Counseling needed! Framed rooms seem tiny!

mjtx2April 29, 2012

Freaking out a little here. House is framed in and the rooms seem much smaller than expected. Our great room specifically - it's 18x20 and it was the place we cut square footage to get costs down, but now that I see the room framed in I'm severely regretting it.

We have a ten-foot wall of windows on one 18' side and a 10' wide stone fireplace on the 20' side. There's also a cathedral ceiling on the 20' side and the fireplace is centered on that. Three simple cross beams are planned to span the 20' section. There's also two skylights.

Can someone tell me if 18x20 will feel and live big, or if I should consider changes (what, I don't know, but suggestions welcome)? Mad, mad, mad at myself right now. This room was supposed to be the showpiece of the house, and I'm afraid it's just going to look like an afterthought!

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I suspect as you get drywall up the rooms will seem much larger than they do now.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:03AM
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For us the drywall definitely made it seem bigger. Something about seeing the boundaries of the space put it into perspective. I remember when the basement walls went up we thought "oh no it's a tiny house." Then as it all came together it was fine.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Perspectives get skewed at different stages. I think you will be fine. Here's a Sunday project that might make you feel better: Go lay out your furniture on the floor using butcher paper, newspapers or even just outline with painters tape. That should give you a better perspective.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:18AM
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The optical illusion that framed in rooms seem much smaller than they should be has been discussed here many times over the years. Below is a link to one of those old threads.

First-time builders often panic at this stage. I know I did. When my house was framed in, I'd have sworn the entire garage was barely big enough to hold a single VW bug...much less three cars. The secondary bedrooms looked like closets and I couldn't see how we could possibly fit a full-sized bed into our master bedroom. LOL!

The illusion apparently has something to do with your mind comparing the rooms to the whole out-doors which you can still see through the wide open walls. Once everything is enclosed and you have windows and doors, it may suddenly look huge. And then, once the sheetrock and flooring is in, it should settle down to looking the right size.

Now, whether an 18'x20' great room will feel and look big to you depends on several factors including just how much furniture you intend to put in the room and what all you intend to do in it and how big a great room you're currently used to If your "great room" is going to be a combined living area and dining area, 18x20 would be a bit tight because you would be trying to put a dining room table and chairs plus living room furniture into that space. But if your great room is really just a renamed living room (aka "family room", aka "den") then 18x20 ought to be plenty big unless you have really over-sized furniture and a lot of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: size looks small while framing?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Okay, breathing now. Feeling *slightly* better, at least a little reassured. There's nothing worse than thinking you have a problem and can do nothing to solve it (at this point).

That said, do you think 18x20 is big enough to float furniture? Because there's zero wall space for furniture. We have a wall of windows, 2x2 stone columns, dining area, and open hallway surrounding this space. I can't imagine (in my head) that 18' isn't big enough for floating furniture, but I'm not sure at all.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:45PM
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I echo the sentiments above in regards to the illusion presented when walking through a home at the rough framing stage. Whether it will provide adequate space is dependant on many variables. However, I can tell you that I have an attached 16' x 24' family/great room with 3 exterior walls and several windows which eliminates the ability to have furniture flush with the walls. In hindsight, I wish I had upgraded to a 24' x 24'. Most of the room is consumed by a large sectional with a chaise and a ottoman and doesnt leave much room at all for any additional pieces like chairs, recliners, accent tables etc. There is also not much flexibility it terms of location.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Get out some graph paper, sketch the space (with columns, windows, fireplace, etc.) and then draw in the furniture. Once you get a layout you like, then try it out in the actual room, with butcher paper as suggested above. You want to make sure you have room for the furniture...and the walkways!

It will be fine...18' x 20' is not a small space. You just may have to get slightly smaller furniture than planned, worse case scenario. If you can easily see your view, the fireplace (and maybe the TV) you'll be very happy in your new space! :)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 1:27PM
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LilFlowers MJLN

My current living room measures 15' x 19' and feels rather large. We have a wood glider rocker, a wingback recliner, a chair with an ottoman, a large sofa, coffee table, 3 bookshelves, a trunk, a chest, playpen, infant swing, a small computer table, and 2 end tables. It may sound awfully cluttered but it really isn't. My children have a huge space to play wii without hitting any furniture or the walker that my 5 month old loves to be in. That's with all 3 playing.

My walls are only 8 ft tall, but I have 4 huge windows(34x72). Two of the windows are on the north wall and the other 2 are on the east wall. We have an opening to the dining room that is appx 10 ft wide on the south side and the staircase starts on the 15th foot of the west side wall and ends in the foyer where the living room opens. The original owners put a pad for the fireplace on the outside, but never put one in. We have our flatscreen TV hanging over one of the bookcases in the middle of the wall in between 2 of the windows. This is on the 19' wall side.

Just my two cents, but I think you're going to have a big enough space unless, of course, you want a baby grand piano put in there. ;)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Tiffany, do you happen to have a pic of said room? I am having difficulty visualizing the layout and cannot imagine having space for all the that furniture PLUS ample room for children to play. You have almost 1/3 less square footage than me. What am I doing wrong?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 2:22PM
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mjtx2 - I had the same feeling when our house was framed. The great room is 19x21, very similar to yours but with 9' ceilings. Today it feels cavernous and it is all but finished. Every step makes the room change - windows, drywall, paint, flooring, trim, etc. We removed the protective window film this weekend and the room grew! It was amazing how much light filled the room without the window film.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 8:58AM
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mjtx2- your great room layout sounds almost exactly like what we have in our house in progress! Ours is 18x20 and we also have a wall of windows on one 20' wall and a fireplace centered on one 18' wall. The ceiling is 18' high. The only difference is that the wall opposite the windows has a balcony overhanging from the 1/2 story above and there are hallways on both ends of that wall. The 4th side is open to the dining/kitchen area. Ours is in the middle of being drywalled and I will do my best to remember to post a pic of the room for you once the drywall is complete. For some reason I'm actually feeling like it looks smaller now that some drywall is up. Maybe because it looks so "closed in" now. The space feels odd to me and I stood there overthinking it for a bit when I first saw it a few days ago; but I think it has to do with mine having the balcony overhang. I'm not worried about the space being large enough for furniture though and I know that I will have to float some of it with the way the walls are.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Whoa... I am having the same issues. I would think that building a house it would be enjoyable instead I am wishing I could go back in time. Our house is a two story at approximately 3834 square feet. If you add the walk out finished basement it is about 5336 suare feet. It seems small... the structure and framed walls are up and it is starting to take shape. We went with a two car garage. I now wish is was a three car. We went with 3834 square feet. I now wish we went with 4000 square feet.The first level is 2032 square feet. The great room is 18 by 21, kitchen 17 x 17 , piano room is only 5 by 22. This room is a walk way behind the stairs. This does not include laundry room, mud room, entry way and guest room. If anyone can tell me how to post my plans from drop box let me know. I can't figure it out...

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 7:26PM
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LilFlowers MJLN

I don't have a picture of my current living room with everything in it but I do have one during Christmas. I realize that it doesn't show ALL of my living room. The staircase is to the left where the recliner and chair with ottoman are located. The swing that you can see to the left was moved to the Christmas tree location. The playpen is to the right of the picture in the corner. The computer table is in the other corner. One of the trunks is next to the playpen and the other is behind the wingback recliner. Excuse my family in these pictures. This was taken on Christmas day this past year. I don't have any pictures at the moment of it without anyone in it. From Drop Box

This was taken 2 years after we bought the house, before we had our 4th little one. We had just installed our laminate wood floors. Excuse the children and the presents. This computer table is in the left hand corner. Both pictures were taken about 3 feet from the 10 ft doorway to the dining room on the living room side. From Drop Box

Granted, I much prefer the one without all the infant items. We had the same furniture in the 1st picture as the 2nd except for the Christmas tree, presents, playpen, infant swing, and one bookshelf. I have switched around the furniture a LOT over the past 4 years but it always goes back to the way I had it when we first moved in. There's just something about a long and narrow room that is hard to decorate. I would like a larger living room but one that is more square than rectangular in shape. For right now, though, it works for us.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 10:58PM
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