Input on this house plan?

AngelaZJune 9, 2013

Hi guys! I'm loving this forum! Thanks to all who take the time to participate and share their experience and knowledge!

My husband and I just bought some beautiful land and hope to start building sometime this year. We are both total newbies at this, so are feeling a combination of excitement and terror! ha!

We have found one particular houseplan that we both like quite a bit. We do want to do brick instead of a siding and most likely won't do a tin roof. I'm a little nervous about how those changes will have on the look of the exterior.

I thought maybe I could post it here and get some input on both our exterior changes and also your thoughts on the floorplan. I'm generally pretty happy with the floorplan, but I sometimes have problems visualizing these types of things and seeing the small changes that would be beneficial.

Any thoughts? And has anyone had any experience with this particular plan? Thank you!!

"Potential house plan"

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The total charm of that farmhouse look is the siding and the metal roof. And the porch that suits that style of home. If you want a brick house, pick something else to build. Either adopt that look wholeheartedly and enthusiastically or look to a different style that would be appropriate to a boxy style build like that. Like a Colonial. Which wouldn't have the porch.

The facade is the best part about the house. The interior isn't bad. Say a solid B-. But, it could be so much better.

I'd want a powder room in the family entrance complex. And a pantry. That should be relatively easy to do by just elongating the box of the garage to get more space. If you lot will let that happen. The kitchen island is too large, and oriented the wrong way for maximum functionality, with the prep sink in the wrong spot. And the kitchen is really too narrow to flip the island. You'd have to flip the range and sink to make it work, with windows to either side of the range, which is a nice look. And that would definitely make it where you needed a separate pantry. But that would let you keep the island as configured and much improve traffic flow.

The foyer is oversized, with the stairway not being located in the best spot. There's not a lot of separation between the foyer and the great room, which is one of the actual functions of a foyer. So it fails on that account. But, if you turned the stairs to make them come directly down to the front door, that would allow you to create more of an separation between the foyer and the great room, as well as give anyone coming down the stairs the ability to avoid being smacked in the face with the front door.

The master bedroom misses out on the opportunity to have windows in two directions because the bath occupies the corner position in the home. That bath should be between the great room and the master to provide a sound buffer. It's a secondary space, not a primary space, and it doesn't deserve a primary spot like a house corner. The same with the closet in the other bedroom. It doesn't deserve prime real estate at all. The bedroom needs that corner.

There are other tweaks and things, but overall, it's an attractive house without too many of the modern Neo affectations that ruin so many builds.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 4:21PM
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Personally I would NOT do that house in brick. It is a country farm house look and is suppose to look as they have it pictured. Just my opinion but I don't think brick would look good on this house.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 7:28PM
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I've had trouble finding a exterior design that I feel certain will look good with brick. So many are so 'busy' with so many peaks to the roof line, etc.

I love older homes and would love to choose something that has some of the charm/look of something older but with an open floor plan. My husband's only insistence about anything is that we use brick. My main requirement is an open kitchen/living area with an eat-in area in the kitchen as we plan to use the formal dining area for an office.

Do you guys have any recommendations as far as styles I should look at? I am so stressed. And really appreciate your help!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:19PM
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I don't blame you hubby wanting brick, NO maintance!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I love the exterior of this house and think you will ruin it if you put a brick facade. :(

Here are my thoughts for what they're worth on the interior.

1) The foyer is fine, imo, but could use more separation if you like that.
2) Definitely need a larger pantry.
3) Unless that downstairs 2nd bath is going to be used by messy kids, it will work as a powder room.
4) The master bedroom would benefit from being on the corner, but if you live in a hot and muggy climate, you might not open your windows very much, and if that exterior wall faces the west, you could end up with a very hot bedroom if you moved the bedroom to that wall. Bedroom placement depends on your lifestyle (open windows?), climate, and sun orientation, imo.
5) Your master bathroom toilet is quite far to go in the middle of the night. I have a similar setup, and end up using the hall bath during the night. Call me lazy.
6) The bonus/rec room is quite isolated from the rest of the house. How will you use this room? Would you be comfortable with young kids or teens w/guests up there unattended?

Good luck. I think this house has a lot of charm and great possibilities.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:13PM
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I love this house. I think it would look great with a brick exterior, galvalume metal roof and dark stained wooden posts around the porch. This would totally change the overall feel of the house to a more rustic, country vibe though.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:44PM
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I agree with the Master Bathroom toilet is too far away from the bed.

I think that there should be at least a half bath in the bonus room, if not a full bath. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it can make that room much more useful.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 12:16AM
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My husband and I are getting ready to build this home. If you will do a search for Calabash Cottage you will find a thread I started and it contains some feedback from others who are also building it. One contributor to the thread is Bryan who has done a wonderful job of posting walk through video of his progress on the home. Thought this might be helpful as you are making decisions. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 1:05AM
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I don't think this is such a horrible house plan if you chose it, tweakable to personalize, but to me the best part of it is easily the offset garage. Attached garages usually block all light, breezes and views on their side, but not this one, AND it joins with the house to enclose a potentially very charming and private garden. Whichever plan you choose, this is a lovely feature. Of course, it also gets the utility/parking lot out of the front yard, and sometimes even out of sight altogether. Nice! Note that many standard plans could just have the porch moved to a similar location. Maybe try printing and taking scissors to them.

Since many home plans these days meet your main requirements, though, including simpler, old-fashioned style, I suspect you chose this one for the porch. But you might want to give this issue more consideration before committing.

Fact is, it looks adorable but lives poorly. There's so much of it, but all just too shallow--except the part approaching the front door. Google depth of porch and use. There should be something. People who study these things (yes, there are porchologists :) have found a direct relation between depth of porch and use. That looks like about 6' of usable depth between wall and rail, which is the minimum depth of porches that people actually use. Chairs can be lined up in a row and people still pass in front of the feet. But deeper would mean you could turn chairs to face each other for conversation and even have a dining table. Plus, it would allow you and your furniture to stay dry when summer sprinkles come in with a breeze.

What part of the country are you in, by the way? Since you like old styles, why not search for plans that reflect your local architectural traditions? I'm guessing your roof line problem wouldn't show up at all.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Rosie, we live in Tennessee. I agree with you on the offset garage- especially since we hope to have a pool as well and seems like it would work nicely with that.

I am completely open to other house plans and tend to be attracted to simpler layouts but with nice finishes. We do want a front porch but it certainly doesn't have to be this large. I just haven't landed upon the right one for us yet, I think, and it's stressing me out :) There are so many out there!

The land we've bought is in a rural area, so I guess I just feel it is suited to a more "country" look. I'm going to try to attach a photo of our 5 acres.

Thank everybody SO much for your input this far. And truly, if you have suggestions for any styles/plans I should take a look at, I would love that!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:32PM
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What pretty land!

I think if you build this plan, you should put some thought into how you will design your driveway so that guests are inclined to enter through your foyer. If you build one that's a straight shot to the garage, they're likely to park right behind the garage, and would likely climb the stairs on the side of the porch and knock on the mudroom door.

You'd probably want a parking area of some sort in front of the house and a walkway from it.
No point in having a foyer if you don't use it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 8:23PM
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Lovely, lovely land, Angela. One thing I notice is that you've posted a story-and-a-half plan. This has a larger, (somewhat more expensive) allocation of space to the ground floor than a two-story would, with less space given to the dormer bedrooms under the roof. I like this type a lot because because of that. As opposed to so many "large" homes that share the main floor with an oversized garage, resulting in small cramped rooms (HAVE to be open plan), and then extra square footage all over the place on the second. So, if you decided you wanted story-and-a-half specifically, you could take regular two-stories of your list and focus in on this type. These days by far most plans are two story because they fit on smaller lots and are less expensive to build.

The other thing that comes to mind right now is that you could happily build this house without any porches at all. The upper rooms are entirely over the lower floor, not the porch, allowing you to remove or redesign them any way you wanted.

But, where would you like to have a nice large porch for sitting out and admiring that lovely pasture? Or the pool?

You should, of course, have at least a small front porch and one outside the mudroom door for weather protection for people, the doors themselves, and the interior.

Great advice, Zone4, but maybe easier said than done? :) As a California transplant, I thought our front porch and door were compelling and obvious, but almost all visitors go out of their way here in Georgia to come to the "back" door, even UPS. Do they think they'll be seen as unfriendly if they show up at the front door? Nobody's ever given a definitive explanation.

Whatever. To discourage it, I laid a narrower, obviously "gardeny" path with rock-laid-on-dirt steps leading through a fence up to the side. Turned out their potential ankle-turning character just confirmed that that was the way to go. I'm currently allowing pear tree branches to grow so low over the steps that over time tall people will have to bend way down to get through (we're not tall). I'm also considering putting a sign on the front porch saying, "Welcome to our back door" to see if that helps.

I wouldn't mind at all if it only lead to a mudroom. Unfortunately, I'm from California and made the mistake of having this all-glass, undraped door lead directly into the kitchen with a view through the entire house...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Angela, regarding your not having nearly enough fun browsing plans yet, I'd like to recommend a book others have, "Patterns of Home, the Ten Essentials of Enduring Design." It's about $4 used on Amazon. Fairly thick, lots of good information and pictures. We've all seen homes we've loved in the past and not known just why, and this book helps us realize what worked so well in them to produce those nice feelings.

In any case, I think it'd firm up your ideas of what would be right for you guys and with it start you looking for just what you want, eliminating the stress in the process. If you ended up choosing the home you posted(because it does appeal to you), it'd be confidently, understanding even more why it'll work so well for you.

The link's to an old Queen Anne style home in Alabama, BTW, also not typically in brick, but it's looked nice for a long time anyway. People did their own thing in the past too.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Forgot to mention, that book has a lot to say for what's good about wraparound porches. "Pattern 3," sheltering roofs.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 2:30PM
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Would your husband consider stone instead of brick? I think that one could look good if built using stone as well. It wouldn't be the exact same look, but I think it would look cute. Around here a limestone would make that house look like it fit as an old farmhouse.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Looked at these plans when we started, or at least another version of them. One of our friends built a similar one. In their house the breakfast nook was too small, this seems better. They had no pantry and this seems about the same. The front foyer seemed like a wasted vault area in theirs, but the more i look it seems theirs must have been smaller. Their upstairs bedrooms were terribly small, and yours seem much better. They didn't seem to use their dining room much because it was cut off from the rest of the house. When we designed we wanted the overflow from the kitchen counter to go to the dining table and be and expanded use space. No "special" room that got used once per year.
I love cross breezes and this plan doesn't seem to consider that. (We are in ky)
The 6' porches are hard to utilize properly. Theirs were hard to walk past chairs and people, so no one tended to use them. We used this plan as a jumping off point for our lists of wants/must haves etc.

I think you could do it in brick just fine.

I do agree with the kitchen issues.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 4:05PM
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This post was edited by jennybc on Mon, Jun 17, 13 at 7:05

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 4:08PM
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I am so appreciative of all this feedback!! Rosie, I just ordered the book you mentioned. I'm looking forward to getting it!

We met with an architect on Friday at the property. We're hoping we can afford him! One other style he suggested we look at is Greek Revival so I'm going to look at those as well.

Thanks again, you guys are awesome!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:35AM
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I seem to be the only person concerned about the dimensions of the great room i have a 15x20 ft living room now and find it very hard to arrange furniture in and
seat lots of people in
other than that, i could easily have chosen that plan

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 10:55PM
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Is it just me, or does this houseplan seem to pop up everywhere these days? I know I've seen it half a dozen times in the last couple weeks.

It's a lovely exterior, but I'm iffy on whether it could be done in brick. I cannot imagine it in typical red brick, but how about whitewashed brick?

Love the red brick Queen Anne posted by Rosie.


Spacious, simple, nice.

I wouldn't need the second bedroom downstairs, so I'd eliminate that too-long, too-narrow master bath . . . by chopping it off and placing the bath/closet needs in what is now the downstairs guest room. This would have the benefit of allowing windows on two walls of the master bedroom.

I would want a real pantry, but that could be configured out of the mudroom area.

I like the off-set garage, but do remember that greater exterior = greater cost.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:00AM
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