VL requires about 3-4 GB minimum for / (I recommend about 5-6GB so you can add extra programs), suggested 512MB for swap and then you need a good size /home partition to hold all your data (if you collect music, graphics and video then this will have to be 10's of GB's large).
You don't *need* a /home partition. It's possible to put everything on /, leaving as you say 512 megs for swap. Of course, if you *prefer* a /home partition, there's nothing wrong with having one. But to say you NEED a /home partition just confuses people.
I never use a /home partition. The trouble with more partitions than you need is that one may get too small and one may be too large. Then you have to decide what to do and maybe even tar up everything so you can repartition the drive (or use something like GParted and hope the lossless resizing evades disaster yet again). The only reason I can think of for having a /home partition is to be able to preserve data and settings if you have to reinstall your system or want to share /home with Linuxes on other partitions (and there are some dangers to that). With the advent of cheap, huge external hard drives, I prefer to create a Linux-formatted partition on the external hard drive and just copy my /home directory to the hard drive. That preserves my data and settings if I have to reinstall. I can even make several copies of /home as backups (generations of backups) just by copying.