floor plan opnions

daviddjFebruary 5, 2013

Here is a preliminary set set of floor plans from our architect. This is the main level (about 1300 sf). We mentioned folding doors and she added one form the living room to the out side patio. We love that idea but are concerned about cost, maintenance, and how energy efficient / air tight are they when that are closed. Also what types of windows you you use for that?

We would appreciate any feed back concerning this floor plan.

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Where do you live? What are your needs (who will live in this space? ages? limitations?)

If I were to do the accordian door in the living room, I'd pull them the other way so they are against the house when open...

Is there another set next to the dining room too? (smaller)?

FYI, you can see your vanity sink from the front door/foyer. Does that bother you?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:42PM
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We're in the close in suburbs of Washington DC. Right now it is me, my wife, and our 4 year old son (hoping for 1 more). We plan on this being our forever home, we didn't want something to big where we would have to down size when we got older.

We originally thought that way with the folding door. But we changed our mind. The folding door is going to have 3 panels opening to the outside of the house and one panel open against the house. We were thinking when it's not open it will be much easier to just open that single panel like a regular door. Plus we didn't want to have to walk all the way to the far end of the house to open the door. Ideally we would like the door to fold parallel to the wall but I'm nto sure that's possible.

In this picture there are 3 folding doors, living room, back of the dining room, and for the dinning room pass-thru window. Not sure we can afford all of them. Was looking for options particularly for the pass-thru

hummm ... never noticed the vanity sink issue, might have to do something about that.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:59PM
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Are these folding glass doors? If so, yes they are very expensive. And, as far as I know, not very energy efficient. Could you go with French doors instead?

I don't see the foyer to bathroom sight line as a big concern.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Here are the 2nd floor and the front and south elevations

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Hi, I'm a Northern Virginia native, and I wouldn't do the folding doors. I may tolerate humidity better than you do, but IMO, one of the most pleasant times to open up the house during the late spring and early fall is at dusk and after dark, but if you're going to do that, screens are important, or the house will be filled with moths and mosquitoes.

I could see using folding doors for the pass through, because you probably wouldn't miss having them open on a pleasant evening, but I would use big sliders or French doors on the other spaces. In addition, sliding doors would make it easier to keep your living space comfortable when it's too hot or too cold outside.

FWIW, unless you've got a really spectacular view from up there, I wouldn't put in the tower. It reminds me of a prison guard tower. If you are going to have it, maybe a different roof that ties it into the house more?

Here is a link that might be useful: Wide sliding door ideas

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:24AM
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This is a well designed house, with sufficient spaces and amenities without going overboard. It's a custom house that is creative and functional--one that you can grow with and will respond to your changing family needs.

The folding exterior door look great on TV and may actually be wonderful in Hawaii and coastal California where there are few flying bugs and weather is consistent for long periods. Elsewhere in the U.S., and especially on the east coast, I'd change the design to either sliding doors or French doors, as suggested above. Either is cheaper and both are much more functional during the year.

We lived in Falls Church for seven years and there are not only numerous flying critters, but there's also squirrels who love to get indoors and tear everything to shreds. We had one come down through a chimney while we were on vacation and it tore the family room so badly getting it out, that we had to redecorate and refurnish! Change your doors and you won't regret it.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:23AM
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I wouldn't want the folding doors - anything on the deck will get in the way, whether leaves, snow, kids' toys, etc. etc. A slider would be more practical and can be very attractive too.

Will you have a garage? Where will your typical family entrance be? You'll want a good path into the kitchen with bags of groceries, and you'll want a mudroom or similar space for jackets, shoes/boots, back packs, sports gear, etc. You may think your 4 y.o. has big toys now, but once you get into school and possibly sports, you'll multiply their 'stuff' and it will all congregrate by your family door.

There's not enough space between the DR table chairs and the chairs by the indoor/outdoor counter (is that what that is?) I'd nix the counter thing and just have some nice big sliders there.

I like that there's a closet in the foyer. So many plans skip that. If you swing your front door the other way (open left rather than right) you won't have a door conflict there.

Post the plan on the kitchens forum too for good layout advice.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:29AM
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I think it looks pretty good. And, am glad to see the second floor.

Just some minor comments that are personal preference, but maybe they are yours too.

1--already mentioned you can see the sink from the front door. (If the bathroom will usually be dark, it won't be any big deal at all, even for me. If that will be a well lit room in one way or another, it would bother me.

2--the Master closet is inaccessible to the other partner if you or your partner like privacy on the toilet. (ie, I'd choose a WC, but not all people like those).

3--I'd probably prefer cabinets with counter top and uppers in the laundry room than a closet.

Finally, I do agree that the "tower" looks like a guard tower, but I do think that the gray color is influencing that as well. What will be your exterior choices?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:29PM
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It's the tower that gives the design it's unique architectural character and keeps the exterior from looking like a plain 2-story cracker box turned on end. It adds an architecturally interesting shape to the overall mass of the house and will flood the stair and the landing at first and second floors with light which will diffuse in the house's center.

We can only thank God that the architect avoided stacked gable elevations and a palette of the forgetable brick-stone, wall board, shingle exteriors that make so many houses so bland.

This is a truly remarkable house in a wonderful, small, sane, yet creative package. Please don't tart it up with a 4-car garage linked to the house at a 45-degree angle.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:05PM
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The tower bit gives it the "prison guard tower" look. It's a great idea, but needs to be integrated better into the whole. Maybe make it lower, or the house taller. Round wouldn't work with the home style.

Other than that, this is pretty well laid out!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:11PM
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It's possible that the guard tower effect will disappear at street view. I forget sometimes that the view in the elevations isn't real.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:19PM
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And, like I said, I think the gray elevations aren't helping the tower feeling... Don't choose a gray exterior paint scheme.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:44PM
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We haven't decided on exterior colors. The greys in the drawings are just meant to show the shading differences. For example the tower would be a darker color then the rest of the house. Any suggestions on colors?

Also there are two very large trees on the non-tower side (one on the side and one in the front) that we were thinking they would kind of balance out the tower.

We were also thinking some kind of metal roof on just the porch, the side roof, and the tower.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:34PM
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What is the setting for your house? Is it urban, suburban, on acreage, or what? IMO, that would have an impact on colors and finishes. I'm sure your architect has ideas and suggestions in mind that have evolved as the design developed. This is not a conservative, another tract house, so be imaginative with your exterior materials and finishes to be in keeping with the imaginative design.

Good luck on your project!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:01PM
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Actually the house is going to be in Falls Church Va. (so suburbs) on a 1/4 archer lot. She wants us to pick the colors (I'm sure if we picked something hideous she would chime in). We were thinking making the tower red, but not really sure. Or maybe white and lighting it up with LEDs at night. Not sure about the main part of the house.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:24PM
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I like your floorplan.

Where is the garage? which entrance will the family use?

The only comment I have is that is would reconsider using a pocket door for the laundry. Pocket doors do not contain sound at all.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:24PM
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We were going to park in the driveway and walk in the front door. We currently have a garage and we never use it except for storage. In fact I don't know anybody that actually parks their car in their garage.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:43PM
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Just a thought... You'll have to really, really protect those trees to get them through construction and still have them standing in 3-4 years. You'll want to keep equipment off their roots (approx their dripline). If the soil is compacted around them, or built up around them, they could have a difficult time surviving (and you might not know it for a few seasons). They sound important to your overall design/look, so be sure you make it a priority that all contractors will be careful of the trees (and you might consider "fencing" their dripline if it isn't already a requirement of your municipality to build.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:13PM
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A shed roof on the tower would take it from guard shack to a modern aesthetic that the rest of the home seems to have. Or, even a curved shed roof. Or a plain curved roof. Put the tower in red with a galvanized metal roof?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Something to watch for with red is that sometimes it fades to a dark pink.

I used to live in Falls Church too-- I really like your design for there-- the main shape will fit in well with older homes, and the tower's growing on me, especially surrounded by tall trees. If you're building in the city of Falls Church, I'm sure there are ample regulations to protect the trees. ;^)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Ooh, one more thing. Is that a fridge at the end of the cabinet run (next to the wall oven)?

If so, next question--is that wall at the side of the "fridge" a structural wall?

If not, I'd either cut it back or take it out completely and use a cabinet end panel. Why? There are numerous threads here and on the kitchen forum where the designer/architect failed to take into consideration the space required at the hinge for door swing. You will, at best, be limited to what type of fridge you buy (it will have to have a hinge that opens the door "forward" and not "out"); at worst, you will have to get a smaller fridge than you planned and have a gap along with wall to accomodate that fridge hinge/door.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Good choice of architect. You'll have fun on the forum instead of frustration. The plan is very rational and efficient, and follows many best practices/patterns.

Can you post the third floor plan? I'm wondering if you should reverse your stair direction. It could give you more options for furnishing the third level besides perimeter seating so you could more easily accomodate other uses up there besides acting as an observation deck. On the second floor, I don't think the stair direction would make a difference. On the first floor, a change in stair direction would mean that coming down the stairs you could see a special piece of furniture or artwork at the bottom instead of looking at closet doors.

Could CL2 serve the purpose of CL1? CL1 could replaced with a bench and a window, and then you can reverse the front door swing and shift the door to the left (if you like, center the door on the opening to the family room). You'd be able to see more of the stair in your foyer by eliminating CL1. In this scenario, you could also still use a non-closet way to hang a few coats.

If you stick with the indoor/outdoor countertop with seating on both sides, definitely move your table (and ceiling lighting) to the right. I see (and can relate to) the architect's desire to have the table centered in the room and on the kitchen island but there won't be enough space for people to walk behind seating. Are you sure you'd sit indoors at that counter? A lower narrow sideboard on the left or right side of the room would help you serve indoor meals but still not impede any pass through (windows or doors) to the deck. The indoor/outdoor countertop with seating seems a rather permanent and prominent feature compared to how much most people would use it (in Falls Church, a few times between Memorial and Labor Day). You have multiple options for informal indoor and outdoor dining already.

I think the tower concept and pyramid roof are fine. Why not make every roof metal? Higher first cost but if this is a "forever" house you'll likely not have to replace in your lifetime, and if you choose a reflective color it will stay cooler--good especially for an urban setting. Rather than tying the tower in more with the house as some have suggested, I think you should explore making it visually more distinct--make it taller, more slender...even octagonal. Right now it's exactly half the width of the house--I'd study changing that. Shifting it could be an option, except your plan already works so well. The top windows in the tower are almost square without being square--they ought to be square, or taller, or narrower by dividing into 3 or 5 units. You might consider having the corners being less solid--have it all be windows (depends on your structural system).

Regarding urban trees, the architect should know whether a city arborist must perform an impact assessment. Otherwise anyone in this situation should hire an independent arborist to assess the trees and devise a plan to prepare and protect them--they are so close to the house it's questionable that they would all survive even with good effort taken to prepare and protect them.

Please post updated plans, and elevations (especially as you decide materials). Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Originally the tower was narrower. We made the tower a little bigger so the space would be a little more useable instead of, like you said, an observation tower. One idea I was had was having the stairs go up along the outside wall. I think would take some space from the walk in closet in the master bedroom, though.

We can't go much taller, 34 feet is the max allowed in our county

Yeah, we�ve gotten rid of the indoor part of the counter top.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:22PM
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