Yikes. Just realized hallway only 3 ft wide--anything we can do?

Skyangel23February 6, 2014

Because I only discovered GW a few weeks ago, our floor plan did not receive the benefit of the knowledge and generosity of the members here.

This afternoon I was examining our floor plan yet again, and realized something I had not noticed before. Nearly ever other measurement on our plan is from outside of wall to outside of opposite wall--so no measurement in any room counts the 4" (4.5?) wall in its measurement. Well, I just discovered that the hall dimension does! All this time I have believed it was 3 ft 4 inches, so 40". Not great but not terrible. Now I see that it is really only 36" wide, and it is a long hallway, depending on how you count it at least 15 ft (not counting the small space after the arch leading to bedrooms.) This is not a custom plan, so I didn't design the hallway width.

Now, we are framing early next week. So I have only a few days to make any changes. If we bring down the lower wall 4-6", we are losing inches in the laundry room and dining room, but I think it might be worth it to gain the space in the hallway.

What I am concerned about is that because of the layout of the french door, lowering that dining room wall also reduces the length of our foyer on that right side. The two sides are already 4" off--5 ft on the left and 4'8" on the right. Lowering where the door starts another six inches would make a 10" difference between the two side walls of the foyer.

I don't see any perfect solution at this point. Which is worse, uneven foyer walls and a small amount of square footage stripped from top of laundry room and dining room, or narrow, 3ft hallway? That hallway leads to both kids rooms and the guest bathroom.

Previous houses have been laid out in such a way that we really didn't have any hallways to contend with (they were much smaller than this house as well). We are young (ish), with young kids, and plan to have many friends over frequently, both our friends and those of our kids.

Any help or advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Most definitely lose inches in the dining and laundry room. You will need at least 6 more inches in that hallway.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How on earth are you using that dining room, with those doors swinging in?
Losing half a foot won't make it worse.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, but the foyer walls will be lopsided. Isn't that a significant issue?
Dining room will be used as office/craft room, as we are casual folks who have eating space elsewhere, with a much better view.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My sister-in-law has a similar set up and they opted to not have walls around the dining room. They have pillars to support the structure and the rest is open. It works great because it is a fairly small room and not having the walls gives the impression of a larger space. It also allows the light from the window to reach further into the main living area. They do have a very nice dining set and use this space for larger family gatherings that spill over from their kitchen/dining area.

Good luck... You've got time to correct it. I moved my entire outside wall the day before the footings were poured... and I'm soooooo glad I did.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do really want it enclosed because it will house office/craft things and need to close it when young children are around.

It is good to know others have made changes at the last minute too. I dread the wrath of my builder ....

Should we add 6 inches to the hallway, shaving dining room/laundry room by 6 inches? If we do this, foyer is more lopsided and entrance to the hallway has staggered walls, with the kitchen side wall starting almost three feet before the office/french door wall. Is that a problem?

One fix to realign foyer walls and hall wall starting points is to make the french doors 4 ft wide instead of 5 ft wide. It would bring the walls on both sides of the angled door forward several inches. Is this too narrow? Would this be a good solution?

We have to decide today!!! Appreciate any help/advice very much.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suggest widening the hallway as well. Keep in mind moving furniture and washer/dryer through that hallway. Also make sure your laundry room door is wide enough.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It'll be lopsided if you check with a measuring tape or if you obsess.

For casual observation, I doubt that anyone would notice.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not sure I understand the uneven foyer walls. They already are uneven with the angle as it is. See the arrows going out from the first point of the angle. They aren't lining up.

Since you aren't using the dining as a dining I would consider getting rid of the angle there and square it off more with a single door and put the door in the hallway that I would make wider. If you added a closet in there it could then be considered another bedroom and would appraise as one as well.

If you don't want to square it off at least make the angle shorter and use a single 36" door.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Lyfia,
Yes, the foyer walls were uneven before, but only by 4", so pretty unnoticeable. By lowering the upper walls and by necessity the french doors, it would make the foyer walls even more uneven, by 10" or a little more. It also staggers the entrance to the hallway more, to about 2 1/2 or 3 ft.

We do already have four bedrooms, in addition to this room. If we did a 4 ft french door, instead of 5 ft., as in the plan, it would shorten the angled wall pretty significantly to line up better with both foyer and hallway. Would that look better?

We'd like to get some light coming through from the big window in that room, and make it as open as possible while still keeping it a separate room. But maybe the 5 ft. wide french doors are just not aesthetically pleasing with the way the layout is?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are wasting a lot of space with the 5ft wide doors as you can't use the area in front or on the sides within 2.5ft of either one and the angle cuts down on the usable square footage. I would cut to 4ft in a heart beat.

It doesn't seem like you'll be getting that much light going from that window into the interior with the current setup. There is an exterior wall there that is going to block any light shining from the direction to bring the light towards the living room.

I would put glass in the front doors - that will probably bring you more light than that window will.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 2:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Lyfia,
Thanks for the response. The front doors are 6 ft double doors full glass with a 1/2 round of glass above it. I think there will be plenty of light in that area, as there is also an 8 ft slider on the other side. I just thought the more the
better. :-)

I think you are right that we should go to a 4 ft. french door.
So the best route is to add 6 inches to the hallway, making it 42", and go down to a 4 ft. french door, which at least in the dining/craft/office room will add back much of the lost space, plus even out much of the foyer and hallway discrepancies.

Is 42" good, or should we widen the hallway more? This is a 2700 square foot house, not high end, comfortable and casual. But I don't want that hallway to be a cave.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 2:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

42" is okay--but go no less. After that, (wider or not) will depend on your personal values for space.

Also, remember that drywall takes up physical space. So, to have a 42" finished hall, you'll want to have 43" between the bottom plates/the framing studs.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for your help! I will make sure that it is 42" at least from drywall to drywall.
Now, would it be normal to consider wider increments after 42", such as 44" or 46", or do people normally just do 42" or 48". I do think the wider the better with that long hall.

Would anyone recommend 48" wide? It would shave a foot off of the dining room and laundry room. Dining Room (really craft/office) would still by 12 x 11, and laundry room would still be 10'10" after the 3 ft. closet. I don't want to lose important living and storage space, but our family will be traversing that hallway several times a day.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 1:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

48" would be grand. :)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 1:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have two hallways in the house. The smaller hallway leading to the bedrooms is 42 inches from drywall to drywall and the hallway leading from the the formal living room to the kitchen/family area is 48 inches. The 42 inches is good but I love the 48 inch hallway. This is the hallway our guests will use so we decided to go this route. We actually stole 6 inches from our garage to get this hallway. I am happy we did it.

If you decide to go with 42 it will still be alright. Our old house had a 38" inch hallway and the 42 is much better than the 38".

Edited to add that our house is smaller than yours. It is 2250 sqft.

This post was edited by akshars_mom on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 3:13

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 3:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Frankly I don't think this plan would be much improved by widening the hallway since the awkward circulation spaces might be even more awkward if the geometry is altered.

The angled dining room doors make the dining room a major central feature in the house which is appropriate since dining together away from other distractions is an essential family activity. However, the doors will always be closed because the room is really a multi-use utility room.

You could leave the hall as it is and push the wall of the laundry inward a foot and align the adjacent bedroom door with it to create a 4 ft wide vestibule.

It is always wise to avoid putting a door at the end of a hallway, especially a bathroom door. A blank wall there could have artwork with a recessed wall washer ceiling spot to highlight it and bring it forward.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 6:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"A blank wall there could have artwork with a recessed wall washer ceiling spot to highlight it and bring it forward."

You can do this with a door, too.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would square off both the closet and craft room walls. Then put doors to the craft room in the widened hallway. When I think of a craft room, I think of many things laid out in the room. Unless the french doors are solid(non glass) doors, closing them is still going to allow your guest to see in that room when they arrive.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you jridh, for the idea. We do plan to do something with that door at the end of the hallway. Not sure what yet though. :-)

Akshars, do you mind telling me the lengths of each of those two hallways in your home? The 48" one sounds really nice.

We do plan to make the dining/craft room attractive, since it is open to the living areas. We will have a farm table in there with two pendant lights above it, plus craft storage that is practical but also attractive, with much of it that can be stored behind doors or in drawers. Something like this:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

and this:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

and storage like this:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A spot light focused on a bathroom door would be a monument to poor plan design. As someone exited the bathroom they would have a light in their face.

It appears that each element of this house has been designed without reference to the other elements and this hall and the attempts to modify it are good examples. The general effect of this layout is to tell a visitor that there is no particular reason for the location of rooms or for the spaces that connect them.

If you want to solve this design issue you should post the entire plan. No one should attempt to design a part of a house without considering the effect on the rest of it. And no single element could have more potential impact than the entrance.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Skyangel23, The hallway that is 48" is about 12.5' and the 42" hallway is 10.5'

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 1:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you. Ours is even longer, so as close to 48" as possible would probably be best for us.

Thank you for your input. I do wish I would have known about GardenWeb and could have posted when we could have made more changes or even picked a different plan. Now that blocking is up and framing is nearly ready, we can't make more than minor changes. This is not a custom builder, so we had a few predetermined plans to choose from.

We are trying to do the best we can with the small changes that we can make now. We didn't realize just how long and narrow that hallway actually would be in "real life", and are now trying to make the best of it. I do understand what you are saying, and all houses can benefit from good design, but this is a 250k house and not anything where the average person would balk at having a door at the end of the hall. At least where we are, that does not seem to be an issue as we see that all the time here in Florida.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 6:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If a custom design is not available to you don't worry about the corridor; ay attention to what you can control.

However, if it is possible to change the corridor, even a 3" increase would be helpful; it doesn't need to be 42" and 48" would be too much.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 9:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Renovator8,
thank you. I've played around with our free designer program all weekend, and I think 42" would work. If we change the french doors to 4' instead of 5', then the angle matches up much better, making the foyer walls almost equal and the two walls in the hallway less staggered than they are now by at least 18".

I tried 48", and while it looks great in the hall, I do agree with you and I think it's too much for how our house is laid out. And it would make the other angles/walls too wonky (or even more so).

Thank you for your help. I will contact our builder in the morning and hope they won't charge too much for this last minute change.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 9:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What if you opened up your dinning room and had two pretty cased openings with columns instead of the solid wall/ French door? That way, if would feel much more open!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 11:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As I mentioned earlier you could simply push the laundry door back even with the bedroom door and create a vestibule that minimizes the hallway. I can't imagine why a contractor would charge for that change.

It would help with furniture moving (modern mattresses keep getting larger) and there could be a table in the vestibule for leaving keys, etc. instead of putting them on a kitchen counter. That would also be a good place for a night light. This is an important arrival point and traffic junction in your house and it deserves to be more than the end of a minimum width hallway.

You could also widen the remaining small hall 4 to 6 inches but that is far less important and requires more layout in the field not that it should cost anything.

If the contractor adopts this change for future houses it would not be the first time I have seen that happen.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 9:00

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"A spot light focused on a bathroom door would be a monument to poor plan design. As someone exited the bathroom they would have a light in their face."

Not a surprise to get this answer from the resident debbie downer.

But there are solutions to everything, if you open your mind:

Use a wall wash spot that isn't aimed at the eye level (something I know from an apartment and it never ever blinded me)
Use a switch (automatic)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 9:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just realized that our current house has just such a vestibule on each end of our long hall as Renovator8 sketched. It is great. Sometimes the kids even sit there on the floor playing. I'd usually encourage them to move because I couldn't comprehend why they'd be playing in front of the bathroom door ;-). Looks so different from overhead, though!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jrldh, good options. I will definitely look into doing something attractive with that bathroom door! Thanks.

Wow. Thank you for taking the time to sketch that out. When you first mentioned it I just couldn't visualize it. But it looks really nice, and you are right that it will be a major traffic area for our family, which is why i was concerned in the first place with that hall. I will show this to my husband tonight!

So glad you like yours! You wouldn't happen to have a picture you could post for me, would you? :-)

we could open it up with columns or arches or just leave it all the way open, which would look nice and help with the hallway issue, but it would simply be wasted space in our house and for our particular family. We have lovely views of our woods from our breakfast nook on the other side of the kitchen, and there would seldom be a reason to eat in the dining room. Closing it in allows us to use it in much better ways. I took the walls out last night in our design program, and we just weren't comfortable with it. We want a room there.

I am going to google vestibules now... :)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry don't have photos. The vestibule where the kids sometimes play outside their bedrooms, bath, and family room is nothing to look at, but I suppose it's convenient "neutral territory." The vestibule on the other end of our hallway is quite nice, there is a bookcase at the end with a "recessed wall washer ceiling spot"; there also is a skylight that brings in nice light during the day.

I'm guessing that our hallway is ~12' long not counting the two vestibules. It is 42" wide and houses closets for our laundry, furnace and water heater. Seems like a good width to me. We have a skylight in the center of the hallway so it does not feel like a dark tunnel (though it probably could use a shade in July/August). Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 2:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oaktown, your hallway sounds lovely, especially the skylight!

Renovator8, husband loves what you drew. With all those doors and the amount of time we will spend going into and out of that area, we now can't imagine not having a vestibule space. Or, we can, and it's not ideal. Love the idea for a small accent table in the corner for keys and such.

I will talk to our builder tomorrow about incorporating this. Thank you so much!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 10:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just wanted to post again to say thank you to Renovator8. Builder charged a small change order fee and changes have already been sent to the framer. I think this small change will significantly improve our day to day experience in our new house and I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to draw the vestibule plan for me, a complete stranger. Thank you!

And thank you to everyone else who offered their opinions. We did go to the 4 ft. french door and widened the hallway 6", in addition to the vestibule.

Even though we discovered GW late in the game, it has already become an invaluable resource. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Skyangel, Glad you could get the change done. Some of the regular posters here are very generous with their time and it is a valuable resource.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The vestibule seemed to be jumping off the screen so I had to draw it. I'm glad it worked out.

When I look at a design I automatically reach for a pen and tracing paper. People make fun of the fact that I always have a half dozen different colored felt tipped pens in my pocket and don't know how they got there. My former boss would hold his hand out palm up and I would put a pen in it. I recently left my pocket scale at a client's home and have been so miserable I ordered a half dozen of them.

Sometimes it helps to draw the plan by hand with furniture, people, feature highlights and circulation arrows. Plan weaknesses will quickly become evident and solutions will sometimes seem to jump out at you when you are free of hard straight lines, dimensions and the burden of keeping what has already been drawn.

It also helps to turn the sheet around and imagine walking through spaces from another direction. It doesn't have to be pretty; it's only for you. Few of these sketches are kept more than an hour and often I don't look at them when drawing the final on the computer; it's just an exercise.

IMO unless you're using up a lot of tracing paper you're limited to reorganizing other people's ideas and those ideas can easily get out of proportion and not fit together as well as they originally did.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 7:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Framing started today and your vestibule is taped out on our slab. We were really cutting it close! :-)

Those are great ideas and ones I will surely incorporate if we ever do this again. I am someone who is extremely "burdened" with keeping what has already been drawn. I am hemmed in by what is already there, and I also am very visual where I need to see, touch, and physically be in a space to really "see" it--possibilities, short-comings, ect. When we finally did a 3D rendering of the floorplan, it was like a switch flicking on in my brain. Even then, I can see what is wrong but not necessarily how to "break out" into new directions and ideas.

The designing of a house or redesigning in the case of renovating is in many ways a very creative process. Some of us are much more gifted than others.

We already wish we had done some things differently, but this vestibule is a big help with what would have been a significant irritation for years to come.

So thank you! :-)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 5:08PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What would you do differently if you were building your house again?
I saw this thread dated from a few years ago on the...
Darla Grossman
Working on plans, need advice
We're building in Missouri on 24 acres. We want one...
Nantahala / Amicalola / Tranquility / Garrell and Associates hous
My husband and I have been planning our new house for...
Revised Floor Plan - Please Critique
We're building our first house this Spring and are...
Just got first set of plans - would love feedback!
Hopefully, the below is a link to the first floor of...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™