Please review my 1st floor plan

DougdevAugust 10, 2012

This is our first attempt so feel free to be as critical as you want...nothing is set in stone.

Lot is 100 wide by 130 deep.

The current house I am in now has the great room next to the kitchen and it's my favourite part of the house as we use those 2 rooms the most so I really wanted a set up as in the plan.

Top floor will have 3 bedrooms and a gym which could easily be converted to another bedroom if necessary.

What do you like, what don't you like?

PS, in case it matters, we are a young family, early 30s, late 20s, no kids yet but want 1 or 2 in the future.


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Its small so I can't see clearances and dimensions. If it was bigger I could give more feedback.

-I see the laundry is on the first floor. If all the bedrooms are up you definitely want that up too....especially when you have kids.

-Think about putting a shower in the office bath and a closet in that room. Many people want at least one main floor bedroom/bath for guests, illness and resale.

- Not crazy about an interior kitchen. They are usually darker and many prefer to have at least a window. Also I am not a fan of Island cooking. Some people have it and are fine. But I would go as far to say I wouldn't buy a house with it. Venting will be a issue, either an inefficient down draft or a floating hood that visually gets in the way. With an open concept you want a very powerful (and quiet) hood that can keep grease and smells from going all over. Also if people...especially kids...sit there while cooking it can be dangerous. JMHO

- I like the stair placement. I have the same thing except mine is internal so as not to take up precious exterior wall real estate. You might want to think about it although the light from a window is nice. I am installing a sun tunnel to capture the same daylight effect.

I can't make out too much else. I think it is a great start.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 2:12PM
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I totally agree with everything gaonmymind noted. Particularly about the kitchen. I had that set up in one of our previous kitchens, and would not do it again, especially is you have a 2-story home and are limited to downdraft, which are very inefficient.. Wow, huge pantry. Because of limited storage in your kitchen, you'll be making lots of steps to that pantry. Is that what you're envisioning? I can't read what that center part is where the cabinets back up to the stairs??

I love your big mudroom/ldry area, and that it connects with the front foyer. Very convenient, especially when you have children. However, it does take up a lot of real estate.

Is there some reason the fireplace is not centered? Not quite understanding all the exterior corners in the great room and dining area.

I also love the stairway. Ours is just like that. I will say that the one thing I don't like about it is the window is a huge pain to clean, or to hang window coverings on. An internal stairway would be a better option.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:15PM
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The posted image is a bit small for me to see any details on. But if others are also having problems viewing the image, I found that if I clicked on the image it would open up in a new tab and then I could click "CTRL +++" and get a much larger (albeit somewhat fuzzy) image to study. At least this works if you using Firefox as your browser and are on a PC. Not being a computer nerd, I don't know if it will work if you use a different browser or are on a MAC.

Okay - on to comments....

First of all, I would caution you to be aware of the fact that the more complex the exterior of your home is (i.e., the more corners it has) the more it will cost per square foot to build it. I'm not saying that you should plan on building a simple rectangle - just that you should be aware that "corners" cost extra money because they result in more complex roofs and foundations, and require more framing and more exterior materials per sq ft of interior space. Therefore, IMHO, once you get away from simple rectangles, extra corners should always serve a purpose.

Probably the best reason for designing a house with extra corners is so that more rooms can be corner rooms that have windows on two sides. Christopher Alexander, one of the most influential architects of modern times, writes in A Pattern Language, "When they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty."

I hate to say it but you don't seem to be taking very good advantage of the corners in your complex design. At the front of the house, in one corner you've stuck a big closet. Whenever possible, closets should not be on exterior walls and, definitely they should not take up valuable corners. The laundry room takes up another front corner. While a laundry room with light from two sides would be lovely, but in your design the corner jog is cut short by the staircase so one wall of the laundry is probably too short for a window. And, if you put a window in the front wall of the laundry, it will look out of balance on the front facade unless you put a matching window in the closet which is likely to result in faded garments. My suspicion is that you were not planning to put a window in the laundry at all.

Then, at the front left, you have an office which really could have light from two sides - but you're only showing windows at the front.

Behind the office, you have an apparently-windowless, small powderroom taking up yet another corner.

Then in the very back left hand corner of the house is the Great Room which would certainly benefit from getting light from two directions. But the left hand wall of the great room is taken up with built-in bookcases.

I'm going to attach a link below to a section from A Pattern Language about window light and also urge you to go to and click thru and find inspiration pictures of rooms that just seem to draw you in as places you would WANT to live. Then notice how many of these images very obviously show rooms that are getting natural light from two directions. (Even if you can't see windows on two walls in the pictures, you can tell if a room is lit from two directions by the studying the shadows.)

Okay, enough about windows and light!

I can't quite read any of the dimension markings on your plans but guess-timating based on the depths of countertops and widths of doorways and things like that, it looks like you're making reasonable decisions about room sizes, hallway widths, closet sizes, and the space that the stairways will take up. That's good. A lot of people sketch aisles and hallways too narrow or don't leave enough room in front of toilets to stand and think they can have walk in closets that are 4ft x 12ft. Avoiding those kinds of things is a good start.

I like that your garage is set back from the main portion of the house. That should help to keep the garage from overwhelming the front elevation. Typically, I don't like front- facing garage doors but with two tandem bays and a lot only 100 feet wide, you may not have other options...especially if you're planning on parking something like a motor home in the garage.

I DO NOT like the additional three steps up from the mudroom to the main part of the house! To me, steps at that point are just an extra obstacle to maneuver when entering the house with arms loaded with groceries. If the idea is to separate the mud room from the rest of the house, I would much rather see a door that could be shut when needed and left open the rest of the time than steps that must always be dealt with. If you should ever find yourself in a wheelchair or even on crutches, having several steps at all entrances to your home will make your life miserable.

Speaking of which, given the size of your planned home and the fact that all bedrooms will be on the second floor, have you considered installing a home elevator or at least making provisions for the later installation of one? I know you're young but if you live in the house long enough, you eventually won't be! And, if/when you decide to sell it, having an elevator would make your home marketable to older people with bad knees like me.

I love the great big pantry but don't like that, in order to reach the pantry when coming in from the garage, one must go thru the mudroom, up those additional three steps, and then clear thru the kitchen to the dining nook and make another right turn. I'd want my pantry to be located close to the garage so I wouldn't have to carry heavy bags of groceries all that distance. Any chance of maybe moving that staircase that is between the pantry and mudroom (and that I assume goes down to a basement) to the other side of the pantry? That would allow you to have a door between mudroom and pantry making grocery unloading a whole lot easier.

I understand the extra doorway that goes from mudroom directly outdoors. But instead of two doors exiting the mudroom - one to garage and one directly outside, have you considered having a man-door to the left of the two front garage doors? Then, if you wanted to go outside via the mudroom, you could just pass thru the garage without having to open a garage bay door. Getting rid of the extra door in the mudroom would give you more room in the mudroom for cubbies.

You said you already had a kitchen/Great Room similar to this plan so possibly having your kitchen messes totally on view to everyone in the Great Room is not a problem for you. While open plans are extremely popular, I personally prefer to have my sink and the working kitchen countertops at least a little bit hidden from the GreatRoom and dining areas. When I have guests over for dinner, I don't want someone to have to LOOK at the dirty pots and pans still sitting on the stove or soaking in the sink when we sit down to eat. IMHO, Looking at all of the clean-up that will need to be done as soon as dinner is over would tend to destroy the festive mood of dinner. So the only way I would go for a totally open plan would be for it to have an island or peninsula with a raised bar to at least sort of hide my cooking messes.

I would NOT want a cooktop on a single level island. PITA to properly vent and spattering grease could hit someone seated on the other side of the island.

I'm not a huge stickler for symmetry but I do like "balance" and the off-centeredness your the Great Room fireplace kind of bothers me. I suspect that it would be a MAJOR turn-off to anyone to whom symmetry is important. If you don't want the fireplace centered, I think it would look better to go with a corner fireplace. You could then put bookshelves along the wall shared with the office out to the edge of the foyer and an equal distance along the left hand wall. You could then square up the far back left hand corner and stick in a window or two. (Oops, I'm back to talking about light - so obviously it's time for me to quit.)

Looking forward to watching your design develop.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Pattern Language, Pattern 159

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:26PM
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I just realized that the house is missing a ton of windows. Is this an architects plan or did you do it?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Thanks for the help and comments everyone. I will see if I can upload a picture that will be easier to see.

The windows are being put in soon, this was just a rough 1st plan to see how we like the room layout.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 9:48AM
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Try this...hopefully this will be easier to see.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 9:54AM
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