Anyone building a walkout basement with living areas downstairs?
We have a 3+ acre, wooded, sloped lot (creek at the bottom) where we plan to build a walkout basement home. We currently live in a 2-story home built by a volume builder, and we like the 2-story arrangement (we have 3 young children). So all along, our plan has been to build a 2-story on top of an unfinished walkout basement and finish the basement later. The neighborhood requires a 3000 sqft+ house, which would not include that basement area I assume, since it would be unfinished for years.
Last weekend we visited our local Southern Living showcase home (link), which is a 1-story on top of a finished basement (with a bonus room above the garage). We were blown away. Well I should say, I was blown away.
I loved it. I don't know why I've never considered such a design before (with all bedrooms in the basement except for the master on the main level) but it had never even crossed my mind. Perhaps because we've mainly been focusing on stock plan sites for ideas and they don't have many such plans, but whatever the reason this is a new concept to me.
My wife is more hesitant - mainly because she wants to ensure that while she is in the kitchen, the rest of the family isn't downstairs out of sight. An understandable concern, and one we need to address in our plan.
The showcase home linked above does have a 'sunday morning room' and a small formal living room off the kitchen, but their layout didn't seem to provide for enough family space upstairs to accommodate the rest of the family sitting near the kitchen for a movie/TV/etc like we currently live. We would need to essentially merge those two rooms into a keeping room off the kitchen to keep the family on the main level.
So with that situation being our main 'con' against such a floorplan, I could also add potential dark bedrooms as another. We don't want the downstairs to seem like a cave with the kids' bedrooms all down there. The showcase home didn't seem dark at all. They had large windows directly above the staircase to the basement that dropped in lots of light down there, plus they used a 9' ceiling in the basement and tall windows. We would even be interested in potential 10' ceilings down there if cost weren't a factor.
So my question is, how many of you have built or lived in such an arrangement? We are seriously considering it, but would love to hear from those of you with experience.
And if any of you know of some great floorplans like this, some links to them would be great!