Finished basement plan - seeking comments!

muffnJanuary 16, 2014

Hi, the upper level is pretty much finalized. This is the lower, finished daylight walk-out. Due to the slope of our lot, there will be lots of light :)

It's pretty basic -- bedroom 4 will be used by our teenage girl (the fireplace is upstairs, so we thought we'd put one below it in the same place). The home office will be for my husband who works at home. The middle bathroom will be used as both a "powder room" downstairs, as well as a bathroom for wet swimmers - hence the exterior door (no matter how much you tell them, the kids never towel off enough to use the bathroom while swimming and I'm tired of wet floors in our current house!). The rec room has a kichenette -- small fridge, microwave and a sink with some cabinets. Then there's a guest room (bedroom 5) for my parents or our friends when they visit. Lastly, a game room. We have 3 kids - 4, 6 and 14 when we move in -- so it will double as a playroom and game room for now. We'd like to put a ping pong table in there among other things. The rest is unfinished storage. We have a vestibule at the bottom of the stairs so we can close everything off at the bottom should we want to. The top of the staircase is open. Oh, and we'll probably throw a small storm/tornado shelter down there somewhere. And fill it up with wine and call it a wine cellar :)

Any thoughts about the basic flow of the rooms? Thanks in advance!

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Annie Deighnaugh

There will be a lot less light than you think in the rooms under the deck. Unless the deck is narrow or built fairly high, those rooms will still feel like they are underground...
Which way is north?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:51AM
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The layout looks functional and flows well. What about having an open railing as you come down the stairs where the closet is? That would open it up more and feel less basement like. What about a window seat in bedroom 4 between the fireplace and exterior corner? That would help with the fireplace sticking out. Our house has a large unfinished section for storage that's very useful. We also have a couple of walk in closets that are finished and work well for overflow pantry and other stuff that you don't want in the unfinished section.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:51PM
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AnnieDeighnaugh - the back faces southwest.

done_again - good suggestions. Thank you!!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:54PM
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Your closets aren't going to hold what you think.

The one that is 5'6" wide might as well just be a 9 feet reach in. The extra 3.5 feet in depth is just going to be walking room (essentially "hallway" ie, wasted space). If you can figure out how to get another 6", and put the door as an outswing, you can have double the hanging space in that closet.

Same with the L-shape "hanging" in the left hand bedroom closet. Because of the dead corner, it too will not actually have as much hanging space/useful space as you think. And, again, you have a lot of wasted walking/floor space. Consider "lining" both side of that closet, rather than turning the L. And, I like outswing doors on closets so that if things are on the floor, you can still get the door open.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 3:07PM
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That is a really small room for working fulltime at home. I would annex the adjacent bathroom space for the office. If the spare bedrooom is only occasionally used why don't you combine the swimming pool bathroom with the spare room bathroom- your husband will thank you for it. On the advice of my architect we enlarged the study in the basement to 14 x 16 and took space away from the adjacent kitchenette. My husband (a professor) uses the study most nights and on weekends and calls it his "Sanctum sanctorium". In fact he has told me that I can do whatever I want to the house as long as we don't have to move, since he loves his office so much!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Do you need 3 bathrooms for the basement?
I think most people would consider that excessive.

The game room appears to be small.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:35AM
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The office seems way to small to me for someone that works from home.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:18AM
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I'd the 15*13 room the guest bedroom? If so, I personally wouldn't do a 5'6*9 walk in closet. I would do a much smaller reach-in closet. Even for resale, that would work nicely for a boys room. Then like others said, make that restroom available to the whole downstairs. Making the office larger would also make it much more flexible :). What I'd going in the game room? Will it fit a pool table? The closet area adjacent to the stairs would be nice for storing board games and other supplies. Or it would be a nice spot for a long bench or a portrait wall.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:14AM
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I like the flow of the lower level - very much. It is almost identical to mine and it works perfect. A few items to consider:

1) Change all interior bathroom doors to swing out. The bathrooms are fairly small and if a person were to pass out, the door would need to be cut to get into the room.

  1. Change the doors on the closets to swing out. We did this in all our closets and do not regret it at all. One poster mentioned opening the door with the floor full of stuff, well, that is my closet. I am a terrible closet housekeeper.
    3) Consider moving the kitchenette to the area by the stairs you identified as a possible closet. This will allow you to shift the bathroom over 2' and also give the office an additional 2'. Our kitchenette is by the stairs and it works great.

Best of luck!

This post was edited by motherof3sons on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 21:16

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 7:37PM
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OK, so I like that a few of you think the layout is close to perfect. I'm going to make some of the suggested revisions - thank you. Before reading the latest comments, I was focuing on ttensirk's comment about 3 bathrooms being excessive. And I've been trying to rework the center bath with the exterior door by moving it to the right side of the house and sharing it with the guest room (bed 5). But it just won't work if we want that exterior door for pool users. I didn't think 3 baths were excessive - does anyone else?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Here is the latest revision. I kept the kitchette where it is because I want it as close to the door as possible to avoid wet floors from swimmers getting a drink or a snack. I still may move it to the space by the stairs where the computer desk is, but still undecided. At least now there's more room in the office!
I'm unsure what to do with the space in the back, currently the play room and exercise room. Should I take down the wall in between the rec room and play room and just make it a big space? We want a ping pong table - maybe it could hang out in that space? How much space do you need for mechanical in the basement? I want lots of unfinished space for storage (christmas decorations, bins, etc.) Maybe I should swith the exercise space back to storage! Thoughts?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 5:08PM
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I like this revised version a lot! I assumed that the playroom wall was structural? It would be really nice to have that mostly open to the rec room. I could see a grouping of teenagers watching movies/playing ping pong/mingling there.
The exercise room seems like a nice spot. Have you thought about the door entering by the guest bedroom? Then you would have quick access to that bathroom :)
The guest bedroom setup seems much nicer. I especially like that there are two easy bathrooms available if lots of people are hanging out in the basement.
I think you should have plenty of storage area with the revised mechanical/storage area. I'm sure you can plan where the water heater and HVAC go to best utilize that space :). Then maybe you can build some nice tall shelves to hold endless Rubbermaid containers!
Two other quick thoughts...I would not want a door from the playroom to the storage room. Also, I would love to see a window to see out of the exercise room!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Thanks nostalgic farm! Good comments. Here's the revised one. I'm going to email my architect and ask if that wall can come out!

As for the double doors to the unfinished area, I wanted those in case we need to get something big in there.

Re - exercise room - I don't know yet how far back windows can be on the side. We'll see! Good suggestion!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:36PM
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On second thought...since you need the double doors to the exercise room, I would omit the "bathroom" door. That should give you more flexibility.
Have you thought about not having the smaller door to the mechanical room? If you are going to keep the double doors, and the room is occasionally accessed, you are not really walking that much further? Imagine what you could change with your kiddos bathroom/closet if you had that extra hallway space :)
Love the rec room area! Crossing my fingers you don't need that wall :)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:18AM
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I would put a high window on the left side of bedroom 4 - that window under the deck isn't going to provide a lot of light. I would also make that closet wide enough for clothes rods down both sides. Eliminating the small door to the mechanical/storage room give you the space to work with to increase the closet and bathroom.

I do think 3 bathrooms is excessive. How often do you have guests? If it's only a few times a year, that bathroom does seem unnecessary, and expensive, since it's far away from the rest of the plumbing runs (depending on where you have plumbing upstairs). I would make Bedroom 5 the office (bigger, and much better light!), and move the kitchenette next to the stairs to gain some room for the old office/new guest room. I'd eliminate the bathroom there, and make a nice big closet (in case it's someday used as a bedroom).

I completely understand your feelings about wet kids tromping through the house to the bathroom and kitchen, so I love the outside door to the bathroom! Moving the kitchenette to the stair location gives them a direct path from the bathroom to the fridge. Realistically, if I was coming in to use the bathroom, and wanted to grab a snack on my way back out, I'd walk past the stairs and through the rec room to do it, so the kitchenette location is a wash.

Just make sure you have a water-resistant flooring material.

oh, and either have two doors to the linen closet in the "pool bathroom", or just have it open in to the bathroom. You'll need plenty of towel storage in there.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:11AM
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I like the new one with the wall removed!

I would get rid of the single door to the mechanical room to add a bit more room to Bedroom #4's bath or closet.

I would also get rid of the double doors between the computer desk and the rec room and just leave that open (that is unless you think you will need them to cut down on noise).

I would consider just making the pool bathroom a powder room w/o a shower. My parents put a shower in their "pool bathroom" for people coming in off the lake and in 12 years since I don't think anyone has ever used it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:43PM
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Bedroom 4 is going to be dark. Since your daughter is going to be the only one with a bedroom downstairs I'd want that room to be as nice as possible and it looks like bedroom 5, with the 2 windows and not being under the deck, will be nicer. I'd want to make BR5 as nice as possible (keep the WIC and more private bath) and rework BR4 closet and bath to be the shared/guest area.

Also it looks like there will be a patio or similar outside of BR4's window, making that room less private.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Great suggestion, chicagoans! In that case, I'd move the office to bedroom 4, and expand the office a bit for the guest room. And I'd either get rid of the third bath, or have it open in the hallway instead of the bedroom. That way it's both guest and common bath, and DD gets a private bathroom (obviously eliminate the door into the exercise room).

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:55PM
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OK, all wonderful suggestions! Thanks!

Unfortunately, I feel BR4 has to be my teen's bedroom. BR5 feels too far away and secluded to me. I want her right at the bottom of the stairs. And I have the doors to the rec room there both for noise reduction and so my teen can close the doors at night if she's intimidated by a big, dark scary room next to her. Looking at it again, maybe I'll flip the doors so they open against the wall and not the kitchenette.

I'm torn about the kitchette. I see you point about moving it, however, when we have pool parties (we have a lot of them!), we put drinks in our fridge in our garage which is steps away from our current pool. I feel like having it right there by the door is handy. Hmmm. Have to think about it. Also, moving it means I have to ditch the open stair railing and put in a solid wall so we can have upper cabinets. And I like the open feeling - it was part of making this level feel more like another level and not a basement.

As for the pool shower - I think we will use it. Typically we shower when we come in in the evenings to get all the poolwater / sunscreen off. And when you're wet and hanging out in 90 degree weather (common here) and walk into an air conditioned house, it's FREEZING! I know my little ones will grow out of screaming "I'm cold, I'm cold" all the way upstairs to their bath, but I have to say -- it's pretty damn cold. I know at the very least that I will use that shower!

So now I'm wondering if I should switch the office and guest room. My husband does sales and really doesn't want/need a big office. He's very messy, so more room means more mess :)

Oh, and yes, we do have guests quite often. Our parents live out of town and visit maybe 6 times a year. My brother is disabled and lives with my mom, so we typically need two extra beds when she comes. And a lot of our closest friends are about an hour away, so they (family of 4 or 5) often stay the night after a day in the pool. So the bathrooms would get used - just not sure how much 3 bathrooms down there will cost us!

I'm going to put in as many high windows as I can on the sides. Still waiting to find out where it's possible!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Thanks for the clarification - that explains a lot of your decisions. I do understand your point about he kitchenette - it would really be handy to the outside. What part of the country are you in? How many months can you use the pool?

A year from now, your DD might appreciate being a little more isolated. ;) I can also see one of your other kids wanting to move downstairs as they get older.

I see your point about DH's office. If he's OK with the size, I'd leave it alone. I would then eliminate the small door to the storage room, and expand both the bathroom and closet for BR 4, putting the bathroom door opposite the office door. Even if your DD stays in BR 4, it would almost serve as a private bath for her.

I do like the computer at the bottom of the stairs (assuming everyone doesn't have a laptop be the time the house is finished). The computer in our house is just off the family room, at the bottom of the stairs, and it's nice to be able to use the computer without being completely isolated, or to keep half an eye on what the kids are doing.

And I like the built-ins on each side of the fireplace - in my house, they would be filled with jigsaw puzzles and board games, in addition to books!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:20PM
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Hi Melissa - You made some great changes to the plan! Because you have a pool, will people be changing in the bathroom on the lower level? Is there a place for clothes storage or a place to hang up wet suits? This is going to be a great house!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:41PM
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wow - you people are amazing. So helpful. Once again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate each and every word!

annkh - we use the pool from early May through the end of September. I never dreamed how much we'd use it when we put it in, but we are in it almost every day! And yes, by the time we're in, our teen will be there only a few more years :( And I fully expect one of the two upstairs moving down to the bigger room. Then they'll both have their own bathroom (the two littles will share one upstairs at first). As for the computer, yes, exactly my thinking. Our kids all have their own iPads (hand me downs of course and they get to use them only about once a week), but they still like to get on the desktop computer. So there's still a need for it :)

motherof3sons - Thanks :) And good point! I've been thinking about the wet suit /wet towel thing. Now we just do it over the deck railing, but sometimes we forget them overnight and it rains. I was thinking that I could put a bar or something with hooks in the shower for the suits and the towels could hang outside under the screen porch?

I think I'm going to make the changes you all suggested for the BR4's bath. I will post it soon!. thx!!!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Quick question. I talked about the BR4's bathroom change and taking out the hallway to my husband and he mentioned two things. One, he said it's not really necessary to access that bathroom from the hall. There's one right across from it. He said it would be nice for our daughter to be able to use the bathroom without walking out into the hallway should, say, people be gathered in the rec room. He prefers it accessible from her room as a private bath.

As for the hallway, he doesn't care about eliminating it. But he said it might be easier to lug christmas decorations, etc. up and down the stairs if the door is right there.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:07PM
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I thought the bathroom would remain private. The upside is expanding the closet and bathroom. The double doors are easier to drag a tree through than a single.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 7:33AM
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My thought on eliminating the storage room hallway/door was not to make your daughters bathroom public, but to add those 8-12 sq ft to her room. I would still keep her bathroom door in her room.
Yes, the door would make lugging decorations easier...but that amounts to an hour savings a year at most? How much would that extra space add to your daughters room? How nice will that extra space in the bedroom be nice when your daughter comes to stay with a few grandkids that are sleeping in the same room?
Good luck! The basement is going to be such a nice space :).

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:02AM
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OK, thanks! I guess I misunderstood :)

Here's the latest layout!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:45AM
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I would love to be your house guest in that space!

Our neighbors built a pool, and used it as much as you. My sons were 10 at the time, and said to the neighbor "You are so lucky, because you're getting a pool. And we're so lucky, because I think you're going to share!" Indeed they did!

It was so much fun to watch a dozen neighbor kids, boys and girls, ranging from age 7 to 17, playing in the pool together for hours on end. Nothing brought the neighborhood together like that pool.

Just a little nit to pick - in Bedroom 4, just put clothes rods down the sides. Corners are completely useless for hanging stuff. If you really want to get the most out of that closet, put double rods on one side. If she doesn't need it all, you can use some space for out of season clothes.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 11:02AM
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That looks great! I was thinking what annkh said about the BR 4 closet: take out the rod/shelf on the back wall and you'll have full use of the rods on either side (no dead corners.) I'd put a big mirror on the back wall so when she gets dressed in there she can see how everything looks. Looks like a great set up for a teen!

This is a small thing but I'd move the door to the BR4 closet to the right to be closer to the bathroom, and have it open toward the other side of the closet (the right side.) This will give you just a bit more space in that corner of the room; maybe put in a comfy chair and a hanging light for a nice little reading spot. Or, depending on how you all feel about accessing the closet from the bathroom, flip the orientation of the closet so the two rods run along the top and bottom, the door opens from the bathroom, and the back wall (where I'd put a big mirror) is to the left. It takes away wall space in the bathroom, but it gives you a long wall in the bedroom for furniture, and it means that she can go from closet to bathroom without passing in front of the bedroom door. (Mockup below.)

You have tons of awesome storage already, but you could also add a closet under the higher stair landing, opening toward the ping pong table. This could have storage for paddles, balls, games, etc. Also, you could store your wrapping paper there; my mom always wrapped presents on their ping pong table because it was such a great place to spread out.

Finally, what do you think about adding a small, apartment sized stackable washer and dryer? This would be great for pool towels, wet suits, and so your daughter and guests could do laundry without bringing it upstairs.(Same with sweaty exercise towels if you do have the workout room.) I know, I'm getting greedy here, but just thinking about making life easier. :) You have plumbing down there already, so adding one might not be too much of a stretch. (I have a second laundry in my basement and I love it when we have tons of laundry, like after a vacation. I also use it for cleaning rags, towels and sheets from the guest room, etc., so it gets a lot of use.)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:59PM
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Chicagoans you read my mind! I was going to suggest adding a stackable unit. This is a great layout for the lower level. Way to go Melissa!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 4:45PM
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