By Deborah Healon, A.I.B.D., W.C.R.,G.H.L.H.C. Luxury Interior Designer, GHWCC Member

For good reason, large homes are popular in Houston. Expansive acreage from which to choose makes creative design and amenities easy. Large homes cost more and take longer to build, but come with grand opportunities. Consider engaging your interior designer and architect in all phases in an effort to utilize sustainable products such as solar energy, windows, etc.  Many design plans include a second kitchen, a movie theater, indoor bowling alley, or a wine room. Outside, you may choose a tennis court, basketball court, swimming pool, or outdoor kitchen.

Here are five tips to keep in mind as you plan your paradise estate:

  1. Match your house to the project site.

First, make sure your plan and building site are compatible. A house on a small lot limits landscaping or may overstep building code limitations. Determine restrictions before you commit to location or agree on a blueprint. Plan room locations around sun exposure, as natural light keeps us psychologically happy and saves on electrical bills.

  1. Specialize space/get organized.

Large scale home plans incorporate dream spaces, i.e., media rooms, great rooms, a home office, a spice kitchen, or a dirty kitchen, leaving the main kitchen for entertaining.

  1. Invite your friends to paradise by using individual entertainment areas.

Design your entry large enough to welcome arriving guests. First impressions are lasting ones; visitors form their opinion immediately. Because guests often congregate in the kitchen, provide ample space to mingle without hindering food preparation.  A good interior designer can help.  Consider two islands or round counter designs instead of rectangle and choose from edges like ogee, bull nose, and a straight edge. With glamorous overhead lighting, islands can make an attractive focal point. Overnight guests always appreciate a private suite with a full attached bath. Many new building ideas include cabanas or casitas to congregate around the pool. Media rooms are always an important part of a luxury home and furniture styles are evolving from theatre chairs to lounge type couches. In a sprawling home, it may make sense to have a second stairway to eliminate time consuming steps.

  1. Architectural elements make a difference.

Details add personality, which is extremely important in defining any large home. Fine handcrafted architectural elements are details that distinguish the highest quality custom-designed built luxury homes.  These elements lend richness and elegance, infusing a home with character and originality. Cabinetry, moldings, ceiling medallions, chair rails, staircases, mirrors, and mantels in an empty room speaks volumes of personal taste and style of homeowners.  Depending on how you and your designer plan the scope of your project, large scale rooms can be cavernous or cozy.  A good designer maintains scale, balance, rhythm, unity, and emphasis. Choose focal points in more than one room. Creative window designs properly scale a room. Certainly, having a properly balanced scale of furniture to a room can make or break it.  By utilizing different linings such as blackout or interlining, custom drapes provide color and control lighting and temperature.

  1. Create synergy between architecture and interior design

Consult with experts to interpret your living needs and plan spaces intelligently. Remember to enhance the environment and achieve comfort where your family and guests spend the most time. Look for inspiration in magazines and online for your projects, which helps when making decisions critical to the design success. Finally, visit model homes for ideas, remembering that those are done on the builder’s budget and will not replicate to a lived-in home. Your best bet is to hire a professional, which will save you time and money!

Healon has taught interior design and architecture at the University of Houston’s Interior Design Dept. Her degree is in interior design with a minor in architecture from the University of Southern Illinois. With over 25 years in her business, Healon has designed interiors for multi-cultural homes buyers and remodeled residential and commercial properties in Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, among others.   deborah@dehinteriors.com , phone: 832-715-1300

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