Please critique the first floor - THANKS!

housebuilder14April 16, 2014

So I really need some help with this floor plan.
The family room is way too big (maybe hard to read - its 27x19) - currently its driven by the upstairs bedrooms (I have two kids bedrooms over the room). But I feel the other side of the house is too condensed. The master suite is over the kitchen, pantry, office area. I think it may make sense to have the kids bedrooms collar the master bedroom so maybe we can expand the office, mudroom (is basically just a hallway now), pantry space, and shrink the now enormous family room. Just FYI the back of the house faces the water and will be mostly windows.
I'd like a big pantry where I can keep my toaster and coffee pot plugged in - but now it just might be too out of the way for use.
Also - for reference on the other side of the peninsula is the breakfast area. Next to the pantry is an office that is 12x12.

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I assume that's a deck off the back, with stairs going down? Is it a walkout? Where is the door to the deck? You also don't show windows on two sides of the house.

Are you planning seating at the peninsula, plus island seating, plus a breakfast table? If not for seating, what is the purpose of the peninsula? Could a longer island serve that purpose? The whole kitchen seems poorly laid out, when you have so much room to work with.

Why two sets of stairs? This is a big house, but not enormous, and stairs are expensive real estate. Will you access the MB from one set of stairs, and the kids' bedrooms from the other?

Why two powder rooms on the main floor?

What's the long skinny thing sticking out the front?

Where will the laundry be? Near the bedrooms on the second floor would be logical.

Will the basement be finished?

The dining room looks huge too.

Is there a garage?

I'd love to see the plans for the other floors!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:57PM
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ok - so...

most windows/doors haven't been added to the plan but the back is a deck, the basement will be walk out (the house will be built into a hill)

no seating at the peninsula - its basically cabinet and countertop space. it started out with peninsula seating but changed to island seating because peninsula seating would limit size of table for breakfast area. i guess i could have a longer island instead. but i sort of like how the space is broken up. i also recently moved the sink to the island - it was originally on the peninsula. maybe i put it back on peninsula and away from stove. the breakfast area will have windows on all sides.

two sets of stairs because the main stairs (right side) is so far from mud room and garage (garage is off that 5x10 hallway) and that set of stairs will access the mechanics in the basement. the other set of stairs will access the finished part of the basement.
same with two powder rooms. we usually leave from the garage and someone always has to use the bathroom - kind of pain to have to walk through kitchen across whole house.

laundry upstairs with bedrooms

dining room is large - but i want a big dining room.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 3:21PM
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My family room is 27x15 . . . but that 27' length incorporates the family room PLUS the breakfast table AND a major thoroughfare leading to the bedrooms. You can definitely be comfortable with a smaller space.

With those two windows flanking the front door, you're making it easy for people to see right into your family room. Also, those windows mean that your front door will be secured only to two relatively small wood chunks, making it easy for a thief to kick in your front door /break one of those windows and reach your interior doorknob.

You're over-staired. Staircases are expensive. Switchback staircases are very expensive. And you have two sets of them. I can understand this as a splurge when it's a visible part of your house -- a focal point -- but you have two sets of expensive stairs hidden away in corners, where no one will see them! I'd keep the front foyer staircase, BUT eliminate the unnecessary hallway leading to it, and make it open to the family room -- I'd do that JUST for the ability to decorate with greenery and white lights at Christmas.

I also fail to see the point in two half-baths. They're expensive to build, and then you have to clean them. At a glance, I'd lose the one by the front entryway. Why that one? You already have plumbing in the kitchen, so the one by the back door makes more sense.

Is that a long window seat by the back door /back half-bath? It'll be lovely, but who's going to hang out in the back doorway? I'd rather see that big window seat in the dining room or the family room.

I don't think the kitchen is bad, but it could be better:
- I'd bring the refrigerator into the main work triangle. It's too far from the action.
- Most people would advise against having the sink and the stove "back up to one another". If you're building a single-cook kitchen (like me), it's fine; but if two people expect to work together, they'll be bumping-butts.
- As it's arranged now, your prep space will be the peninsula, facing the back of the house /kitchen table. I personally would rather have the island as my prep space and the sink on the peninsula.
- A sink in an island is more expensive than a sink in a run of cabinets. Not saying you shouldn't do it -- just be aware.
- Do you really need a kitchen table AND seating at the island AND a dining room? Likely an outdoor dining table too. I know lots of people do all of these, but it's overkill. Your breakfast room is quite large -- with a large dining room, do you need this to be large too?
- I would lose the wall of cabinets that "backs up to" the dining room. Those cabinets are too far from the action to be useful. Who's going to walk across an aisle and face the wall to cook? I predict those cabinets will just become clutter-catchers, and cabinets are a very significant part of your budget. I'd consider making them a shallow closet -- perhaps your pantry? Or bookshelves. You can never have enough book shelves.

OR make that row of "extra cabinets into a centrally-located straight staircase (you'd also need a little of the dining room width, but it's a bit out of whack dimensionally for that table anyway). You'll have a lovely staircase overlooking your kitchen, and it'll be convenient to the back doorway. Then you could eliminate the two stairways that aren't really working for this plan.

Finishing thoughts on the kitchen: I'd make the pantry just a bit wider. Right now it has the storage space of a reach-in pantry, but it requires all the space of a walk-in. Is it 9' something? Add a measley extra 1' wide, and (assuming 7 shelves) you add 63' more linear shelving. That's a bargain!

Also, I'd want a pass-through between the pantry and the kitchen. This would allow you to go into the pantry and "set through" all the cans, etc. that you intend to use in the meal.

My suggestions for making this dining room function better:
- Make the half-bath by the foyer into a coat closet.
- Lose the two coat closets by the front door (this will give you a larger door from the foyer, eliminating what appears to be a bottleneck at the two doorways).
- Make the dining room a bit longer (to allow space for people to maneuver around the people at the head and foot or the table) BUT also a bit more narrow (you have excessive space on the sides.
- If you're set on keeping the "extra side cabinets" in the kitchen, I'd consider some sort of sliding or bi-fold cabinets above the counters, which could be opened so that you could use those cabinets as a buffet. It would be very convenient to set food out in the kitchen and let people serve themselves from the dining room.

Your plan has potential, but it also has room for improvement.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 3:59PM
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thanks! the long bench in the back hall is going to be for cubbies to hang coats, a seat to put on shoes, etc.
i am not concerned about cost of two staircases-- we signed a contract with a builder and have two staircases in the contract, same with two downstairs bathrooms but i will ask architect about one center staircase - not sure how it will impact upstairs bedrooms/hallways
i don't want total open floorplan hence the wall/hallway to stairs by main entrance
extra side cabinets will have a built-in/hidden bar so I would like to keep that.
where would you move refrigerator?
pantry is 5x12

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:34PM
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This may have already been mentioned...but I would move the sink and dishwasher to the peninsula area (so you can look out the windows) and have a prep sink on the island. This will give you a great place to prep and leave clean up, closer to the table :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:00PM
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thanks. i think i am going to skip the prep sink - i have one now and never use it. but i am going to move sink bank to peninsula

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:20PM
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Before you shrink the family room, how do you plan to set the furniture up? Looking at the current layout, you're going to lose 2-4' at the fireplace with the hearth. Then depending on the if you put a sofa or chairs facing the fireplace and placed back near the partial walls separating kitchen and family room, that's potentially another 3-4' lost. At worst, it effectively shrinks the space from 27' to 19'. Then looking at the other dimension of 19', do you need walkways behind furniture in there? You lose another 3-4' on either or both sides depending on furniture placement. Place your furniture in the space by cutting out 'to scale' sofas, chairs, end/coffee tables, etc before you start cutting the room down.

As far as one side being too condensed, remember you're looking down at a 2-d drawing. The house will be in 3-d in real life and you won't notice the one side being condensed vs the other side being wide open. The condensed areas are not areas that need to be big open spaces--they're not places where family & friends gather. They're an office, powder room, back stairs and pantry. You have your space right as is with the kitchen, dining & family rooms being larger and open allowing for comfortably spaced gatherings.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 12:13AM
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mydreams - thanks. my current family room is 20x25 and feels huge. i was hoping to get something cozier. i did layout furniture in this big room. we would need to use very large pieces - for example a 10ft sectional. but before i shrink it too much i will consider what you are saying

mrs pete - discussing with architect having one staircase in the middle. only concerns are that in this area most houses in my price range have two stair cases. the house is going to be about 5000 square feet not including basement. also the specs already have two - i doubt the builder is going to refund me money :(

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 7:52AM
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house, will your family watch TV in the family room? I've seen so many threads on TV placement - over fireplace? Adjacent wall? In your case, with windows, next to FP isn't an option.

Along with mydreamhome's suggestion to make paper furniture to move around in the space, don't forget to figure out where a TV (and components) might go, and how that impacts furniture placement. Do you want to be able to see the TV from the kitchen?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 10:10AM
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Even if you're willing to pay for two staircases, why go with the most expensive versions . . . and then hide them away in corners? Why not bring them out where they'll make an impact? You say he won't refund money -- you haven't paid in full before building, have you? You're still in control of what goes in /doesn't go in.

I would put the refrigerator in the main work area /on the wall opposite the island /near the pantry door. This would mean bumping the stove down towards the penninsula. Not ideal, but better than having it across a major thoroughfare.

Yeah, I'd go 6x12 for the pantry. That'd allow you 18" shelves on one side, 12" shelves on the other . . . and still a comfortable walking space in the middle.

I don't think the fireplace will cost you 4' of room space. 2' IF you have a sizeable hearth.

I agree that you should measure out the furniture you intend to use, but I still suspect you can shrink this room and still have something spacious.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 12:00PM
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I hear you on the two staircases. I grew up in a house with two, and my grandparents had two, and in a long house it is handy. Especially for working on the mechanicals. And, though this is surely not what you're thinking, when my other grand,a came to live with us after her stroke, she did therapy by going up one flight, along the hall, and down the other stairs, in a circle! Much more scenic than just going up and down the same ol' flight.

How about one flight of stairs that splits in the middle, turning to different sides of the house? There are a couple of houses in our neighborhood that do this, and it's cool.

If you want to keep the toaster and coffee off the counter, you could have a cabinet just for them in the kitchen. If you still like the idea of them in the pantry, how about a sliding door in the backsplash into the pantry, and have them on the counter behind it?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 12:02PM
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mrs. pete - no we haven't paid in full yet but i am not sure how the builder would break out amount for a second stair case. we are using an architect/build firm and so we got specs and $/sq. ft. prior to finalizing plans. the specs call for two staircases. not sure how to move around the dollars - we wouldn't nec. ask for lower price but maybe can be applied towards something else - if we get rid of an element in the spec that doesn't necessarily have a price attached to it.
once we decide which way to go i guess i will broach with builder.

if anyone has dealt with something similar with their design/build firm please let me know.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 12:11PM
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I'm still confused -- even if you want two staircases, even if you're willing to pay for two staircases -- why are they tucked away in corners? I'd want them to be out where they can be seen, where you'll have lovely banisters to decorate at Christmas, and so forth.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 6:13PM
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FYI OP -- we had two staircases for 17 years and during the majority of our kids' "formative years." LOVED THEM. The back stairs was what we really used. I am struggling with a house design myself, so I am hardly an expert, but if this were mine and knowing what I know, I would try to put the back stairs off the kitchen where the back PR is and put the PR where the stairs are. As for the front stairs - I agree to make them pretty and a statement and nice visual from the living area.

And, having raised 3 boys and a number of dogs and other assorted dirty things -- I would want the stairs to go straight up and put a tub in the family PR off the back hall.

Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 7:21PM
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I like the idea of two staircases for your family but definitely not the current draw. Positioning the stairs along the long wall of the FR and turning the last couple steps at the top would give you more usable floor space.
Also eliminating the PR at the front entry would allow you to use the stair ROOM as something else. Open library for instance.
Having only the left closet at the front door would allow you to place a small entry table to the right as a d├ęcor element.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:27AM
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thanks all. we are moving toward a plan with one staircase. i will repost when its complete to get more comments. everyone was very very helpful

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 4:18PM
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