typically located upstairs above the garage, these spaces act as a blank canvas for your imagination. Finish now or later as you choose (the square footage is usually not included in the living total) to have a place for storage, an art studio, yoga space, video game lair, craft room...the possibilities go on and on. For maximum versatility, choose a plan with a bonus space that can include a full bathroom. That way, guests can sleep up here. 


Plan 923-51, above, offers a great bonus space with generous dimensions, a bathroom, and access to attic storage. On the exterior, charming stone, brick, and shutters gives a storybook vibe that will draw many eyes.


Some bonus spaces can even become full guest apartments! Architect Wayne Visbeen puts handy in-law units in some of his designs, like the ultra-popular Eleanor (plan 928-13) above and below. 


Check out the guest apartment: it includes a kitchenette, a spacious bedrooms, a full bathroom with a large and luxurious tub, and a living room. If you have a live-in relative (like a mother-in-law or a young adult recently returned from college), this area provides plenty of privacy and independence.


For ultimate adaptability, consider including a full guest suite on the main level. That way, any visitors or family members with reduced mobility don't have to navigate any stairs to reach their room. Plan 20-2262 features two suites and modest square footage (1,676), making it especially attractive as an empty nest.

See more designs with basements, in-law suites, and house plans with flex rooms and bonus spaces here.

March 2, 2018