First Post - Looking for Feedback on Floor Plan Please!

alliecat2010August 10, 2012

Hi everyone!

I really hope you can help me critique this plan. I have seen how invaluable these comments are. This is the first house we are building from the ground. Excited but nervous. Here is the plan:

Things to know:

We are husband and wife with 2 kids, 11 year old boy and 2 year old girl. We are moving to a country location on a lot of 3/4 of an acre, so we will have some room in our plan to spread out a bit. We just bought the land. The back yard will be directly south for a sunny house, and we are going to have to "mirror" the plan as shown, so that the side garage will face east.

We want to make this our long term (possibly not forever) house, but at least the next 15 years until our youngest is grown. We had our kids later in life, so we will not be spring chickens by then either, but yet I still want a 2nd level master bedroom, primarily because at this stage my youngest is only 2. And I don't like the idea of us being so far from the kids while sleeping. 4th bedroom would be a guest bedroom.

My priorities in the house were open concept, informal spaces, bright and sunny, good mud room (we live in the mountains in a winter ski resort town), a sunroom for the winter and a screened porch for the summer so I can enjoy the forested back yard. With this floor plan, I plan to take the "study" and put a lot more windows in it and make it a sunroom (south and west facing), so if the kids are watching TV, I have a place to go and have a coffee in peace or read a book to my little one in quiet. We are also not formal people, and we work from home about 80% of the time, so I will be changing the "dining room" into a home office for myself and my husband. I will close off the open arches to the dining room and put either frosted or clear French doors there (likely frosted due to my messy habits in my office..). I can't decide if I want to have openings on both sides as the plan calls for, or just the great room side. I will likely close off the foyer side of the "dining room/study" so that I have 2 walls to work with to make desk areas. Ideally I would have liked to close off the great room side for more privacy and quiet, but I am worried that I will create this big looming nothing wall if I close off that wall completely, and also I will only have a north facing window in the office with an overhanging porch, so the room will be too dark (I like light bright spaces even in an office). Hence the frosted French doors (probably with a transom on top b/c of the 9 ft floors. The French doors + transom would match the sunroom French doors/transom (although I wouldn't frost those).

Also, in the plan they show a lot of structural posts that block the kitchen island, although in the sample home pictures, this looks modified, and I would prefer just 2 posts and an arch (or none??), and have it as open as possible. I would also put the refrigerator opposite the bathroom just as they have in the pictures, which is different from the plan. I find this to be a better placement as you don't have to walk into the island working area to grab something out of the fridge. Feel free to critique all of this!!

I am not thrilled with how their kitchen cabinetry looks in the sample pictures, I would do it differently, not have a bi-level island (I have lurked on other treads regarding this). Just also wondering if the great room is big enough for 2 sofas and 1 chair (or even 3 sofa's) because it feels like after you factor in a walking path behind the sofa toward the eat in kitchen (getting around those posts), you are down to about 15 ft long, then factor in the fireplace and built in's and you are down to 13 ft if that. I am really thinking I need more space than that, 13 x 18 or so seems too pushed up to the fireplace and built in's(I plan to put a TV next to the fireplace close to the window side. Do I need to add 2 more feet length wise? Or get rid of the posts (if possible?)

I like the pantry, but wish it was bigger, with an area to add a vertical freezer, I have to think about that, I need a freezer, but don't want it in the garage - maybe steal some garage space to expand that?? The mud room area confuses me to. With the mud room, I would like to possibly get rid of the walk in closet, have a long bench along the north window side (1 window, not 2) and 2 lockers on either side walls (of at least 24" wide each, as we have winter boots, snow jackets etc to deal with). Where is says "bench" in the plan, I would like to add a little drop off office area for cell phones, mail, etc. I am also toying with the idea of creating the mud lockers in the garage instead of the house, doing a whole mud thing in there before entering the house altogether - taking off boots, jackets there, especially in the winter. Maybe utilizing the house mud room space for utility/freezer/pantry??? Perhaps moving the bathroom to have a window? I don't know what to do with that whole space.

The unique thing is we actually HAVE to create a 2nd enclosed and heated laundry area in the garage - we have a house rental business and we do massive loads of laundry for 8 homes - we would like to keep all of the commercial laundry that we do out of our house and just loaded and unloaded from the cars to this utility area in the garage (located somewhere next to the garage door, still working on that too). For the family, I want a 2nd laundry on the 2nd floor for our clothes only. In our current small house, everything is mixed together in the basement, hate it. I was just thinking, since I have to enclose some of the 3 car garage for laundry, maybe just put a mud room/laundry in the garage and keep it totally out of the house. Not sure if that's smart/practical. I just know in my current house, shoes are everywhere all over the foyer just flung by the guys, wet/dirty in the winter, just hate it all. It would be so nice to have shoes off by the time they even enter the house. Or maybe just a small "summer" mud area in the house for schoolbags, light jackets/summer shoes with a drop center which we will definitely need, just not sure of the best layout for all of that. Maybe connect the mud area to the office with a pocket door to put mail etc right in there too? Or should I be using these walls for storage/utility.

Another issue - I will also have to add some kind of exterior door in the back besides what is there to the porch - I have a dog, and I don't want to have to let him out through the porch all the time, seems ridiculous. Also if we BBQ on deck, it just seems crazy not to have a back exterior door. Do I put this exterior door to the left of the dining table in the kitchen and extend the deck to the left to accommodate? Or maybe make an angled dining area and put a patio door behind the table with more room to move around the table? I don't really like the idea of having to run around a table to get to my exit though. But I do like the angles idea because I think the dining area looks a little utilitarian and not special, especially given that I don't have a formal dining room. The door to the screened porch would either swing outwards or be a sliding door, so it doesn't have to swing into the room. I plan to put a 6 ft wide 6 person seating table. I could do an angled bowed dining room AND have the door on the side as an option too. I just hope 14 ft wide is wide enough for all this. Just hope the roof structure can accommodate a kitchen bowed angle with the screened porch right there.

I am not going to even begin critiquing the upstairs, this post is so long as it is, thank you for reading! Nothing too big of a change up there other than removing the master fireplace as we will be doing a real wood fireplace on the main level. It will just be closed off in the master, any additional space on either side will be given to the bedroom next door. Also WIC will be changed to face the bedroom, probably divided in 2 for his/her with French doors and the hallway bathroom switched lengthwise. I don't think I like a WIC off the bathroom personally (although some people do and I do see some advantages to it). I will eliminate the water closet (I find them claustrophobic). The smaller bedroom will not have a bathroom, just a big walk in closet for my son. I would do a bathroom, but hubby thinks it's ridiculous to have 3 bathrooms for 4 people on the upper level, especially since our kids are such different ages. He's probably right. And I am not into cleaning yet another bathroom. Also a little worried about how looong the hallways seems, but maybe that's normal?

Thank you for any help you can provide!!

By the way, I was also deeply considering this plan

because I could also create a sunroom out of the study there too, but don't like the front facing garage and no bonus area. Plus all those swinging doors in the kitchen seem excessive (although I do like the angles). And I think I prefer having the island facing the great room rather than the eat in area. And the upstairs master bathroom seems like such a waste of space as is!! And the living areas and master bedroom are smaller (I like a large master bedroom), so this plan would need a good 3 ft added to it for my taste. But the plan does appeal to me, I like that it has no posts actually (or maybe posts are nice??).

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I'm putting your images into the thread so it will be easier for people to view. You might get more responses that way. I'm no layout expert so I'll let others comment on the plan!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:23AM
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The plan has possibilities.
Something that you should know is that it appears all the dimensions include the thickness of one wall (14' is more like 13'-8" +/-) unless the total dimension of the house is not accurate.

The Family Room dimension between the fireplace and the columns is 14'-6" so if you subtract the circulation space, you will end up having a usable Family Room of about 10'-6" (Unless you remove the columns by the island). Adding about 3' to the width of the room will help a lot but it will make your second floor hall a bit longer.
You can place the door to the bonus area, near the bedroom #4 door to shorten the hallway by about 7'.
If you do not need the WIC by the mudroom, you could make the powder room, the pantry, and then place the powder room in the WIC space. You still will have a nice size mudroom.
I'd align the current pantry wall to the (new) refrigerator wall and extend the counter (adjacent to the garage) all the way to the wall. This will give you more room for your drop off area.

I would try to keep the home looking like a home and not do the mudroom in the garage.
About your garage laundry, try to place the appliances against the home wall so if in the future you sell the house, the new owner could easily remove the (commercial) laundry wall.
Do you receive client visits in your office? If so, I'd place the office door at the foyer wall. If you do not receive clients, I prefer the office door off the family room. I do not think the foyer wall is too big, it's a nice wall to place a console or wall art.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Thank you SO MUCH for your feedback and including the plan. I had no idea that they were "shortchanging" the measurements, I just assumed that they were interior dimensions. And a living room of 10'6 long is absolutely crazy when I would like a big great room. Funny how the dimensions show 18 x 18 and that just get brought down by so much! I would definitely have to get rid of those posts if possible. I have seen other houses with spans that wide without posts, so I don't know why these are necessary.

So if I get rid of the posts, and add maybe 2 feet, and use the area behind my island as a walking area, would that be OK? Do people use what is essentially a "kitchen" space as a walking space? I don't know if we are big island sitters with stools sticking out, but I don't want to preclude that possibility either.

My biggest trouble is finding a plan that allows for a "side" room beyond the great room that I can turn into a sunroom, most standard home plans just have a dining room and a study right across from eachother with the foyer inbetween - a square box style essentially. I have looked at literally hundreds of plans (all with 2nd floor masters). So frustrated.

Thanks for the advice of not putting the mudroom area in the garage, you are likely right. I do not receive clients in my office, so the great room side would work fine, thanks for the input.

I think I am more confused than ever. Even getting rid of the posts, I really want a big great room, yet I don't need to expand anywhere else, I don't need a bigger office (shown as dining room) and I don't need the room upstairs either (more hallway...). And I am not sure how I can move the bonus room door as I will have at least a couple of stairs? Also, the door to the new bathroom would be right next to the bonus room, so you have to walk the hall anyway.

Is this a bad plan? This plan below was a second choice. Any opinions on which is better? Maybe I can add a bonus room to the 2nd plan with a bit of rearranging of the upstairs, I don't know. I like that it has a proper hallway so you are not all over the kitchen to enter the house unless you want to be, I REALLY dislike that the window over the stairs is off-set, neutral to the idea of facing the dining area instead of the great room, and the upstairs hallway is nicer (I would likely get rid of a 2 story foyer), except there is no upstairs laundry. Although I could take bedroom 2 and turn it into a combo bathroom/laundry room and use the current bathroom location as a access to a bonus room over the garage. I also liked a side garage in the first plan, this plan has a front facing 3 garage, not thrilled with a 3 car garage facing the road, not typical in my area at all - most homes have 2 at most, or even one, even though they are bigger homes (country location with somewhat lax architectural controls).

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:11PM
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2nd level

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Do not panic. The plan can be adjusted to the dimensions you want, you just need to talk to them (the floor plan owner/designer) but the total square footage will be higher. The floor plan is workable if that is the one you like.
Adding 2' to the living room is ok (removing the columns).
If you add 2'-6" and remove the columns is a lot better. I know for a fact. My great room is 17' wide.

You can see what I meant about the dimensions in the attached PDF. I scaled and measured your plan. The red dimensions are the ones I placed for you to see.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floor Plan

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Do you have a sloping lot? This plan is for a sloping lot. Or are you doing one of the variations of this plan and putting it on a slab?

Since you are making so many changes, it would help if you would post the floor plan with the changes you intend to make so we can comment on what your version looks like.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 4:05PM
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Hi all,

I worked this plan and made the changes (see this post and the post below for the 2nd level). I have moved the main floor bathroom to the left corner and added a pantry to where it was. I have added about 2.5-3 ft left to right as naf naf so WISELY suggested (THANK YOU!!) and I'll live with the bigger hallway upstairs. I have moved the entry closet to the right of the foyer. Upstairs I have swapped the bathroom and the laundry to make them closer to the kids rooms and reconfigured the master WIC.

Any insight would be most appreciated. I had a discussion in the bathrooms forum about my powder room location on the main level, as I was just uncomfortable with it behind the kitchen, and am happy to have moved it AND gained a sizable pantry.

I hope you can read my plans in pencil, if not, let me know and I will redo them darker. I don't have a software for all this, I wish I did!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:40PM
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Second level

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:42PM
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original plan for comparison

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:44PM
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Original second floor plan for comparison

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:45PM
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I like your sketched out floor plan, very workable.

A few ideas for consideration:

1. what do you think of swapping the office and stairs? You would be able to put windows on 2 sides of the office and the stairs could be in a more central location. Also the sight line fr the front door will be more appealing.

2. I would try to make that powder room into a full bath. In a pinch, you would use the sunroom as an extra bedroom. This is always nice in case someone breaks a leg or an elderly parent has to visit for a while.

3. On the 2nd floor, how about putting the master bedroom in the corner instead of bathroom?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:20PM
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This is why I love these boards, THANK YOU pps7, I never would have thought of switching the stairs for the office. It's really something I am going to give some thought to.

Pros: - it really takes a bite out of that loooonnng upstairs hallway and it would provide 2 walls for windows in an office

Cons - on resale, if it is converted back to a dining room, it makes it far from the kitchen area if it is moved to the far end of the house. And also, I like the central location of the office as I work from home and I go from the kitchen to my office, back to the kitchen, back to office, to the great room, to the bathroom, back to office, etc etc all day long. You get the idea. I will also have frosted french doors facing the south great room side of the house, so even if closed, I will get some light from 2 sides. It won't be a bright room though, as there is a covered porch in the plan in front of that north window. That makes me want to move it to the corner of the house hmmm...

I will mention that to my architect.

As for the full vs half bathroom, you are right also, and I know it, but I really struggled to get the room to put in a powder room there, as the plan called for just a closet. Adding an extra 30 or so inches for a bath just takes more space and $$. But, you are right, DH's cousin just had to move her elderly mother into her house and she had to gut half her garage to make a shower area on the main level for her because she only had a powder room and the lady can't climb stairs. 30" doesn't seem that bad compared to what she had to do. And my DH was in a wheelchair for a YEAR because of an extremely badly broken leg about 10 years ago, and we were young couple with a baby at the time, not elderly at all. Luckily our house was/is a bungalow, we would have really been in a pinch. Very much food for thought.

As for point #3, I actually like NOT having the master bedroom in the corner. I don't want more windows in the bedroom. It's bad enough the master faces the south side of the house and calls for big windows. I own a rental cottage which has an almost identical master bedroom and bathroom and corners on the south and east side of the house with a 9 ft patio door facing south. We stay there in the summer and my face is about 3 ft from this huge patio window. Even with drapes, it is just soooo sunny and bright in my face, I keep waking up from 6 am onward grrr. I have pictured it below just for fun. Also, coincidentally, the master bath is almost identical too to this house plan. I designed this cottage master bedroom and bathroom 3 years ago as an addition, and I guess that's why I like this plan I found, reminds me of my cottage!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 10:49PM
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My cottage bathroom - very similar master bath to this plan

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 10:53PM
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