Feedback for this plan?

davis.mbdJuly 27, 2014

I've made this plan using the Floorplanner software and want some feedback. I'm looking to build an efficient 4/3 with a classic but modest elevation - I'll attach some example pics in a second.

Some background info: we do a lot of entertaining, (with friends or family over at least once a week), my husband needs an office where he can meet privately with small groups of people, we don't have a TV but do have lots of books, and we have no children but plan to have/adopt three or four within the next ten years or so.

The lot we will probably build on faces east, so the fireplace side will have the southern exposure.


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Maybe something like this with a full front porch.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:21PM
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Or this on a smaller scale.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:22PM
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And here is a 3D view of the first floor.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:32PM
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It's hard to say without dimensions. But a couple things that come to mind. . .

Upstairs - any closets for the kids? Any other furniture besides beds? I also find the bed configuration a bit odd.

The upstairs is seriously lacking in windows. Only 1 per bedroom. None in the bathroom.

MBR - no other furniture besides the bed?

The laundry looks super tight.

Do you need 2 full baths on the first floor? If your husband is holding business meetings in the office/study, is it odd to send business associates into a bathroom with a tub?

No garage?

Where does the door off the kitchen lead?

No coat closet? Or mud room? How will you enter the house? Where will you keep coats? Shoes? Etc.

If you do end up with 4 kids - where will they play? The great room is so jam packed with furniture, I wonder if there is room to walk around.

Can you get 6 people around that breakfast table? Do you have a pantry?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:45PM
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Hi PixieLou!

Thanks for all the questions - they are making me think.

Yes, the kid's rooms would have other furniture, though it'd be a while before we'd need it... I just put those beds in to make sure there would be room for two per room if necessary. I was imagining closets under the eaves but did not draw them in.

Re. upstairs windows... I probably could put one more each on the bedroom walls. I was imagining skylights in the bathroom.

The laundry does looks super tight. I'm currently working out of a laundry closet so it looks big from here, but I suppose with children I might need more room...

I want to have a full extra bath downstairs in case we ever need to convert the office into a guest room.

No garage - we're thinking carport, which is where the door off the kitchen would lead. There's not really a mudroom, I just have the bench by the side kitchen door - I'm imagining shoes under the bench and coats/bags on hooks above. Do you think that would be sufficient? The pantry is those white shelves in the corner by the refrigerator.

The big question to me is whether the "great room" has enough space. You're right, it looks full, but I also want plenty of flexible seating/conversation areas, etc.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Both houses are adorable but do you have any idea how much "stuff" four little people accumulate, lol. And how much stuff it takes to raise them.

You have to have more storage and closets..even if you are a minimalist.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 5:46PM
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Sophie Wheeler

That barracks is unsuitable to family living with anything but fantasy children. The lower floor lacks flow, and appears too small for the amount of stuff you want to fill it with. There is a disconnect between the sizes that things actually are, and the amount of room you appear to have allocated for them. You really need an architect.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:11PM
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the elevation looks fantastic!

however, the square footage needs to be increased quite a bit for 6 people. the great room needs to be larger and for someone who loves to entertain, maybe make the kitchen a little more opened up? seems kind of closed off...just my opinion.

storage is not even close to enough. me and my other half are building a house with one large coat closet downstairs, unfinished basement, pretty large garage, linen closet, two basic bedroom closets and a master walk in. with just two of us and 1750 sq ft., we are nervous about the storage space. you will need MUCH more me.

the master seems tight. no wall is available to really place furniture or tv, etc. there seems to be a door or window in the way.

i think this house can work, but you need to go back and make it on a bigger scale. this plan is okay for 3 or maybe even 4 people....but not 6.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:20PM
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First, I like the two exterior photographs -- lovely houses, just my style.

The interior, though, as everyone else is saying, is just too cramped. Here's what I'd do to stretch the space without going "up" too far in square footage:

- Turn the kitchen 90 degrees so that it stretches across the back wall. Kitchen corners are both inefficient and expensive to build, so eliminate one corner and make your kitchen an "L + island" scooted towards the left back corner . . . and place the refrigerator and a pantry on the wall shared with the master closets. Include a back door between the kitchen and the pantry.

- Remove the wall between the great room and the kitchen. This allows your table to scoot farther towards the back of the house, giving you space to move around the table comfortably, even when people are seated. LOTS of family life takes place at the dinner table, and this isn't a place to skimp with a potential family of 5-6.

- You say you have Southern exposure on the fireplace wall . . . so I'd add a big bank of windows -- perhaps even a bay with seating, or perhaps a window seat flanked by bookshelves -- next to the table. What I'm proposing here is a long open floor plan with the kitchen at one end and the great room at the other -- this bank of windows will "define" the table's space and will provide wonderful natural light in the middle of the room.

- You have placed LOTS of seating furniture in the living room. I'd ditch the two chairs by the front window -- not enough space. What you can fit in there, however, is a window seat, which would be lovely when flanked by bookshelves /perhaps bookshelves turned inward towards the window seat instead of facing the great room -- that look always seems so inviting.

- By losing the kitchen wall, you lost a bookshelf space. Replace it by harnessing the currently-unused space under the stairs.

- The front room with the table is where your husband will see clients? It's well-placed, and the half-bath is well-positioned to serve both the household AND clients. I'd eliminate the bathtub though; it's a bit odd for business clients to see a bathtub. I'd consider a separate, exterior door (on the side of the house) so they don't have to enter your personal living space.

- The laundry room is absolutely too small. I think the only answer here is more square footage. In my first house we had a laundry room of this size (though ours opened into the kitchen), and the reality was that we frequently had piles of clothes on the kitchen floor. You will have only minimal storage on a few shelves above the machines -- and that just isn't enough. Another problem: Dryers can be installed in the center of a house, but it's not ideal. It's better if the dryer can be on an exterior wall so it can vent directly outside. This allows you to skip a long, easily-clogged hose that can become a fire hazard.

- A different laundry possibility: Keep this tiny laundry room with the intention that it's JUST for the two of you -- perhaps even turn the door towards your bedroom, which would allow you to fold clothes on your bed conveniently -- and install a "rough in" for a future laundry room upstairs to serve the kids' rooms. You will save many steps by not carrying the kids' clothes up and down the stairs.

- The master bath is small; you have no space for a hamper or even a trash can. I'd skip the toilet closet (which is a space hog), and that space could accommodate both a toilet and a small linen closet. Remember, you have another toilet only steps outside the master closet -- privacy doesn't need to be an issue in this layout. The vanity/sink area looks very narrow. If you do away with the tub in the adjacent client bath, you'd gain some breathing room in your master bath. Another option: Do a bay window and set a claw-foot tub in it; it actually only adds a couple square feet to the house, but visually it'll open up this small area.

- The upstairs, as it is presented here, is completely insufficient for a potential four children. I think you're heading for a 1.5 story, a look I love, but consider the type of roofline -- I wish I knew its name -- that's steep in front, yet kind of "blows out" at the back, allowing for more square footage towards the back of the house and more windows towards the back of the house. You can see that as you've drawn it now, you have space only for the two beds -- the kids also need floor space for dressers and desks.

- Someone asked where the kids'll play: In their rooms, of course! Dedicated playrooms aren't a necessity, but if you don't have a whole lot of space downstairs for "kid stuff", you do need it upstairs.

- The kids' jack and jill bath, as it is presented here, is tremendously inefficient, and a big part of that is that you have so little space because of the stairs. If you do the "blow out roof" as described previously, you'll have the square footage to do this right. My suggestion: Plan a long, narrow sink room placed between the two bedrooms. The sink room would contain two doors, one on each side of the stairs: One door would be a large linen closet (small kids don't need lots of storage, but teens do), and the other would be a tub /toilet room -- or a shower /toilet room. Beware of over-compartmentalization; it's a space-hog, and if you do too much of it, you'll find that you could've had two small bathrooms in the same space.

- You don't have any kids' closets. Depending upon the ages of the children, I wonder if a shared jack-and-jill closet might work well between the two bedrooms -- and it could be placed in the space above the stairs. If you're going to have sloped walls, you might also consider built-in bookshelves in the short spots. Built-ins are expensive, but they're a very efficient use of space.

Your plan has potential, but it still needs a good bit of work.

This post was edited by MrsPete on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 9:49

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Wow Ms. Pete, so much to take in. Thank you for giving so much time and thought to my plan.

I've made some changes to the first floor - what do you think?

The main change is that I lengthened the great room by about three feet to give more breathing space, and extended the master onto the back porch to create a nursury/sitting area. The expansion allowed me to make the laundry larger and create a linen closet across from the laundry room, a closet in the office and a coat closet in front of the stairs (I intend to use the space under the stairs for long-term/seasonal storage, but I'm not sure how to indicate that on the plan). I also doubled the windows behind the piano, put in a window seat along the front, and exchanged the swing french doors leading to the kitchen for pocket french doors.

The downstairs bathtub is important to me in case we ever need to make the office a guest room or take care of an ageing parent, etc. I'm not too worried about "business associates" seeing it, as my husband is a pastor so visitors will mostly consist of couples coming in for marriage counseling, etc.

I'll have to work a lot more on the upstairs - I'm now seeing all the problems you brought up. I like the idea of "blowing out" the back... I'll do some googling :)

This post was edited by davis.mbd on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 13:59

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:08AM
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The first floor square footage for this new extended plan is 1600.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:10AM
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FYI, the square island represents an old 3x3 butcher block on casters that was in my great-grandfather's grocery store for over 50 years... it's important to me that it's incorporated somewhere in the design of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:22AM
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Better . . . but I have further comments:

- Adding the extra 3' is definitely useful. The room looks like it has some breathing room, but I'm not sure it's big enough for a family of 5-6 to share comfortably. You've removed some seating -- is this enough for your gatherings? Look at the table and ask yourself whether (once people are seated in the chairs) you'd have space to circulate around -- I'm thinking people would have trouble getting into the kitchen if the chairs were occupied.

- I continue to think the problems are the kitchen and the wall between the kitchen /great room. You have a lot of wasted space in the kitchen, space that could be used to open up the great room a bit more. And the wall, though it is providing you with massive bookcases, is preventing the circulation that's necessary for large numbers of people to share this moderate square footage.

1600 square feet is a moderate-sized house -- and two nice-sized kids' rooms upstairs would bring it to probably 2200ish -- but you're saying that you want LOTS of function out of this space. The only answer (within this square footage) is an open floor plan.

I have two ideas of how this could work, and I'll sketch them up for you.

- Clearly the bookcase space is important to you. Let's consider other areas: I've seen a really cool picture of a floor-to-ceiling bookcase that runs alongside the staircase. You could have books "above" the stairs and a book vault below the stairs. A bookcase in your bedroom would be great. And I'd ask this: Do you have to save ALL your books? I'm a huge reader, but I don't care about saving books -- I love reading, but (with a few sentimental exceptions) I don't necessarily love the books themselves.

- That butcher's block island sounds fantastic, and if it were mine, I'd absolutely want to include it somewhere in the house! Instead of using it "as is", however, I'd consider making it part of a larger island . . . or it could be a great coffee table in the living room; no concerns about water rings from your glasses!

- That's a piano in the dining area? I thought pianos weren't supposed to be placed on exterior walls. Something about the fluctuations in temperature putting them out of tune? I could be dead-wrong on this one.

- LOVE the small extension beyond the master bedroom. With a newborn, this small space would make all the difference in the world, and with a houseful of kids, a quiet spot for yourself would be very welcome. This is square footage well spent.

- I see no improvement in the laundry room. The square footage is a little larger, but you would have to stand on the piles of clothes to use the machine. I see a better option now. . . and I will include it in the sketch I'll draw.

- I don't know that your husband's office would do for an elderly parent. We were very, very involved in my grandmother's care in her last years (though she lived with a different relative), and moving her out of her house was very difficult. She moved into a very large bedroom /sitting room and had a bathroom and an 8x10 closet . . . but she wanted to keep enough stuff to fill twice that amount of space. Rationally, I understand that she was never going to wear her evening gowns again, but try telling her to give up those things that held such memories. She had loads of linens, none of which she was willing to part with. And she NEEDED to keep her double bed, two arm chairs, a TV cabinet, several book cases . . . perhaps your relatives are more reasonable, but it was not pleasant for us, and she remained very, very angry about it for the rest of her life -- though the rest of us knew there was no other option. She had to come live with someone, and the stuff couldn't all come.

- If this room might be for an elderly parent, I'd definitely go with a walk-in shower instead of a tub. The ability to bathe oneself is one of the first things the elderly tend to lose, and no adult wants to give up his dignity /privacy and be washed by his adult child. I'd stick with the tub size . . . but either include a bench (or plan for a moveable bench), a hand-held shower head, and shampoo/soap storage that can be reached from a seated position. Also, if this might be someone's full-time bathroom, you need linen storage. Since you and your husband have only a tub in your adjacent master bath, you might find yourself stepping over to use this walk-in shower.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:36AM
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Thanks again for the exhaustive and thoughtful reply.

Yes, I see a lot of wasted space in the kitchen as well. My dilemma is this: I'm thinking that with a lot of kids, a fully open plan might get loud/there would be no places to retreat without just going into a bedroom. Or if a group of our friends were over, it might be nice to have multiple conversation areas that weren't right on top of each other. I also like to not be able to see dirty dishes, etc., from the dining table - it's kind of a killjoy/distraction to think of the work waiting while trying to enjoy dinner. At the same time, it's important to me to keep a long line of sight from the front of the house out the back, and to keep a strong connection to the outdoors (thus the double pocket doors lined up with the double french doors to the back porch, etc. - the backyard is very lovely, lush, private). I also have very traditional tastes - love symmetry, etc. I'm not sure how to reconcile all of these preferences in a not-so-large house, though.

Love the idea of the coffee table! I'd have to be 100% sure about it, though, as the legs are original. I think I'd like to keep it as an island in some shape or form.

Also love the idea of the bookcases up the stairs. I just really like the idea of kids being raised around books.

Re. the piano, I've heard that exterior walls don't really matter as much as they used to with modern insulation, etc. The window would be higher than the top of the piano and the piano would be kept a few inches off the wall - I just hate playing while looking at a wall.

And thanks for the thoughts about the possible future parent room. I don't know that we could give it much more square footage than we have now on the off-chance that it will be used for that purpose in the future. We might just have to cross that bridge when we come to it. I do think your bathroom changes make a lot of sense, I need to think through all the things that would make it as accessible as possible.

FYI, it's not clear on the plan but that's actually a walk-in shower in the master bath - which is why I originally put a tub in the guest bath as it would be the only ground-floor tub (could be used for washing a dog, etc.). I'll have to weigh that against the accessibility issues you raised.

This post was edited by davis.mbd on Tue, Jul 29, 14 at 21:02

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 8:58PM
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