Courtesy Kathy Yuen

Whether it’s a 500-square-foot condo or a 5,000-square-foot estate home, great design starts with a layout that uses space effectively.

“It’s really all about creating a home that is impactful to people’s lives,” said Kathy Yuen, an architectural technologist and founder of Phase One Design.

Through her company, which has offices in both Calgary and Vancouver, Yuen has helped more than 550 people across Western Canada craft their dream homes.

She will be presenting this weekend at the Calgary Fall Home Show, which runs from Thursday, Sept. 19 to Sunday, Sept. 22 at the BMO Centre.

Yuen will be walking show attendees through the entire custom-home process, from design to construction.

“This can be a really fun process. It’s really about self-discovery – finding out what’s important to you, what you like and don’t like.” – Kathy Yuen, Phase One Design

“My goal is really to leave a legacy in this world, one home at a time,” said Yuen, noting a dream home means different things to different people.

“A dream home doesn’t have to be huge – they come in all shapes and sizes. It’s all about quality of square footage, not quantity.”

The first step in the design process, she says, is to set a budget. “Then you can start dreaming.”

Write down your wish list. Hit up houzz.com, Pinterest and your favourite glossy design magazines for inspiration. Gather up photos of both interiors and exteriors and think about how you and your family want to move through the space. Do you want to be able to cook dinner and have a sight line to the backyard where the kids are playing? Do you work from home part time? If so, how do you want that to look? A home office? A nook in the kitchen?

“This can be a really fun process,” said Yuen. “It’s really about self-discovery – finding out what’s important to you, what you like and don’t like.”

Yuen will also be talking about costs. Nailing down a number can be challenging because there is no industry standard for calculating the cost per square foot, she says. Because of that, she stresses the most important question to ask is what is included in the cost.

“I like to talk about the ‘all in’ number – plans, permits, design and build,” she said. “For Calgary, I would say the starting price range runs between $275 and $325 a square foot.”

You can catch Yuen live on the Calgary Fall Home Show’s main stage on Friday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m.

For more information, and to purchase tickets online at a $2 savings, visit calgaryfallhomeshow.com.