First set of design drawings

bob4321April 23, 2012

Have been lurking on the boards for a few months now, soaking in the advice and design trends. Finally have the first set of drawings from my architect and ready to start the iterations. Bit of background - this is our first attempt at a project like this and are a bit scared. Are scaling up in size from my current house. We are a family of 5 with 3 over 18 daughters. Figure they will all be with us a few more years and then the will have grand-kids to entertain. So, this is the house of our dreams. Found property near our current house that we will be tearing down and building new. It is a lot 150 (wide) X 140 (deep) flat land on a quiet block. Back of the house faces south with plenty of sun.

We are building a pretty traditional shingle house, that I was looking to keep around 4500 sq ft.

1st floor - living room, dining room, kitchen, den,powder room, laundry, pantry, spare bedroom w/ full bath

2nd floor - 3 large bedrooms w/2 baths + master suite

full basement - exercise room, den/hangout room, storage, 1/2 bath

yard - want to put in large pool.

Back roof will be solar PV - trying to keep shape as simple as possible.

I'm already loving the constant doodles I do all day designing and now I have drawings to work with. So am looking for feedback. The areas I would like to get some comments on are:

1- overall layout. Is it space efficient and does the flow work? I was trying to stay a bit smaller than the 4800 sq ft it's current at.

2 - the main hallway. As you enter the house, the view straight ahead is two doorways - small den opening under the stairs and larger kitchen opening. The architect is not crazy about it either. Also not sure if I like the barrel vault to the dining room as it pushes the stairs to the left and creates the issue with the dual openings.

3 - kitchen - I like the space and layout of the kitchen, but feel like it is wasting a bit of the sunlight from the rear by only having the sink window and the double door behind the table.

4 - the master suite. The BR is too large (15 feet is better distance to the TV). The closet is too small, and the toilet is about 38 feet from my bed. If the downstairs hallway was moved 1 foot to the right, the bedroom would fit nicely in the front of the house (15 feet wide) and I think might open up new ideas.

That's the areas I'm concentrating on for now. Any comments, critiques and ideas are greatly appreciated. Sorry about the labels on the rooms being scrambled - seems to be some font issue in chief architect viewer. I did label the laundry and pantry with text.

Thanks again.

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1. layout looks okay. You've trying to pack a lot of features into a small footprint. For some reason it strikes me that it may seem a bit cramped and closed off. There's a lot of walls, and doorways offset from each other. That may be what you want. But I prefer better sight lines from one room to another. The double doors of he LR look across to the wall of the closet. The tiny DR door looks at the Kit island. Likewise the FR has a lot of wall separating from the kit.

2. You're right about the entry, it does seem like walking in, there's a view of nothing, really. A narrow view into a kitchen table. It'd be nice if the view went straight back to the french doors out back, and/or into the FR. First thought: Do you need another bathroom and walk-in closet in the foyer? There's a bath over near the garage. If you eliminate those, you could put a straight run of stairs up the right side of the foyer. That would open views to the kitchen and FR. Second thought: eliminate the front stairs altogether. Chances are, the back stairs will get 95% of the traffic anyways. Entering from the garage, it's the most immediate route upstairs. From upstairs, it's the most immediate route to the morning coffee. If I were to eliminate those stairs, I'd shift the front bedroom left into it's space and then add an upstairs FR. You've got 3 girls over 18, right? They might like a nice place to hang out. When grandkids arrive later, it'd give a little play area outside the bedrooms for early risers.

3. Kitchen. If you've got light & views out back, then follow your instinct and open it up more. You've got plenty of storage space already, with a walk-in pantry and cabinets over near the DR wall. I'd lose the uppers on the outside wall, at least to the left of the sink. I'd also center the door to the DR, make it double wide with pocket doors. That'd give another nice front-to-back view.

4. Master. With what I said earlier about moving the stairs to the right of the foyer, this'd allow you to move the MBR to the front. I'd then try to put the closet on the shared wall with the back bedroom, orient the bath on the long outside wall, and try to keep that small quiet sitting area in back.

Good luck. Share elevations when you get them. I love Shingle style.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 6:44AM
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Parking. If you've got 3 adult children living at home for a while, that probably means (at least) 5 cars. If you're somewhere where weather would be a concern, you might want a tandem garage, 2 wide x 2 deep. I would at least want a deeper garage for yard tools and storage. If not the garage, make sure the driveway is wide enough, or with a parking bump-out to the right, to allow garage access while other cars are parked.

I grew up in a house, at one point, with 6 drivers. The driveway was *just barely* big enough to park 2 wide by 3 deep. But that was bumpers touching (they're called 'bumpers' for a reason, right?) with one bumper at the front steps and the other overhanging the sidewalk. The first one out in the morning had to shuffle cars around to get out. Not fun, but as a result I can park like nobody's business.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 8:36AM
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It seems to me you are trying to combine a traditional center-entrance colonial plan with a modern open plan and there are insufficient transitions between these spaces. You are probably discovering that such ambitious hybrid design approaches create many more design problems than simpler approaches.

I can't advise you without knowing how you intend to use some of the seemingly redundant spaces (3 places to sit and eat, 2 or 3 places to sit and read, etc.). I can tell you that the use of a computer to study these complex relationships is a major obstacle to discovering creative solutions. At this stage of a design I would be giving my client a hand sketch so they could focus on the bigger issues. It also helps to draw stairs in the traditional manner (a cut line at the middle allowing the space below to be seen and using a dotted line to show what is above).

One obvious issue is to redesign the back stair so people don't collide at blind corners. Try using a stair that has a railing open to the corridor. A straight run stair is best but if you want to use a less efficient switch back stair, turn it and open the railing and make the lower run shorter than the upper one so the landing is more a part of the lower hall space instead of being stuck between floors.

It might help to move the kitchen wall at the range to the left reducing the space between the work counters and aligning it with the second floor exterior wall.

The small breakfast table seems a minor use to be occupying such a large central space. Does the adjacent living space need doors? When they are open they will take up a lot space.

A wall of storage cabinets on the wall between the kitchen and dining room might be useful since the dining room is so long.

The front hall bathroom plumbing should not be in the dining room wall.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 9:03AM
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oicu812 - thanks for the responses. Some answers to your questions.
1. The formal LR will rarely be used, but will mainly be a music room (piano, violin). The doors there are to keep sound from traveling. The same applies to the wall between the den and the kitchen. An open space would let TV and noise from den into kitchen, so wanted an opening that could be shut with doors. I would really prefer a hallway with an entrance to the den from the front instead.

2. The full bath on the first floor is really for the guest bedroom and for use from the yard. The half bath was to be more general use.
You are correct that the intention is to use the side entrance most of the time for our normal family use, so large coat closet is not necessary at the front. I like your idea of realigning the hall to see all the way thru to the double doors behind the table. We like look of a bigger staircase in the front entrance with a view to the balcony upstairs. But it does take up space and won't get that much use.

3. Centering the DR door is a good idea to get a better view out. Eliminating a few of the upper kitchen cabinets on the sink wall would also give more light. We had some other ideas to put the kitchen interior to the table, letting the whole back of the house be windows. The kitchen would be narrower, but could push the eating area with table as a bump out to the yard. Might be more space efficient and allow more light.

4. The master definitely requires thought.

5. We have 6 cars now. 1 stays in the garage, 1 in the driveway and the rest are scattered in the street. In the new house was going to have 1 in the garage, leave a bump out for car to the right of the driveway so could put 2 cars in the driveway without having to shuffle to get the front car out. Only time we need all the cars off the street is snow days.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:47AM
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Renovator8 - thanks for the comments
I think you are correct that we are combining a couple of styles. I am not very fluent on styles, but we have seen many houses and new construction and have formed ideas for how we wanted the layout. We kind of want an open plan, but privacy between the rooms. Also want a bit of a formal look on coming into the house. Do you have any thoughts on the entranceway and staircase layout?

Eating areas - the kitchen table is fairly large and is our main eating space. The center island will probably not be 2-level, but will be a flat area functioning as a large work space and congregation area with occasional eating. The DR is more the formal special occasion place.

What is the office/study is really a spare guest bedroom. We have frequent guests and the full bath and bedroom is for them.

Never thought about the collision issues on the back staircase. Will talk to the architect about the issues with it. My wife always wanted a back staircase, but it is difficult to fit it into the space with all the laundry, pantry, mudroom...

Moving the kitchen range wall to the left would shorten the width on the kitchen. Not sure if we want to shrink it, or are you thinking to shrink the family room by a foot or two and move the kitchen and table to the left?

We want the den to have some privacy - keep noise out of the kitchen - hence the doors. Would probably be open most of the time but would fold back almost flat on the wall. I would probably prefer a normal entrance from a hallway in front of the den.

Plumbing from bathrooms by eating areas is definitely on my list of no's. Same applies to plumbing above eating areas. Will re-examine.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 12:02PM
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I do like the general flow and layout of the house and think you're off to a great start!

It does seem more closed off to me but it sounds like you have your reasons for that. You've gotten some great comments already, and I hardly feel qualified to provide comments, but a couple of things do jump out of me - some have already been hit on.

The table in the breakfast area does seem redunant - any reason to not just use the island or dining room for meals? Also, I've been in lots of houses where you have to walk around the breakfast area table to get to the family room and it just seems like a maze - would definitely bug me! Granted, lots of plans have this set up and I've seen it many times on these boards so it apparently doesn't bother some people. I do think that the smaller opening to your den, compared to a much larger doorway, will exacerbate this issue. Also, as currently drawn, the light over that table will be close to, but not quite, lined up with the doors to the den.

I also agree with opening up the dining room more and rethinking the powder room and area between the foyer and dining room. Doesn't seem like the best use of space. Luckily, your guest bathroom is tucked away but still before you get to the mudroom/ potentially more messy area of the house so it could easily be used by guests.

I would also think about getting rid of a staircase, but I would get rid of the back one. It feels like a maze to get to it, especially upstairs.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts. Good luck and enjoy the process!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 1:53PM
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    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 6:52PM
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Thanks for the sketch. I understand what you were talking about with moving the kitchen to the left. Opened up enough area on the right side to use a straight staircase eliminating the scissor stairs. I noticed you also right justified the front door to center it better to the rear doors.

The layout also adds 2 additional walls (left side) of cabinets as the kitchen is essentially 4 walled now.

One issue I see for me is that my kitchen table is large (6' X 44") and won't fit well in the space out the back (I think it's about 10'X7'). Would need to be much wider and you would still have to walk around it to get out the house through any doors behind it.

Would it help to relocate the powder room off of the DR wall. Then the opening to the kitchen could easily be moved to the right. Only question is where to put the powder room

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 10:32PM
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Using Renovator's sketch--put the powder where the pantry is drawn, and the pantry where the powder is drawn, accessed from the kitchen wall, rather than foyer wall.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 10:41PM
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That could work but with so many full height wall cabinets you might not need the pantry. Larger kitchen items could be stored in the laundry area.

It might also be possible to fit the bath under the front entry stairs but it would be tight.

I just stuck the breakfast table in an alcove to get it out of the way and closer to the back yard. It could be large enough to be a sunroom. What's the climate like?

It's tough to think realistically without knowing much about the site so don't take the layout too literally; it's just a bunch of ideas that might or might not work for you. Normally I would be doing this in a meeting with the owner.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:05PM
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That will get the powder room plumbing away from the dining room, but it also puts the powder room very close to the guest bedroom bathroom almost making it redundant.

Just think there must some total rearrangement of the stairs/hallway/bathroom/ that would work. Maybe stairs in different direction or style. Not keeping the thick arch to the dining room?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Thanks Renovator8,
I will be taking these ideas back to my architect. Feel like I am not getting enough give and take with him, so will arrange for a lengthy sit down and discuss the options/issues.

Your tweak definitely adds a multitude of full length cabinets. Tons of storage.

Because of the pool in the yard, I was trying to keep the 'bumps' out of the exterior to a minimum. This also let me to a footprint approx 40 feed deep. I am in NY, and the kitchen is all southern exposure.

If I decide to put the pool on the left side of the house instead, then having build-outs at the rear of the house becomes a non-issue as I have about 60 feet to the rear fence.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:26PM
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this is an old plan , but the homeowner's needs were similar ... roughly 4800 square feet ... a basement stair below the main staircase would work ...

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 6:02AM
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Thank you so much for the plans to look at. The plan has many of the features we were looking for and quite a few ideas had not thought of.

The plan has a few key differences from what we were trying to achieve.
- we want to keep the kitchen sink on the back wall looking at the yard more of a left/right configuration with the table. Is southern exposure and lots of windows around the sink would add a lot of light along with the kitchen table glass to the yard.
- we had wanted to have more of the two story entry foyer with window on second story. Your plan seems to have the bath above the foyer.
- the stair is a different configuration then my plan (side to side vs front to back). Had not considered that look.
- not into side entry garage. Probably against the grain on that, but is harder to pull into and more to maneuver around when a few cars involved.
- I do like the backstair, mudroom, laundry, pantry, powder room layout.
- 2nd floor is very similar to what I am looking for. Master + 3 BR. Each BR has walk in closet. 1 BR with private bath, 2 BR share bath
- I like the second door to the shared bath toilet/shower. Allows for sharing of the space.
- split master bath not our style, but is about the same space I was looking but more efficient.
- I really like the size of the walk-in closets in the 3 bedrooms on the second floor

Thanks again for posting the plan

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:42PM
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Just wanted to chime in on a few thoughts:

- I would trust your instincts on the entry. It sounds like having the entry make a statement is important to you, and as drawn it may not have the desired effect. The 2nd plan's entry balances its roles well: it first presents opportunity for a pleasing aesthetic welcome, while functionally serving as a gateway to the adjoining rooms. Getting this part right will set the rest of the house up to flow properly.

- I like the suggested tweaks aimed at creating clean sight lines to the rear. This is fundamentally sound, however, not if it precludes another key desire which is a place for your longer breakfast table.

- I'm wondering if some sort of butler pantry could improve flow between kitchen and dining room, both functionally and aesthetically. With an empty nest comes more opportunity for entertaining. The current dining room is large and boasts a nice inviting window that begs for dinner parties. Perhaps the closet and powder room could be tweaked/moved, and the DR shifted from vertical to a horizontal layout to incorporate a Butler pantry. IMO, huge kitchen + huge DR dictates some accompanying features like this.

- The living room size seems too big given its likely smaller role.

- Totally agree on opening up the windows on back of the house; seems like a no-brainer.

- I love the idea of back staircase, and always wanted front/back stair! The house's size (@4500 or smaller) is on the cusp of being required. I would focus on getting the entry and kitchen absolutely the way you want. It could be things like guest room, powder, etc... need that back stair space. No back stair in turn could open 2nd floor space for a bonus room (exercise, 2nd den) that will pay many dividends with its versatility...

- Master BR - I don't care for the his/her bath layout, either. But the master suite would absolutely be my 2nd "must get right" area behind the foyer/kitchen. You guys will spend many years in that space and deserve the right design after raising 3 daughters! Also, don't be locked into a huge tub taking up tons of Mstr. Bath space. I did not particularly care for the toilet being directly in sight as you enter the Master bath.

Overall, what you are wanting seems quite doable for the size (4500 SF)...again I would submit once the foyer/entry is strengthened the rest should fall in line better. Don't be afraid to tell the architect exactly what you want!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Thanks for the comments. I had a good session with my architect this weekend and we iterated in a few places with good results.

In a few inter-related moves, we moved the master BR to the front and made it ~1 foot wider by moving the living room 1 foot to the right. We also made the powder room/hall closet a wee bit narrower. This allowed the hallway to move over to the right a bit over a foot or two. What this gives is the ability for a fairly wide opening with a view from the front door to the kitchen pretty much centered on the table and back sliders. Arching the opening allows it to start sooner on the right side at a lower height. It also closed off the ineffective front entrance to the den. Solved my front hallway view.

This led to a second change taking into account some of the comments on the glass den entrance from behind the kitchen table. We eliminated that and put a good size opening to the left when you first come into the kitchen. Easier access.

My wife was willing to sacrifice the rear stair case, but I've grown to like it - as you said, it is very useful to get upstairs. I had thought of relocating the powder room to that area, but my wife thinks it is too close to the spare bedroom's full bath and makes not sense then. Will still ponder that though.

The master bedroom in front had some other benefits. The original room was too large (almost 20X20). It will now be approx 20X15 and there is significant more space for closet and bath. I also like southern exposure in the bath and enjoy having a window for natural light in my closet. Southern exposure in a bedroom is almost wasted on us - with shades drawn to sleep, and not really hanging out there during the day.

Really two areas that I still am iffy on. Not sure I am in love with the barrel vault to the dining room caused by the bath and closet. Seems elegant and makes a statement on entering, but have never seen something like that in person.
We actually prefer to move the bath out of that area, but as noted above, my wife doesn't want it by the guest bedroom bath. Possibly your idea for a butlers pantry could help there as it gives a slot to put it in.

Also, was looking for a nook to put a 2nd fridge in - don't think it will fit in the small pantry - may stick with the garage.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Have a second set of drawings from the architect taking into account suggestions and comments. New plans are below -

Major changes were -
1 - Front hallway. The living room was widened and shifted to the right allowing the opening to the kitchen to be pretty much centered as a view. Have included some images of the view.

2 - Master bedroom on 2nd floor. To make better use of space, we moved the master bedroom to the front of the house. Room is now only 15' wide making it optimal for TV viewing from bed. The area for bath and closet is now larger.
I'm not crazy about the layout for the bath and closet and think better use of the space could be made, even expanding into the bedroom a bit for a larger bath (don't need all 22' in the bedroom for length). Would appreciate ideas/thoughts that anyone may have on that area to make a more usable bath space. Requirements are double sinks, large soaker tub, and decent sized shower. Linen closet is preferred to be in the bath, but not necessary. Also might consider a 'no door' shower, but have no experience with what is possible there.

3 - as a result of moving over the opening to the kitchen, we modified the entrance to the den. Below are two pictures. Originally we had glass doors behind the table, but if that is the only opening to the den you always have to walk behind the table to get there. The second picture is a different view with and opening by the rear of the room. Needs molding and trim, but still kind of looks out of place. In addition, if we arch the hall to kitchen opening, would that need to be arched also? I think the glass doors look very nice, but may be inconvenient as the only entrance to the den.

4 - Still have possible rework on the back right area where the rear stairs and pantry are. As per comments, the switchback stairs have some issues, and I am worried about being able to get large objects into the basement with them.
Had some thoughts to eliminate the back door to the house and just add a door to the garage in the rear, but not sure.

Appreciate any comments on the current design.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 5:37PM
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I like the moving of the entry to the family room from behindbthe table, but I think I would like an opening on eac side into the family room with a wall behind the table. Would allow for better flow to get into the kitchen or go out through the french doors. Just seems like it would flow better for entertaining.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Having two entrances to the den from the kitchen (front and back) would definitely improve the flow, but my wife is concerned with noise from the den (tv, kids) and that was partially the concept with the glass doors between the rooms. Having 2 entrances would be nice and open, but would make for a freeflow of sounds. She will be spending a good portion of her day in her new spacious kitchen, have a small tv to watch or listen to music, and a more open plan to the den would create a clash of sound.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 7:05PM
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lyfia, I'm interested in your idea of having dual entrances to the den from the kitchen - from left of table and right of table. We have been thinking of opening up the layout a bit more.
Do you see the one by the back of the house as flush to the exterior wall or with a small wall segment before the opening? Was thinking it should be symmetrical with the left opening.
How large would you make them - too wide and the center wall segment is very narrow - the entire room length is 20 feet.

If not too wide, it might be possible to have a single, wide pocket door to close up when necessary

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 3:41PM
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