Vancouver Custom Homes:
14 Steps to Designing Your Home

Building a custom home in Vancouver is not only an opportunity to build the perfect space for your specific taste and lifestyle, but also a chance to maximize the integration of the beautiful mountains, water, elevations, and green spaces that Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland hold. In most cases, you will be working with a professional designer, nevertheless, you’ll want to ensure that you think through these fourteen design decisions very early in the process.

1. Windows and Exterior Doors

A well-designed home starts with the right windows and doors. They provide natural light, enhance views, and create a connection between indoor and outdoor spaces. When designing custom homes in Vancouver, it's important to consider factors such as energy efficiency, durability, and aesthetics. Choose high-quality materials that complement your home's design and withstand Vancouver's variable weather conditions.

2. Exterior Materials, Colors, and Details

Selecting the right exterior materials, colors, and details is crucial for creating a cohesive and visually appealing home. Consider materials that complement the surrounding environment, such as natural stone, wood, or glass. Colors should be chosen with care, taking into account factors like sun exposure and how they will age over time. Incorporating architectural details like trims, shutters, or metalwork adds character and sophistication to custom homes in Vancouver.

3. Roof

A roof not only protects your home but also contributes to its overall aesthetic. Choose a roof design and material that complements your home's architectural style and provides the necessary durability for Vancouver's climate. Asphalt shingles, slate tiles, Spanish-style barrel tiles, and metal are some possibilities. Consult with your designer and builder to determine the best choice for your custom home.

4. Appliances

High-end appliances are essential for luxury custom homes in Vancouver. Selecting the right appliances early in the design process ensures that your kitchen and other functional spaces meet your needs and preferences. Consider high-quality brands that offer the latest in technology and design, such as Wolf, Sub-Zero, Bosch or Miele. Compare their operating specifications like energy efficiency and size, and prices. Another important consideration is the after-sale appliance service and support that is available. Some of the European brands have very limited service and support, including hard-to-source parts that must be shipped overseas.

5. Plumbing Fixtures

Plumbing fixtures are a key design element in any custom home. Well-chosen fixtures will add impressive style and functionality to spaces to your bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room. Select fixtures that align with your desired aesthetic, whether you are seeking a contemporary style, traditional, or something in between. High-quality brands like Kohler and Grohe offer a range of styles, finishes, and features to enhance your custom home's design. Some of the premium manufacturers, like Grohe, offer lifetime warranties and replacement parts. You will not find such warranties on the lower-cost plumbing fixtures.

6. Interior Beams

Incorporating interior beams into your custom home's design adds architectural interest and structural integrity. Beams can be both functional and decorative, and can contribute a sense of grandeur and warmth to living spaces. Materials like reclaimed wood, steel, or glulam (glued laminated timber) may help you achieve the desired aesthetic and structural strength that you seek.

7. Fireplace Details

A well-designed fireplace is the focal point of a room, providing warmth and ambiance. Custom homes in Vancouver often feature multiple fireplaces, making it essential to consider design details early in the process. Choose from a range of materials like natural stone, concrete, or metal for the surround and hearth. Opt for a traditional wood-burning fireplace, a gas insert, or a modern electric unit to suit your preferences and lifestyle.

8. Interior Flooring Material

Flooring plays a significant role in the overall design and comfort of your custom home. Select materials that complement your aesthetic and meet your functional needs. Popular options include hardwood, natural stone, tile, and luxury vinyl. Consider factors like durability, maintenance requirements, and compatibility with radiant heating systems when making your selection.

9. Exterior Detailing

Pay careful attention to exterior detailing. It can raise the curb appeal of your custom home in Vancouver. Consider including features that give your home's façade character and dimension, such as decorative moldings, columns, and cornices. Choose architectural details that reflect the luxury and sophistication you want while also blending in with your chosen style, materials, and colours.

10. Cabinetry and Millwork

Custom homes in Vancouver benefit from high-quality millwork and cabinetry. These design elements can dramatically increase the utility and storage capacity of your home. Custom cabinets offer plenty of storage options and allow for seamless integration with the architecture of your home. Wainscoting, crown molding, and baseboards are examples of millwork that add refinement and elegance to any room. Your designer will help you select materials, designs, and finishing touches that support your vision and improve the aesthetics of your home.

11. Flooring

Your custom home's flooring is a key element of design, establishing the mood in each space and adding to the visual appeal. To add visual appeal and satisfy each space's unique requirements, consider a variety of materials. For example, hardwood or engineered wood flooring is ideal for main living areas, while natural stone or tile may be more suitable for bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure to review your flooring choices with your designer so you can be certain that they complement the design and functionality of your custom home.

12. Built-ins

Consider incorporating built-ins into your custom home design. Built-ins contribute practical storage and fashionable display to your design. Your built-ins are based on your room design. A media centre in the family room, a wine cellar, or a bookcase in the living room are some examples. Design built-ins that perfectly complement the millwork and architecture of your house. You’ll be surprised by the perceived value that built-ins add to your home. Well-designed built-ins add more value than they cost.

13. Lighting

A thoughtful lighting strategy will establish mood and emphasize the architectural details of your custom house. To create a layered effect that enhances the design of your home and provides the required illumination for various activities, choose a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting. Consider combining recessed, pendant, and wall-mounted fixtures to achieve the desired effect. The right lighting fixtures will add a sense of luxury and sophistication to your home's design without blowing your budget.

14. Importance of Designing Key Living Spaces

The areas where your family will spend the most time, such as the kitchen, family room, master suite, and bathrooms, must be carefully considered when designing your custom home in Vancouver. These areas should represent your lifestyle and personal preferences and be thoughtfully created to encourage comfort, functionality, and connection.

With custom cabinetry and high-end appliances, the kitchen, which is frequently considered as the centre of the house, should be built with both aesthetics and functionality in mind. The master suite should be a peaceful retreat, while the family area should be a warm place for entertainment and relaxation. Luxury and utility should be considered when designing bathrooms, and premium fixtures and finishes should be used.


Designing and building a custom home in Vancouver (and anywhere for that matter!) is an exciting journey, and your chance to create the perfect living space for you and your family. By making these fourteen essential design decisions early in the process, you can ensure that your home is both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional.

Partnering with a skilled custom home designer is key to bringing your vision to life. If you live in British Columbia, please give us a call at (604) 406-4663 so we can help guide you through the design process and make your dream home a reality. Or, just give us a call with any questions that you may have about the process.