Designing and building your own home is no easy task. When it came to creating our timber frame house plans, we knew that we were going to pour our bodies and hearts into this project for many years, so we wanted to make sure that we started it precisely right.
The Home Design Journey
At first, building a large timber frame home was part of our ten-year-plan. Long story short, our timeline was accelerated for this project, and we ended up starting in year two instead.
The initial plan was to build a simple and small timber frame garage that we could live in while we built a larger home, but after living on our property for a few months, we realized that the land around us gets scorching hot in the summer.
We realized that it would be wise to utilize the hillside for its cooling benefits for a permanent house, and that such a build was no small feat.
Knowing this, it made more sense to us to build our home right the first time, even if progress was painfully slow because of the steep learning curve.
Despite our quickened pace for beginning construction, we still believe that it’s important to take the necessary time to immerse yourself into the design process for a timber frame home (or any home for that matter) as there is lots to consider. It’s your house… what do you want it to be like!?
We spent two years creating our blueprints and floor layout, and could easily have spent another year on it.
Taking the time to think through and visualize the final product is helping us avoid permanent mistakes, so we think it’s well worth the effort (although I’m sure all said and done, there will be things we wish we would have done differently).
At this stage, we are in the midst of construction, and our home design is all but finalized. Keep reading to learn our rationale behind our timber frame home plans!
Designing the Frame
The frame for our home is quite large at 36×36 feet. We wanted to create something big enough to last a lifetime without it feeling too big for two people.
As an added benefit, the measurements are perfect for creating a versatile garage/workspace underneath, eliminating the need for us to have to build outbuildings across the property.
Speaking of functionality, we intentionally kept the frame in our timber frame home plans super simple. It’s essentially a box with a basic roof, so we thought we could handle putting it together ourselves.
We also knew we might host a timber frame workshop (as we ended up doing – full video series of how that went here) so we wanted the joinery to be simple so that others could do it as well.
Likewise, we chose timber sizes that we could mill ourselves from trees in our area. We’re all about practicality.
Getting professional opinions on home plans is important, which is why we sent every idea we had to a timber frame engineer so that he could finalize the design for us and make corrections when necessary.
How We Prioritized Our Timber Frame House Plans
The functionality a home depends on it having a workable floor plan. This part of the design process was stressful, but thankfully we think we nailed it together, all things considered.
Our goals were to maximize the views in communal spaces, have a good flow between rooms and prevent rooms from feeling cramped.
Our kitchen / living area is in prominent natural light on the south side of the house, and the back entrance has access to the diy hot tub we built last year. We wanted stairs coming up into the house from the garage and put the stairs to the loft just above that, knowing that it was the most efficient use of space.
We also oriented rooms together in ways that were more efficient. The kitchen and bathroom are adjacent to each other, ensuring we only need to build one ‘wet’ wall in the house.
Likewise, rooms are designed within the bents of the timber frame for simplicity of elegance. We also have ten-foot ceilings throughout the lower level for a ‘grand room’ feel, and a loft filled with bonus space that we can use in the future.
We set the kitchen next to the living room to create a cohesive space and maximize the stunning views we get from that area.
Initially, we were concerned that our design made the kitchen too small, but adding an island to the middle maximized workspace with extra countertops. Now, we think it has a cozy feel without being cramped.
To add a sense of space to the room, we incorporated a cathedral ceiling and enough windows that you feel like you are part of the outdoors.
Our living room flows effortlessly into the kitchen, creating a cozy, expansive feeling that’s punctuated with incredible views from the south-facing windows.
We want the kitchen / living room to feel as if it’s one. To us, the kitchen is the life of the house but it’s nice that guests / family can be involved without getting in the way of the chef!
We anticipate our mudroom being a well-used space, so we made it large enough to fit a sufficiently-sized closest.
The room also has three interior windows that look down into the staircase that leads to the basement.
These windows will be clouded so you can’t see through them, but they should add some natural light to an otherwise dark space.
The way we see it is that even if a mudroom is an afterthought to some, whether we like it or not, this will be a largely used area of our home so it’s okay if it’s on the larger side.
We put our master in the northeast corner of the house.
It’s not a large room (after all, it’s really only for sleeping), but ten-foot ceiling should give it a sense of spaciousness.
The north wall tends to be the coldest corner in the house, so we just put one window along that wall to minimize heat loss.
We chose to have our grand view out of the kitchen / living area rather than out of the master bedroom since very little time is spent in a bedroom.
Our house plans includes only one bathroom downstairs (might have one upstairs in the future), so we worked the design to make it a multi-functional space.
We wanted it to be accessible from the main house and the master bedroom, so a key design element was adding two doors. Even so, there’s still plenty of room in the design for a tub shower!
We’re choosing to put a stackable washer / dryer in the bathroom although it’s not everyone’s preference.
We feel this will work well for our needs and allows us to only have one “wet wall” in the house.
For now, this space is set up as an office in our plans. Someday we might turn it into a spare bedroom… or even a nursery! There’s just no telling what the future holds.
One of our favorite things about this timber frame home plan is the expansive loft space it creates.
We don’t have a set idea of what we want to do with it yet, but it’s great to know we could add an extra bathroom or even bedroom to our home someday without effort.
This loft also utilizes lots of natural light through windows.
We opted out of using skylights or sun tunnels in our design because we wanted to keep the roof as intact as possible. Hopefully, that pays off during our snowy Idaho winters!
Want to Follow our Timber Frame Home Build Progress?
Designing our timber frame home plans was just the first part of the process; now we need to build it! You can follow the building process as we document it online.