How to Choose the Best Floor Plan for You!

Posted by Carolyn A. Capalbo on Monday, June 17th, 2013 at 1:24pm.

When shopping for a home, how do you match your home style or floor plan to your needs?  This is, in my opinion, one of the most important things for buyers to do while looking for homes today.  Interestingly enough, I find that most buyers are distracted by “shiny things” and forget to look at the basic floor plan and design of the home.  Great staging, fresh paint, new appliances, and fixtures will sometimes lure buyers away from the right floor plan.  Many buyers will over look functionality for new carpeting and appliances.  My advice, find the right floor plan, in the right community.  Fresh paint, new carpeting and appliances, can be installed after the home is purchased.  There are wonderful renovation loan programs, such as Homestyle (by Fannie Mae), that will allow a purchaser to finance renovation work into their mortgage.  This allows the borrower to update and upgrade the home to their specifications.  Buyers need to focus on floor plans and functionality.  Here are some of the questions that I ask my buyers regarding their life style and living habits to help them assess their floor plan requirements:

  • Where do you spend most of your time when at home?
  • How often do you entertain?
  • How much time to you spend in the bedroom? Is it just for sleeping?
  • Where do you spend your time relaxing?
  • Do you need working space?
  • How often do you cook at home?
  • How do you feel about lots of stairs?
  • How do you feel about yard work?
  • How important is garage space?
  • Do you have long term guests?
  • What spaces do your kids need?

For the best results, I will spend as much time and ask as many questions as possible to understand a client’s wants, desires, habits and needs.  The above is just a small sample of questions.  Let’s take a look at some examples of how to choose the right floor plan based upon a buyer’s life style. 

Scenario 1:

Tom and Suzy Smith have 3 children less than 10 years of age.  They are on a budget and want to be located in a community with family friendly amenities.  Their price point is suitable for a townhouse in their targeted neighborhood.  Suzy likes to have order in her main living space.  She also needs a place for the kids to play and toys to be openly stored.  A back yard would also be appreciated.  Suzy and Tom like to entertain.  A garage would be nice, if possible.

Solution:  Tom and Suzy should look for townhouses that have a second level main entry.  The main level should include living room, eating area, kitchen and powder room.   If possible, a deck off the kitchen area towards the back of the unit would be ideal.  The upper level of the townhouse should offer 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.  The lower level may offer a garage; however, many wonderful townhouses with this layout come without garages and offer more living space on the lower level.  The lower level can be a wonderful retreat for the family, toys can be visible and the space can remain very casual and family friendly.  Ideally, a bathroom or half bathroom should be on the lower level. 

Scenario 2:

John and Janie Doe have 1 baby.  Janie’s family is from out of town and will be visiting for extended periods of time.  They are looking for their first home and are looking to purchase a townhouse. 


Ideally, if John and Janie can afford a 3 level unit, they would be best suited for a home that offered a basement with recreation room, den, and full bathroom.  This will provide long term guests the space, privacy and separation that will keep family ties close and unstrained.  The main level should offer living, eating space, powder room, and kitchen.  The upper level can offer 2 or 3 bedrooms.  Ideally, 2 bathrooms would be best and allow the opportunity for the family to expand.

Scenario 3:

Bill and Donna Jones have 3 school aged children.  Their oldest daughter has discovered make-up and boys and has been monopolizing the kids’ bathroom in their current home.  Their younger sons have no problem sharing.  Donna likes to entertain, but also likes to keep an eye on the boys while cooking.  Bill sometimes works from home.  Weekends are full of sports and school activities surrounding the kids. 


The Jones’ should consider a home that offers 4 upper level bedrooms and 3 upper level bathrooms.  Common to this floor plan configuration would be a “Princess Suite” which would include a full bathroom, and a “Jack and Jill” styled bathroom for the boys to share.  The main level should offer a kitchen that is open to the family room and a den or office for the days that Bill works from home (formal living room can be used as an office if formal space is available but not used much in the family’s life style).  The yard should be less than .25 acres to maximize the time spent with family and away from yard work. 

The possibilities are as endless as the many floor plan options available.  Really think about how you live when looking at homes.  Look past ugly carpeting, wall paper and out dated appliances, or cabinetry and see the property by its functionality and cost effectiveness.  The best values may come with blue shag carpeting and orange counter tops.  Be open to renovation financing, it may be the key to unlocking the door to your perfect home!

Carolyn Capalbo, Best Northern VA REALTORCarolyn Capalbo,
Northern Virginia REALTOR®


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