Considering a new plan -- far from a final idea

mrspeteFebruary 26, 2013

We found this plan, which is about 90% of what we've been sketching and discussing together, and we're wondering if it'd be a good idea to start with this instead of starting from scratch. What good/bad do you see in it?

I listed a couple things next to the picture, and -- now that I just paced off the size of the back porch -- I'm thinking it might be a bit excessive.

Important details:
- We're planning a retirement house for the two of us and occasional guests.
- Words to describe our house: Charming, inviting, homey, efficient. NOT dramatic, trendy, overblown.
- We'll have a pool in the back, so the porch is important to us; also, the back will face the hot western sun.
- We're building on 40 acres in the South and are doing an all-cash build; however, we're planning a moderate house.

Anyway, your thoughts?

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I like the way you described your future house.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Seems like a simple, straight-forward plan for a retired couple--particularly if the bath area between BR 2 & 3 is simplified.

I like the open living and kitchen area, but there will be zero visual or auditory privacy. Such a nice space will make an strong interior space and allow for good views to/from the space.

Would a door in the entry for bedroom 2 allow for an "away room" where the TV, reading or other "away" activities could occur?

You would get the advantage of passive solar energy if you would remove the porch roof and design a pergola that blocks summer sun, but allows winter sun (assuming it becomes south facing). A pergola will provide a shaded outdoor seating area in summer, and even has the potential for use with a wide variety of climbing vines, which can provide enjoyable seasonal color that is attractive both indoors and out. A large porch, partially sheltered by such a pergola is a very appealing and enjoyable space, without the "dark tunnel" effect of a large, roofed porch.

Any reason why, on 40 acres, you wouldn't orient the house to the south for better control of natural light throughout the day, and the possibility of passive solar strategies? East light and west light, in particular, when the sun is low, is impossible to block and will create glare and, particularly west sun, unwanted heat gain in the summer. Late afternoon summer sun can be very unplesant.

Are the two roof dormers real, and allow light into the major living-kitchen space? That would be a good idea.

It's hard to tell from the small perspective, but it appears that the house uses stone for the walls. How do you feel about an all stone house on a 40 acre tract? I would think a more "woodsy" finish (perhaps board and batten) would be more appropriate for a wooded setting. And certainly a lot less expensive.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:29AM
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I like your idea to do away with the half bath on the right side. I'd put a closet there - even if you are in the south and don't need coat storage, there are other things you will need the closet for.

Also, I'd do away with the small garage storage area at the far right. Make that space part of your laundry room to allow for a folding/hanging area. Add a window too.

Is that a wood stove in the great room? Do you need it?

The great room/kitchen is WAY too open for me, but I know that style is popular today. I wouldn't want everyone who comes in the foyer to see my refrigerator! While it's functional and can be attractive, I think it should be someone hidden! Just MHO.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I agree that this isn't a home built for privacy; however, it'll be just the two of us most of the time, and after 23 years of marriage we still like each other. If we want to do something noisy, one of us can be in the bedroom (which is pretty private) while the other is in the living room. I agree that this would be a problem for a family, and I myself would be quick to point that out -- but it's not an issue for the two of us. This suits our lives.

I think I like the idea of dividing the porch: Build a shallow covered porch and then extend it into a perogola. Sounds like it could be the best of both worlds -- it does away with the "overkill" of such a large porch. We have a covered porch right now, and we do enjoy being able to step out during the rain. I'll keep that idea in mind.

Yeah, you'd think that on 40 acres we'd have our choice of building spots -- and I suppose we do. However, one spot is really "it". We want to be on the side with the quiet side road rather than the busy main highway. We have to stay away from the heavily wooded portion and the part that we farm. We could turn the house sideways to the road, but that'd seem kind of odd to me.

No, the two dormers aren't "real", but I'm not crazy about looking up into dormers anyway. I'm not into skylights or other roof-lights.

The stone is an accent on two portions of the front.

I'm imagining that the area where the half-bath is now would become the pantry, and you're reading my mind on both the laundry room and the window!

I'm not sure whether that's a wood stove or a regular fireplace. Okay, it might not be strictly such a need here in the South (I'll admit it: My heavy winter coat is a Land's End Squall jacket.), but I definitely want a fireplace. I could be happy with a wood stove, if it were designed nicely. I've never had a house without a fireplace, and I tend to think a house without one is "cheap". In this area, only the cheapest of the cheap houses don't have fireplaces. Plus, we must think of Santa Claus!

Thanks for your thoughts, and I'll welcome more feedback.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Gee, that's funny that you think a house without a fireplace or wood stove is cheap! I think the opposite!

I guess I've been in too many old houses here in the Midwest where the only source of heat is a wood stove in the center of the house. The first house DH and I bought was like that - no central heating system at all. Only a wood stove in the living room. And we thought we were rolling in dough when we finally bought a window air conditioner for the living room.

It's all a matter of perspective.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 7:49PM
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Make sure the MBR has a least one good wall for the bed without windows being too close to the sides of the bed with bedside tables taller than the sills.

I would flip the master bath and closet to get the plumbing together and to get the doors for the entry, closet and porch entry all down an one end.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:17PM
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I think it's a really nice plan. The storage room looks like it houses the water heater so you may have to keep that room unless you can come up with another location.

I was at a home show this past weekend and they had pergolas that could electronically open and close. These we saw were water tight when closed and had a gutter system around the edge to drain the water off. Not sure of their cost, but they would be pretty nice to have for the flexibility of a covered or open porch/patio area.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:18PM
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I like this plan very well with some tweaking.

I dislike the toilet passageway to the MB closet. It just seems the least sanitary position and most easily occupied.

I would do exterior open doors on the MB/porch wall.

Good luck this looks like a nice plan to work with.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:38PM
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LittleBug5, Clarification: In this area a house that doesn't have a fireplace or wood stove as a SECONDARY heat source is considered "cheap". I do live in a place where no one's ever thrown away anything that still had ten minutes of use in it, so I know plenty of people who live in old farmhouses that've been rennovated /enlarged over the years (in fact, I was raised in such a house). LOTS of these houses didn't originally have heating ducts (or indoor plumbing); however, the people I know who live in such houses are thrifty . . . but not poor. They've all added modern conveniences like central heat. The few houses of which I'm aware that have ONLY a wood stove are tiny rental houses that rent for perhaps $300/month -- and, yes, we do have a market for that type of housing here, but you wouldn't want to be either the landlord or the tennant in those situations.

Palimpsest, you're right about the bathroom door location impeding furniture placement in the master bedroom -- but, as you pointed out, I think it'd be a fairly easy fix to rearrange things on that end. It'd also consolidate the plumbing a bit, making the build slightly less expensive.

Eyegirlie -- that sounds like a pretty expensive system. You don't happen to remember a name brand, do you?

HouseOfSticks, I looked at that a long time and decided I'm fine with the toilet location. I don't like a toilet-in-a-closet, but I also don't want it to be out there front-and-center. I kind of like this odd placement. I don't see why walking past a toilet is unsanitary. What I'm less sure about is walking through the bathroom and around the corner to get into the closet. It's a rather lengthy route. I think, however, there's space enough to finagle this differently.

Again, thanks for your thoughts. Any more?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:52AM
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What is the square footage you want in your new house?
Do you know what size is the floor plan you posted?
Could you share the original floor plan link so que can see the other elevations?

I might have a little bit of time to draw something for you.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:48AM
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I like this plan :)

If you don't need to open up bedroom 2 to the entry, I would put the hall bath there (by the entry) with the doorway opening towards the living room wall. This would make a small hall to the bedrooms and not have a doorway right next to the fireplace. Placing furniture in the living area would be so much easier this way.

The porch/pergola idea is wonderful! I also like the idea of changing the master bedroom laundry situation...but what if you move the garage forward, rather than the master bedroom back?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 1:14PM
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naf naf, We're looking to build something 1700-2000 square feet. The house plan I shared IS the original plan -- I see a couple things I'd like to change, but I haven't altered it in any way. It is 1960 square feet.

I'd be thrilled to see any sketches that might come to your mind!

lavender lass, I was kicking around the same thought with the secondary bedrooms. I don't think I want to move the garage forward. I don't think I like the idea of guests walking around a "forward" garage to get to the front door.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:12PM
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Please let me know what you think. I can modify it to fit your needs.
The total square footage is 1996.
You can place the bed in the master, 3 ways.
The back porch:
You can convert the wider area by the master into a screened porch in the future and have a regular porch by the great room.
If you are ok with having a reach in closet in the back guest bedroom, you could get rid of the porch by the great room.

Here is a link that might be useful: MrsPete Home

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

My primary concern would be with the orientation to the sun, esp in the south...the west is the hottest and the southeast corner is by far the best for locating a porch....

Dh would never tolerate the master bath door....he never wanted to get whacked in the butt by someone opening the door. I'm not a fan of walking through the bath to get to the closet.

I would think the door to BR2 would want to include the sink area instead of be outside it....

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 11:03PM
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It's a nice well though out plan probably from a plan book that predated the Internet so it avoids many modern developer cliches.

Entering the master closet through the toilet room is a bit odd.

The architectural design inspiration is the English Cotswold Cottage and I would encourage following that style more closely by using a single instead of double front door, giving the dormers more substance and improving the roof eave and rake detailing.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:25AM
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another cottage

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:27AM
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another cottage

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Sun, Mar 3, 13 at 7:32

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:29AM
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    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:44AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Love those Cotswold cottages! Yum!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:56AM
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These cottages are reasonably large. Many Cotswold cottages are even smaller. The row-house type of development is also a common one there.

The fact that these cottages are small, distinct in form and shape and use a simple vocabulary of forms and materials helps account for their near-universal appeal.

They are a far cry from the over-stuffed, ill proportioned U.S. builder houses, which, as Reno says, are made more unappealing by the combination of unrelated cliches from builder's home shows, such as stacked gables which make no sense, and a pleothra of unrelated historical details.

Wish we could learn the lessons of history.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Would you have any interior shots of that cottage with the bay window and the peonies? What a lovely home.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 12:49PM
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Reno, I have the same pictue in my Pinterest. I liked it so it will show with the name of the original poster, not me. It is a different view.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 2:22PM
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NafNaf, This is a great update of the original plan! You've improved it greatly:

- The simplified 2nd bath is much more practical for our needs, and you've reduced the square footage on that side of the house. I'd be fine with both secondary bedroom closets becoming reach-ins and reducing it even farther.

- I like how you altered the closet /butler's pantry a bit, providing an appliance pantry. I was thinking of something along the lines of shallow dish storage (I do own 7 sets of dishes and am completely unrepentant about it). Appliances or dishware, it's an excellent use of space -- being Southern and fairly well coat-free, the coat closet on the other side of that wall is of little import to us.

- I like the way you flip-flopped the closet /bathroom. I know this is a debatable topic on this board and elsewhere, but I personally like the closet opening off the bathroom. It suits my husband and me. I like a bathroom that's large enough to be comfortable, but not so big as to be over-sized. Right now I have a 17' long bowling-alley of a bathroom, and I'm always walking back and forth from the linen closet to the sink to whatever else. Bigger is not always better.

- I like the master bedroom doors being moved. My inclination is to place the head of the bed on the back wall (so that you enter and are facing the foot of the bed), but this gives options, which are always good. The original floorplan with the door in the middle of the wall wasn't a good choice.

- The one fly in the ointment here is the pantry -- it's not nearly big enough. I really do like the neat, efficient way you drew the garage-entry area, and I could see using the laundry room as the pantry and having the washer/dryer in the small pantry area /a folding area across the walkway. I'm not inclined to dedicate large amounts of space to the laundry, but I have more kitchen gadgets than you'd believe and well over a hundred cake pans, and I want to store those occasionally-used items in a large pantry rather than in expensive kitchen cabinets.

Again, I really like what you've drawn! Thanks so much for taking your time to create this -- it was very kind of you. You really heard everything I said, and you kept to my targeted square footage. It's helped me clarify some of my thoughts.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:13PM
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Renovator8, You know, it's funny that you'd think this plan pre-dates the internet. Looking at the exterior drawing, I was reminded of houses from the 1970s. In particular, I remember riding the school bus through a neighborhood that -- in my elementary school days -- was state of the art. Split levels, large ranch houses. To my eyes, they were the epitome of home ownership. This house would've fit into that neighborhood well. I do not think the picture of this house looks particularly "dated", but it does harken to my childhood.

The pictures you've provided on this thread are lovely. Drool-worthy. Cultured, timeless, like something out of Jane Austen (FYI: I teach British literature; so, yeah, I'm a huge fan). I do love the neutral palate that these houses provide, but I'm not such a great gardener -- I'm not sure I could equal the vegetation that is so much a part of these photographs. I'm fearful, too, that they might not fit into my Carolina farmland. I have 40 acres located on a back-country road; my house will have a large stand of old hardwoods and dogwoods to the east; my newly-planted pecans and fruit trees around the house itself; and to the back, my fields -- which are a money-maker for me. Also, I wonder how expensive such an exterior might be. Though my budget isn't overly small, I wonder if this is beyond me.

Of what material is this roof made? It looks thicker than regular shingles.

My original exterior goal was something along the lines of a Cape Cod or a Southern country house. I like 1.5 stories with steep roofs, gables or dormers, and porches. Yes, I know that's not exactly what this houseplan shows on the exterior.

Thanks for adding the term "Cotwold Cottage" to my vocabulary.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:35PM
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CottageWithRoses, That one IS the best of the bunch, isn't it? I think it's best because its windows are larger, and you can't beat good, big windows.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:38PM
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Of what material is this roof made? It looks thicker than regular shingles.

They are stone tiles.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:50PM
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Stone tiles? Really? I didn't know this was "a thing". I'm thinking of the cost of granite countertops, stacked brick columns . . . I think a thousand dollars just disappeared from my checking account just thinking about what a stone roof would cost!

Seriously, my plain old shingle roof cost over 5K to replace in 2005. And we didn't have to remove the old roof; we just put a new roof over the old one!

On the other hand, I'm sure a stone roof would last forever.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:12PM
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What about something like this?
Top one is 1995 sf
The lower one is 1930 sf

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 3:17PM
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NafNaf, you are good! This is a wonderful adaptation of the original plan -- the second plan is exactly what I was thinking about. I've been messing with it, but your drawings are much better than mine.

Thanks again for taking the time to put this together.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:07PM
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Mrs. Pete, did you need a foyer closet? That is the thing I see missing in Naf's plan 2.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 11:32PM
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Naf Naf -- beautiful work. Thanks for all of the information btw.

Mrs. Pete, did you notice that she also made your front porch deeper. Really nice plan.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:27PM
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Okay, we've been thinking on this plan, and we're looking at a major change -- we're very open to your thoughts:

The big-deal change is that we've cut off the two secondary bedrooms. We are kind of ambivalent about whether to go with a one-story house or a story-and-a-half. I'm pretty good at visualizing how a floor plan would flow, but that skill does not extend to staircases and upstairs rooms, so please don't criticize my staircase. I'd let the architect draw in a nice staircase that'd suit the house -- and he could add in the two bedrooms and bath at the same time.

The benefit: This gives us more natural light in the Great Room. I'm thinking three windows /one door across the back . . . plus one window to the left of the fireplace and two windows on the side near the porch.

With more natural light, the large covered back porch is not a problem; in fact, it becomes an asset since the back of the house will face the hot, western sun.

I've moved the fireplace to the left a bit, allowing for a larger TV /media area. I also like the slightly asymetrical look.

I've reverted to NafNaf's original plan with the small coat closet and the appliance pantry -- yes, I know that the lines don't match up well. I literally did this with scissors and tape; pretend it fits in nicely, please. While you're pretending things, pretend too that I taped that Great Room wall on straight.

I've enlarged the pantry -- yes, we really do want this much pantry space. I have 2/3 this much space now, and I have stuff in the attic and on the floor. Much of it is cake pans and catering items; no, I'm not willing to part with any of it! Bonus: I'd add a pass-through window from the kitchen to the pantry.

The coat closet won't get a whole lot of usage, but I hate not to have one at all. What NafNaf has called an Appliance Pantry, I'd call a China Closet -- and I think I LOVE that feature.

I've made that little closet /cabinet area just inside the back door into a desk. This is to be a retirement house, so we don't feel the need for a full-fledged office like we have now. This desk, however, will give us space to sort the mail, charge iPads and phones, and so forth -- I think more than anything, it'll keep "paper clutter" out of the rest of the house. I do recognize that this isn't an ideal spot for people to sit and work at a desk, but I anticipate it'll be more of a storage /organization area than an actual sit-down-and-work area.

Do you see the weak point in my new plan? I betcha do: By moving the bedrooms upstairs, I've just lost my guest-accessible downstairs bath. I'm not opposed to having guests use the master bath (this is not a grand house -- more of a cottage), and that's the most economical option, but I'd need another door. Thing is, I like the size and layout of the bath as it's shown. The most obvious thing is to lose a part of the vanity to allow another door, but I'm not loving that idea.

I suppose we could move the coat closet under the stairs (again, a small coat closet is FINE here in the South), and use the current coat closet as a bathroom. The Appliance Pantry-turned China Closet could become shallow. Thing is, that's a rather . . . public location.

Or we could widen the garage entrance hallway a bit to allow that small closet to become a half bath. The laundry room is plenty spacious, and I wouldn't be opposed to stealing a bit of space from it. What's a minimum-minimum-minimum size for a half bath?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 3:11PM
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Square 1/2 bath? 4.5 x 5 (IMO)
long 1/2 bath? 3x6 (with pocket door)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 4:02PM
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