Scratch-Made Modern

Where did you start?? Where did you find your plans? How did you know what you were looking for? How do you know how much the plan you found will cost to build? Who will draw a set of plans for me?. . . These are all questions that I have been asked through out this process and questions that we had ourselves! So I thought I would share a little insight on our process of designing our Little Modern Cabin from scratch and hopefully it will help you! (or make you turn and run screaming the other way…)

FIGURE OUT AN AVERAGE COST / SF    First and foremost, before you even start looking at plans or designing, you should figure out an average cost per square foot to build (and then take a deep breath and have a drink when you find out…EK!).  Every city is different obviously so we did a lot of research for Nashville’s market. We asked around other friends in the industry or who had built themselves, we did google searches and even asked our bank. From there we came up with an average cost based on what we had learned so that we could start narrowing down the square footage of our house. (hence the “little” in the Little Modern Cabin, HA!)

FIND INSPIRATION    Look for plans, magazine images, etc. to become inspired about the style and plan of your home (I know you probably have a Pinterest board you have been adding to for months). Even though we knew we would have our plans drawn, I still think it is important to study lots of plans to learn what you really like about some and hate about others. Below is the 1st floor of the plan we found and really liked. This is the plan to which we started to compare everything else. I loved the layout of the living room, dining and kitchen, the vaulted ceiling and big open windows and AJ really liked that there was a separate room in the garage for all of his man stuff (his absolute must have). This plan made for good inspiration and a place to start.



PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACE   This next stage is about putting your mark on your home. My biggest advice when designing from scratch is to start with what is most important to you! Ex: Maybe you are an art collector and need a lot of wall space to display your collection. Start with that! You could consider how you want your pieces displayed. All together on a tall two story wall? Or maybe you wanted a long hall like an art gallery?

For me as an “interior” designer it was very much about designing from the inside – out. I started from the small details within a space that I knew I wanted. Ex: I really wanted a free standing tub in the master bathroom with a ledge above it.  I also really wanted open shelves in the kitchen (I’m short and hate using upper cabinets).  AJ really wanted a work bench and room for a large safe in his separate room in the garage (again… lots of man stuff!).  From there I went ahead and drew up individual mini plans for each of these rooms. This really helped us allocate space for what was important to us. Yes, this would have to be tweaked a little eventually, but it helped us start to piece everything else together like a puzzle.


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HAVE YOUR PLANS DRAWN   The final step would be to find someone that can draw up a working set of plans. (I make this part sound easy, but its probably the hardest)  For some that may mean hiring an Architect to work with you through the project.  For others you may be able to use a draftsman through your contractor.

For us we were lucky enough to know one of each. The very talented Amanda Gann collaborated with us on the architecture/ site placement and preliminary drawings of our Little Modern Cabin. Seeing that she lives almost 700 miles away from Nashville, we did a lot of brain storming, sketching, and revisions over pictures and email.


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This stage is where the architectural details and structure got hashed out. Of course the modern style we wanted played heavily into this process, but so did those little details that made this house ours. Once we were happy with the design from the inside out we had Amanda Gann’s drawings taken to our Draftsman at ProMark Home Design to be completed into a final set of working drawings!!

And just like magic you are all done! Just kidding… There is a whole lot more that goes into this beginning process of planning and designing a home from scratch, but these are the major steps it took for us to get there. Although it may be more intensive, stressful, exhausting, and possibly more expensive than just purchasing a plan online (have I talked you out of it yet?) it is sooooo rewarding at the end of it to look at a set of plans that has been specifically designed just for you!!


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