New Plans for Review; Thank You.

vicatonJuly 12, 2011

Another new member asking for help- sorry! I have only recently found this excellent site while searching for a quality forum to share ideas. We would certainly appreciate anyone who is willing to take the time to comment on our plans and we also hope to contribute to other threads where possible. This is our first custom home build and it's a bit daunting,... already and we really haven't made any major decisions yet.

Background: we are a family of four living on the west coast. We have two teens and are hoping to build a home suitable for the next 30+ years. We did not want/need a basement but the natural slope of the property necessitates a lower level.

The property is an unusual shape - narrow at the front hence the odd 'splay' of the footprint.

We are not entirely happy with the kitchen nor with the limited outdoor covered terrace and hope to improve in these areas. We would be happy with any comments.

Thanks for your insights.

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It's very different!

The kitchen seems small for a house that size. Pantry end seems odd. Where are you going to set things that you take out of the oven? Do the dotted lines coming off the island indicate a counter overhang jutting out into the middle of the kitchen??? I don't understand that.

Master bedroom seems a little small.

Have you tried to lay out furniture in the living room? I would think about furniture placement.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:00AM
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I don't really care for the built-in bench with storage just inside the front door. But if you live in cold weather climate, it's probably nice to have. I'd rather see a bench (piece of furniture) with the built-in storage inside the large coat closet.

Wouldn't do the built-in, curved seating in living room either. It's going to cut down on your furniture placement.

Like Dash mentioned, the rooms sizes are not that large (DR, for example, those tables would never work IRL - too close to wall, each other, one table is going into the library. It will be a maze for anyone walking to the library also. Is there a television going in the living room? With the two exterior doors, plus all the walkways and entrances into the room, there is not much left for furniture (without it becoming a maze).

Someone posted about their husband passing out in the toilet room. He fell to the floor and the door was blocked - paramedics couldn't even get inside. Just a thought.

Do either of you get up each morning before the other to exercise? DH does, so our exercise room on the lower level - away from the MBR.

Teenagers - The "open to below" areas are going to let sound travel upstairs - majorly in this plan.

I second the no counter for hot items out of the oven.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 8:59AM
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Dash & Allison,
Thanks for your thoughts. We have intentionally tried to cut down on room size as our last plan was well over 7000 sqft (including garage) & we felt it was too big. We have had a 'similar' open / high ceiling home with walkways in the past and loved the feeling.

DR-we like round dining table(s) but realize they won't fit in this DR and will go with a standard rectangle

LR- this area concerns me too. It looks neat on paper but not functional. We could push the curved wall out further for extra furniture?
Built ins can be handy and elegant and look like they are a part of the home while furniture can look like an afterthought and we are trying to work through this in a few areas.

Kitchen- not good. We were thinking of counter between the stacked ovens? The island extension was either a pullout or an extension - not sure and will remove this. We are hoping for all windows on the outside walls of the kitchen with lower storage only but I'm not sure there is enough room.

Gym- a flex room that could be a studio, office or baby's room but for us
a gym. I like it upstairs near the 'spa' (master ensuite) and would sound deaden it as much as possible and use wireless audio for TV or music.

Any suggestions on options regarding the areas of concern?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:09PM
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I'm a one-level-living gal myself! Will you have an elevator in this plan, since you plan to live here as Seniors?

If you want fewer square feet, the open center and catwalks would be one place to cut. They are dramatic, but steal a lot of space.

Is there a vista beyond the curved portion of the house? (I'm guessing there is.)

I'd eliminate the powder room on the first floor unless you often have someone occupying the guest room; locate the guest bath nearer the hallway to double as powder room.

The kitchen/dining/library area needs work. The kitchen layout is odd, and serving into the DR around a corner would be awkward. A little strange to have a library that you access via a DR. (I'd prefer the kitchen on the opposite side of the house, perhaps with a dumb waiter from the garage. BIG change to your plans!)

The laundry is very cramped. Master BR and closet seem on the small side for a house this large.

There's a lot of space here for people who will be 'launching' their children soon. Have you thought how you'll use the space when there are just two of you there?

It's certainly nice to see something out of the ordinary here!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Built ins can be handy and elegant and look like they are a part of the home while furniture can look like an afterthought...

Furniture only looks like an afterthought if something is just thrown somewhere because you already own it and put it somewhere it doesn't belong/go/look good. Or if it's purchased hastily, or because you couldn't find something you really loved/wanted/went with your home. We've been in almost 6 years. Only recently have I finished getting everything the way I want it, furniture wise.

Here's a starting thought process on changing up the kitchen:

move the door to patio towards sink a little (would loose some counterspace, but not much). Put range on wall (into current pantry area).

Loose the w/d in kitchen, or make it part of the walk-in pantry. Close up the pantry (don't leave open to room). Loose the china closet in DR to achieve extra space in pantry.

What is the D.W. in the DR?

I like the idea of loosing the powder room, moving the door to game room and rearranging the guest room/bath so that the bath is where powder room is currently.

Be sure that space just inside the MBR door is large enough (not funky angle) so that furniture can go in/out. We've been in a house where you couldn't get a sofa in the front door due to funky angle.

Sound proofing will help some, but if someone uses a treadmill, it's the thud thud thud of the walking sound that travels.

You would get a lot of help on a kitchen plan in the Kitchen Forum, after you floor plan is more set in stone.

Pantries linked below, some open to kitchen (no doors). Our pantry is the last two photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: pantry ideas

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 3:23PM
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Thanks for the advice. We can do anything at this stage and want to get the plans as right-for-us as possible which is no small task. The general footprint is pretty much unchangeable given the property.
Yes, the vista is great out the LR.
We did have a 3 stop elevator on the original/different plan but decided to try without it.
I agree with all the thoughts that some of rooms are small for the sq footage.
We will try and combine PR and guest bath but my MIL may very well live with us in a few years and although I would like a yurt in the backyard,,, it probably won't fly!

Thanks again and these were the nudges needed to try more radical changes until we get the plans right.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 10:31PM
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My concern is the MBR closet is too small.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 11:14PM
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Hi Everyone
Thanks for all your comments - we agree with many concerns and have sketched an altered Main Floor schemata. This adds sq footage but we should be able to have two master WICs and move the small office which I need for private documents. We may be able to get a larger upper laundry as well but the kitchen alone is so much better in my cartoon.
We decided to keep the Powder and Guest bath as the guest room may very well be occupied.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:11AM
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Other comments welcome and appreciated - thank you.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 4:33PM
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New Revision - close to final plan!?!

Thanks for any thoughts!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:15PM
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Unusual plans but the second remdition flows much more smoothly. IF my home, I would lengthen the master bedroom by 2/3 feet taking away from the closets. 5 by 10 is big but 5 by 8 is also doable. (It is a closet!) That would make the master more spacious. If you did this, then you could also move the doorway to master closer to closets and open the laundry area. Now the laundry area I would move to where the gym is, large enough for extra storage as well as function as LR. That would make a nice perfect office space, almost making it a "square room". I would move the gym to the basement storage area, you could wire a tv there since no windows. It would be cooler there too next to the wine cellar. I don't know if you drink, but that cellar is huge, could be smaller IMO but this is your home. Do what you wish now! I would even move the wine cellar to the smaller storage area beside the mech room. How does this work for you? Please get back to me and let me know your thoughts! Also, could you add windows to the kids rooms? The master sinks and storage area on either side needs rework. Too much wasted space on the sides of the sinks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 8:09AM
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I agree with making the master bigger--two 5'x8' closets (making the master 14x16) would be a lot of closet space.

If you're anything like me, though, I'd leave the gym where it is--I'd be more likely to use it if it was near the bedroom and shower.

Although many people here like large laundry rooms, I've never needed one. With very few exceptions, I take laundry into the laundry room one load at a time and remove it the same way. It might be nice to have a place to fold/hang in the laundry area, but it isn't that big of a deal to me.

I'd consider more windows in the bedrooms--perhaps even high windows that wouldn't interfere with furniture placement but would add natural light.

Where do you plan on storing linens (sheets, towels, blankets)? Do you plan on keeping them in the walk-in closets? There really isn't a lot of storage space in the bedroom bathrooms.

Another issue (and you may be okay with this), is that all 3 bathrooms upstairs are en suite, which would make it very hard for a future owner to turn the gym into a bedroom.

I suggest taking your kitchen layout to the Kitchens forum before going ahead with plumbing/cabinets. I suspect there will be changes recommended, although in general, I like the U with the island.

BTW, I have a corner pantry like yours and I *love* it. I do recommend shelves that can be easily rearranged rather than fixed shelves, though. (I didn't do that and now we have to make that change)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 3:41PM
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If you MIL is going to possibly be living in the guest suite, I would consider a much wider door to the bathroom there and make sure the guest suite is built ADA accessibility. That room, in particular. Have a nice wide door; with enough space within the bathroom for wheelchair maneuverability, and maybe a no threshold shower. Depending on how late in life you plan to have her live with you, this could become invaluable.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 5:26PM
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This is a very interesting plan. Your architect has done a fine job of dealing with the contraints imposed by your wedge shaped lot. If it were mine tho, there are still some tweaks I would try to have made.

First off, you mention a MIL who might someday need to move into the main floor guest room. If she is in a wheel chair, how is she going to get up the stairs to reach that room? And, since you say you have have teenagers, you're probably somewhere in you late 30s to early 50's now and you say you want the house to be functional for you for at least 30 years. That means you could still be living there into your 70's or early 80's. There is a good chance that either you or your spouse will develop knee or back problems or arthritis by age 70-80 making navigating stairways difficult.

Even with the 1st floor guest-room, this house just isn't "handicap accessible" because reaching first-floor level requires navigating a set of stairs.

While you may not want to put an elevator into the house just on the possibility that someone MIGHT need one someday, you should think now about how you could modify your home to make it handicap accessible if need be.

Keep in mind that a wheelchair ramp must have a rise-to-run ratio of no more than 1 in 12. This means that for every one inch above grade level that your front door is elevated, a wheelchair ramp to reach it needs to be one foot long.

Installing a wheelchair ramp is usually doable when the front door is only elevated above the street or sidewalk level by a foot of two. But, it looks like your front door is 6 or 8 feet or even more above sidewalk/street level. That means you would need a ramp 72 to 96 FEET long... possibly longer. Even with lots of switchbacks, that just really is not going to work! You also don't really have any other doors (side or back) to which you could build a wheelchair ramp. So you need to think about other options.

Without a place to easily install an elevator or wheelchair lift if you ever need one, your only options are going to be either major remodeling, selling and moving, or installing a chair lift on your beautiful curved staircase. Since that staircase appears to be a major focal point of the design, I rather suspect you won't want to ruin it by installing a chair lift. I know I sure wouldn't! While those things look better than they used to, they still aren't exactly pretty. If you want to see what they look like, do an google image search on: chair lift for curving staircase.

So, I would think seriously about moving the first floor P.R. and the basement P.R.& mech room to other locations and replacing them both with stacked closets that can be easily converted to an elevator shaft. A pair of 5' x 5' stacked closets will easily accomodate a home elevator big enough for a wheelchair.

If you made the Theater/gameroom a bit shorter, you could probably fit both the powderroom and the guest-room bath room into the space between the guest room and theater. (The broom closet and W/D could go into the first floor's stacked closet for now because you COULD live without both of those things if you ever needed to install an elevator.)

As for moving the mech closet in the basement, I don't particularly like the way the basement is designed anyway. I'm assuming general daily access by the family will be in thru thru the garage and up the stairs. I'm further assuming that those double doors into the 8x9 basement storage area won't get much use and that they are there to mainly to allow access to things like the lawn mower and bicycles.

If my assumptions are correct, the basement bench area beside the stairs is okay b/c it is not too far off the main path into/out of the house. It will probably get appropriate use as a place to hang jackets and drop shoes and bookbags. But the basement powder room is a LOOOONG walk thru a windowless hallway clear around the staircase. The P.R. is simply not easily accessible to someone who comes in from a drive or from working in the yard and needs to go RIGHT NOW. Nor is it convenient to someone who heads downstairs and then decides they should probably make a pit stop before heading out on that errand. Given the current location, I suspect it will get little or no use.

And, while you have a huge amount of basement storage, it is all broken up into rather small separate rooms. And reaching each one requires requires navigating thru that basement hallway and then thru a separate doorway. That means putting away things like sports equipment, bicycles, tools, and christmas decorations is always going to be a bit of a PITA. I suspect all your basement storage would get more use if it were a bit more open to the garage.

So, Consider moving the powderroom so that it is tucked partway under the staircase (in that tiny closet with the sloping roof that you have now). This is still not a great position but it is close enough to the benches and the entry door that someone might occasionlly remember it is there and use it. Then, I'd basically cut the basement space in half so that only the wineroom, powderroom and entry area are in the "house" portion of the basement and all the rest is left open to the garage. This is very rough sketch but might give you a better idea of what I'm talking about...

On the first floor, I've already mentioned revising the area where the powderroom is in order to set up stacked closets that can be converted to an elevator shaft if you ever need one. Other than that, I mostly like the new design tho it does seem a little bit odd to me that guests in the living room must travel thru the "breakfast area" - which is plenty large enough to accomodate a full-sized dining room table - to actually reach the formal dining room. I suspect you'll wind up using your breakfast table for dinner parties more often than not. Especially since the "bar" is right there. So, I have to wonder just how much use your formal dining room will ever get. Me, I'd probably get a couple of table leaves so that I could turn my big round breakfast table into a long oval dining table when needed and then repurpose the formal dining room into as library or music room. But then, I've got about 6000 books and DH has about 6000 music CDs that have to go somewhere. LOL! No doubt, if you find you don't ever use your formal dining room, you'll find some other purpose for it so I don't see any reason to alter the design.

On the second floor: Although I'm not a big fan of "open to below" areas because of noise issues and the problems they create with keeping the temperature of both floor comfortable, I do have to admit, your design will be dramatic and beautiful! I can just picture a huge chandelier in your entry and that dramatic staircase sweeping up to the "bridge" area. It should be gorgeous! Talk about the WOW! factor. Your home should definitely have it!

One thing that you might want to reconsider about the second floor though is having the washer and dryer up against the wall of the master bedroom. Teenagers (whom I assume you're training to do their own laundry) have a habit of deciding to run the washer/dryer at odd hours. They may suddenly decide at midnight - or 4AM - that they just HAVE to have a particular item of clothing clean to wear to school the next morning. When that happens, you don't want noise from the washer and dryer disturbing your sleep. Depending on your need for quiet in the office, perhaps you could at least move the washer and dryer so that they back up against the office wall instead of being against the bedroom wall. That would help. I'd personally rather figure out some way to switch the office and laundry room but, given the odd shaped angles necessitted by your wedge shaped property, I don't really see any way to do that without completely revising the plan.

I'm also a bit concerned with the gym being right next to a bedroom and right over the theater. Who exercises in your house and when do they do it? If you or your spouse tend to exercise in the mornings, remember that teenagers tend to like to sleep late whenever they can. So, will whomever is exercising be likely to wake up someone who is sleeping in the bedroom next to the gym? Or if someone is lifting weights in the evenings, will the noise when they drop them back down bother someone else who is trying to watch a movie downstairs.

I do understand the concept that having the gym up near the bedrooms might be an incentive to exercise a bit more often. But I wonder if having the gym in the basement might not make more sense "noise-wise"? If the gym were moved downstairs, that basement powder room would probably get a whole lot more use. You would probably even want to enlarge it to include a shower and start keeping a bunch of one-size fits all bathrobes down there.

With the gym in the basement, the laundry room could go where the gym is (with the washer and dryer backed up against the bathroom wall) AND you could enlarge the office next to the masterbedroom.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Thank you to all the posters for taking the time and effort to communicate all their concerns and ideas!
I have been away for a week but will look at all your thoughts this weekend.
We have owned a house with a similar layout but we are trying to make modifications more suitable to our current and ?future lifestyle.
I really am not sure this is will ever be a house for someone without full and unrestricted ambulation. The slope of the lot dictates the three levels. Early in the design we did have stacking elevator closets but removed them.
By the time our home is built we will most likely have only one child left at home for another 2 years then it will become a 'visit home to do laundry' house and hopefully a home our kids bring their families back to.
Anyhow, thanks again for all the thoughtful input.
I will post more in followup.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 2:59AM
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If you use stacked closets to accommodate a future elevator (no machine room) you should consider choosing the elevator now and having an engineer design and document the supports and framing for the floor openings and have that work done now. The top floor finished ceiling height should be at least 9'-0" especially if there are roof trusses immediately above it. Choose a retrofit model with no pit or build the pit now.

All of this can be done later but the more you plan now the cheaper it will be.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 9:34AM
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