Help me parse through our semi-custom options

minneapolisiteMay 24, 2012

We were basing our floorplan on a model home that we loved. We were going to build custom in a nice but remote, somewhat gentrified development.

As of this week we have an opportunity to build the original model home on a subdivided tear-down lot that is literally half the commute time and surrounded by mature trees and a charming variety of surrounding homes. The only catch is we can't modify the footprint of the home and deviations from the standard floorplan will probably result in some upcharges.

First, the original floorplan. It's not perfect, but it is our #1 favorite model home we've been in, out of about 100. My biggest concern is the existence of a formal dining room (highlighted space) and the lack of a guest entry bench & wall of coat hooks.

Original floorplan:

Possible changes to floorplan (either, both, or neither):

So my questions...

1. If you were stuck with the formal dining room and knew you would NEVER use it as a dining room, what would you do with that space?

2. Do you think the mudroom conversion idea is a good one? Other ideas for making the most of the space?

I'm sure I'll have some follow up questions, but that's a start. :)

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lavender_lass

That's the space for the dining room? Did you make it smaller to fit your changes...or is that the original model home size? It seems like it's only 6' or 7' wide.

To answer your question, I think I would change the 'dining room' space into a full bath, entry closet and bigger pantry. Then, I'd move the 'bedroom 5' to the opposite side of the front hall/entry.

I'd make the 'back' garage entrance the mudroom...with the powder room 'as is' and the tub area your walk in/family coat closet. Then, I'd take out the little corner pantry, since it's now in the front 'dining room' where you show the walk in closet, in your changes.

I'd put the broom closet, then fridge (maybe microwave) and door to pantry on that back wall and keep the rest of the kitchen the way it's shown. Bedroom 5 would become a little sunporch/office space for you...but I think I'd take out the door to the powder room. Looks like a draft waiting to happen, in the winter :)

Hope that helps! And your lot sounds beautiful...mature trees are a valuable asset and make a house feel like an established home, in my humble opinion.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 11:58PM
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lavender_lass

LOL! I just looked back at your original plan and saw that was the powder room, coat closet, no door to the sunporch. I like the cubbies, too...great idea :)

Can you add the other bathroom? It would be such a nice feature to have that guest room or den and a 'pretty' bathroom for company staying over night, or walking in the front entry. Then the powder room can be more of a mudroom/family bath...that doesn't have to be 'spotless' for guests. Okay, now I sound like I don't clean my bathroom! But living on a farm, you have to pick your battles and when it's muddy outside, there you are...LOL

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:03AM
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kirkhall

I think you should choose one way in or out of the house from the garage.

Decide if you want your cubbies in the back or the front; not both.

And, I might consider another 1/2 bath in the front.

And, I'd configure the guest bath differently (the back bath for the guest room). There is a lot of wasted in between space because of the wall. consider removing the wall, turning the toilet 90* and putting the vanity between the tub/toilet (and, make the toilet a w/c room).

At least, consider that. :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:10AM
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minneapolisite

The dining room space is "not to scale" because I had to sketch it onto the floorplan in Photoshop (not a very scientific tool!) :) It is pretty narrow, but not THAT narrow.

Here's a picture of the formal dining area in the model home:

It's the only "silly" part of the floorplan that we looked at each other and said "WHY?!" Haha.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:10AM
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minneapolisite

With the first set of modifications I tried to work within the confines of the original floorplan and change as little as possible.

Here's an alternative bedroom layout:

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:19AM
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kirkhall

No. I don't like that one at all. You lose windows in the bedroom; you have an odd entrance to the bedroom; you have a closet in a prime corner (for windows), etc.

Trying to think of a good alternative... it would be easier with actual dimensions. Is the stock floorplan online somewhere?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:34AM
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minneapolisite

Unfortunately, no. I have a previous version with dimensions that I could email over if you like! :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:43AM
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minneapolisite

This one is a little better...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:48AM
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kirkhall

I agree that it is a little better.

But, I wonder, is your garage going to be wide enough to have the steps out the side, rather than out the "back" into the house? Or, will you plan to use the large door for only 1 car parking, plus equipment storage? Working within the footprint might mean we have to keep the entrance to the house in the original spot (or near it--meaning your shift your side entrance to being up across from the stairs kind of--the "north" or top of the dining room) to keep the full functionality of the garage.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:12PM
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kirkhall

We are going to combine first and last rendition; ready?

in this last one, swap the location (but keep the orientation) of the bathroom with the closet space.

Then, make the "closet space" like it was in your first rendition--an entrance/hallway from kitchen; except bring the cubbies down toward the garage to make it more square rather than long.
and put a reach in closet on "top" of the cubbies from the guest room.

Can you picture that?

Now, this can still be an accessory entrance from the garage if you want to keep the door there; but use the side entrance mainly.

Or, you can make this a little butler's pantry area with built in cabinetry on both sides of the "hallway" to one of the 2 doors to the bathroom.

Does that make sense?

How does that feel for you?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:17PM
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lavender_lass

Wow, that dining room is narrow! I can see why you want to use the space in a better way :)

Kirkhall- Is this what you're talking about? I added a little window (frosted?) over the toilet to bring light into the bathroom. From Cottage house plans

I like the idea, but it looks a little cramped with the cubbies and the garage door, but I know we don't have exact measurements. Instead, what if we try your other idea...taking out the door to the garage...and having a butler's pantry or linen storage there, instead? From Cottage house plans

Oops! I just realized the bathroom door should open against the closet wall, not the pantry/linen :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:50PM
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minneapolisite

Thank you both so much!! Kirkhall, did I do this right?

The family/guest entry is still not 100% right. The garage is only 30" wide, so I think you're right that the entrance needs to be as close to the front of the garage as possible...but my version kind of wastes that window at the front of the house.

We definitely do need a large closet--my husband plays hockey and right now his hockey gear is stored in the guest bathroom cleverly hidden by the shower curtain LOL! He doesn't want to store it in the garage because cold gear is apparently no fun...and I don't want him carrying it around the house because his huge duffel bag it scuffs up the walls, no matter how careful he is.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:26PM
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minneapolisite

(And I agree removing that exterior door does make the hallway to the bathroom a lot less cluttered!)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:31PM
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kirkhall

Yes, you've got it!

Now about hockey gear.
Any reason it can't live in the garage? I've seen cubbies on pinterest on a garage wall too.

I realize in MN that it will be cold, but I assume, though don't know, that he won't travel to hockey in his gear...so it can have some time to warm up in the car before he puts it on?

Or...
let me keep thinking.

Also, I'd do a pocket door to your butler's pantry area rather than a swinging door into your kitchen.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 4:53PM
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minneapolisite

I just asked---it does NOT warm up in the car on the way there. The stuff is designed to be insulative, so it keeps the cold if it's cold, and keeps the heat in if it's warm.

Thank you all SO much for your help! We are meeting with the builder to start talking about customizing the floorplan so I want to have lots of ideas available.

Now, if I am stuck with that darn "dining room," any idea what I could do with it WITHOUT major renovation? I definitely would need some sort of bench and coat hanging area, but other than that, I'm not sure what to do.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 5:22PM
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athensmomof3

If you are in Minnesota, it might be worth asking about heating the garage, or at least ramping up the insulation to such a level it doesn't get as cold :). That could keep the hockey gear outside (which would be important to me), plus would have the added benefit of warm cars and warm garage in the winter.

I am in the super hot south so I have no idea how to do it the most efficiently - we don't insulate garages at all down here ;). Worth exploring though! Garage space is fairly inexpensive so this might be a way to get some better storage in a cheaper fashion.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 6:01PM
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minneapolisite

Bumping this for more last minute ideas. We meet with the builder's real estate agent tonight and I want to have lots of ideas to run by him! :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:55AM
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minneapolisite

I was thinking---if we could put a heated closet area in the front of the garage, maybe we could ditch the WIC in the mudroom.

If we did that, how would you suggest we lay out the former "dining room" space?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 1:09PM
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kirkhall

desk space? ("landing zone"). And, I'd get rid of the cubbies in the entry, and make it a real closet.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:27PM
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lavender_lass

Are you using the back bedroom, as a guest room? Will it be anything else, too? What about the front (left) room, off the entry? Knowing what spaces you're already planning will make it easier to suggest things for the 'dining room' space :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 7:30PM
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emilynewhome

Where is your laundry room?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 7:53PM
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kirkhall

(the Laundry is up, with the other bedrooms).

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:14PM
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minneapolisite

Here's an updated version with labels:

Some activities that we need to plan for:

(1) I work from home at a computer 40+ hours/week.

(2) We have a 7-month-old son and plan on having more children. I will need to be able to supervise children while I work in the office and kitchen. They will need space to play, space to store their toys, space to do projects, and space to do homework.

(3) We plan on purchasing an upright piano once we're settled in the new house. I play and the children will take piano lessons. The piano's home should be a little removed for some acoustic privacy. (Practicing in a main family room where everyone can hear you can be a little nerve-wracking.)

I'm not sure exactly how we'll use each room, but my current plan is to have the "Office" be my main workspace, with a secondary workspace set up in the "Sun Room" so I can supervise children playing in the yard while I work. I'm open to more advice and brainstorming, especially from people who have experience with older children since I'm still a parenting newbie. :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 11:01PM
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lavender_lass

I would use the front room as your office, since it can be closed off, when necessary. The sun room would make an excellent craft room/play room for the kids...maybe with shelves on the wall to the bathroom/mudroom. You'll need lots of storage for art supplies, crafts, toys, etc. to keep them all from ending up in the family room.

As for the 'dining room' I still think it would make a great closet, guest bathroom, bench with hooks, etc. area. It would be nice to have the ability to use the office (at some point in time) as a first floor guest room. If you don't need two bathrooms on the first floor, I would move it here...and turn the powder room into a large pantry/closet/storage area. Just my two cents :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:57AM
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minneapolisite

@lavendar, I like those ideas a lot! :)

I'm getting kind of excited--it sounds like we are going to move forward with this new lot option. Heavily treed, huge fenced yard, and a really short commute for my husband. It should be ready for us by Sept/Oct!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:46AM
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kirkhall

Just know that with the erection of a wall between foyer and "dining" area (for a powder room, etc), you are going to lose the light of that window into your foyer. So, you may want to choose a front door with more windows than you might otherwise...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:00PM
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minneapolisite

@kirkhall, I know, that's my biggest concern. I need to get the garage measurements to see if it's deep enough for my original foyer idea to work...

That would allow that window to cast light into the foyer. :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:39PM
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lavender_lass

Here's a quick sketch of what I was thinking about. That 'dining room' area looks like it has to be at least 7' to 8' wide...so I bumped out the space into the garage (on the plan) but I think it would easily fit into the 'dining room' space, in real life.

The bathroom is now close to the entry and the den/office. There's also a nice guest closet/storage area and you could keep high window(s) over the bench with hooks/cubbies and that should let light into the entry.

Also, I assume those two 'boxes' on the kitchen wall are a fridge and oven/microwave...so I moved one down to give you more counterspace in between. Also, powder room could now be a closet or pantry and the front porch is a bit deeper. More room for furniture and some plants/pots of flowers :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:39PM
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minneapolisite

@lavendar, thank you for the drawing! The front porch will be 6 feet deep. :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:40PM
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lavender_lass

Check some of the dimensions, when you look at model homes. In order to have furniture and walk in front of it (without falling off the porch) the porch should be at least 8' deep. 10' is better, if you want to have plants hanging along the railing and pots of flowers. It all depends on how you plan to use the porch.

My mom's porch is 8' deep and only on one half of the house. Even with three or four people, it gets very crowded and a few extra feet would really help :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:46PM
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kirkhall

Yes, it would need to be a window seat arrangement or similar though, and not cubbies on that wall.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 1:08PM
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