15 tips for designing a great country home

designing a country home

Today’s needs, tomorrow’s changes and even resale appeal need to be taken into account when designing the rooms in your home.

Outpost hen houses

Words: Sara Gerard



The dining table is part of the heart of the home and serves not only as the place to eat, but also to meet, discuss, pray, play and work. The dining area requires lighting for different moods and purposes, comfortable heating and a large enough space for extended, larger group seating. The dining/kitchen area can be expanded with an additional seating area, with a log burner or open fire (typically furbished with sleeping dog and or cats) to create a real feeling of home.

The living room provides seating for relaxing, reading, entertaining and entertainment, enjoyed by all the family, even if it is in turns. The living areas should make the most of the views offered by the garden and rural setting, with windows and doors framing these views.

For country living you can’t go past a good-quality log burner with flickering flames, dry heat, and the options for cooking and a wetback. The location of the log burner with a wetback is critical. It should work in with the hot water cylinder (which can be in the ceiling) and solar panels on the roof, so it’s best to choose a central location rather than an outside wall.
A sliding door to enable you to close off living areas is useful.


A dedicated office, studio or workshop space is ideal. However if your lifestyle requires you to work in the home, or if you have clients or business people visiting, position your office near the main entrance to make life easier.


Bedrooms are our personal spaces. Consider size, furniture layout, sunlight, views, and the effects of night light and noise. Consider acoustic insulation between living and bedrooms.
If possible try to design children’s rooms to be similar sizes, and have spaces that cater to their personal interests. The main bedroom is a special room of the house and should enjoy views of garden and rural ambience. Ensure there is room for adequate storage space or a walk-in wardrobe. A bedroom chair provides grace to the room. Guest rooms can be temporarily converted into your living space or a separate building with all the facilities of a motel with a homely touch.

designing a country home


Bathrooms should have good light, ventilation and be easy to heat. Separate rooms for bath, shower and toilet, dimensioned to allow for disability access, may be preferable for the changing needs of families. Ideally toilet rooms should include a good-sized hand basin and be ventilated with an outside window. For the family bathroom proximity to the bedrooms is ideal.
It is also practical to have a toilet near the back door and, if working from home, locate this toilet so clients don’t walk through the private areas of your home.



The back door ideally is located next to the laundry with a clothesline outside. As a room or hallway it can include storage for recycling, coat and shoes, cat bed and pet food, containers for potatoes etc.


The laundry adjoins the back entrance of the house with direct access to the clothes line and garage. Ideally the laundry is a large enough space to have the laundry set up with dryer vented outside. It should include storage cupboards, a good sized wash down bench and is a good place for the farm freezer.


Designing a house to maximise sunlight and views in a functional layout is a lot easier without a 6x6m garage in its floor plan. For county living I recommend the garage is separate with perhaps a covered walkway to the back door. The garage can then be designed to incorporate the workshop, stock feed storage, garden tools, firewood shed and other lifestyle block requirements.

designing a country home


Some retiring farming couples build huge homes on lifestyle blocks with additional bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas for visiting family, and for resale value. However my concern is that these larger houses may not be so affordable or practical for future buyers which will affect the resale value. I recommend retiring farming couples consider building a quality three-bedroom house that provides for their everyday living needs and consider a guest house for the extended family. When it comes time to sell, buyers have the option of rental accommodation, a B & B, an extended family granny flat or a guest house.


In choosing your house site, work through a rough concept for your house layout and see how well it works and if need be, seek architectural advice.


NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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