Thoughts on bigenerational layout?

NashvilleBuild42January 18, 2014

Hi. I'm back. With more questions. As I'm on my iPad I can only post 1 photo at a time so i will have three additional follow up posts.

We are a family of 3 and will need a house that has a separate apartment for MIL. We spend the majority of our time outdoors and feel okay in places many would considered cramped. And summer weekends are largely spent at the lake house. In my opinion less space means more energy efficient and less for me to clean :) So I understand that many will think this house is just too small to begin with. However my questions are more about particular room size and functionality.

At first I thought there was no way this plan could work as there are only 2 BRs upstairs and 1 bath. However there is a large storage area 15*20 behind the garage. I'm thinking we could convert that to a family room/play room with a 3/4 bath. This would give us the extra space we need. Is that feesible? I'd also like to add a door to the backyard in that playroom area

Other questions:

1. At the top of stairs the layout shows a desk. Do you think 2 eames leather chairs and 1 ottoman woul fit there without impeding traffic? I'd love to places shelving for books along the stair wall... Thinking it could be a place to read or for two people to chat.. Or do I need to extend the width of the house a few feet to get that small area?

2. We have had small galley kitchens before that functioned brilliantly. But is 10*10 adequate for the L and island? We'd probably do a sectional but just one smaller mcm wood arm chair in front of window where plants are drawn. Plus a cocktail table...

3. Any suggestions for squeezing in a half or 3/4 bath downstairs in large room behind garage?

4. I like the glass railing on covered deck. However husband would prefer a cable and post railing. Will that ruin the aesthetic of the house? Which is safer?

Any other general thoughts? I would appreciate hearing from you.

Floor plan and rear elevation to follow

This post was edited by NashvilleBuild42 on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 1:46

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Upstairs. My family living

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:42AM
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Shared entry, mil apartment, garage and proposed family room and 1/2 bath area?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:43AM
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Rear elevation. Need door to backyard off new family room.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:44AM
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Am I seeing the kitchen on the 2 second floor??

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 7:26PM
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Hi robin. There are actually two kitchens. One in the mother in law apartment downstairs. And then one in our family unit on 2nd floor in the 10-10 space of the open floor plan... Surrounded by the dining room and living area.... Plus that small spot (8*7 or so at top of stairs)

I'm most curious to hear opinions on the space upstairs. Will it function well or are the kitchen and dining too small? Or any other thoughts people may have on the layout.

Thanks for your help

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:20PM
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I really like your plan. It is small, but I think the living area will work fine if you are comfortable with cozier spaces. Size wise, the living area reminds me of our ski house living/dining/kitchen main floor area and it is cozy, but comfortable, even when we have six adults and 3 large dogs in residence (we do have more bedrooms upstairs and another living area in the basement). The only really too tight space I see in your plan is the back of the sectional to the island and that is more a function of the furniture size and placement (the sectional drawn in is fairly long).

I like cooking in the smaller kitchen, but kitchen storage is a challenge for us and I think that may be a challenge for you too. I also think that generally your area could use at least a bit more storage overall. If you extend the entire width of the house just a few feet you may buy the space at the front for your reading area and elsewhere for a bit more storage. That would also give you more room for a 1/2 or 3/4 bath in the 'bonus' area downstairs.

The mil space looks great and I love the patio space over the garage and the way it extends your living space.

BTW, we are also planning on building a multi-generational home in the next 5 years or so that we will share with our daughter and son-in-law and although our concept is a bit different (ours will probably be a bit bigger and more like two attached homes with some shared space), I think our goals are the same.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Does the MIL apartment need a separate shower and bath tub? Maybe a large shower (roll in?) would be a possibility...which might leave you room to tuck in the 1/2 bath. Something like this?

Oh, and if you need a bigger shower, maybe a stackable W/D? From Kitchen plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 0:11

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:25PM
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Thank you all for taking the time to read and respond. I really appreciate it!

Mojo- I appreciate the comments. Good point about right scaled furniture. Stretching the width does seen like the solution. Plus we may then be able to get the laundry up on our main level? How many feet would you stretch it?

Mojo we played around with the idea of two attached homes centered around shared courtyard but ultimately things looked off balanced as the MIL wanted a smaller space all on one level and my DH hates one story homes. It's reassuring reading about your ski houses living/dining/kitchen area.

Lav- I hadn't thought of eating some of MILs bath for our half bath. Although lately I'm thinking we really should do a 3/4. It's be great just to walk in from the pool and rinse off in the downstairs bath. So maybe stretching the width a few feet and stealing the space is the answer--- If she decides she doesn't need the tub that could work. She keeps flip flopping on a larger curb less shower and the luxury of the tub for 10 more years... However if we were able to move our laundry upstairs she could maybe get the larger shower by using that old shower space....hmmm things to consider. I'm not sure if stealing that space ruins any of the sound proofing or fire rated walls... I'll have to check on that but definitely something to consider! Thank you!

I am feeling better about this plan. Anyone else have any thoughts?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:35AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I would be bothered by the lack of an away space upstairs...the bedrooms don't seem large enough to accommodate a quiet space and the rest of the floorplan is so open, that there is no place to get away from noise and such.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 9:57AM
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I like the plan overall. I think it suits your purpose and apparent lifestyle very well.

However, this may be a delicate issue and I am not asking any questions here, but unless your MIL is providing a substantial portion of the house's cost, I think her apartment is taking up a lot of square footage. If she is living alone, she could probably do with a smaller bedroom and slightly smaller living area.

And while I understand that she probably wants as much independence as possible, does she really need her own laundry facilities? I would definitely grab some space from her laundry/bath facility. It is probably possible to put a stackable unit in that pantry closet near the kitchen. You could make this area larger by stealing a foot from her bedroom, perhaps

So, that woule leave her with a long rectangular bathroom - perhaps 6' X 16'. This would then allow her to have a long vanity area with place to sit which will be of great use as she ages.

And taking the extra space from her bath, and maybe three or four feet from the downstairs room, you could then design a 3/4 bath (with shower?) and proper laundry room. To do so, you will have to angle the other wall to the right of the door.

And if you enlarge the upstairs living room by moving that left wall over about three feet, you will enlarge the downstairs room, as well, thereby giving you enough square footage to do all of this. I think it would make a huge difference in the overall livability of the house.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Annie- thanks for your time. Away space: I read about that in the not so big house, IIRC. I thought our daughter would take the 12x11'4 room. We would build in a day bed with trundle in the space where the closet is drawn. We would then use pax closet systems (hacked to fit space to a t) to build in closets on each side of the door. This should leave room for a comfy reading chair and desk with floor space to play. Plus the deck sort of acts as away space for majority of the year? Having spent 5 years with my husband in a 589 sq ft Munich apt with no away space, I'm not sure how necessary it is for us?

Bird lover- I appreciate your feedback too. I tend to agree with you and mojo adding a few feet would make the house much more liveable. Interesting suggestion on reconfiguring the MIL bath. She could make do with a stackable wd. Relocating that stack to the pantry could work as she already wants to use that as a place to contain a wet dog with a door to her side yard and garden.

Thanks everyone I appreciate your thoughts as it helps me to clarify our needs and changes we need to make.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the glass railing versus the cable railing on the deck? Is either one safer than the other? Would the cable system ruin the aesthetic?

By expanding the house the few feet will the proportions be off?

This post was edited by NashvilleBuild42 on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 14:48

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 12:53PM
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We vacation in a lake house with a large expanse of glass facing the lake, including a half glass wall acting as barrier on the deck.

I love it.

And I would not want to be responsible for cleaning it!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Haha the cleaning. Yes that could be a real pain. Maybe the husband is right on the cable railing. But the glass railing is so pretty :) perhaps another check in the reasons we need a cleaning lady column?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:51PM
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robo (z6a)

A modern looking cable railing could fit in with your house aesthetic I believe and be lower maintenance. I looked up cable railing on houzz and found a few in houses similar in style to this.

I also think mil is getting a very good deal here as her space is almost as big as that for the other three of you.

Raised ranches are a bit of a tough sell in my area. Are they common in yours? You may is to consult a realtor to see if they're difficult. Yours looks nicer from the outside than most.

I'd be tempted to enclose some of the patio space and use a bit of the landing for a very small office (8x10?). With double french doors onto the landing you could have your lounge chairs and shelving in the office, it would serve as away space, and may help resale as buyers could see it as a small guest room or nursery. I know there are rules about building over a garage.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:38PM
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Thanks robo . We spent some time on houzz and I have to say the husband wins this round. We're going to go with black railing and cables.

Hmm... Lots to think about. You are the third person to mention away space on GW. Losing even a foot of the deck is not an option. I spend many evenings on a covered porch. Heck I've even been known to sleep out there underneath the fans with a cool breeze. Deck is a must have. But I am now wondering how extending the rec room downstairs could both create a 3/4 bath and provide a space upstairs for that library area... I just don't know how big it would be or where I'd want the room to connect to existing floor plan... Does anyone have any suggestions? I would like to expand it the smallest amount necessary.

Must away space be in the actual house? I ask because we are converting one of the old stables into a bike garage/workshop/gym and yoga studio/ art studio and teeny tiny half bath. Does this change anyone's mind about needing away space? And why is it such a big deal if the away space is down a flight of stairs?

Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 1:06AM
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robo (z6a)

Maybe the patio is your away space? I live in a cold climate so patios are only useful for me like three months a year.

Honestly our house has a lot of away space and I usually gravitate toward the room my husband is in. But we don't have a kid.

I think finding the space for a 3/4 bath downstairs would be great esp for the use you mentioned, dousing off after pool. Outdoor showers are also really nice for this purpose.

I wonder if the smaller homes forum would also have good suggestions?

I was wondering how MIL's apartment seemed so spacious (walk in pantry AND closet, amazing) and then I noticed that the footprint of the house is extended on her side to the right. Could you push the upstairs that way and make the house more of a square? This could give you an office upstairs, a small walk in pantry (walk in pantry = less to clean) and a small walk in closet for master or a small ensuite.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 9:35

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:31AM
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Regarding the cable rail - it is more expensive than more conventional systems and not allow in all areas. Be sure to check the code in your area before committing to it.

The first picture posted by robotropolis is not cable rail. Cable rail can't make corners like that. It looks like rods rather than cable.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:40AM
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If I were building that house, I would build the second floor out over the MIL suite kitchen/closet area. The footing and everything is already there, just keep on going up. Then the master bedroom would have a ton more space, and you could fit another bathroom over there and a small office/study/quiet room.

I would also put in a second-story porch in that front, right corner, above the 12x12 covered porch that exits out from the MIL kitchen. Wrap your railing around the entire front of the house.

So my vision would have a study/office/whatever that exits out onto the new second story porch, and you could walk along the entire front of the house railing to access the other porch space.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 12:18PM
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The balls- thanks! I'll have to try sketching that out. Adding over the part of MIL apt sounds doable and gets us that away space people have suggested and maybe another small bath. However I'm not sure about the porch. I think it would ruin the front of the house...

I will look into building out over the lower level though. Thank you!

If anyone is bored and wants to sketch that suggestion out, i would be most appreciative.

Deko- thank you. I did realize robo photos weren't exactly what I was talking about. However they did allow me to envision the husbands preference to some extent. So we did look at several photos on houzz of cable rail based on her photos. Hence why I said black rails with cable. Glass is our backup and I'll be okay with either if the cable is not allowed here. Any reason cable would not be allowed? Any safety issues? It was very easy getting approval for a "duplex" which I've read can be a nightmare. Unsure about deck railing codes, I'll have to ask. Thanks for the head ups!!Just trying to get preferences and main ideas in a row before we meet with architect? Perhaps I'm going about this wrong.

Any other thoughts? Thank you all for the help!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:31PM
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robo (z6a)

Like this but much more elegant/architecturally savvy?

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 19:41

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:39PM
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Any reason cable would not be allowed? Any safety issues?

They are not allowed in some locations because it is easy for children to climb on them using each cable as a step. Balusters are vertical so they do not present that problem.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 7:29PM
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Where will your daughter and her friends play?
If she has a half dozen over to watch a movie, where do you go?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:30PM
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Am I missing something, or doesn't that downstairs room behind the garage qualify as "away" space? I do believe you need a second room, but this should qualify. If the master bedroom is enlarged, it will be a nice place to have a comfy chair for reading, etc.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Luann- right now our daughter is very young and needs supervised visits. However once she is older and slumber parties begin I imagine the girls will be downstairs in the family den area. Or they could be upstairs and we could retreat down stairs to watch a movie and hang out while periodically checking on the girls. Or we could move into the library. Plus if we relocate the W/D upstairs then that space could easily become a small snack kitchen with under counter fridge, healthy snack cabinets, air popper, and kid friendly plates and glasses.

Bird- you and I were thinking the same thing! :) My thought is the room behind the garage would make a great den or family room etc. currently it will double as a playroom as our daughter is younger. If I understand Annie and others the lack of away space on the main living floor would be a deal breaker for them. In my head I thought the deck might meet that need, it appears to many it does not. However I do see the usefulness in adding the space for the small library (we do read a lot, I need a space for our eames lounge chairs and the husband would likely keep one or two acoustic guitars in there as well). Then creating a more conventional idea of master bedroom and relocating w/d upstairs on the same level as bedrooms seems very practical.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We went with glass railing as it has no visual obstruction and I think it is safer than cable which, because they are horizontal, can be used like steps to climb over the top. We have had ours for 3 years now, and except for the occasional bird doop, we have not had to clean them at all.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:18PM
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Robo- Good eye! I like your changes...very nice and quite "elegant/architecturally savvy" IMHO :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Annie really no cleaning??? You are a dog less childless house right? If I only have to clean the inside then i am back to loving the glass !

Your yard is lovely.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:45PM
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Robo- I realized I never said thank you! I truly appreciate the alterations! It looks very liveable. Not too large. The pantry and laundry closet looks too small to do both but I can see how I could fit the w/d upstairs now. I'm a little worried what it does to the front elevation... But I at least have an image to show our architect our thoughts. Thank you again.

This post was edited by NashvilleBuild42 on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 23:24

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:11PM
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Go back to the glass railing. You won't regret it. It's not that high maintenance. To tie the outside in, I would do glass on the stairs too. Yay now the nephew can visit and stay in the third room rather than the stables! :P

In all seriousness, I like the addition robo drew. The kitchen needs work. Maybe a galley? Keep the pantry as drawn by robo. Then line up stove and fridge on that wall. Perhaps even an all fridge no freezer unit, small freezer in pantry. Then do a island with sink and DW and seating? Or do the fridge along back wall then the stove and plenty of cabinets with the smaller freezer at the opposite end. Then a long rectangular island with sink and DW snd some Tibetan stools tucked underneath the overhang. I'd definitely get some design help from the kitchen forum and a KD when you finalize the plans and have working dimensions. Although just my thoughts off the top of my head at 3 am ( cursed

Robo drew the laundry in the hall bath. Great use of space. Get front loading appliances and put a counter on top. Then enclose it behind matching cabinetry. A towel rack above no one would ever know your bathroom is holding down two jobs. Not to mention, you will also have a space to fold everything or hang a few things as you sort.

What if you just did an outdoor shower by the pool and a 1/2 bath in the lower level?

The only thing that seems really awkward is the landing.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 3:04AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Thanks Nashville, yes we are child free and dog free....I guess a dog could slobber up the glass if it's a slobbery dog, but I doubt a child would make a mess.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 7:52AM
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robo (z6a)

Actually it's funny because I think I just accidentally laid out an absolutely perfect cottage for myself! Which I had come here to do before. My inlaws are looking at lake property but I have a feeling they're eventually going to give up and build...and this would be an ideal build with a conventional basement and no garage.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:51AM
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Robo- That's wonderful! This would be a great solution and I would think a bonus for resale....either as an in-law or really nice guest suite :)

Here are just a few tweaks, mainly to get laundry out of bathroom. From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:31PM
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Robo- it is nice to read that helping me with the layout may have helped you design the first floor of a cottage for your family.

Lav- interesting tweak. Is it weird if I prefer the laundry in bath? Somehow it seems less claustrophobic. There doesn't appear to be enough room around the toilet when creating a laundry hall. Something to think about. It would be easy to stack the wd out in the hall and gain a little more room in the bath. But it seems easier to vent the dryer with it on the outside wall of bathroom.

Thanks for weighing in Chris. We always had a roll out bed for the nephew in the plans, we just want to keep his parental units at bay :P The galley along back running perpendicular to living room sounds promising. I'll play around with that today. But I prefer the way this island has seating on two sides so I may stick with the L. Nice call on 27" sub zero with freezer in pantry. It does seem to give me more cabinetry real estate.
I love the idea of hiding the w/d units behind cabinetry and underneath a counter. I go back and forth on shower downstairs. What if someone breaks an ankle? The shower seems like a good insurance policy. MIL no longer wants tub so we could use that space for some of the 1/2 bath as suggested by others.

Any other critiques or suggestions? Thank you everyone for your help.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Hi Lav. Thank you for your thoughts. Even if I disagree I find all the thoughts helpful.

So... My thinking any changes made to the floor plan will impact the front lines of the home. I'm already very concerned what stretching the upstairs does. I'm assuming we will continue the siding and that will keep some of the warmth but not sure how the windows will look etc. that brings us to your suggestion of expanding mil apt onto her porch. I think it's not for us. One of the things we all loved about the home is how it looks contemporary but inviting. I think the key to the inviting is the covered outdoor spaces on each corner. It balances the home and prevents it from looking cold. Landscaping will help as well. Her apartment is slight sized. No need to expand.

I actually think the bath you drew on 1/18 was a nice start. We will put an extra large curb less shower where you drew the toilet along the back wall. We then would do a stacked w/d or move that to mudroom and rework toilet and sink.

Onto the library: The husband and I have been discussing pocket door(s). We think a modern dark wood or black wood trim with glass perhaps with a slight Asian twist would look fantastic. We could keep it open a majority of the time. The pocket door wouldn't disturb flexibility of furniture placement. There is just something about a room full of books and some guitars that makes my heart sing. We're also toying with the idea if opaque glass bedroom and bath doors, so we get more light into the hall. We haven't made final decision on that though.

The master feels pretty roomy to me. We aren't the type that spend a lot of time in our room. I think we'd actually have better utilization if space with some built in drawers and reach ins rather than a step in closet... The bathroom seems fine except we'd swap the tub out for a large shower.

Were torn on the bathroom downstairs by den. 1/2 or 3/4? Broken bones are a distinct possibility in this family of risky sport enthusiasts. But there would be the 1/2 bath and a small kitchenette downstairs and mil's bathroom is just across the hall. So do we really need the shower? Any thought on this?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:13PM
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robo (z6a)

Personally, I'd add it as this may become the teenager room down the road, plus the pool showering/changing room.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 10:33PM
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Ok. So after going back and forth on this issue, we've decided to do the 3/4 bath downstairs. Even if it means there will be no kitchenette. We will not be putting the w/d and utility sink downstairs. Any suggestions for how to fit the 3/4 within the current footprint of the lower space?

The mil bath needs to have space for a very large curbless shower toilet and sink. Therefore it can't become more narrow. It does not need w/d. It doesn't have to have pocket door to mil bedroom, although if possible the pocket door is preferable.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 1:04PM
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